Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing…

“Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing…

…there’s a field.  I’ll meet you there.”  Maybe you know this quote from Rumi, the mystical Sufi poet whose popularity continues unabated centuries after his death.  It has so much to teach us about collaboration, especially the kind we must find in ourselves before we can connect with anyone or anything else.  But what does it have to do with the game of golf?  And is golf a game or a metaphor for life?

2.5 minute read

We were watching The Legend of Bagger Vance last night, a movie ostensibly about golf.  But even golf isn’t really about golf, but about the state you must be in to connect with that tiny ball  and knock it into space through a complex synchrony of muscles and nerves that can be thrown off by the slightest distraction, tension or worry.  The whole business can be thrown out of whack by wanting something too much, like wanting to win, which is a tricky thing when you’re competing or when you think you are.

“You can’t win the game, you can only play it” says mystical wisdom figure and caddy, Bagger Vance, to troubled golfer, Rannulf Junuh, and later “It’s time.  It’s time for you to get into the field.”

There’s it is again – that magical, elusive field, where we can meet each other without barriers that separate, where we can connect with all of ourselves and something bigger than us.

The movie was a little short on the “how” of getting into the field and letting the field get into you – the immersed synchronous state that has you connected to the whole and playing with your whole heart and mind rather than striving to win with a tiny part of you.  It’s not your grip or your elbow or any one element of your swing.  It’s bigger than that, bigger than you, and somewhat elusive.  It has to do with the way you pay attention. 

In the field, you’re relaxed and plugged in.  You’re one with your surroundings, fluid, trusting, open.  You can bring all of yourself and that in itself is so beautiful.  You can’t control the outcome, but you can invite this pure presence and deep satisfaction of playing the game with all of you.

“You can’t get enough of what you don’t really want,” is a quote that’s guided me all my life,  because it says you can get enough of what you really want.

A few years ago, when I was in Oklahoma visiting family, my cousin unlocked the door to her “safe room,” a feature of houses in “Tornado Alley.”  Bolted to the foundation, these rooms are designed to survive a tornado.  She handed me a black sharpie. “We ask people important to us to write a quote on our safe room wall.  I’ll leave you to it.”  I looked around.  Instead of the usual radio or TV and a place to sit out a tornado watch, this safe room had two floor-to-ceiling shelving units crammed with guns in cases and boxes and boxes of ammunition.  The walls were covered with Bible verses about God’s love and salvation through Jesus. 

I stood there gobsmacked, pen in hand.  When my brain started working again, I considered a Bible quote, maybe something fiery and confrontive from Proverbs, or something exhortative from First Corinthians 13, ending with “…the greatest of these is love.”  And then I closed my eyes and reached for the field beyond right and wrong, beyond winning and losing, beyond threat and retaliation.  I opened my focus and waited for a way to bring all of myself to the situation:  Not just the anger and the fear, but the kindness, the longing, the hope, and the love.  I uncapped the marker and begin to write the words I could write with all my heart, those of a Sufi mystic long dead:  “Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.”


We are having a marvelous time on Open Focus Friday calls at noon, Pacific time.  After a quick chat about how effortlessly finding our way into the field of Open Focus is going, I lead a 20-30 minute open focus practice, and we end with feedback so I can make next Friday’s session even better.   It’s already pretty fabulous, but it would be even better if you were there.

I’m also doing both individual sessions when requested as well as offering more affordable small group sessions for you and a few friends or colleagues.

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