What can Buddhism teach Tiger Woods? - Macleans.ca

What can Buddhism teach Tiger Woods?

Woods says his redemption includes going back to his Buddhist roots


Tiger Woods isn’t in the habit of revealing much about his personal life. Even when he was apologizing for the string of affairs that landed him in “inpatient therapy,” the golf superstar let it be known he wouldn’t be going into the nitty-gritty of how he plans to make it up to his wife, Elin Nordegen, nor would he let everyone in on the extent of his romantic conquests.

“I understand the press wants to ask me for the details and the times I was unfaithful,” Woods said. “I understand people want to know whether Elin and I will remain together. Please know that as far as I’m concerned, every one of these questions and answers is a matter between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and a wife.”

The one detail Tiger did want to share with the public is that his quest for redemption will follow the long American tradition of including a spiritual component. “Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age,” he said. “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.”

There are, of course, many traditions of Buddhism. But given his mother’s Thai background, the Buddhism to which Woods is likely referring is that of the Theravada school. (As many as 95 per cent of Thais are said to be Theravada Buddhists.) And insofar as his description of his newly rediscovered faith is concerned, according to Donald Williams, a professor of philosophy at Purdue University and the author of Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience, Tiger’s got it about right.

“That fits with the Theravada approach,” Williams says. “Although, one wonders how seriously he took it because Thai Buddhism is a monastic form of Buddhism, so most of the people who are really serious spend time in monasteries.”

Still, following the most elemental Buddhist values could have gone a long way in keeping Tiger out of trouble. Like the Ten Commandments are to Christianity, the “precepts” represent the core of Buddhism’s moral teachings. And whereas monks are expected to “take” hundreds of precepts, laypeople like Woods are bound by just five.

“The one that would relate to Tiger is the third precept—do not commit sexual misconduct,” Williams says, “If you’re married, it’s very clear that you’re faithful to your spouse.”

Thankfully for Tiger, Theravada Buddhism does have a tradition of atonement. There’s no specific ritual, but in Thailand, for instance, Buddhists will go to a local temple to light incense and offer alms to the monks to repent for their sins. However, Tiger should keep in mind the effectiveness of this process is contingent on following the principle of “right effort,” Williams says. For Woods, that means he will have to identify those behavioural patterns that led him to stray from the precepts and cut them out entirely.

“For example, if he gets into a certain situation with a lot of beautiful women,” he says, “that condition would make causes bubble up into his mind and lead to bad things.” In other words, the new-and-improved Tiger will simply have to avoid temptation altogether. Because while fame and celebrity aren’t inherently inconsistent with Buddhism, Williams says, Woods’s indulgence of the perks that come with them may very well be.

Given his predilection for Las Vegas nightclubs, perhaps Woods should consider the monastery after all.


What can Buddhism teach Tiger Woods?

  1. Having lived in Thailand for many many years and been around Buddhism for a lot longer I must admit it is one of the most convenient religions I know of. easy forgiveness.I wouldn't use this as an explanation or excuse but I agree it is nobody's business but the man and wife.

  2. What a crock. Why invoke Buddhism? Get real. This guy is a total jerk, a control freak, an arrogant a-hole. Go back to your harem of hookers, Tiger and don't further humiliate your ex-wife by pretending you want to save your marriage. Second thought: do us all a favor and never set foot on a golf course again. The world will be glad to be rid of you.

  3. This apologie was only there to get his sponsors back in line. In Tigers life money and control is importent. Bill Clinton was a class act.

  4. Tiger would not Buddha from a dashboard Jesus.

    What a self serving moron.

  5. I don't know if Buddhism can help Tiger. After all he was a Buddhist while all this was going on.

    • Your post is so stupid. People from all kind of faiths and atheist cheat.

    • Buddhist can help anybody.

  6. I wonder why people have to comment at all. Just because he is a celebrity we feel we can pass judgement. Elin is a smart woman and chose him so he must have some redeeming qualities. It is unfortunate that Tiger got married before he had these liasons. Remember though the women he was having these relationships with all knew he was married and that did not bother them. Yes, it is sad for his wife and children but it really is no ones business but theirs. Let them sort it out! Look at yourselves in the mirror and tell me you have never done anything wrong in your lifetime.

  7. Got impression from someone who knew some Buddhists (so second hand) that very convenient religion if you want to cheat on your wife. At worst you just get reborn again, and life is pain wife.

  8. Maybe he will regress, maybe he won't – if people forgive him. But if people utterly despise him and speak and act accordingly then it is going to be much harder for him. If you truly believe that his actions are reprehensible, then why not develop an attitude of kindness and forgiveness since that is the only way a person will reform, never with hatred or hostility.

    If Buddhism isn't your prefered faith, then perhaps you can refer to "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".

  9. One should not pry into the faults of others, into things done and left undone by others. One should rather consider what by oneself is done and left undone.

