March 22, 2010

Tiger Woods: “I need to Meditate again.” But Magic Buddhist Bracelets don’t work!

Tiger is flexing some Dharma-Muscles in this interview, but is it enough?


ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi interviewed Tiger Woods on Sunday in Windermere, Fla. The interview was the first one granted by the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer since his Nov. 27 car accident outside his home. The following is a transcript of that interview. [transcript has been edited for space]

Rinaldi: What’s the difference between the man who left Augusta national a year ago and the one who is about to return?

Woods: A lot has transpired in my life. A lot of ugly things have happened. Things that…..I’ve done some pretty bad things in my life. And uh, all came to a head. But now, after treatment, going for inpatient treatment for 45 days and more outpatient treatment, I’m getting back to my old roots.

Rinaldi: If it’s a private matter, why issue a public apology?

Woods: Well, I owe a lot of people an apology. I hurt a lot of people. Not just my wife. My friends, my colleagues, the public, kids who looked up to me. There were a lot of people that thought I was a different person and my actions were not according to that. That’s why I had to apologize. I was so sorry for what I had done.

Rinaldi: You’ve said you’ve made transgressions. How would you, in your own words, describe the depth of your infidelity?

Woods: Well, just one is, is enough. And obviously that wasn’t the case, and I’ve made my mistakes. And as I’ve said, I’ve hurt so many people, and so many people I have to make an amends to, and that’s living a life of amends.

Rinaldi:What’d you see?

Woods: I saw a person that I never thought I would ever become.

Rinaldi: Who was that?

Woods: Well, I had gotten away from my core values as I said earlier. I’d gotten away from my Buddhism. And I quit meditating. I quit doing all the things that my mom and dad had taught me. And as I said earlier in my statement, I felt entitled, and that is not how I was raised.

Rinaldi: Why not seek treatment before all of this came out?

Woods: Well, I didn’t know I was that bad. I didn’t know that I was that bad.

Rinaldi: How did you learn that? How did you learn it?

Woods: Stripping away denial, rationalization. You strip all that away and you find the truth.

Rinaldi: How do you reconcile your behavior with your view of marriage?

Woods: That’s living a life of amends and that’s just working at it each and every day.

Rinaldi: Given all that’s happened, what’s your measure of success at Augusta?

Woods: Well, playing is one thing. I’m excited to get back and play. I’m excited to get to see the guys again. I really miss a lot of my friends out there. I miss competing. But still, I still have a lot more treatment to do, and just because I’m playing, doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop going to treatment.

Rinaldi: What reception are you expecting from fans?

Woods: I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m a little nervous about that to be honest with you.

Rinaldi: How much do you care?

Woods: It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there. But also hope they clap for birdies, too.

Rinaldi: Eleven months ago, here at Isleworth, I asked you, ‘How well does the world know you?’ What’s your answer to that now?

Woods: A lot better now. I was living a life of a lie. I really was. And I was doing a lot of things, like I said, that hurt a lot of people. And stripping away denial and rationalization you start coming to the truth of who you really are and that can be very ugly. But then again, when you face it and you start conquering it and you start living up to it. The strength that I feel now, I’ve never felt that type of strength.

Rinaldi: In the last four months, Tiger, what’s been the low point?

Woods: I’ve had a lot of low points. Just when I didn’t think it could get any lower, it got lower.

Rinaldi: An example?

Woods: When I was in treatment, out of treatment, before I went in, there were so many different low points. People I had to talk and face like my wife, like my mom.

Rinaldi: What was that moment like, either one?

Woods: They both have been brutal. They’ve both been very tough. Because I hurt them the most. Those are the two people in my life who I’m closest to and to say the things that I’ve done, truthfully to them, is … honestly … was … very painful.

Rinaldi: What was your wife’s reaction when you sat down and had that first conversation?

Woods: She was hurt, she was hurt. Very hurt. Shocked. Angry. And, you know, she had every right to be and I’m as disappointed as everyone else in my own behavior because I can’t believe I actually did that to the people I loved.

