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Samadhi, Not Samaki

For most Buddhist monks, thinking about the Middle Way is a meditation on existence and nothingness.  But for Noriaki Ito, a Shin Buddhist priest at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple in downtown Los Angeles, it also might be a consideration of the havoc wrought by Kobe Bryant’s masterful mid-range game. In a fascinating interview in Tricyle, a Buddhist magazine, Ito talks about his love of the Lakers, thoughts on the other, now-retired Zen Master, and basketball from a Buddhist perspective.


Is it wrong, from a Buddhist perspective, to root for one team over another? Isn’t that desire? I think it’s natural that we choose sides. There’s nothing wrong with it. It makes watching sports that much more interesting…Sports, I believe, is a microcosm of life itself. We know as Buddhists that we should be loving and compassionate to all people, to all living things. But we can’t help but love some people more than others. We can’t help but choose a cute puppy over an ugly snake. As long as we know we’re guilty of such self-centered views, we can remember to open up our hearts to compassion for all. The original meaning of compassion, as we define it, is to feel the pain of another as if it’s our own—and to share the joy of another as if it’s our own. This time around, even though there was a lot of pain in the way the Lakers lost, I felt real joy for Nowitzki, Kidd and the rest of the Mavs—even for Mark Cuban.


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