BABA BOB REVISITED
The wit and wisdom of the Croquet Swami
Where have all the swamis gone?
The age of the guru, the true light and the way, is gone. TV evangelists
have taken on the soiled mantle of those popular and now-vanquished saints
who told us they had transcended their egos and the desires of the flesh; who
were willing to proclaim spiritual truth to the masses in return for vast
sums of money, expensive cars, and exotic varieties of sex.
Baba Bob was never one of these. Baba, who revealed himself only through
the New Age phenomenon of "automatic typing" was never accused of anything
more serious than irreverence, which today is not a crucifixion offense in
most of the croquet-playing countries. Nevertheless, he has maintained his
silence for ten years in the refuge of Cyberspace, where money is imaginary
and all sex is
The great mystery of modern theology is why Swami chose croquet players as
his ministry. Was it because the elegance, refinement, and intellectual
dimension of our sport in some way made us worthy of his beneficence? Or
contrarily, was he moved to
compassion by the brutal habits of minds concentrated on such matters as
"boundary attacks" and
Before retiring to the infinite depths of Cyberspace, Swami often said that
he had hardly begun to reveal himself because, as a guru, he required
questions worthy of his answers. "If you want a reasonable answer to a
stupid question, write to Ann Landers," Swami was fond of saying.
Any retrospective of Baba's recorded words will reveal that our questions
were never worthy of his answers, and yet, he generously gave them. If only
we had been wise enough to ask, in all humility, "Dear Baba, what IS the
question?" Perhaps, with this retrospective , we might still trick Baba
out of retreat to share with us in the treacherous 90's more of his eternal
wit and wisdom.
Following is Part One of a retrospective of Baba's best answers, though the
questions themselves remain, at best, questionable.
Dear Baba Beetle-Brain,
You are insulting an ancient and noble tradition and doing damage to the real
nature of yoga by pretending to have invented "Croquet Yoga." Anyone with
half a brain knows that yoga is entirely concerned with process, not result.
You can't have a game as the central practice of any yoga, because the point
of a game is to win or lose, and in trying to win or lose, you divert
attention from your own normally-invisible processes, and your so-called
"yoga" is thereby compromised and corrupted. Besides being an offense to the
great masters of the ages, "Croquet Yoga" is a self-contradiction, an
Thank you, my student friend, for piercing to the very heart of Croquet Yoga
- unwittingly nor not. Do you remember the proverb, "It matters not if you
win or lose, but how you play the game?" Most old proverbs are garbage, but
this one isn't bad. Games, as everyone knows, are esssentially unimportant.
They are invented significances, not at all "serious" in the sense that the
moves we make in "real life" have serious consequences.
But Baba asks you to take another look, as deeply as you dare, at this
"common-sense" assumption about the reality of "games" and of "real life."
Baba asks you now to transcend your struggle for knowledge, the endless
"process" to which you are so religiously devoted, and just cut to the
chase: simply acknowledge and assume within your being the most enlightened
conclusions of four thousand years of human philosophy.
"How can I do that?" is your automatic response, and in answer, I have a
question, a koan, and if you invest your whole being in plumbing the mystery
of this koan, you can, in an instant, reach the end of those four thousand
years of philosophy. It requires, however, giving up your attachment to
your "studenthood," and this will be difficult for you, as evidenced by the
violence of your question to Baba.
Are you ready for the koan?
Good. Then here it is: What do the gods do?
Do not "think" about the anwer or strain for it. Simply look, and see what
you see, and acknowledge what is there. The answer is revealed not to the
intellect but to the seeking spirit.
If the gods do anything EXCEPT play, they are not gods, are they? Playing
the game is an act of choice, the supreme privilege of a being who is not
stuck in the mundane cause-and-effect chain of events which are the sum and
total of ordinary human destiny. (Keith Wylie comments in his book that the
gods, when they play croquet, use one-back tactics. Sometimes, perhaps.)
Picking up a mallet and embarking upon a game - the outcome of which one
knows only be be uncertain - is an act of divine self actualization. It
doesn't matter, having chosen to play a game, whether you will hit a
three-foot roquet or a achieve a dodecapeel on every attempt. What matters
is that you play the game, knowing that it IS a game, and that you play it
full-out in every moment.
If you don't play in this divine spirit - if you play as if it isn't a game -
have you noticed what a deadly bore the game becomes? And at the same time,
one must play seriously. Seriously, but with a lightness of spirit.
This is exactly the way one plays "life" as a game. Life is full of invented
significances. Only in the spirit of the game can we see the real choices we
have and the absolute justice of all the workings of material reality. This
is the goal and gift of Croquet Yoga.
