After last week’s struggle on the tube I decided to walk from Euston today. Not a bad idea at my age anyway; keep fit and all that. I do try to get a bit of regular exercise so I tend to walk whenever possible, because I am not much of a sportsman. Sports sessions at school would generally find me skulking behind the changing rooms, trying to avoid the PE teacher, a hulking fellow who tended to show his disapproval of less enthusiastic students by means of bellowing directly into the ear of the offending subject. I think he managed to put me off for life.
But sport is obviously good for us. Many of us could perhaps do with a bit more sporty action in our lives, although there’s usually no problem when it comes to watching it. Now the football season is drawing to a close our attention will switch largely to cricket, which I have to say is not really a sport that I personally find that riveting. I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said, “The English are not a spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity.”
I don’t know about that, but I do think it is possible to get an understanding of the spiritual from seeing our fascination with sport. Vedic teachings say that God himself eternally engages in many different sporting pastimes. Not football or cricket, as such, but it is said that in his most intimate form he appears always as a sporting youth, enjoying all kinds of loving exchanges and games with his devotees. This is where we all belong, forever enjoying ourselves with the Lord, and hence our attraction for playing games in this world.
Our liking for sports gives us another insight into the spiritual, according to the Vedas. Just what is it that we find so attractive? When for example we see Wayne Rooney score a brilliant goal from an impossible angle, we admire his skill, and the Bhagavad-gita says that this is a manifestation of God. It is not that Wayne Rooney is himself God, of course, although some may argue the point, but the Lord says in the Gita that he is the “ability in man”. The talent of world class sportsmen is something you either have or you don’t; it is a divine gift, and by seeing it we can be reminded of the Lord.
Indeed the attractive principle in anything is ultimately an exhibition of the divine. The very name for God in Sanskrit is Krishna, which means all-attractive. Anything in this world we find striking or beautiful shows us but a small spark of the beauty and greatness of God, its original cause.
So , in a sporting mood, and meditating on the eternal sports of Krishna, I shall now stride off back to Euston.