Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Batter's Box

By Eric Bronson | Go to book overview

TOP OF THE SEVENTH
13 The Zen of Hitting

GREGORY BASSHAM

There is a force in the universe that makes things happen.
And all you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking.
Let things happen. And be the ball.

—TV WEBB (CHEVY CHASE), in Caddyshack

Since Eugen Herrigel's classic Zen in the Art of Archery (1953), a host of writers have applied Zen Buddhist principles to a variety of sports and activities, ranging (plausibly) from martial arts and golf to (lamely) falling in love, casino gambling, and proposal writing. Among the Zen principles invoked by these writers are patience, relaxation, self-knowledge, visualization, practice, kime (“tightening the mind”), and mushin (overcoming subject-object dualism—Chase's “being the ball”). Many of these principles, I shall show, are echoed in the advice of great hitting instructors such as Ted Williams and Charley Lau. Thus, there is indeed a Zen of the art of hitting.


Zen Basics

Zen Buddhism is the Japanese branch of the Meditation School of Buddhism. Like all forms of Buddhism, Zen is rooted in the central teachings of Buddha (Siddartha Gautama, died ca. 480 B.C.E.): the impermanence of all things, the pervasiveness of suffering, the unreality of any enduring ego or self, rebirth,

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