A Cosmic Baseball Game

[The] swamis, gurus and yoga masters that came here from India, along with their Buddhist counterparts, changed the face of spirituality in the West. Among other things, they gave people who were alienated from, indifferent to or contemptuous of mainstream religion a way to exercise the spiritual impulse without compromising their sense of reason or the facts of history and science. They were Hindus to be sure, but they were not religious missionaries out to convert. They taught the essence of their tradition — what Indians call sanatana dharma, or the eternal way, a science of consciousness if you will, that they said can enhance the life of anyone, whether religious or secular. In the process they lifted the ceiling on human development and opened the gates to a new understanding of who and what we are. ("Three Gurus Who Changed the Face of Spirituality in the West" by Philip Goldberg. May 25, 2011.)

Alan Watts, was a holy man of the trickster type. He was a guru who didn't take himself, or his teachings, too seriously. (Christopher Ryan, Psychology Today). Yet his influence on a generation of seekers was profound because he helped bring Eastern philosophy to the West.


It is not difficult to understand why [Eastern philosophies] should appeal to Americans at this particular juncture of our history. Theistic religions have lost their hold on the minds of many educated Americans, and this has opened up a deep spiritual vacuum that needs to be filled. For many, materialistic values are profoundly unsatisfying, and Buddhism offers a spiritual teaching that fits the bill. It is rational, experiential, practical, and personally verifiable; it brings concrete benefits that can be realized in one’s own life; it propounds lofty ethics and an intellectually cogent philosophy. Also, less auspiciously, it has an exotic air that attracts those fascinated by the mystical and esoteric." (Source: Insight Journal, Fall 2002. Interview with Bhikkhu Bodhi.)

Team Rosters

Lineup: Gurus
Indian Guru

Yogananda was born in India 1893. In 1920 he came to the United States as a Hindu delegate from India to a convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Also in 1920 he founded the Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) which taught yoga and meditation practice to a wide variety of Americans, including Mark Twain's daughter. Yogananda died in the United States in 1952. His influence has been significant. The electronics entrepreneur Steve Jobs read Yogananda's autobiography as a teenager and continued to be influenced by the book throughout his life. One of Steve Jobs' last gifts was left in a brown box and handed out at his memorial service. Inside the brown box was a copy of "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Hindu guru Paramahansa Yogananda. Like other Gurus, a variety of controversies exist relating to Yogananda. For example, Stripping the Gurus by Geoffrey D. Falk is notable for its condemnation of Yogananda's spiritual foundation and its contemporary leaders and followers. Nevertheless, Yogananda's teachings are still influential. Perhaps here they can be compressed into a quote from his book, The Divine Romance, You are walking on the earth as in a dream. Our world is a dream within a dream; you must realize that to find God is the only goal, the only purpose, for which you are here. For Him alone you exist. Him you must find."
Chögyam Trungpa
Tibetan Guru

"[Trungpa] caused more trouble, and did more good, than anyone I'll ever know." (Fields, Rick. How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America. 3rd ed., 1992). Chögyam Trungpa was the 11th incarnation of the Trungpa Tulku and was raised to be the leader of the Surmang monasteries in eastern Tibet. He left Tibet in 1959 fleeing to India ahead of the Chinese takeover in Tibet. He went to England and then came to the United States in 1970. His influence grew and in 1974 he opened the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, the first tantric university in America. He taught students a contemplative, meditative approach to life and creative activity. His influence reached many in the counterculture including Ram Dass, Allen Ginsberg, John Cage, William Burroughs. The folk singer Joni Mitchell was an early admirer of Chögyam Trungpa. Jack Kornfield, an associate of Ram Dass and an early leader in the appreciation of Eastern religious thought described the atmosphere around the guru, "We all had this romantic, idealistic feeling that we were at the beginning of a consciousness movement that was really going to transform the world" (What Really Matters by Tony Schwartz. 1995). Like other spiritual leaders, Chögyam Trungpa's life was tainted with scandal.

Indian Monk

Swami Vivekananda was born to a well-to-do Indian family in 1863. In November 1881, at the age of 19 Vivekananda met his guru-teacher Ramakrishna (this cosmic baseball game's Guru pitcher, see below). In September 1893 Vivekananda came to the United States to speak at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in Chicago. It was the first time that many Americans had ever heard Hindus or Buddhists speak in their own voices on behalf of their own faith. Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu, confirmed from the other side of the world the vision of universal convergence that had captured the imagination of the planners. Their self-understanding was confirmed, mirrored back to themselves in the presence of this exotic swami from the East who was one of the most popular speakers at the Parliament. One journalist wrote of him: “Vivekananda’s address before the parliament was broad as the heavens above us, embracing the best in all religions, as the ultimate universal religion—charity to all mankind, good works for the love of God, not for fear of punishment or hope of reward.”

