Have you ever watched someone play pinball? Have you noticed how they become quiet and still? Did you see their intense focus even amongst the sounds of the machine and clamor of the arcade?
I am a product of the 70s; the Who’s classic “Pinball Wizard,” from their 1969 concept album “Tommy,” was an anthem for my introduction to the Bodhi Game of pinball. As the open line states: “Ever since I was a young boy I’ve played the silver ball.”
At first, the game was all about the bumpers, bells and high score. As the decades passed, my love for the game never wavered, however, around the late 90s, I began my yoga/meditation journey, and a deeper appreciation took hold.
Along with my yogic training (I still “played a mean pinball,” though), I started experiencing the machine much like my practice, with the limbs of yoga and the parts of the machine each mirroring the other. Here is my discovery.
I am the silver ball. The Bodhi releases me into the path of creation where I enter into Maya. I am batted back and forth, descending into the chaos of birth. The bumpers of Yamaand Niyama push me back and forth, up and down. Emerging from this cacophony of buzzers and bells, I enter Brahma’s belly and begin my Asanas developing discipline and concentration. Using the flipper of Pranayama, I control my breath and the flipper of Pratyahara, my awareness is drawn from the outside stimuli. Spirited, I continue and enter Dharana, extending my concentration and finally Dhyana, becoming keenly aware without focus. Supreme joy begins to crest as the game continues until the moment of transcendence and ecstasy, Samadhi, is vanquished by my ego and I descend into the darkness, my score is but a moment, and I wait to be born again.
There is no winning or losing. There is only practice and discovery. You have good days; you have bad days. With devotion, each brings equanimity, love and truth.
There is no winning or losing. There is only practice and discovery.
Next Saturday skip the yoga and meditation, put a “Jackson” in your pocket and search out the nearest pinball machine. Take a deep breath, exhale, stand like a statue, become part of the machine and practice becoming a wizard. See where it leads.
Photo by Jordan Bauer.