by Christopher Buice
I think about the Buddha when I am bowling. A bowling ball that goes too far to the right ends up in the gutter. One that drifts to the left experiences a similar fate. And so, when bowling I am aware that I am seeking the Middle Way.
The Buddha sought the Middle Way between body-destroying asceticism and gluttonous indulgence of the appetites and cravings. Either extreme took him away from spiritual growth. I, too, realize that it is important to seek a middle way between the extremes of life: between firmness and flexibility, realism and hope, charity and empowerment. The Middle Way is a difficult path to tread. The Hindu scriptures, the Upanishads, warn us that the path to salvation is as thin and narrow as a razor’s edge. Fortunately a bowling lane is somewhat wider.
Finding the middle way is often difficult. On some occasions I feel as if bowling lanes are far too narrow. I long for a wider margin of error. Unfortunately this is not always possible. Sure, I can have kiddy bumpers placed in the gutters, but that feels like cheating. I find that my greatest satisfaction comes not from trying to change the game but from changing myself. By centering my ball to glide down the lane, I find that my life becomes more centered with the Larger Life of which I am a part. By focusing my energies toward a central goal, I find a sense of precision and balance in my life.
And yet, the way to live a centered or balanced life is not always obvious. It is not always easy to find the middle way between two extremes. That is why I sometimes wish for a wider lane in my bowling alley. I roll a lot of gutter balls when I bowl. But I find that it is by accepting life on life’s terms that I truly begin to enjoy the game. History tells us that it took many, many years for the Buddha to achieve enlightenment. While I am waiting, I might as well continue bowling.