A Buddhist take on an American ritual - Macleans.ca

A Buddhist take on an American ritual

Tiger Woods changes the script


The “public grovel” is as American as apple pie, but it normally operates with the Christian language that derives from its evangelical roots—the revival and the altar call. You confess you are a sinner. You repent of your sins. You turn to Christ to make yourself new. From President Grover Cleveland, who likely fathered a child out of wedlock, to Ted Haggard, who resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after allegations that he had sex with a male prostitute, U.S. politicians and preachers have bowed and scraped in Christian idioms. Jimmy Carter spoke of “adultery in my heart.” Jimmy Swaggart spoke of “my sin” and “my Savior.” In January Brit Hume, channeling his inner evangelist on Fox News Sunday, urged Woods to “turn to the Christian faith.” “He’s said to be a Buddhist,” Hume said. “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith.” Woods in effect told Hume Friday thanks but no thanks. Part of Woods’ carefully prepared statement followed the time-honored formula. He apologized, not just to his wife and children but also to his family and friends, his business partners, his fans, and the staff and sponsors of his foundation. “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.” But this was not your garden-variety confession. Though Woods spoke of religion, he did not mention Jesus or the Bible, sin or redemption. He gave a Buddhist mea culpa instead, turning not to Christian theologies of sin but to Buddhist teachings about craving. Whereas Christianity seeks to solve the problem of sin, Buddhism seeks to solve the problem of suffering. Buddhists observe that suffering arises from a 12-fold chain of interlocking causes and effects. Among these causes is craving. We crave this woman or that car because we think that getting her or it will make us happy. But this craving only ties us into an unending cycle of misery, because even if we get what we want there is always something more to crave—another woman or another man, a faster car or a bigger house. Woods said, “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security.” When Woods said he “stopped living by the core values” he was “taught to believe in,” he was referring not to Christian values but to the Thai Buddhist values instilled in him by his mother, who was in the room with her son in Florida in a show of support. When he vowed to change his life, it wasn’t to turn to Christianity but to return to Buddhism. He actively practiced Buddhism from childhood, he said, but “drifted away from it in recent years,” forgetting its crucial observation that craving is overcome not by self-indulgence but by self-control. Buddhism “teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint,” he said. “Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.”

USA Today

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A Buddhist take on an American ritual

  1. No surprise here. The loudest voice in the US the is, and has been for a while, the evangelical Christian right; and it isn't really ground shattering news that they can be real jerks about it (Pat Robertson, anybody?) But that's the case about any group that falls on the extremities.

    As for learning about other religions: Good luck with that. Your religious leader knows that the quickest path to agnosticism (or at least deism) is to learn about other religions. Enlightenment tends to lead to critical thinking, which never bodes well for dogma. The end result is less income for your church; no one wants thats.

    Also, wall of text much? Seriously Mcleans, paragraphs are your friend.

  2. am not an expert or monk just a person…buddhism in its birth form is probably best described as teachings of how to breath, how to think/act properly, healing oneself, and becoming kind hearted, compassionate, respectful humans….this takes diligent practice and was drawn to tibetan buddhism by way of searching for personal success and do not pronounce it as a religion but merely a psychological based way of acknowledging the human potential in oneself and bringing it forward….a better society begins with each person…there is the humdinger! Woods was right to be truthful…it is his actions bearing his guilt and he alone has to deal with it….may he come back on the course for golf is uninteresting with out him in it! then again he may pack it in…who knows