2007 Grad Poster McCowan Edited

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Information about 2007 Grad Poster McCowan Edited

Published on May 2, 2008

Author: Manfred

Source: authorstream.com

Slide1:  Existential Heroes, Zen Masters, and Meaning in Sport By James A. McCowan Department of Physical Education and Health Education, Springfield College INTRODUCTION • Sport has philosophical and spiritual dimensions, and is a fundamental part of the human experience (Mihalich, 1982). Since the religious ritual of the ancient Greek Games, there has been theorization on the meaning and value of sports. • Often, the spiritual and philosophical aspects of sport can be found in popular prose, and these writings may serve as a window into the soul of the athletic experience (House, 2004; Parker, 1990). • In philosophical texts, the nature of play (Hyland, 1984), the modern nature of sport (Guttman, 1973), and the value of performance, results and winning (Gibson, 1993) have been discussed. Mihalich (1982) and Gibson (1993) both outline existential outlooks on sport, and describe how sport can be a uniquely existential act. • Zen and related eastern concepts have been referred to in coaching texts and athletic memoirs (Gallwey, 1974; Herrigel, 1953; Jackson & Delehanty, 1995). • Mihalich (1982) noted some similarities in existential and Zen thought; however, there are also critical differences that are overlooked. Cooper (1998) stated spirituality and sport have been linked with Zen, but emphasized that though athletes can use a Zen-like method of relaxed concentration, the intent of the athlete is often different from that of a Zen student. • In the present study, the common ground between Zen and existentialism and the relation of Zen and existentialism to sport are further analyzed. Cooper’s (1998) distinction between method and intent was applied in determining how authentically Zen and existentialism are applied to sport. PURPOSE The study was directed toward developing an understanding of how existentialism and Zen have been applied to and experienced in sport, with special attention to the meanings of sport realized through existentialism and Zen. METHODS SAMPLE • Sport philosophy works, existential and Zen writings, and popular sport-related prose constituted the research materials of the study. The sports most often cited are running and mountaineering, though other examples are used as suits the project. PROCEDURES • A combination of historical and philosophical formats weare used. Van Dalen (1966) detailed a historical format where in the problem is determined, source materials are located, the materials are critiqued, hypotheses are formed and the findings are interpreted. Gorovitz and Williams (1963) emphasized that philosophical writings must be interpreted as if engaging in a dialogue with the author. ANALYSIS • Luijpen (1962) noted that writing about the existential philosophies of others requires a “rethinking” of the original themes. Source materials are critically read and re-interpreted with special attention to where Existentialism, Zen, and sport overlap. TIMELINE OF THE ORIGINS OF ZEN, EXISITENTIALISM AND THEIR RELATION TO SPORT DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS Zen and Existentialism share a similar emphasis on the present moment and the individual experience, however the intentions and value placed on that experience differ greatly. While sport can very much be an existential act signifying one’s being in the world, the intention of proving one’s existence through action differs greatly from the use of sport as a meditative act. Physical activities practiced as a moving zazen are conducted without concern for the external value of results, and the intent is only to experience fully the present moment of existence. Using Zen methods to improve results drives the participant further from an authentic Zen experience. The meaning of an athletic moment is determined not only by methods but by the intention and approach of the athlete. Existentialism and Zen are but two of the numerous philosophies and spiritual traditions that sport can be interpreted with, and connections with other philosophies would provide further insights into the meaning of sport. CONCEPTUAL MAP Existentialism and Zen are distinct philosophical and spiritual outlooks that share many concepts. In the diagram below, distinctions and similarities are highlighted, and the nature of the sport experience is shown to be linked to the methods and intentions of the participant. EXISTENTIALISM • Rejects rationalism and reductionism as methods of discovering true meaning. Emphasizes the primacy of the subjective, individual experience as the only medium for understanding human reality, and thus is a lived rather than intellectual philosophy. • Recognizes the individual exists first, alone in the world, and one’s present actions are what define the individual’s essence. • The existential hero is one who chooses to accept the freedom and responsibility to define meaning and value in an otherwise vapid world, rather than accept an inauthentic life ruled by other’s morals. ZEN IN SPORT • Zazen may be practiced as moving meditation: with attention to each action, breath, and moment; as they unfold, one may develop a powerful, spiritual sense of flow. • An athlete may train relaxed concentration akin to zazen to enhance alertness and improve results. ZEN • A form of Buddhist religion with no theology, but rather an emphasis on understanding the nature of the human experience in the world. The personal subjective experience is stresses as the only conduit for true understanding. • Practitioners study the self through the practice of sitting zazen: becoming aware of thoughts as they occur by continually bringing one’s attention back to the present. • Emphasizes non-dualistic thought, the emptiness of all forms and the emptiness of all emptiness (Suzuki, 1970). Zen Existentialism Sport Response to modernity and the suffering and loss of WWII Rooted in Western Philosophical traditions Buddhist Religion, anchored in Buddhist tradition Emphasis of the subjective Experience as the most meaningful conduit for comprehending reality Primacy of the immediate experience emphasized Existence preceding essence A lived and practiced interpretation of reality Method Intent Results Performance Response to pain & suffering developed by the Buddha 2500 years ago Zazen (akin to mindful meditation) Realization of the ultimate nature of existence Commitment to one’s own values/choices in the face of risk Self determination, the defining of one’s own essence Action Buddhism Begins 500 BC Origin of the Olympic Games 700 BC Zen School Originates in China 600 AD Nietzsche and early Existentialism Late 1800’s AD Modern Olympics 1896 AD Buddhism takes root in the West, late 19th century - early 20th century Existentialism expands post WWII, 1940’s-50’s Modern Sport Philosophy, 1970’s-Present EXISTENTIALISM IN SPORT • The athlete determines value through creative, self-affirming actions in sport. Through the choice to act and by committing wholly to that act, the athlete becomes fully alive. • Commitment and acceptance of physical and emotional risk, for no reason other than the pursuit of athletic excellence as defined by one’s own actions, are existential acts. Zen continues to adapt and develop, spreading to Japan 800AD - 1800AD

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