BABA, WHY ARE YOU BEING INTERVIEWED BY YOUR SPIRIT-CHANNEL THIS TIME, RATHER THAN SIMPLY ANSWERING THE LETTERS OF YOUR DEVOTEES, AS HAS BEEN YOUR PRACTICE IN THE PAST?
BABA: I'm so glad you asked that. People send in their questions, and the swami answers, but the answer is not necessarily what the swami is most interested in saying. And it is hard to answer a question nobody has asked. Swamis need to be accorded the privilege of having questions equal to the answers they wish to give - at least once in a while. Otherwise, they get frustrated, because their vision is so vast, so beyond the imaginings of ordinary people, that they will never share this vision if they must wait for someone to ask the right question.
DO YOU HAVE A VISION YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH YOUR DEVOTEES?
Excellent question! Yes, and this vision has never before been revealed in any form. It is a vision of the golf courses of America. I see them in my vision, all of them, converted to terraced lawns for croquet. And on those lawns, I see former golfers, by the millions, playing croquet, the queen of sports.
THIS IS AN ASTONISHING AND EXTRAVAGANT VISION, BABA! CAN IT BE REALIZED?
We must promulgate the gospel of Croquet Yoga. We must let the world know that there is a game fit for human beings, that reflects and validates the true spiritual nature of mankind. And that game certainly is NOT golf. Given a clear choice between golf and croquet and a real understanding of the options, anybody who would choose golf is truly a jerk.
FORGIVE ME, BABA, BUT THIS SEEMS UNCHARACTERISTICALLY HARSH, HOSTILE, UNCOMPASSIONATE...
To the contrary: When you see someone behaving like a jerk, the most compassionate thing you can do is to go up and whisper in their ear, "My friend, you're acting like a jerk!"
BUT BABA, GOLF REALLY IS A BEAUTIFUL GAME, AS EVERYONE KNOWS...
My sweet, naive friend, there is no class of knowledge more suspect than "what everyone knows." It is not the execrably stupid and wasteful so-called sport of golf which is beautiful - it is Mother Nature who is beautiful, even when she is saturated with chemicals, mercilessly manicured, and misused.
BUT THE BEAUTY OF GOLF IS...
The beauty of golf, like the allure of an expensive slut, is only skin deep. Scratch that glittering surface of green, sunlit vistas rolling out between the trees, bejeweled with sand bunkers of glittering white, crowned with putting greens of velvet-like perfection... Scratch that gorgeous skin, and you find an ugly and shallow nothingness as dark and futile as the hole the ball goes into, without exit, 18 times during each game.
BABA, I CAN'T STAND THIS TANGLE OF METAPHORS. DO YOU REALLY INTEND TO TELL PEOPLE THAT GOLF HAS TURNED MOTHER NATURE INTO A CHEAP SLUT?
If there are any accidents in the universe - which I doubt - they certainly aren't made by Swami. Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. The beauty of the natural setting conceals the true nature of golf. Unconcealed, it is even more vulgar practice even than alley bowling! If ever there was a devil's game, it is golf.
COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT IS SO DIABOLICAL ABOUT GOLF?
That can be said very simply: golf feeds and strengthens the mad lust for territory that is a root cause of terrible wars and constant conflict on this planet. In golf, the emphasis is on TERRITORY and DISTANCE. Croquet on the other hand, utilizes the qualities of SPACE.
TERRITORY AND SPACE? I REALLY DON'T....
Let me put it this way: One CONQUERS distance, one OWNS territory. Whereas one INHABITS space. The former is entirely mechanistic, violent, and profane; the latter is humane, spiritual and sacred.
FORGIVE ME, SWAMI, I KNOW YOU ARE ALWAYS RIGHT, BUT DO YOU THINK IT'S WISE TO MAKE THE POINT IN SUCH OVERTLY SPIRITUAL TERMS? I MEAN, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SPORTS, AND IN A SECULAR SOCIETY...
Very well. Specifically, then, what do you do in this so-called "sport" of golf? The one and only aim of golf is to cover the territory as quickly as possible and go down that hole. That's it! That's the whole "sport." And what do you do then? Why, you do exactly the same thing again - in fact, 17 more times! And you call that a sport?
WHEN YOU PUT IT THAT WAY, IT DOES SEEM A BIT SIMPLE-MINDED, BUT...
BUT IT'S NOT THE SAME EACH TIME, THE PLAYER IS TESTING HIMSELF ON A DIFFERENT TERRAIN EACH TIME, AFTER EACH HOLE.
Very funny! That's like a man divorced nine times saying of his wives, "But they were all different!" Certainly they were all different, but the differences were superficial and meaningless. Fundamentally, they were all the same! Just as in golf: cover the territory as quickly as possible, then start over and do it again.
BUT THE CHALLENGE OF THE TERRAIN....