Indian Guru

Muktananda was, by most accounts, not simply one more Eastern guru making his way into a newly open, post 1960s West. He was instead considered by many a “guru’s guru” —a person of extraordinary energy, charisma, and teaching ability who had a widely reported capacity to catalyze intense spiritual growth in so many who came in contact with him. When Muktananda toured the United States in 1970 he was often introduced by Ram Dass, himself a notable figure in what was beginning to be called the New Age Movement. A movement that readily embraced Eastern spirituality. Muktananda's type of Yoga practice became popular in the West. The central teaching of Siddha Yoga practice comes from one's own experience in meditation. God dwells within you as you. Towards the end of his life Muktananda became the subject of rumors involving his behavior with young women. He died in 1982. A year later an article published in the Winter 1983 edition of Co-Evolution Quarterly detailed some of this swami's transgressions.

Sivananda Saraswati
Indian Swami

A prolific author, Sivananda wrote 296 books on a variety of subjects: metaphysics, yoga, religion, western philosophy, psychology, eschatology, fine arts, ethics, education, health, sayings, poems, epistles, autobiography, biography, stories, dramas, messages, lectures, dialogues, essays and anthology. His books emphasised the practical application of Yoga philosophy over theoretical knowledge. He was a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. In 1936 he established the Divine Life Society (DLS) near the sacred site of Rishikesh in the Himalayas. The DLS teaches more or less orthodox Vedanta, one of the six schools of Indian philosophy, combined with both Yoga and bhakti but rejects caste and stresses social service.

Jiddu Krishnamurti
Indian Philosopher

By the time Krishnamurti died in Ojai, California, in 1986 at the age of 91, he had helped—perhaps more than anyone in this century—to introduce Eastern teachings on the nature of mind to the West. He was adopted as a young boy by Dr Annie Besant, the president of the Theosophical Society. Krishnamurti was to be a world teacher whose coming the Theosophists had predicted. To prepare the world for this coming, a world-wide organization called the Order of the Star in the East was formed and the young Krishnamurti was made its head. But Krishnamurti rebelled against theosophy and in 1929 he dissolved the Order. He spent the rest of his life touring the world talking to large audiences and to individuals about the need for a radical change in mankind. His life was not without controversy. Some argue that he was a victim of the confusion that arises when spiritual insight is presented and/or perceived in contradiction with daily life.

Bharati Tirtha
Indian Jagadguru

In 1989, Bharati Tirtha became the 36th head of Dakshinamnaya Sri Sharada Peetham. Revered as a holy man he is considered a saint par excellence and a sage beyond compare. The sacred wisdom of the Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is the focus of this spiritual group. Sanatana Dharma represents much more than just a religion; rather, it provides its followers with an entire worldview, way of life and with a coherent and rational view of reality.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Indian Yogi

In India, Maharishi created the Spiritual Development Movement which became the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1957 and the Transcendental Meditation Movement in 1958. Maharishi brought his TM to the United States during his visit in 1959. He appeared on numerous magazine covers and gained significant attention when the Beatles met him in England in 1967. In the 1960s he attracted many followers including the Beatles who went to meditate with him in India in 1968. Other celebrity visitors to his ashram in Rishikesh included Shirley MacLaine and Mia Farrow. The Beatles and the guru fell out during their visit, for various reasons. Ringo Starr reportedly objected to the vegetarian diet, while John Lennon felt that the Maharishi's claim to celibacy was a lie.

Indian Yogi

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a 19th century Indian mystic and founder of the Ramakrishna Order. Today, Sri Ramakrishna is revered by millions of people of all faiths the world over. Some look upon him as a great teacher, some as a saint, and some as a divine incarnation. Great thinkers of the East and West find in his teachings the ring of universal truth and pay tribute to him. Ramakrishna's religious philosophy included elements of bhakti, Tantra and Vedanta concepts. Ramakrishna emphasised God-realisation as the supreme goal of all living beings. Ramakrishna taught that kamini-kanchana is an obstacle to God-realization. Kamini-kanchan literally translates to "woman and gold." He was, as mystics often are, controversial. In the book Kali's Child (1996), the author, Jeffrey Kripal, determines that Sri Ramakrishna's mystical experiences were fueled by homoerotic desires that he neither accepted nor understood. But other commentators decry the application of Western psychoanalytic theory to the Hindu mystic. (For example see Interpreting Ramakrishna: Kali's Child Revisited by Swami Tyagananda and Pravrajiks Vrajaprana. 2010)

