Golf and the Spirit

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Overview

M. Scott Peck, renowned author of The Road Less Traveled, reveals how the game of golf has taught him -- and can teach you -- some of life's most important lessons. Whether you're a master, a beginner, or know nothing about golf and couldn't care less about it, by playing side by side with Dr. Peck on an imaginary course of his own design, you'll come to learn the rich spiritual truths the game holds. This program goes far beyond mechanics to explore deeper issues -- ways of successfully managing emotional, ...

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Overview

M. Scott Peck, renowned author of The Road Less Traveled, reveals how the game of golf has taught him -- and can teach you -- some of life's most important lessons. Whether you're a master, a beginner, or know nothing about golf and couldn't care less about it, by playing side by side with Dr. Peck on an imaginary course of his own design, you'll come to learn the rich spiritual truths the game holds. This program goes far beyond mechanics to explore deeper issues -- ways of successfully managing emotional, psychological, and even spiritual aspects of this most wonderful, maddening, deflating, and inspiring game.Here are some of the many gifts from Golf and the Spirit: appreciating that life is not linear; learning to live with anger; accepting the gift of humility; learning how to benefit from teachers and how to change deep-seated behaviors; appreciating that in weakness there is strength, and realizing that to experience the blessings of golf and life fully, one must accept the divinity that underlies all things.Golf and the Spirit makes a unique and lasting contribution to the literature of golf and life. It is a program that goes beyond the body to address the heart and soul of the game, and will thereby transform your life -- on and off the fairway.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Scott uses the game of golf to illustrate how we often struggle against ourselves: the golf course mimics the journey of life. Each chapter begins with a brief aphorism and then goes beyond the mechanics of golf to explore ways of successfully managing emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of the game, and of life itself. Though not a how-to, the book still offers readers the basics of how to grip a club and get out of a sand trap. The 19 chapters correspond to holes (the front nine, the back nine, and the 19th holea drink at the clubhouse), and each ends with notes, most of which include witty asides. Pecks humor and honest discussion continue to delight and enlighten. Readers who were challenged by The Road Less Traveled (LJ 9/15/78) and Denial of the Soul (LJ 3/15/97) will enjoy the lessons offered here. Essential for libraries seeking to stay current with popular psychology, spirituality, and self-improvement. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/99.]Leroy Hommerding, Citrus Cty. Lib., Inverness, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517708835
  • Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/11/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 6.33 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

M. Scott Peck is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including The Road Less Traveled, which has spent more than ten years of the Times list and is arguably the most influential spiritual book of modern times. He and his wife, Lily, live in northern Connecticut and have been the recipients of several awards for peacemaking.

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Read an Excerpt

THE FRONT NINE

Once there was a man of limited imagination who considered the progress of life to be straightforward.

HOLE 1
SETTING THE SCENE
To the proverbial man from Mars, golf would seem the most linear of all human activities. For example, it is the only common game I know where the player with the lowest score wins. The whole point, apparently, is to get the ball from here (a tee) to there (a hole in a green) as directly as possible. Generally, it is obvious that the straighter the passage of that little ball from the tee to the hole, the fewer times the player will have to hit it and, hence, the greater her or his sense of accomplishment. Then the golfer will move on to the tee of the next allotted space of terrain (or "hole") and repeat the same linear process all over again. And again. And again.

A few practicing human golfers actually do envision the game in this manner. Usually they are male. They are the "chargers." They advance directly along the course, their eyes only on the hole ahead, plowing forward with maximum speed, as if driven by a mule. They are generally not having much fun. They are also often not playing very well, either.

This is because the reality—unlike the appearance—is that golf is probably the most nonlinear pastime on the face of the earth. This book is devoted to that reality. Consequently, it will be the most nonlinear book I've ever written. For those of you who have trouble tolerating anything that isn't clearly straightforward, I suggest you stop now. Throw in the towel. Quit. And don't look for much from golf.

This is not a "how to" book. You will readherein almost nothing about how to grip a golf club properly, and very little about how to swing one. Or hit from a downhill lie. Or get out of a sand trap with dignity. Moreover, my lawyers have firmly advised me not to give you any guarantee whatsoever that anything I have to say will improve your game by a single stroke.

This is a "how not to" book.

Human beings have amazingly different personalities. Why this is so—to what degree it is a fact of nature (genes) or nurture (how their parents raised them)—even as an experienced psychiatrist, I don't have the foggiest idea. In any case, certain people—like the pros—seem almost to have been born to play golf well. Others have personalities that make them bound to play the game poorly.

Learning how to play golf with the slightest decency or pleasure has been for me a continual battle against my own personality. This is what has made me an expert. I am an expert on how not to play golf.

Why, you may naturally wonder, would anyone spend an enormous amount of time and money "playing" at something he will never be very good at, something that may often be humiliating? Ah, there you have it. The answer is in the question: I play golf precisely because it is humiliating. While I don't enjoy being humiliated, I do need it.

There's another word for what golfers go through that's even stronger than humiliation: mortification. It is derived from mors, the Latin word for "death," as is the term mortician for "undertaker." To be mortified is to feel so humiliated that you would rather bury yourself deep in the nearest sand trap than ever show your face on a golf course again.

In the good (or not so good) old days, certain Roman Catholic monks and nuns and a few others used to practice mortification as a discipline. They defined it as the discipline of "daily dying." Some of their techniques, such as wearing hair shirts, self-flagellation, and floor licking, were indeed masochistic. Yet I believe they were onto something—something we have generally forgotten but still very much need.

They practiced mortification deliberately in order to learn humility. Another word in theology gets more to the heart of the matter: kenosis. Kenosis is defined as "the process of the self emptying itself of self." In doing battle on the golf course against my own personality—against my ego, if you will—I am attempting to practice kenosis: getting myself out of my own way. It is what spiritual growth is all about.

In this book there will eventually be much more about kenosis, this struggle of self against self. For the moment let it suffice to say that, among other reasons, I play golf because it is for me a highly useful spiritual discipline. Indeed, given the fact that it is so humiliating, I doubt I could play it at all unless I envisioned it as a spiritual discipline. And I am suggesting that you too might want to regard the game in this light.

So what you have here from me is yet one more "spiritual growth" book.

And while there are no guarantees, reading it might just enable you to take a dozen strokes or more off your score. Or at least persist in your attempt to do so. And for some of you, even to take up the game as a beginner.

What's so wrong with my personality that I need to empty myself of parts of it? My anger, just for starters. I am a very determined person. That's not all to the bad, but I tend to get very angry when things don't go just my way.

Things like golf balls.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
Hole 1 Setting the Scene 3
Hole 2 Taking Up the Game 17
Hole 3 Penalties and Perfection 33
Hole 4 Flight, Freedom, and Power 49
Hole 5 Human Nature 65
Hole 6 The Invisible 85
Hole 7 Deftness 101
Hole 8 Paradox 117
Hole 9 Climate and Perspective 133
Hole 10 Teaching and Learning 149
Hole 11 Time 165
Hole 12 Civility 183
Hole 13 Competition 201
Hole 14 The Human Condition 219
Hole 15 Golf and Sexuality 239
Hole 16 Remembering 259
Hole 17 In the Flow 275
Hole 18 God 291
Hole 19 Closure 303
Index 315
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 1999

    Insights for everyone.

    This is the first M. Scott Peck book that I've read; the book is easy to read yet full of profound ideas explained in simple terms to help one understand how much more we all have in common than most of us realize. His view of God and religion is on target without being fanatical about having to belong to one religion or another.

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