Author Topic: WHAT DOES BUDDHISM SAY ABOUT TIGER? from Ebony/Jet online  (Read 991 times)

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WHAT DOES BUDDHISM SAY ABOUT TIGER? from Ebony/Jet online
« on: February 24, 2010, 09:40:34 am »
 
 
What Does Buddhism Say About Tiger?
The One Question Interview
Monday, February 22, 2010
By Ethelbert Miller
 
“I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught.” – Tiger Woods from his public apology

Writer and poet E. Ethelbert Miller asked award-winning novelist Charles Johnson (Middle Passage) about what teachings in Buddhism might inform Tiger Woods going forward. Johnson is the author of “Turning the Wheel: Essays on Buddhism and Writing.”

The Question: Tiger Woods made reference to Buddhism in his public statement today, how might his faith help him during this period in his life?

If Tiger Woods was raised as a Buddhist, as he says, then he and his mother embraced the first Five Precepts that  laity and monks alike do their best to live by. Across the Buddhist world, regardless of one's tradition, these first five vows are: No stealing, no killing, no lying, no sexual misconduct, and no drinking to become intoxicated.

He strayed from this path, as he said during his public statement. He caused great suffering to others and himself. But his statements reveal, at least to me, that he somewhat understands from a Buddhist perspective why he did this to himself. "Buddhism," he said, "teaches that a creation of things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught."

Tiger must now take daily the experience of desire and craving into his meditations. He knows the external things he craved---(white) women especially---cannot bring him lasting peace or happiness. They are impermanent (anicca), ever changing, and lack an enduring self or substance (anatta). He projected onto "things outside" himself a meaning and value and "desirable" qualities they do not have. These are hard lessons for a young man to learn when fame and wealth come to him to the staggering degree that they came to Tiger.

I say he was "handled" by the world of Samsara, i.e., he allowed himself to become seduced, not simply by women, but by a society fueled by avidya (ignorance), a society that bombards us 24/7 with the sensational propaganda that life is meaningful only if one is rich, famous and sought after by others.

His challenge now is to stay on the path and not lose again the balance he referred to; he must selflessly give the best performances he can as a world-class athlete whose every move the public is watching and remain detached from that performance in terms of his ego. He must try to excel on the golf course, at home, and in his relations with others, and then "let go" of all that. His healing will be swift if he follows the Dharma like a man walking on a razor's edge because he will see that the ego and self are fictions, creations of the mind, and that there is actually no one who needs healing and forgiveness.

Indeed, he is no longer the person who broke the precepts---that is in the past. Which is gone and cannot be changed. All he has to work with is this present moment, here and now. As I wrote in my novel, Dreamer, when Martin Luther King Jr. reflects on his own failings, "No man, he knew, was given burdens too great for him to carry; indeed, the point was to pass beyond the vanity that he, not God, bore that burden, and realize, even if he had to learn it the hard way and at almost a fatal price, that the challenge of the spiritual life was simply this: to be good, truly moral, and in control of oneself for this moment only, because what other moment in time could a man be held responsible for?"

If Tiger does this in the present, one moment after another, his future happiness will be guaranteed.