Knowing that you freely chose to play the game gives you the ability to
witness the justice of whatever happens. When a player tells you, quite
seriously, "I really should have won that game, and I would have, if not for
that roll-off in corner two," you can cluck sympathetically, knowing you
are looking at someone who plays life in exactly the same way - as a victim
of circumstance, rather than the master of his fate.
Haven't you noticed that when people forget they have invented the
significances of their own lives they're not having much fun, they've thrown
away their liberty and their creativity? Life is a "serious" game, just as
croquet must be, to be enjoyed to the fullest. Why play a game, Baba asks,
if you aren't serious about it? If you aren't serious, you miss the fun of
You are right, dear student: The real value is in the process, in the
here-and-now working out, which is never worked out fully until the instant
the game ends with the final peg-out or the end of time on the clock. If you
are investing all your happiness in the expectation of the micro-second of
the result, you have hardly any existence at all; you are not really here
now, where the game is going on.
So here is Baba's last word - the second part of Baba's Serial Koan:
What do the gods do when they finish their game?
If you can't get the answer to this second koan on your own, you need to
start over, very carefully, and run through Baba's words again. If you
still can't get it, you need to do something really radical: like join the
Foreign Legion, or check into the Betty Ford Clinic, or take up something
less demanding and refined, such as golf.
For more on this subject, send a love offering of at least $25 (U.S.
currency) c/o this publication, and you will receive Baba's monograph
entitled, "Get More Out of Croquet: Play Life!"
Dear Wonderful Baba Bob,
My life has not been the same since I wrote you all my troubles and wrote
back and told me to join the USCA. Now my life is full of joy, adventure,
travel to many tournaments, and my game is coming along nicely. Please buy
something nice for yourself with the enclosed $500.00 love offering. I have
just one question now. I know how to tell who wins in croquet, because there
are always just 26 points and one of the players always gets there first.
But how do you tell who wins in life?
--Beverly Hills Devotee
Baba sends you a special blessing and gladly answers your splendid question.
The way you tell who wins in life is this: After the game is over, you
measure the number and length of the obituaries; the eminence of those who
deliver the funeral orations; the value and extent of the physical estate and
other forms of one's legacy, including writings, decendants, businesses,
institutions, patents, copyrights, etc.
You can't tell who wins and who loses until the game is over. That is why,
in Croqut Yoga is in Life, attention to the process is so important. Keep
your eye on the ball. Adjust the angle of your mallet head on your croquet
shot consciously and precisely every time. Feel the heft of your mallet as
you being your swing and throughout your followthrough. Don't forget to
breathe. Learn. Feel. Play. Enjoy.
Playing the game of croquet and playing the game of Life, as process, could
be compared to making love or listening to a world class orchestra doing your
favorite symphony. All these pastimes have beginnings, middles, and ends -
but it is unwise to engage in any of them exclusively as contests.
I have come to face the fact that I am not going to be a champion player. I
have therefore begun to wonder whether I should give up croquet. Can Croquet
Yoga help me?
Yes! I have seen you in action, and it is true that you will never win
major tournaments. But don't despair: there are too many winners already,
and other roles are sadly wanting.
First, I owe it to the international brotherhood of swamis to advise you
simply to transcend your ego, thereby becoming the space of the game, rather
than simply the possibility of winning or losing. Of course, virtually
nobody knows how to transcend their ego, including swamis, so let's just
skip that possibility, which of course you are free to do if you can pull it
off - which I very much doubt.
A more practical approach, providing many options, is not to try to
transcend your ego, but to RELOCATE it. Just look at the possibilities: You
become an organizer of events, for example. If you find that too much work,
you become a critic of organizers (already a crowded field in almost every
country, but there is always space for more critics). If you want a role
with more honor in it, you can become a Croquet Wife. (A person of either
sex can be a Croquet Wife, the generic form of which is "the person who does
what needs to be done to makes things work, even if it's not particularly
If you don't feel comfortable in any of these well-defined roles - as
champion player, organizer, critic, or Croquet Wife - you can combine
several of them into a career in Croquet Politics. Some croquet politicians
find political intrigue so absorbing that they give up playing croquet
Best of all, Doubting Thomas, you don't have to be especially gifted to excel
in Croquet Politics. Anyone who really wishes to do so can achieve a measure
of success in Croquet Politics, because this is, after all, a small, limited
sphere, run by part-time volunteers. Therefore, if you are willing to invest
sufficient time, you can make real headway simply by wearing down your
opponents, who will finally become so distracted and bored that they'll give
you anything you want - a tactic which, unfortunately, doesn't work on the
You will never win on the croquet lawn, so for you, Croquet Yoga is, if not
the only answer, surely the best answer.