Tiger Woods, Buddhism, and Desire

I am huge golf lover. I play it. I watch it. I read articles about it and follow it closely. I even got to go to the Masters in 2005 (the last time Tiger won) and almost got hit by Tiger's golf ball and made national tv (the proof is currently on a taped VHS). So naturally, I was glued to my television yesterday as I was watching the drama play out at the Masters. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and a host of other great golfers vied for the win that Phil ultimately achieved.

Given Tiger's indiscretions and public scrutiny, much of the commentary focused on Tiger even though he never led the tournament yesterday or at any point (he finished tied for 4th). Tiger started horribly yesterday, bogeying three of the first five holes (for non-golf lovers- he lost three strokes to par= the standard score). Tiger wasn't throwing his usual tantrums or lighting up the curse words early on, which is typical of him when he plays poorly. Also, though, when Tiger turned it around and started playing great, he wasn't fist-pumping and revving up the crowd either.

Why? Well, Tiger has talked about returning to his family roots of Buddhism so he can "center" himself on the golf course: not get too high or too low. In Buddhism, emotion and desire are bad and ultimately things to gain higher enlightment over. But the commentators didn't like that. One of them remarked, "Tiger without emotion is like Superman with kryptonite. He can't feed off his own energy, which he's so used to." (That's a rough paraphrase).

And the commentator hit on a Christian truth without knowing it. The Buddha, in his quest for the alleviation of suffering, mistakenly linked good and bad desires together, thus trying to achieve nirvana over all desire (since desire is the source of much suffering). But in Christianity, good desire is good, and bad desire is bad. And there are oh so many good things in this world to desire and appreciate: the beauty of azaleas in the spring in Augusta, enrapturing music that leads you to truly experience beauty, and even excellence in one's craft.

Lying behind it all is One who gives the desire and grants the possibility that those desires can be fulfilled. He also works against all the evil desires of the world to ultimately bring justice to it all.

That's comforting to me, and I hope it will be to Tiger Woods someday too.

1 comment:

Matt Proctor said...

mighty nice post - good length too