SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

Buddha Takes the Mound: Enlightenment in Nine Innings

St. Martin’s Essentials. May 2020. 192p. ISBN 9781250237910. $19.99. REL
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A ponderous game laden with interminable pauses, baseball lends itself to myth-making. It’s a humbling pursuit with many analogies to Buddhism, argues Lopez (Buddhism: The Norton Anthology of World Religions), a fervid, lifetime fan of the New York Yankees. As a Buddhist scholar, he also cannot help but draw comparisons between his two obsessions. The conceit in this book is that a Buddhist scroll was found buried beneath Yankee Stadium when it was demolished in 2010. The scroll shows that the sport was in fact invented by the Buddha two and a half millennia ago as a didactic tool to impart important facts about being human. Profiling players from various eras, ranging from Babe Ruth to Ozzie Smith, the author exemplifies how the game is comparable to Buddhist theology. For example, Buddhism describes existence as one of ceaseless suffering yet upholds the promise of hope, while baseball is also built upon these two opposite forces.
VERDICT While the narrative is somewhat tedious in places, this work should appeal to baseball enthusiasts who never previously considered the similarities between their beloved pastime and ancient Buddhist teachings.

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