Playing Golf With God

Winning is a spiritual practice. Wow, who’d a thunk it? This morning I was reading With Winning in Mind by Lanny Bassham, specifically the section on the conscious mind.  This part is about directing your focus and getting yourself lined up, then getting out of the way and trusting the subconscious to do its work. 

Trust.  This is something we’ve talked about a great length in Robert Holden’s Success Intelligence Mastermind.  With trust comes surrender, a letting go.  My conscious mind cannot direct my body to make a great golf shot.  Not happening.  The best shots are effortless.  Golf is really easy when it’s easy.  The conscious mind plays a role, but it’s not part of the shot execution.  It can help me set up and get lined up.  But the subconscious makes the shot. 

This morning I read a chapter called The Number One Mental Problem.  That problem is over-trying.  Yes, I know this is true and of course I am not unique.  It is my number one problem as well.  I’ve talked about this with Robert.  “My will be done” versus “Thy Will be done”.  My will, my conscious mind, has the ability to try really hard.  I can grind it out and produce a result.  Thy Will, the unconscious, the force, the Tao, and God are easy and effortless.  I’ve attempted to will my way through a round of golf.  I can finish that way.  But it’s really hard work and the results usually aren’t very pretty.

In a mentoring session, Robert shared that movement through life guided either by my will or Thy Will are both acceptable and legitimate ways of living one’s life.  They both work and produce a result.  Yet a mode of operation where one chooses to trust and surrender to Thy Will is far more effortless.  A result through sheer will is hard work.  This is difficult to hear because I, like many others I’m sure, grew up being taught that success requires hard work and it is not easy.  Nothing comes without hard work and nothing is easy we were told. Have we been misled?

There is no doubt this is true if we are unable to trust the unconscious.  But here’s the thing, it’s not an either/or situation.  Duality is an illusion.  Spiritual alignment and winning, (perhaps they are the same thing), require a both/and mindset.  In golf my will, my conscious mind chooses where I want the ball to go.  It chooses to look around for obstacles and conditions.  It chooses a club.  It directs me to address the ball and line up my shot.  My will does those things. But if my will attempts to direct the motion of my golf swing, by thinking through the swing, the results are generally a disaster.  Sometimes I get lucky.  As Robert says I can will my way through.  But it is a grind.

An alternative is to allow the conscious mind to do its thing up until the part of motion.  But from there we must stop, get out of the way, and let the unconscious take over.  When I do this, the results come effortlessly.  It feels pure.  It feels easy.  Unfortunately, I’m still practicing this art and my will still tends to lead most of the time.

Robert and his mentor, the late Tom Carpenter, played golf together.  They called it “Playing golf with God.”  To me and my pragmatic, analytic mind, this makes so much logical, reasonable, rational sense. Playing golf with God is about me, my will, my conscious mind and God, Thy Will, the unconscious working together in beautiful harmony.  Oh, it feels so good and it is effortless.

“There is and always has been only one spiritual teaching,” said Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now.  Alignment. Harmony. Playing golf with God is only one way to practice this harmonious alignment.  The applications are limitless.  How about playing life with God?  Line up the shot, set a goal, and trust God to take care of the rest. 

With Winning in Mind was the book I needed at the right time.  I was not expecting it to be a spiritual book and I don’t think the author, an Olympic athlete, intended for it to be.  Yet it is.  Today I learned more about keeping my will in check.  There’s more to come.  In order to hit pure golf shots consistently, I must consciously learn the skills and then practice until they become unconscious.  I’m not sure that God, as the unconscious, needs my will to make this happen.  But there is a beauty in the both/and.  Thy Will and my will working together as one.  And in the book Grit by Angela Duckworth, we learn that deliberate practice, to train the unconscious, is hard work. More to come on this soon.

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