Lineup: Watts
Leslie Watts
Emily Watts
Richard Watts
Laurence Watts
Peggy Watts
Dorothy De Witt Watts
Eleanor Watts
Mark Watts
Alan Watts

Alan Watts was born in London in 1915, at the start of the first World War. At a young age he became fascinated with the Far East, and at fourteen he began to write and was published in the Journal of the London Buddhist Lodge before writing his first booklet on Zen in 1932. He moved to New York in 1938 and then to Chicago, where he served as an Episcopal priest for six years before leaving the Church. In 1950, he moved to upstate New York before going on to San Francisco to teach at the Academy of Asian Studies. Watts has been called the counterculture's guru and he does represent one example in a succession of individuals who popularized Eastern philosophy, spirituality and religion for Western consumption. [He] did as much as anyone to introduce Americans to Buddhism. Watts called himself a trickster and did not call himself a guru. By his own admission, Alan was a 'spiritual entertainer'...a great spiritual philanderer, a charismatic chap who wooed audiences worldwide with his charm and wit. In more recent times, Alan Watts has become more of a "cloud hidden" to millennials...but his message continues to resonate.


[I]ndividuals are seeking a spiritual experience to fill the void left by the movement away from theistic religions and are drawn to Buddhism. They are finding in Buddhism, a religion that encourages questioning and experiential wisdom before acceptance. This is seen as a fresh breath of air by those who have analytical minds and see no merit in blind faith. (Radhika Abeysekera, "The Appeal of Buddhism in the West," 2003.)


The point is that we have no clue what early Buddhism was like. There are no historical records apart from the scriptures. We know that most of those were written much later, and expound doctrines and practices quite different from those of early Buddhism. Historians do not agree on which scriptures, if any, reflect the Buddha’s teaching. There’s no well-founded method for figuring that out. ("What the Buddha REALLY Said" by David Chapman).


     Inn. 1: Gurus
[Starter] Alan Watts
Yogananda         5-3        . . .
Trungpa           BB         . . X
Vivekananda       BB         . X X
Muktananda        1B         . X X 1
Sivananda         4-3        X X .
Krishnamurti      1B         . . X 2
Bharati           4-6 F      . . X
     Inn. 1: Watts
[Starter] Ramakrishna
Leslie Watts      K          . . .
Emily Watts       6-3        . . .
Richard Watts     7          . . .
     Inn. 2: Gurus
Maharishi         6-3        . . .
Ramakrishna       E-6        . . X
Yogananda         8          . . X
Trungpa           1B         . X X
Vivekananda       9          . X X
     Inn. 2: Watts
Laurence Watts    4-3        . . .
Peggy Watts       6-3        . . .
Dorothy Watts     2B         . X .
Eleanor Watts     1B         . . X
X@4:Dorothy Watts 9-2        . . X
     Inn. 3: Gurus
Muktananda        6-3        . . .
Sivananda         4-3        . . .
Krishnamurti      1B         . . X
Bharati           K          . . X
     Inn. 3: Watts
Mark Watts        2B         . X .
Alan Watts        K          . X .
Leslie Watts      3B         X . . 1
Emily Watts       8 SACF     . . . 1
Richard Watts     5-3        . . .
     Inn. 4: Gurus
Maharishi         2B         . X .
Ramakrishna       K          . X .
Yogananda         1B         . . X 1
Trungpa           3UN        . X .
Vivekananda       6-3        . X .
     Inn. 4: Watts
Laurence Watts    1B         . . X
Peggy Watts       1B         . X X
Dorothy Watts     7          . X X
Eleanor Watts     BB         X X X
Mark Watts        BB         X X X 1
Alan Watts        3-6 F      X . X 1
Leslie Watts      1B         . X X 1
Emily Watts       3UN        X X .
     Inn. 5: Gurus
Muktananda        BB         . . X
Sivananda         3-6-3 DP   . . .
Krishnamurti      8          . . .
     Inn. 5: Watts
Richard Watts     5-3        . . .
Laurence Watts    3-1        . . .
Peggy Watts       HR         . . . 1
Dorothy Watts     BB         . . X
Eleanor Watts     4-3        . X .
     Inn. 6: Gurus
Bharati           1B         . . X
Maharishi         1B         . X X
Ramakrishna       2-3 SAC    X X .
Yogananda         6-3        X . . 1
Trungpa           1B         . . X 1
Vivekananda       BB         . X X
Muktananda        7          . X X
     Inn. 6: Watts
Mark Watts        4-3        . . .
Alan Watts        E-4        . . X
Leslie Watts      3B         X . . 1
Emily Watts       1B         . . X 1
Richard Watts     7          . . X
Laurence Watts    6UN F      . . X
     Inn. 7: Gurus
Sivananda         1B         . . X
Krishnamurti      1B         . X X
Bharati           1B         . X X 1
Maharishi         6-4 F      X . X
Ramakrishna       3-1 SAC    X X .
Yogananda         1-3        X X .
     Inn. 7: Watts
Peggy Watts       6          . . .
Dorothy Watts     E-6        . . X
Eleanor Watts     BB         . X X
Mark Watts        7          . X X
Alan Watts        3UN        X X .
     Inn. 8: Gurus
Trungpa           K          . . .
Vivekananda       9          . . .
Muktananda        5-3        . . .
     Inn. 8: Watts
Leslie Watts      BB         . . X
Emily Watts       6-3        . X .
Richard Watts     1B         . . X 1
Laurence Watts    6-4 F      . . X
Peggy Watts       6-3        . X .
     Inn. 9: Gurus
Sivananda         1B         . . X
Krishnamurti      3-6 F      . . X
Bharati           5-4 F      . . X
Maharishi         6-3        . X .