Exactly! Golf is not even a game, strictly speaking. In a real game, you contest against other human beings. A real game has humane values. Golf, on the other hand, is a devilish sacrament that acts out the eternal isolation of the soul contesting, alone, all the malign powers of the universe. The players are utterly isolated, one from another, no interaction whatsoever. This myself-against-the-world metaphor is singularly unsuitable for our age. It is damaging to the dawning self-realization of humanity and its responsibility for the planet we all inhabit together. If you take such a game seriously, it will damage you spiritually. (And if you can't take a game seriously, why play it?)
BABA, PLEASE! WE'RE TALKING ABOUT GAMES HERE...
People in our age are ignorant of the importance of games as metaphors for living. Stupidly conceived, anachronistic games like golf perpetuate this ignorance. Golf, perhaps, was suitable for an age in which feudal lords dominated small areas of territory and fought in eternal conflict with everyone around them to maintain their turf and expand it.
I THOUGHT YOU SAID GOLF WAS NOT EVEN A GAME...
No, and it isn't a sport, either. What kind of sport is it without any interaction whatsoever between the players OR their balls - that is, the pieces that project their egos into the physical dimension...? I tell you, the thing is an outrage! It is tolerated, like the odious superstitions of our mainstream religions, only because it is familiar, because we have grown accustomed to it and therefore never question the value of it, or lack thereof.
ARE YOU SAYING, BABA, THAT WITH A CHOICE ON A CERTAIN DAY BETWEEN PLAYING GOLF AND GOING TO CHURCH...?
Oh no, I won't make that choice for people. The fact is, some golf courses are a lot better than others. I would say, on the whole, that sleeping in is less apt to produce spiritual damage than either of those alternatives.
I THINK YOU'RE JOKING, BABA.
No, not really. Church is often even less interactive than golf, and that's what we're talking about - interaction, spiritual engagement. And when one considers that there are millions of people who do BOTH on the same day, one shudders to think...
BABA, FORGIVE ME, BUT I FEEL IT IS DANGEROUS FOR YOU TO ATTACK IN THIS WAY, PUBLICLY, SOMETHING THAT IS HELD SO SACRED IN OUR SOCIETY AS GOLF....
You are right, little one! But sometimes one enjoys tasting the horrors of human life just a little - as an aperitif- so the sweetness of the true and the righteous might be better savored. Croquet, unlike golf, is wonderfully interactive! The most important elements of strategy and tactics are associated with the options available for striking the other players' balls and thereby gaining additional strokes. The relationships of the players - and their relative prospects of success - change with every stroke. There is no more dynamic game in all of sports. The game literally must be newly created at every moment, the past canceled utterly with each move. Otherwise, you are not being appropriate to the reality of the circumstances in the moment. Croquet is therefore a suitable metaphor for successful living, and for a healthy spirituality. It is easy to see - anyone with an ounce of objectivity will gladly acknowledge it - that golf is just sick! A sick game for a sick world! And it is not even a game!
DEAR BABA, IF THIS IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT REVELATION, I MUST TELL YOU THAT IT IS NOT GOING TO BE RECEIVED AS "GOOD NEWS" IN MANY QUARTERS. IT IS GOING TO BE OPPOSED, STRONGLY. IT REALLY SEEMS MORE POLITICAL THAN SPIRITUAL, AND IT'S SO VERY NEGATIVE. WHAT DOES IT REALLY HAVE TO DO WITH CROQUET YOGA?
There need be no difference between political and spiritual strategies, if they are appropriately holistic. Golf is spiritually barren - almost, one would say, evil, played not against human beings, but terrain, statistical norms, and abstractions. A devil's game!
IN THEIR WAY, BABA, AS OUTRAGEOUS AS THEY ARE, YOUR ARGUMENTS HAVE A CERTAIN COMPELLING LOGIC, BUT... I HATE TO SAY THIS, SWAMI, FORGIVE ME, BUT REALLY THINK THIS TIME YOU'VE GONE OFF THE DEEP END...
Naturally. Is Swami going to be wading in the shallow end when he can swim with the big boys off the deep end? But you are right, of course, in your way. I have not yet revealed the final and overwhelmingly persuasive argument which in an insane world will finally tip the balance towards sanity. This vision will not be realized simply because I, the Croquet Swami, declare it. It will happen for a much more compelling reason, the inexorable determinant of how and where we inhabit space on this physical plane.
PLEASE, BABA, DON'T KEEP ME IN SUSPENSE ANY LONGER. WHAT IS THIS MYSTERIOUS FORCE YOU SPEAK OF?
Real estate values will tip the balance in favor of croquet. When people realize that croquet is ten times more space-efficient than golf, the market forces themselves align themselves to provide the most persuasive final solution to the problems both of our sadly under-valued sport and the spiritual sickness that manifests so universally in golf.
"FINAL SOLUTION?" IT SOUNDS SOMEHOW FRIGHTENING....
Not at all! It simply requires carving up all the golf courses and transforming them into croquet lawns! Simple! Even a link of modest dimensions can be terraced to accommodate at least 10 full-sized croquet courts, for eighty players with mallets - opposed to only eight, let's say, for golf. That makes a minimum of 180 croquet courts, allowing more than 1400 people to play croquet in a space which formerly could be occupied by no more than 140 golfers at once!
