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The Olympics and Sport as World Service

Joann S. Bakula
August 2008

The keynote and seed thought is I am That and That am I, resulting in individuality and sensitive self-awareness, leading to sensitivity both toward the natural environment and to the spiritual environment, resulting in freedom and release into universal caring and the end of separatism. The balanced relationship between the individual and the group, symbolized in Leo and its opposite partner Aquarius, highlights right and harmonious relationship of the individual to the nation and the nation to the whole of humanity. This is summed up by the Tibetan D.K. as the 'value of the individual and the fact of the One Humanity' expressed in its current best as human rights and the United Nations. 'I, the individual, am the Whole and the Whole is in me.' From crown chakra to the kingdom of earth, from justice to compassion, the universal spiritual manas expresses as harmonious balance within and without, from space to nature.

This month we have the pleasure of renewing the Olympic Ideal of peace and excellence displayed by the gathering nations of the world as a universal ideal we aspire to. We join together in peace and goodwill to hold games testing excellence and to have fun in one of the few planetary events of its kind. In the ancient Greek Olympics war was suspended during the games, which were a sacred time. In the modern era wars can break out during the event! And yet we go on--knowing our shortcomings, acknowledging our areas of disparity and how we fall short of the ideal. Yet we cherish a place and an event where the ideal is renewed and the disparity not allowed to preempt the spirit of coming together in peace. Aristotle summed up the ancient Greek ideal of the whole person, body and soul:

Wisdom in the soul has its equivalent in perfection.
Justice has its physical equivalent in beauty.
Courage has its physical equivalent in strength.
Moderation has its physical equivalent in health.
The theme of the 2008, 29th Olympiad of the modern era, is One World One Dream. A protester climbed a pole to say with the world 'Except for Tibet!' The leaders of the world support the ideal while they give voice to that other ideal, human rights. What nation is free of error? And yet we go on to celebrate excellence, together weaving the story of our national thread into the design of the whole and the story of humanity, written in myth and ritual, technology and creative expression.

The on-going seed themes of the meditation of Leo (and Aquarius), the one and the many, the individual and the group, were highlighted in magnificent beauty in the Opening Ceremony in Beijing, which was glorious beyond expectation. Beijing and director Zhang Yimou dazzled us with their display of artistry and technology in the 500 ft LED scrolled floor screen and overhead scrim circling the entire bird's nest stadium, used as a palette to paint the accomplishments of history, including paper, printing and the magnetic compass, and to present the China of today with its rising expectations and incredible engineering feats. All was woven into the pattern and design of harmony seeking expression in every relationship from the 2008 synchronized drummers to the single white-robed master musician; from mountain peaks to ocean waves; from light to dark; from chi or etheric energy to physical skills in acrobatics; from humanity to the natural environment with cranes and whales, and to the spiritual environment through Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism; from earth to space and Saturn, fireworks linking heaven and earth; and from the tall Olympic hero to the small child, hero of the recent earthquake, leading the Chinese athletes into the stadium.

This ancient theme of uniting opposites by demonstrating right harmonious relationship between contrasting parts of a whole is the theme of the ageless wisdom expressed in every field and subject. It is the human goal and plan. It is the Tibetan's summary of the Buddha's eightfold noble path in the single phrase 'right human relations.' It is what we know of the Divine Plan to increase the light and love of the world and in the world. It is union of body and spirit. It is what we work with in meditation. It is the overarching theme of all 12 monthly meditations and the essence of initiation and enlightenment.

The Tibetan and Alice Bailey wrote that physical discipline which finds its expression in the world of sport, in athletic exercises, military training and preparation for the Olympic Games is significant. These latter are in themselves an initiation. The sequence of human unfoldment on the field of Kurukshetra where Arjuna battles himself and his own begins with physical purification, with the problems of maya1, goes on to purification of the astral, emotional and social planes from glamour—a long process—and to purification of knowledge, goals, plans, will and direction during the dis-illusioning process when discrimination between the real and the unreal, long-term and short term, has been sufficiently developed. Physical discipline could be called the first prize, team playing the second, and good sportsmanship the crown. Knowing that physical virtues have their correspondent in emotional and social values, teaches us that winning takes place on many different levels, and ethics crowns the gold.

A United Nations Inter-agency Task Force wrote a report entitled: "Sport for Development and Peace: Towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals." They found that Sport brings individuals and communities together, highlighting commonalities and bridging cultural or ethnic divides and that it was especially beneficial for youth with few other opportunities in their lives, and that it fostered self-expression and citizenship. Sport can cut across barriers that divide societies, making it a powerful tool to support conflict prevention and peace-building efforts, both symbolically on the global level and very practically within communities.

