Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Matthew 19:24 – “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Congratulations, once again, to Tom Brady. Another elite performance, another thrilling championship.
And thanks, once again, to Tom Brady … for helping us see that Super Bowls are ultimately empty … unless the meaning of life is discovered through claiming a crown of another kind.
The above Biblical verses came to mind after watching Brady earn his fifth Lombardi Trophy last night; Philippians, because of how commendable and excellent and worthy of praise Brady is as a quarterback, and Matthew, because of him revealing a decade ago that titles and fame and glory cannot fill that inner void we all feel when we aren’t immersed in spirit.
Today seems to be an appropriate day to post an excerpt from “New Eyes: A Unifying Vision of Science and Spirituality” that centers around Brady. It’s from Chapter 11 called “Memento Mori,” which is another way of saying, “You can’t take Lombardi Trophies with you when you die.”
“IT’S GOTTA BE MORE THAN THIS”
Tom Brady is a champion in my book.
Not for winning football games, but for one moment of sincerity and vulnerability that perfectly captures the intention of New Eyes.
For 24 years, I followed the National Football League as a sportswriter covering the Pittsburgh Steelers. My first season as a columnist was Bill Cowher’s first as their head coach. I was fortunate enough to attend four Super Bowls that the Steelers played in, two of which they won.
Along the way, perhaps the most impactful moment of my journalism career occurred while Brady … was giving a TV interview.
Brady, as most every NFL fan knows, burst onto the scene in 2001 as a quarterback for the New England Patriots. That was at a time in my life when I needed the Steelers to win a Super Bowl in order to heal an old emotional wound of mine. As a child living in Pittsburgh during the 1970s, I was a passionate fan of the Los Angeles Rams. In sixth grade my Rams played the mighty Steelers, already winners of three Lombardi Trophies that decade, in Super Bowl XIV.
Amid all the Steelers’ Black-and-Gold paraphernalia throughout Sloan Elementary School, my teacher let me decorate a corner with the Rams’ Blue-and-Gold. I hung up a Pat Haden poster and a Vince Ferragamo picture. I wore a Rams jacket just like the Jets version that Kevin Arnold rocked in Wonder Years. And I spent hype week before the game talking like Joe Namath before Super Bowl III, guaranteeing victory for the underdogs.
Oh, the folly of youth.
Do you have any idea what it’s like to be 11 years old and have no defense against being teased by first graders? I mean, little kids fresh out of kindergarten were calling me ‘loser’ the day after the Rams lost that one to the Steelers. To each taunt I defiantly … whimpered like a wounded kitten.
Fast-forward 22 years to early 2002, long after I had wisely converted to being a Steelers fan in college (if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em) and a full 10 years into my career as a sportswriter. As a journalist you do not root for outcomes, but tell that to the juvenile boy inside of me who was desperate to balance a little football karma by being present when the Steelers won the Super Bowl.
After a decade of near misses in the ’90s — Pittsburgh had lost two AFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl in that time — the Steelers were on the verge of another shot at the crown as hosts of the conference title game in January of ’02.
Enter: Tom Brady.
Ever present: My childhood demons.
Three years later the same scenario played out all over again and blah blah blah to heck with not being biased I now officially hated Tom Brady.
By the time the Patriots had claimed their third Lombardi Trophy in four years, I was suffering from PTSBD (Post Traumatic Super Bowl Disorder) and my resentment of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. was at a fever pitch. I used to grumble his name ‘TomBrady’ as if it were an eight-letter word (which is twice as bad as a four-letter word, grumble grumble).
Fortunately I had started transitioning out of my career as a writer and into counseling, so I had already begun my own journey of trying to liberate myself from the poisonous clutches of the ego. Buddha and his idea of detachment were quite helpful in that process, but dang that TomBrady was making it difficult!
For a few years I did what every normal person would do, I bought a lot of Red Sox gear and became a Boston baseball fan as tangential therapy. It was my ‘Opposite’ strategy, borrowed from neurotic sitcom character George Costanza, figuring if I could root for a Boston team my loathing of TomBrady would subside. (Didn’t work.)
Just as I was reaching my most pathetic Seinfeldian self, that’s when it happened.
I was watching TomBrady give an interview on 60 Minutes in 2005 and he was asked by Steve Kroft what he had learned about himself.
“Why do I have three Super Bowl rings, and still think there’s something greater out there for me?” he said. “God, it’s gotta be more than this. I mean this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be. … What else is there for me?”
It’s. Gotta. Be. More. Than. This.
Those words are now tattooed on my heart, a permanent reminder to stay focused on what really matters in life.
Thanks, Tom Terrific!
Here we have The Golden Boy, while living the quintessential American Dream, suggesting that he felt a void inside. It’s gotta be more than this. Such a sincere, authentic moment, more valuable than any touchdown pass that he has ever thrown.
