Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Stanley Cup Provides a Dharma Lesson

May 2, 1967.

That was the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup.

Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens.

George Armstrong, the captain of the Leafs, scored on an empty net in the final minute of the game and the Leafs won, 3-1.

And today is the 40th anniversary.

I remember watching that game. I don't remember much about the game itself.

But here's what I do remember. We were all cheering for the Leafs. Hey, I'm from Ontariario. Back in those days, the Leafs were it. (Personally, I liked the Canadiens' colours better. A Montreal toque was way better than a Toronto one...But that would make me the opposite of the kid in Roch Carrier's story, The Hockey Sweater...) Drive anywhere in southern Ontariario when the Leafs are in the playoffs and you'll see that even now, the Leafs are still it. Even though they haven't won the cup in 40 years.

But I believe I mentioned something about a Dharma teaching. Well, here it is. Naturally, we were all ecstatic when Armstrong scored that goal. The Leafs had clinched the cup! And beaten the Habs to do it, too! So there we were, all celebrating. TimHo celebrating. Bob Pulford. Johnny Bower. Frank Mahovlich. Terry Sawchuk. Armstrong. Ron Ellis. And us.

But then the camera panned across the Montreal bench. I never saw such a dejected-looking bunch of guys. Jean Beliveau especially.

I immediately felt sorry for them. Cuz they had worked their asses off. But somebody wins and somebody loses.

Now, we're taught that it's a cause of negative karma to rejoice in the misfortunes of others, or to wish them ill. It seems to me that's a fairly common practice in the world of competitive sports (and its fans.) But at that moment, I learned a dharma lesson, altho I didn't know that was what it was at the time. I could no longer rejoice over the Canadiens' loss. I could still rejoice over the Leafs' win, but now it was tempered by the knowledge that someone's joy could very well be someone else's disappointment.

And ain't that samsara all over?

(Note: the link up above is a Google video of the entire game. How cool is that? I haven't watched the whole thing, but maybe I will...I've also linked to it in Larry's Surfboard. The video is an hour and twenty-seven minutes long, but if you scroll to about one hour and nineteen, you'll see the final goal and its aftermath.)

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5 comments:

Sherri said...

Aloha! I wish I knew a thing or two about hockey so I could say something witty and provocative, but can say that I'm delighted that you've taken a moment to post a comment at my new blog. Come back anytime! :)

John said...

Nice lesson Larry. I learnt a thing or two about Dharma playing sports myself. A friend of mine way back when introduced me to the idea that sport, as with life, should be played as though it is a game—playfully, intensely, even competitively, but with aspect of competition being focused on yourself—self-transcendence I would call it now. I gave up competitive sports soon afterwards when the aggression and foul-play became too much, but try to keep those values to heart still.

Incidentally, although I live in NZ, my father's family is from Ontario, which would probably make me a Leaf's fan. Although actually from Ottawa, I prefer this particular form of Samsara more when it is winning...


Thanks for posting.

Larry Keiler said...

Thanks John. I think the best athletes do exactly what you describe. Sure, they want to beat the competition, but mostly they strive to beat their own previous best.

With the entry a few years ago of the Ottawa Senators into the league, you could get away with being a Senators fan. But you would get short shrift from a good many Ontariarians. (Even tho Ottawa is still in the playoffs and Toronto never made it to the first round...There is no love lost between those two teams.)

Larry Keiler said...

And thank you too, Sherri. As Arnold says, "I'll be back."

Larry Keiler said...

@Sherri: Here's what you need to know about hockey. Keep your stick on the ice and your head up.

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