Sports also help to develop and coordinate the physical body and the mind, and, as the esotericist knows, it contributes greatly to the integration of the physical and the etheric body as well. This integration of the etheric and physical bodies is a necessity for the development of an inner continuity of awareness, the lower correspondent of the antahkarana bridge and the basis of non-separateness. The bridging must be done in consciousness, where an apparent gap exists, so that the continuity of life in all of its aspects can become known, until the whole body is a coherent, sensitive, and expressive whole.2

We challenge ourselves by facing our highest potential on all of the planes: physically, emotionally, cognitively, intuitively and spiritually. On each of these levels we have unrealized and unactualized potential that remains untapped until life evokes our character in its various faces. In the end, it's the willingness to find and use more of our potential in whatever field that draws us up to our maximum attainment. These contests or challenges of life take us beyond the normal everyday life, they lift us up to our full height and show us where we excel and where we can improve. We challenge ourselves to see if we are gifted and if we can be inspired to rise above ourselves and to inspire others. It is in the moment of extreme tension or crisis that we force ourselves to draw on our secret inner strength. In the words of Alice Bailey and DK:

That moment of exquisite sensitivity which appears just as the life within reaches the point of 'breaking forth' into the light. It is that moment of alert conscious anticipatory direction which distinguishes the runner in the Olympic games as he stands poised for his supreme effort and test….In that supreme moment of tension you relate life and form, the fluid and the concrete.3

This is the moment of supreme tension when creative effort on each plane finds expression. When the integrated body, mind and heart together reach upward, intuition flashes forth in spontaneity, also in deep impressions, insights, glimpses of the future, and clear thought revealing a path through obstacles.4

The ideals of the Olympiad of the ancient era were based first upon pursuit of excellence in physical form. The Olympic motto was citius, altius, fortius meaning swifter, higher, stronger. Excellence, perfection, beauty, courage and the will to win were ideals that infused the spirit of the Games then as they do now. Brotherhood, sportsmanship, a friendly competitive spirit, and goodwill toward fellow competitors characterize the Olympic ideal in human relationships. On the spiritual plane dedication was to Zeus and the goddess Victory (Nike) which means victory over conditions and oneself, as well as others. Ultimately the goal is to better your last effort in a game of life whose goal is striving toward excellence. The hero Herackles (Hercules to the Romans) is said to have founded the Games and set up its rules. He was known for his strength and courage; it is he who was the paramount human hero who bridged between the gods and humans, just as the Gold Medalists are our bridge to physical perfection. In some versions of the Greek myth, Herackles is said to have established the games after giving thanks to his father Zeus, in whose name the games were held, for victory in the labor of the Augean stables, a story esoterists link with Aquarius. The Greek term arete is usually translated as excellence but it includes virtue, skill, pride, valor, courage--all the elements of our more godly natures, plus enthusiasm, literally meaning inspiration by gods. Arete is the fire within, the flame in the heart. Aristotle referred to the practice of arete, a badge of honor and integrity. This motivation goes way beyond winning to the goal of excellence and self-transcendence, a motivation that sports psychologist Michael Murphy, co-author of In the Zone, writes plays as active role in the evolution of the species. Humanity's love of sport and athletic festivals runs through literature and history like part of the golden thread.5

The psychology of the nations is revealed in the Olympics through self-description, sharing the national narrative, chosen stories and symbols of the host country. Young people wearing the different colors of teams, carrying the multi-colored flags of their countries, appreciating each other in a procession of humanity at play, inspires us with knowledge that we can live in peace. Cultures introduce themselves in these splendid arrays, revealing their heritage, hopes, souls and personalities. It is a living drama of dreams and wishes told in ritual and ceremony, clothed in the unique language of a culture, a gift to the world, a tribute to the world culture of peace, harmony and fellowship. The myths that pervade the modern Olympics consist of stories, dreams, rituals, and images about the deeper dimensions of the sporting life, and they ultimately link us to the modern world's overarching story, Phil Cousineau, Olympic author writes.6 We celebrate body, mind and soul, just as the ancients did, and tell our part of the story in remarkably similar ways. An important synthesis is revealed here in the universality and natural unity of human symbols and rituals.

May you celebrate your own body, mind and soul in all of their combined virtues as the golden light in the spiritual triad permeates your meditation and your life.

1. Bailey, Alice A.. Esoteric Psychology, Vol II, (p. 311) of A Treatise on the Seven Rays, NY: Lucis Publishing.
2. Bailey, Alice A. Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle (Ch. 2). NY: Lucis.
3. Bailey, Alice A. Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. II (pp. 449-450). NY: Lucis.
4. Bakula, Joann S. "The Olympics & the UN Year of Sport and Physical Education," The Beacon magazine, Sept 2005.
5. Bakula, ibid.
6. Cousineau, Phil. The Olympic Odyssey (pp. 107-108). Wheaton, IL: Quest.

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