Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Since I currently use my TV only as a screen for watching DVDs, I haven't had to listen to the Tiger Woods news 24/7. From what I can gather, Fox News went absolutely ape over the story, and I'm sure the other cable outlets followed suit. Now that I am watching the tabloids more closely than I used to for my other blog, I know that end of the news media isn't giving up on this story either.
People are making a fuss over talking pinhead Brit Hume proclaiming that if Tiger wants true forgiveness, he should renounce Buddhism and convert to Christianity.
Let's get some facts straight. I'm not Tiger Woods. I shook his hand once twenty years ago when he was 14, but that's the end of my personal contact with him. I don't know what's in his head, but based on his actions, I'd say he is a Buddhist the way Richard Nixon was a Quaker.
Since both Nixon's and Woods' careers entailed sucking up to the public, neither was allowed to claim privacy when someone asked them about their faith. Both of these smart guys made up some flimsy nonsense and given the level of intellectual curiosity exhibited by the jackals of the press in this country, they made statements that could be easily refuted if someone took the time to ask the next question, confident that the next question would not be asked.
According to Woodward and Bernstein's book The Final Days, given enough alcohol and stress, Richard Nixon was known to pray on occasion. But the Quaker sect is not just about prayer, it is about peace, the last thing on Richard Nixon's mind. When Tiger was asked about Buddhism, his mother's faith, he talked about meditation. I can easily believe Tiger meditates, though again, I have no first hand knowledge of his personal activities. But just as the Quaker faith is not just about prayer, Buddhism is not just meditation. Tiger's life is a perfect example of how not to be a Buddhist.
The second of the Four Great Truths is Samudaya. Here is the standard English translation.
There is a cause for suffering. It is the desire to have and control things. It can take many forms: craving of sensual pleasures; the desire for fame; the desire to avoid unpleasant sensations, like fear, anger or jealousy.
Did Tiger Woods really believe in this truth before he was publicly exposed six weeks ago? Does he understand it completely now? He knows the craving of sensual pleasures got him into this mess. As of 2010, it is only trivia experts who will remember the line "He was banging cocktail waitresses two at a time" was originally written to describe Fredo Corleone and not Tiger. But the rest of it isn't the cause of suffering for him. It's the religion his father taught him, a way of life of complete focus, the desire to control things channeled into being the greatest golfer he can be, likely the greatest golfer in history when all is said and done. This has been his road to fame and his ticket to having things.
Tiger wasn't born a prince. He was born the son of a man who was one of the most focused stage parents of all time, and the son did all he could to please his father. If he really takes the Buddhist path now and renounces his fabulously rich life, one he was not born into but earned on his own, it will be a twist ending that will put both St. Francis and Siddhartha to shame.
I am a man of little faith and great doubts. I do not pretend to know the workings of the unseen spiritual bureaucracy of the cosmos or if one actually exists. If the basic tenets of Buddhism are true, it's a pretty good bet that Tiger Woods still has reincarnations ahead of him, because Samudaya still needs to smack him around the course a few more times for him to get the message.