After watching the compelling PGA golf tournament this past
weekend, and just having recently finished Steven Pressfield's
The War of Art, I felt compelled to take Pressfield's
The Legend of Bagger Vance off the shelf for a re-reading.
The Legend of Bagger Vance is essentially the re-telling of
the Bhagavad-Gita for modern America, via a golf match.
Pressfield is a great teacher.
" 'Therefore, Junah, love your opponents. When I say love, I
don't mean hand them the match. I mean contend with them to
the death, the way the lion battles a bear, without mercy but with
infinite respect. Never belittle an opponent in your mind, rather
build him up, for on the plane of the Self there can be no distinc-
tion between your being and his. Be grateful for your opponents'
excellence. Applaud their brilliance. For the greatness of the
hero is measured by that of his adversaries. In this too the eti-
quette and honor of golf reflect the Reality of the Field. Those
new to the game often cheer an opponent's misfortune, but the
player of wisdom who has entered into the soul of the game
schools himself to feel and act the opposite. This too is the
greatness of the game.
'But all this you know, Junah. I repeat it now only to focus
your distracted mind under this excruciating pressure. To return
you to the imperative to act.'
Here Junah, who had been listening with as much attention as
he could muster under the circumstances, bridled and pulled up
in midstride. 'I don't understand you, Bagger,' he said. 'You
order me to win, as if I could, but in the same breath you tell me
to love my opponents. Please be clear. I need to understand
what you're telling me.'
'Act, Junah, but act without attachment, as the earth does.
As I do. The rain falls, with no thought of watering the land. The
clouds roll, not seeking to bring shade. They simply do. And we
'Therefore win, Junah. Hold nothing back. It was not by ac-
cident that I told you to hook that ball out of bounds, nor was it
chance that made me tell you to hit the ball on ten with all you
'We've got Hagen and Jones right where we want them: so
far ahead that they leave us no choice but to play all-out. To
strike and act without fear or forethought.'
'You confuse me again,' Junah interrupted. 'How can we
act without forethought? What you're saying sounds like
mystical nonsense! Why did God give us a brain if not to
'Watch and see,' Bagger Vance answered calmly. 'I
will show you the Field and the Knower.' "