IT SOUNDS SIMPLE AND LOGICAL, BABA, BUT HOW DO YOU THINK THIS COULD POSSIBLY COME ABOUT?
Do you think real estate is going to become cheaper as more and more human beings crowd onto the surface of the planet? No, the pressure will increase, with each passing year. It is thus the Manifest Destiny of croquet to overtake and supplant golf.
OKAY, OKAY, SO WHEN DOES ALL THIS HAPPEN, IN YOUR VISION?
I would say that by 2010 we should be able to get our message across.
SO SOON? THAT IS SO FEW YEARS AWAY.
Yes, but the future is coming so much faster than only a few short years ago. Look at what has happened in Japan, where the golfing madness has reached the epidemic stage. Even with the food-importing economy nearing collapse - and one hardly wonders why, with golf links covering thousands of acres of land that could grow rice - a golfing membership can cost 100 million yen! We don't have to go the way of Japan. Come 2010, America's 14 million golfers can become 140 million croquet players using the same space in a sane, spiritually balanced way, spreading croquet consciousness throughout the world, with Baba Baba as our true prophet and guide, and the Queen of Games as our constant inspiration. Only then will the great mission of Croquet Yoga be fulfilled.
YOUR VISION IS BREATH-TAKING IN ITS MAGNIFICENCE, BABA! WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE IT HAPPEN?
Be who you are, your beautiful croqueting self. We are few today, but we are proud, and we are righteous, and we have the answer. I counsel compassion and conciliation. Wear proudly your croquet pins and logo merchandise. Engage golfers in conversation whenever possible, speaking with patience and kindness, realizing that years of exposure to the spiritually debilitating pursuit of golf tends not only to wither the spirit, but also to atrophy the brain. Better yet, send money to Swami so he can undertake the mainstream communication projects that will best spread word of this revelation.
AREN'T YOU UNEASY, SWAMI, ABOUT ASKING PEOPLE TO SEND YOU MONEY, CONSIDERING THE RECENT SCANDALS OF THE TV EVANGELISTS?
Quite the contrary! This is the perfect occasion for giving people a better choice, along with the assurance that their money is being used by people who do not violate their own rules, who can be taken absolutely at their word. We are not claiming, after all, that God has ordered us to undertake this crusade. We figured this out all by ourselves - and, in fact, God has not intervened by telling us NOT to do it, so we may assume that our project enjoys her complete approval. This is the way the universe operates, and Croquet Yoga is always in absolute agreement with the way the universe operates.
THE REAL DANGER HERE, BABA, IS TAKING ON SOMETHING HELD SO SACRED IN THIS COUNTRY AS GOLF. WHAT YOU PROPOSE WILL NOT BE POPULAR, AND THIS IS DANGEROUS. YOU ARE SUBJECTING YOURSELF TO THE MOST INTENSE PUBLIC SCRUTINY...
Oh, one mustn't worry about that. The TV preachers made many mistakes which I could not possibly make, because they had far too many rules, so it was inevitable that they would break some of them. But in Croquet Yoga, there are no rules of any kind about sex and drugs (to name only two examples), so there is not likely to be any scandal about breaking rules on sex and drugs, now is there? The problem with the TV evangelists is their rule book. It is archaic, it is confusing, it is contradictory, it is crazy-making. It is long overdue for a complete revision and update. People are playing all these different weird games, all using the same poorly worded rule book. No wonder they get into so much trouble!
TO GET BACK TO THE MAIN POINT, BABA, WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO SEE AS THE MAIN RESULT, IF YOUR GRAND VISION IS REALIZED?
It means that we will expand the boundaries of croquet into every sphere of national life and consciousness. Our presidents, our generals, all our politicians will be croquet players instead of golfers. When we substitute croquet for golf, we elevate taste and sensibility, we advance humane values. I equate the false game values of golf - its insane emphasis on distance as opposed to space, its territorial imperative - with the lemming-like rush of humanity towards self-annihilation. It must be stopped. It can never be stopped with a club. Politicians with the good sense to exchange their golf clubs for croquet mallets could save humanity.
THIS ALL SEEMS SO SERIOUS, BABA. WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT IS ONLY A GAME, AFTER ALL.
Well said! It is, indeed, only a game! And so what if you make a bad mistake and destroy yourself! It was only a game, right?
YOU SEEM TO BE SUGGESTING THAT YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL IS NO LESS THAN THE SALVATION OF THE PLANET AND THE HUMAN SPECIES.
If there's nothing important at stake, how satisfying can it be to play the game? But this is enough for now, the vibrations are beginning to fade. I will reveal the broader dimensions of the game another time.
[BABA BOB is the award-winning author of "GET MORE OUT OF CROQUET - PLAY LIFE!" and other inspirational guides to right thinking and righteous living. The Croquet Swami tells you what you need to hear, not what you think you want to know. It's not easy to be a swami and tell the truth 100 percent of the time whether people want to hear it or not. If you want a trivial answer to a stupid question, write to Ann Landers. If you want to support Baba's great mission to humanity, send your generous love offering by personal check in care of this magazine. Baba says, "Don't stop to think about it - do it now!"]
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