Rinaldi: I ask this question respectfully, but of course at a distance from your family life. When you look at it now, why did you get married?

Woods: Why? Because I loved her. I loved Elin with everything I have. And that’s something that makes me feel even worse, that I did this to someone I loved that much.

Rinaldi: How do you reconcile what you’ve done with that love?

Woods: We work at it.

Its true we do all “work at it” but what we shouldn’t do is blame our actions on something as mundane as meditation.  Stripping away the rationalizations means transcending the need to insist that an external locus led to poor or harmful behavior.  That behavior is you – pure and simple.  Deal with it.  Get used to it.  It ain’t going nowhere.

It isn’t something that is outside of you that causes your actions and arbitrarily donning a magic bracelet or bemoaning that you didn’t sit facing a wall more will not help you look inward and is not going to solve your problem.  It takes striving, faith and doubt.  The realization is dawning on Tiger and I hope that he keeps working at it but approaching your practice (or any religion for that matter) as a crutch will never solve the problem.

It isn’t a magic elixir to be swallowed or special words to be chanted or super-mega prayers to be sent to big globular masses in the sky…It is work and it is humility.  An extra hour of meditation a day is like a band-aid for a split jugular.  New beadswithout realization are like swallowing marbles instead of penicillin for an infection.

I wish all the best for Tiger and I hope he gets what he needs.  But for that matter, I hope we all get what we need.  And what we need isn’t easy and it isn’t instantaneous.  We are all addicts recovering from samsara and we need to realize that.

We begin to recover whem we open our mind and heart to what we are and what our inherit can become, for better or for worse.  This is not a sit-com.  It is daily life and it requires us to raise the bodhi mind to something greater than the mundane.  Raising our bodhi mind means – in the words of John Daido Loori Roshi – to see, hear , feel, experience and realizing in ways that were not apparent before. No amount of meditation or beads will do this solo.

From Associated Press[LA Times]:

The religious bracelet on Tiger Woods’ left arm during his brief television interviews is a fairly common symbol of Buddhism, experts on the faith say.

The two thin bands encircling Woods’ wrist came up Sunday, near the end of his interview with Golf Channel reporter Kelly Tilghman. Woods also spoke to ESPN. The interviews were his first since Woods’ serial infidelity became known late last year and he began undergoing therapy.

Tilghman said she noticed the bracelet and asked what it meant. “It’s Buddhist,” Woods said, referring to his childhood faith. “It’s for protection and strength. And I certainly need that.”

Woods explained that he had been wearing the bracelet since before he went into treatment, and that he would wear it during the Masters. Beyond that, he didn’t further discuss its significance or origin.

However, it is common for Buddhists to wear such items as a reminder of their faith, said Jimmy Yu, professor of Buddhist and Chinese Studies at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

“Sometimes Buddhists, when they receive some kind of initiation into a certain practice, especially in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, they would be given a red thread, (to) go around the wrist,” said Yu. “It sounds like this is what he was wearing.”
Wearing bracelets, necklaces or other reminders of their faith are fairly common for practitioners of Buddhism, Yu said.

A reminder of faith and practice is fine but we need to open ourselves to that transformation first in order to begin a practice.  And practice requires active doing.  Practice means commitment and action not bracelets.  Once we open ourselves up we are no longer observers standing on the sidelines.  We become participants.

With practice – the doing, the commitment, the action – there comes discovery and realization.  As a result, the [Buddhist] precepts begin to be actualized as our own life.  We make conscious, in a very personal way, the identity of the life-stream of the Buddhas and ancestors with the life-stram of all sentient beings….Real atonement takes place only when the bodhi mind has been raised and practice is engaged.  When that has happened, we’re dealing with a very powerful spiritual magnet that attracts everything into the sphere of practice.  Raising the bodhi mind, practice and enlightenment thus become reality. John Daido Loori Roshi ~ Invoking Reality

Tiger is riding the sidelines right now but I think he’s ready to engage in the game.




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