The Tiger in the Woods

24 02 2010

“I was unfaithful, I had affairs; I cheated…I’m deeply sorry.”[i]

-Tiger Woods

This past Friday (Feb. 19th) was another day in the history of disgraced superstars as famed golfer Tiger Woods apologized on every major media outlet for his serial infidelity.

But what made Tiger’s press conference unique was not the length, but the reference to his Buddhist religion. As his Thai-born mother sat nearby, Woods said part of his rehab would include a return to his Buddhist faith. Woods said his mother raised him as a Buddhist, and he practiced his faith “until I drifted away from it in recent years.”[ii]

In past interviews, Woods has referred to the practice of Buddhist meditation as giving him the focus needed in golf. “In therapy I’ve learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping it in balance with my professional life,” Woods said. “I need to regain my balance and be centered so I can save the things that are most important to me, my marriage and my children.”[iii]

“He was reaffirming his own family’s tradition,” said Robert Thurman, a professor of Buddhist studies at Columbia University.[iv] In January, Fox News analyst Britt Hume, in a roundtable discussion about the controversy, said that Tiger should turn his life over to Jesus Christ for the needed forgiveness of his sins.

Tiger’s comments about his Buddhist faith seemed timed to counter the comments by Britt Hume. No one knows for sure, but what is undeniable is Tiger’s desire to rehabilitate his image and his life through the worldview, tenets, and structure of Buddhism.

The religion called Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha, a rich nobleman’s son, about 150 BC, Buddha abandoned his wife and son to become a wandering ascetic in search of truth.[v]  Buddhist historians tell us that after 7 years of wandering, inquiring, and meditating, he found “the true path to enlightenment,” under the legendary tree of wisdom.[vi]  The teachings of Buddha are embodied in “Four Noble Truths”: truth of suffering; cause of suffering; cessation of suffering; and the truth of the way to remove suffering. According to Buddhism, “Existence is pain…the cause of suffering is craving…and the truth to remove suffering involves a comprehensive system of moral cultivation [through an 8 fold path].”[vii]

In Buddhism there is no God to trust or believe in. Buddha placed man within the tension of the eternal “now.” Buddhism offers the opportunity to be Buddha, if we do the work. It’s already there, it’s who we are,” said Darren Littlejohn, a Buddhist and author of The 12 Step Buddhist, a book about addiction recovery. He said Woods’ comments reflected the Buddhist belief that “life is suffering. It’s based on attachment, anger and desire.”[viii]

If Buddhists do violate certain precepts — killing, stealing and sexual misconduct among them — then they are subject to the law of karma.

“What people need to understand about karma is that it is based entirely on volitional action,” said Charles Prebish, a Buddhist studies professor at Utah State. “If one chooses to do an act that is morally inappropriate, then one will reap the rewards. In Tiger Woods’ case, one could say that some of those repercussions seem to be immediate. The negative karma that he accrued is starting to bear fruit.”[ix]

Meaning? Tiger’s rehab will involve Tiger trying to rehab Tiger with Tiger power! The Tiger within must break through his negative karma. The Tiger who met the press on Friday is the same Tiger that slept with countless women and is the same Tiger who will look deep within to find the hidden “middle path” that will lead to enlightenment. Good luck Tiger.

I hope and pray the best for Tiger. Tiger will need all of our prayers. The path he is on will be profoundly difficult, albeit impossible.  For Tiger, luck and self-discipline will be key. He has no one but himself to depend on. 

Living a lifestyle of integrity is not easy for anyone. Even for the Jesus follower, let’s be honest—when we look in the mirror each day, we see what Martin Luther once quipped, “Iustus et peccator simul,” meaning “saint and sinner.” So, we don’t cast stones but rather we look at the poor state of Tiger Woods and we realize that there is a sinner within all of us. We are both saint and sinner, declared righteous in Christ, and yet encased within a sinful nature.

However, as Jesus followers we don’t believe in ourselves, we don’t believe in inner karma, middle paths, or the eternal now. We don’t look within; we look without!  We don’t look in the mirror each morning and chant, “I can, I can, I can,” rather we stare at the “peaccator simul,” and say “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” but, “Jesus can.” We look not at our suffering; we look at His suffering. We rely not on our power: we rely on His power. And this makes all the difference.



[i] AP sports story by Bob Baum in FoxNews Internet

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] AP February 20, 2010

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults, p. 235.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 95.

[viii] AP ibid.

[ix] Ibid.



One response

12 03 2010

Pastor Holt
I was driving by CFAN a couple of days ago and noticed the church is encouraging members to invest in church bonds. Is this biblical?

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