There are those who maintain that Alan Watts' self-destructive alcoholism, marital infidelities and failures, and other personal shortcomings or, at least, questionable behaviors completely undermine any glowing claims that might be made for his greatness as a philosopher-sage, spiritual authority, or just plain self-described "philosophical entertainer." These idealistic critics would argue that Watts' numerous books and innumerable audio lectures--charming and eloquent though they may be--should be blithely ignored because they are the empty words of a man who knew not of what he spoke or wrote, or were verbal potions peddled by a charlatan or spiritual pretender...But I say that not only was Alan Watts no charlatan, but that he also expressed certain profound truths with such extraordinary eloquence and brilliance that it overrides his faults. ("Alan Watts Revealed and Reconsidered" by Steve at Naked Reflections.)

Game Notes

Game Date November 10, 2016
Game Duration 3 Hours, 6 Minutes
Game Weather Overcast. 62o F.
Wind: from the North, 6mph
Umpires Donna Brazile

Rudy Giuliani

Joe Scarborough

Most Cosmic Player
Leslie Watts

Alan Watts's cousin. She remembered how it was simply taken for granted by everybody that Alan was 'very clever.' (Source: Monica Furlong. Zen Effects- The Life of Alan Watts. 1986)
Official Scorer Helen Weaver
Official Announcer Joe Szimhart


Alan Wilson Watts [1915-1973] was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.

In January 1844, the American transcendental philosopher Henry David Thoreau [1817-1862] facilitated the publication of the first translation (from German) in the United States of a Buddhist text. In May of that same year Edward Elbridge Salisbury [1814-1901], a Yale professor of Arabic and and an early American sanskritist read his paper entitled "Memoir on the History of Buddhism" to the annual meeting of the American Oriental Society.

In 1879 the English poet Edwin Arnold [1832-1904] published THE LIGHT OF ASIA; OR, THE GREAT RENUNCIATION (MAHABHINISHKRAMANA). BEING THE LIFE AND TEACHING OF GAUTAMA, Prince of India and Founder of Buddhism (as told in verse by an Indian Buddhist).

Soyen Shaku [1860-1919], the first Zen Buddhist master to teach in the United States attended the World Parliament meeting in Chicago, Illinois in 1893. Also attending that conference was the Hindu monk, Vivekananda [1863-1902]. In 1920, the Indian guru Yogananda [1893-1952] came to the United States as a delegate to the International Conference of Religious Liberals in Boston, Massachusetts. He spent several years touring the United States giving spirituality-based lectures. In the 1960s more gurus came to the West to teach their Eastern philosophies. A notable example is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi [1918-2008] who founded the Transcendental Mediation movement. The Buddhist holy man Chögyam Trungpa moved to the United States in 1970. Trungpa traveled around North America, gaining renown for his ability to present the essence of the highest Buddhist teachings in a form readily understandable to Western students.

Game Code 11102016001537