Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiger Woods, Dalai Lama, and Buddhism

Tiger Woods, the first athlete that makes over a billion USD, has finally come out of his luxury guarded hole to face the public about his extra-martial affairs. His recent public appearance and scripted speech was done in a very tightly controlled environment with the presence of those he wished. For this whole fiasco, I’m not surprise by the media spotlight and all the other hooplas coming with it. It is a classic celebrity scandal with sex, women, money and fame. Almost all the ingredients that tabloids are feeding on are presented, just like showing blood in a shark tank, what do you expect?

The aftermath is predictable, Tiger doesn’t commit a crime, I’m not talking about O.J., it wasn’t even a drug bust or DUI. He just committed a moral sin, something that many celebrities, athletes, or even ex-President did go through and recover from. So, Tiger won’t be an exception. Not that I think what he did is right, I disagree with what he did, as it hurt his family which it is not what a responsible dad/husband should do. However, living into today’s culture that worship champions and fame, as long as Tiger can bounce back on golf course again, am sure he will. Everything will be fine then, new endorsement will come, and everybody will simply pat his back and say welcome. The only exception would be kiddy endorsement or role as their spokesperson. Well, he wouldn’t need them anyway.

What I find interesting is that he mentioned that he will go back to practice Buddhism in his rehab during his public speech and a comment from an originally unrelated global celebrity – Dalai Lama. How often do you hear Buddhism being mentioned in two news stories within days in the Western media? When Dalai was asked about Tiger’s going back to Buddhism, Dalai said: “Tiger who?” Well, that’s funny!

Certainly, Dalai Lama has his own aura as well as his own struggle on a much larger scale. In terms of his teaching, he is seemed to me to be preaching ‘in the world’ Buddhism to most followers. What I mean is that, he tried to put the Buddhist teachings in lament terms for the common folks to understand and practice while they are still living their lives with family, jobs, etc. He didn’t tell people to really abandon their material belongings, leave their family behind and go to monastery to become shaved monks, in order to reach nivana. So, as a person who is ‘in the world’, I’m surprise he doesn’t know who Tiger Woods is? Yes, he may not know his scandal and all that, but not even knowing who Tiger Woods is like don’t know Sony is a Japanese brand.

Well, after all, Dalai Lama did say something right and just about what Buddhism preaches in terms of restraints and karma. I’m not going into his exact wordings as it can be found in other news sources. I think that’s really right on the money in Tiger’s case. Cos, Tiger can use all the spin doctors or media consultants he wants in planning his image comeback in the public. However, his current problem is rooted in his own personal behavior, if he really wanna change that, he really needs to change within himself, starting from the mind.

From Christianity’s point of view, admitting the sin and say sorry is the first step, praying and suppressing one’s desire are ways that I believe would be used in Tiger’s case. Buddhism may take a different approach in a more tone down way to deal with the ‘demon’ within. It is like instead of locking and beating up the demon within like what I believe Christians would do, Buddhist would ‘reform’ the demon, not necessary make it into an angel, but ‘disable’ a demon to do demonic things. I’m not sure if my understanding is correct, but the teaching of self-restraints and understanding karma sounds pretty much like it. In this case, Buddhism may re-inspire Tiger to think that the ‘rush’ and ‘joy’ of adultery is really not that enjoyable. What he would do would hurt his family, his mom’s feeling, and the women + their parents, children, family as well, in his conscience. All these burdens would deflate his desire to do that again even if the opportunities are right in front of him. If he can do that, he will be a ‘reformed’ man, that’s much better than locking himself in any ‘institute’ and pay millions dollars a week to get those ‘so-called’ * steps anti *-addict treatment or therapy.

Personally, I don’t care too much about how Tiger would be after this whole fiasco, cos, I’m not a fan of golf. Even if I were, what ultimately matter is his skills and performance in the sport. Also, I just see that it is just another case of “should not regard celebrities as heroes or role models, except in the area that they are excelling”, a good reminder for kids.

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