Zen and the Set Play in Basketball

A Zen Story:

There were two temples, rivals. Both the masters….were so much against each other that they told their followers never to look at the other temple.

Each of the priests had a boy to serve him, to go and fetch things for him, to go on errands. The priest of the first temple told his boy servant, “Never talk to the other boy. Those people are dangerous.”

But boys are boys. One day they met on the road, and the boy from the first temple asked the other, “Where are you going?”

The other said, “Wherever the wind takes me.” He must have been listening to great Zen things in the temple; he said, “Wherever the wind takes me.” A great statement, pure Tao.

But the first boy was very much embarrassed, offended, and he could not find how to answer him. Frustrated, angry, and also feeling guilty…. “My master said not to talk with these people. These people really are dangerous. Now, what kind of answer is this? He has humiliated me?”

He went to his master and told him what had happened…..

The master said, “I warned you, but you didn’t listen. Now, look, tomorrow you stand at the same place again. When he comes, ask him, ‘Where are you going?’ and he will say, ‘Wherever the wind takes me.’ Then you also be a little more philosophical. Say, ‘If you don’t have any legs, then?’ – because the soul is bodiless and the wind cannot take the soul anywhere – ‘What about that?'”

The boy wanted to be absolutely ready; the whole night he repeated it again and again and again. And next morning very early he went there, stood on the right spot, and at the exact time the other boy came. He was very happy, now he was going to show him what real philosophy is. So he asked, “Where are you going?” And he was waiting…

But the boy said, “I am going to fetch vegetables from the market.”

Now what do you do with the philosophy that he had learned.

– From Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously by Osho

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice

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