    The fault of others is easily seen; but one's own is hard to see. Like chaff one winnows other's faults; but one's own one conceals as a crafty fowler disguises himself.

    We all deserve forgiveness.

  10. this is a matter between him and his wife and not public if he chooses to do what he did before then its his life many rich people did the same but never got caught. public really needs to stop and worry about other things this is already costing lot of money

  11. Also from the Dhammapada:

    "Instead of keeping watch for the faults of others, the disciple is admonished to examine his own faults, and to make a continual effort to remove his impurities just as a silversmith purifies silver (50, 239)."

    "Even if he has committed evil in the past, there is no need for dejection or despair; for a man's ways can be radically changed, and one who abandons the evil for the good illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds (173)."


    • Guy: Here is one that I especially appreciate:

      Good is restraint of the eye. Good is restraint of the ear. Good is restraint of the nose. Good is restraint of the tongue.

      Someone out there will get the point.

  12. Tiger is not an exception. Women flock to sportsman, star and super rich. There are thousands of men and women who are cheating their beloved at this very moment.

  13. the only reason public is so excited about this is because of tiger celebrity status if he was some joe schmoe nobody would care. this is how stupid public really is.

  14. If Tiger can get his life back on track, and if he seriously tries and gets better, I’m very sure his wife would forgive him. All a person really needs to see is honest effort. Of course, he may be only doing all this to save his public image, and if that’s the case, his wife will probably not forgive him. She seems like she wants a good old fashioned family life, as she shies from the spotlight, as opposed to the other girls Tiger was attracted to. Those women practically jumped at their 15 minutes. Elin is beautiful and classy and will have no problem finding someone else, so Tiger better get his act together if he still wants her.

  15. "In other words, the new-and-improved Tiger will simply have to avoid temptation altogether. "

    As the wise old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  16. I am disgusted with all of the attention paid to this story. Do we all lead such shallow empty lives that we need to make a comment and have opinions about something that really is none of our business. This sad course of events is a private matter and should be left as such. Tiger is a great golfer, everything else in his life is not our concern.

  17. People should be accept his apologise when he is seeking forgiveness from his core of mind with fully regreted. We human being are imperfect hence such incident can be happened with anybody. Now, what should he do, he does not have to repeat the the past history.

  18. According to The Monogamy Myth, authored by Peggy Vaughan, approximates that 60% of husbands and 40% of wives will have an affair at some time in their marriage. Most men are dirtbags and will cross the line if they think they will get away with it. JFK, Mitterrand , Clinton countless evangelical pastors, policeman, and a multitude of others have transgressed and most have not been found out. It boils down to a question of respect for yourself and the one you love. Tiger is no different. He is a typical male who cannot control his hormone induced inclinations. He does not need Budda or any other mythical dogma he needs to think for himself, respect his wife and have some self discipline.

  19. More fodder for the dumbing down of North American intellect & morality. This "I'm so sorry" dribble, which is typical of the rich & famous who get caught in these shameless situations, is totally insincere, pathetic & sickening. Tiger is just another caged animal whose highly staged & controlled circus act was a joke. He's NOT a sex addict. This is a euphemism spun by media managers who are paid to manage branding & image control. Tiger is just another modern day sociopath (look it up folks). He's no different from the line up of deceitful CEO's who have dragged the world's economies into the sewer. Tiger has just done the same thing with the PGA's economy. He should shut up with the "I thought I was entitled" whining & fake remorse, quit golf, & stay in therapy for 3-5 years! The media has every right to shine the spotlight on these ego maniacs who are devastating not only sports, but also business, politics, the military, & the clergy. They're all pathological slime balls who just happen to play different games. They should all be drummed out of business with exhaustive media scrutiny & civil court if need be. Unfortunately, they usually have enough money to engage lawyers & media managers to get them out of their self indulgent messes. The media needs to call it like it is & then quickly move on to more worthwhile people, issues & problems.

  20. Forget spirituality with Tiger, his spirituality is his gonands. He wrapped around his little finger 14 women which knew they were having an affair with a married man. He fooled his wife and himself, you would think he would have learn after 3 affairs if he had been so enlighted by his spirituality. A rich, young kid wanting more and more.

  21. this phoney has been an ahole his whole life. he's sorry alright,, sorry he's proved he's also the dumbest dork that ever lived. His statement was pathetic and when he hugged his mommy i almost puked.

  22. I think Tiger Woods is one of the best golfers the world has ever known. I don't know why everyone is talking about him as if he has done something wrong. Ok, so he slept around a bit but that shouldn't effect his stature on the golf course. Many of the celeb blogs listed on the blog index at dozenblogs.com were saying that Woods' career is over. But I think he will come back and be a champion once more. I think he will even beat Jack Nicklaus' all-time win record.

  23. Buddhism can help any body but there should me some limit.