Just had to mention this article, which reports that Jon Horford, a forward on the University of Michigan basketball team, is a student of the Daodejing. Fantastic. And it seems that the young man has a good grasp on the text:
"You can't say it's about nothing, but that's one of the main things -- just do nothing," he said of the book. "It's about returning yourself to your original nature, how you were before you were affected by everything around you."
That "everything around you" includes all of those social expectations and demands that obstruct our openness to Way. "Original nature" could be problematic - we should steer clear of essentialist assertions of "human nature" - but the sense of unadulterated spontaneity is quite apt.
I would recommend that Horford next read the classic Cook Ding passage in chapter three of Zhuangzi, which came up in my class today. That strikes me as the best statement of how an athlete might experience Dao:
And now ‑ now I go at it by spirit and don't look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants.
In other words, he is "in the zone," able to accomplish extraordinary physical feats without thinking, to be totally in the moment and react with utter finesse to the immediate context, rather like cutting to the rim in one explosive movement or making the no-look pass. Indeed, it is that sort of openness that inspires my own identity as a Daoist Yankee fan (and thus, I am not rattled by yesterday's poor showing from the Bronx Bombers....)
So, hooray for Mr. Horford, a man who is opening himself to Dao. I am, first and foremost, a Badger, but I am happy to cheer for the Wolverines in the Final Four. Maybe the Michigan cheerleaders can chant this from passage 22 of the DDJ (Hinton):
Give up self-relfection and you're soon enlightened.
Give up self-definition and you're soon apparent.
Give up self-promotion and you're soon proverbial.
Give up self-esteem and you're soon perennial.
Simply give up contention and soon nothing in all beneath heaven contents with you.
Do Nothing Blue - and there is nothing that will be undone!