A switch flipped inside of me. It all crystallized. Somewhere deep in my soul, I knew then I would be writing this book one day.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed similar sentiments after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, noting that he felt something was missing.
“I’m sitting there with a semi-empty feeling because I accomplished everything I wanted to do since I was a kid, and I kind of had a moment,” said Rodgers, noting what inspired him to take part in a movement called Raise Hope for Congo. “I said to myself, ‘Is this it? Is there more to life than this?’”
Brady: “It’s gotta be more than this.”
Rodgers: “Is there more to life than this?”
New Eyes: There is much more to life than this. …
In his 13th Century discourse It Is What It Is, the Muslim poet Rumi provided the answer for all of us.
“There is one thing in this world that must never be forgotten. If you were to forget all else, but did not forget that, then you would have no reason to worry. But if you performed and remembered everything else, yet forgot that one thing, then you would have done nothing whatsoever.
“It is just as if a king sent you to the country to carry out a specific task. If you go and accomplish a hundred other tasks, but do not perform that particular task, then it is as though you performed nothing at all. So, everyone comes into this world for a particular task, and that is their purpose. If they do not perform it, then they will have done nothing.”
We human beings are so very good at accomplishing those hundred other tasks.
We pursue jobs. We build roads. We make money. We buy cars. We get married. We have children. We get new hairstyles. We tweet. We sing songs. We write books. We fight wars. We win Super Bowls. (Well, not the 1979 Rams, grumble grumble.)
All of that worthless, according to Rumi, unless you perform that one specific task. You must overcome the temporary False Self of the ego world and come to understand your True Self as a spiritual being.
“You must be born again.” – John 3:7
You are born once in the flesh. You must be born a second time in spirit.
You are not white, nor black. You are not young, nor old. You are not Republican, nor Democrat. You are not thin, nor fat. You are not straight, nor gay. You are not a Super Bowl winner, nor a loser. All of that, and more, is ego.
Believing that you are anything but a soul is a case of mistaken identity, which Rumi declared was the origin of pain for anyone who is emotionally struggling: “They do not know their own self.”
The one task we must perform requires finding and filling the Holy Grail within ourselves. With lower consciousness, we strive to fill ourselves with physical experiences. With higher consciousness, we come to know our True Selves and are born again, filled with the light. It is everyone’s quest, whether they know it or not.
Buddha won the equivalent of a dozen Super Bowls in his days as a wealthy prince, but he was not fulfilled until he became enlightened. Despite all of his successes, Brady revealed that he felt the same inner void that we all do at some point in our lives when he said, “It’s gotta be more than this.”
Whether it is money, championships, possessions, power, food, drugs or alcohol, we all spend much of our lives trying to fill that void with something in the flesh, to no avail. Succeeding at accomplishing earthly goals is, as Buddha emphasized, temporary at best.
Influential psychiatrist Carl Jung referred to such physical cravings as indicative of a “spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness.”
As Brady, Rodgers and Jung suggested and as all of the prophets teach, that search for wholeness does not come with physical fulfillment.
A millennium ago there was another phrase that exemplified this. Coming after the time of Classical Antiquity in which nunc est bibendum was the theme — ‘now is the time to drink’ — the Dark Ages had a more somber motto.
Remember your mortality.
Or … you are going to die! …
I don’t care how good you have it, how wonderful of a life you have built, it is all going to be taken away from you. And it will be taken away from your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, etc.
It’s really Absurd, when you think about it. (Absurdism is a philosophy that basically states that life is absurd because human beings seek “meaning” when they are inherently incapable of finding it.)
You say you want to keep evolving humanity? News flash — we are ALL doomed. Humanity schmanity. Do you know what scientists predict will happen in about five billion years? The sun will grow in size, burn up planet earth, then collapse into a white dwarf and our corner of the solar system will freeze into a snowball.
Good times, good times.
You say, “But wait, we will learn how to travel to other galaxies and populate their solar system by then …”
First of all, good luck with that. Secondly, ever hear of the Big Crunch? You may populate whatever distant planet you wish, we’re all gonna be reverse Big Banged in the end. Will the last one to leave the universe please turn off the lights? Oh, too late — the light is putting itself out.
Even the universe cannot escape Memento Mori, which makes Absurdism spot on: there is no way for a human being to fulfill himself.
Good thing we are not human beings!
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Put another way, Tom Brady is not a guy who might seek a soulful experience, he is a soul having a Tom Brady experience.
As Brady told Kroft, “I love playing football, and I love being a quarterback for this team, but, at the same time, I think there’s a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find.”
He’s trying to find Unity Consciousness. We all are. We’re wired to do so. And that’s accomplished by you, the soul.
If you are interested in learning more about ultimate fulfillment and Unity Consciousness, please ask questions/provide feedback at this website and purchase a copy of New Eyes here: