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The Greatest Illusion in Golf

by Taylor Spalding

First Aspect

The greatest illusion in golf can be best summed up in the words of Chuangtse:

Unawareness of one's feet

is the mark of shoes that fit

Unawareness of one's waist

is the mark of a belt that fits.

Unawareness of right and wrong

is the mark of a mind at ease.

This statement is ably applied to the question of moral responsibility and authentic action. When there is no rightness or wrongness, there is the ease of "is"ness. How can this saying relate to authentic action in swing?

First we must understand this point: Lack of sensation tells us that the state of the local sensing area is stable, even in motion, stable. The belt is not so tight as to constrict; it's not so loose as to sag. Since no sensation is being evoked, the perception is unencumbered. This does not mean he is unaware that he is wearing a belt or that he is wearing shoes. He knows they are there; he just doesn't notice them. So too in the act of true swing, we know we are moving; we just don't know the particulars of it. When all the points in a moving body are stable there is perfect synergy. The only point theoretically not moving is the center. It is impossible to find that point since the center can always be divided by two. All points are thus reacting to an infinitely divisible and universal movement. When there is no conflict of points in motion there is no sensation evoked by the motion. Therefore a golf swing can only be determined to be correct by the absence of sensation in its moving parts.

comment on the authority illusion

Those determined to learn the golf swing want to feel a sensation in hopes of gaining correct swing. But because we observe and create mental models through sensory information, it feels very unsettling when we must understand something in terms of its lack of sensation, or by its negation. Anything we do to investigate what is going on in this "sensation gap" will force us to fill it up so to speak. If the mind does ask a question during the swing, or at the indivisible moment of "Whening," the state of doubt that the question inevitably evokes will extend throughout the swing and force sensation to answer. Our reply is usually the sight of the ball skipping along the ground, slicing out of bounds or diving into a hazard.

This mental slippage has not gone unrecognized. Ernest Jones, a generation ago, used a simple rhyme about a centipede to demonstrate this condition. It appears the centipede was quite happy until a toad asked him which leg came after which. Upon thinking over the answer, the centipede fell into a ditch(See page 33 of "Swing The Clubhead," by Ernest Jones). True swing occurs in the non-durative moment. When we attend to any one of the particular phenomena of the persistent "Now," we are doomed. It forces the mind to add duration to the moment. The centipede walks in the non-durative moment.

Even though analysis paralysis is the obvious problem, finding out what triggers it is quite another thing. Surely, much of the problem lies deep within the substrate of the temperament. However, ignoring of the paradox of play also clouds the understanding.

What is called for is attention in the spirit of non-attainment. We must find out what can be accomplished through method and what can only be accomplished through the whim. We must also find out what brings us to dissolve method and create whim.

The dissolving of method is a process of finding faith in motion. Daunting as this task may me be, no other option is open to us. Without faith in motion there can never be affirmation of correctness, only the question of correctness. This mental tension, borne of dualistic thinking, then bleeds over into the movement of the swing itself. In the mind, a whisper of doubt prepares the body to meet sensation. With the observer arisen, the ball is never truly seen. For the mind is too busy making abstract mental images and extending the motion through sensation into time itself.

As time constraints are put on the mental process, any method applied will destroy what only the thoughtless moment can produce. The problem is quite similar to that of the nuclear physicist. He wants to observe the movement of electrons, yet when he exposes them to light to aid his observation, they move in response to the light. He wants to see what's going on behind the door but the behavior changes as soon as the door is opened. We want to know what's going on during the "correct" swing, but the act of our observation causes deviation. In our effort to look we become quite prone to the second aspect of this illusion.

go to the second aspect

Copyright 1995, Golden Barefoot Golf


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