This week I was speaking on the topic of 'Cultivating Sangha,' or the power of affiliating with like-minded community. When we associate with people who want what we want we can gain inspiration and support way beyond what we can do individually.
When we identify ourselves as separate from others, there is a natural 'clenching' and defending. This is sometimes in Western Buddhist circles described as "selfing."
When we do manage to drop the petty sense of "I" and "mine," magical things can happen. Buddhist psychology speaks of the emergence of the four 'immeasurables' - the states of love, joy, kindness and compassion that arise in the absence of small-mindedness. But something else happens, at least when you apply this on the basketball court. You win more games.
I don't follow basketball closely, but I ran across this wonderful article about Shane Battier, a professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets. His record of blocked shots, shooting percentages, etc are less than impressive, but when the statisticians looked closer, they noticed that when he played, everyone else on the team got better.
Here's a great New York Times article you might enjoy about Shane Battier, entitled "The No-Stats All-Star." I found this article inspiring and enlivening. Now that they can measure the impact players have on others rather than just their personal stats, I think this might usher in a new way of playing basketball.
If we could measure this off the court, it might also usher in a new way to live together.