Blog Archive

09 April 2010

A Tiger's Tale

As the media breathlessly follows Tiger Woods' every move at Augusta, it would seem that they are missing one rather large point- not only has Tiger reportedly returned to the Buddhist teachings of his youth, he is a walking example of the suffering which was identified, and can be corrected, through the Buddha's Four Noble Truths. Even more importantly, this message applies to all humans, regardless of their faith or beliefs, as we are all victimized by the incessant need to fill the holes in our lives with things, unhealthy practices and activities.

The First Noble Truth- Suffering

Before the media broke the story of Tiger's rampant infidelities, he seemed from the outside to have it all-beautiful wife and children, incredible athletic ability, more money than he could ever need, private jet, luxury homes etc. And yet, it seems, the poor guy was completely miserable and leading a strange secret existence that included numerous mistresses, secret meetings and rather elaborate planning to move his girlfriends around the country to be available at his bidding.

The Second Noble Truth- The Cause of Suffering (Craving)

We have all seen this in our lives. Whether it is ourselves, friends or family members, we seem not to be content with what we have. Although self improvement is admirable in terms of bettering ourselves, and the opportunities it brings those that depend upon us, the craving for bigger homes, better cars, more money, better restaurants etc. is incredibly destructive. I know a number of people that bought very nice homes which would be considered palaces in the 3rd world who immediately began complaining that they weren't what they really wanted and renewed their search for the next, better, perfect home. So it went for Tiger too, I guess. At some point of living the mega luxurious lifestyle, I suppose even billionaires can suffer from craving. Got a 8 passenger jet ? Great. Now I want a 12 passenger jet. Got a 12 passenger jet ? Now I want a 20 passenger jet...and so on.

The Third Noble Truth- There is cessation from Suffering.

Ah, the good news. Even though Tiger smacked his balls into the rough, there is a way out of this endless cycle of greed, desire and craving. This merciless wheel of rebirth can be broken, suffering ended and enlightenment attained.

The Fourth Noble Truth- The Eightfold Path to the end of Suffering

They are- Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration. Through diligent perseverance and adherence to this path, the end of suffering can be attained. I will breakdown the eightfold path in future posts and try to explain how I have tried, with varying success, to work them into my life.

Look, I'm not a psychologist and I'm not judging Tiger to be a bad person because of his actions. I had the discussion with many of my friends of "well, what would you do if you were incredibly famous, rich, good-looking and had lots of women throwing themselves at you ?" More often than not, we all had to admit that the temptation would have been just a bit much to deal with. Still, being aware of the Noble Truths helps to put life into better perspective.

The recent comments by Augusta chairman Billy Payne are unnecessary at this point and amount to nothing more than piling on. “It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here; it is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children." That's been the problem with heroes for millenia- they are human beings. Why was Tiger Woods obligated to live up to Mr. Payne's exacting requirements of being a role model for America's youth ? Because he can hit a rubber-synthetic ball with a piece of steel or composite great distances with incredible accuracy ? If that is what passes for hero status these days, we are all in trouble.

We are indoctrinated at a young age as we are bombarded by media advertising promising us that happiness is just over the next horizon and can be obtained by buns of steel, a new car, whitened teeth, the golf club that will change your game etc. The same media built Tiger Woods into demi-god proportions creating shoes that no mere mortal could ever fill. Maybe the best thing to come out of this is that it provides a teachable moment for all of us. I find myself telling my kids a couple of times a week "things can't make you happy" as they tell me they want an i-phone, the new Playstation, this, that and the other thing. Things are impermanent, transient and like my dad always said "never love something that can't love you back." Good advice indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment