The Future Is In Our Past -
Tiger Woods, golf's greatest star, has followed a long line of fallen heroes by apologizing for his behavior on television. Is it necessary to repeat Mr. Woods' indiscretions? Just in case you have been on a UFO for the past three months, Mr. Woods, the clean cut all American golf hero and family man, is a sex addict. He was exposed, entered rehab, and, like all good products, emerged to perform the prerequisite apology.
A couple of things were surprising in Mr. Woods' apology. One glaring omission was the lack of respect for his sexual partners. They were tossed aside like a pair of old socks. While he praised his long-suffering wife, he made no mention of the women he used and abused.
Mr. Woods said it himself. He said that he had worked hard and felt entitled to partake of everything that money could buy. Veronica Joslyn James, woman number 11, says she gave up her job because of Mr. Woods' jealousy. She did so because she, like at least 10 others, thought that she was his only mistress, and apparently has emails to prove it.
You may not agree, but in my book, this is abuse of women. The fact that the women willingly accepted the abuse does not detract from the fact that Mr. Woods believed that he was entitled to use women and discard them. His lack of feelings for their plight, during the press conference, shows a deficiency of moral fibre.
The second surprising thing was that Mr. Woods said his mother raised him as a Buddhist. Buddhism has always seen women as independent. Even in the early 20th century, as Western women were struggling for self-determination. Sir Charles Bell, a British political representative in Tibet, wrote in 1928, "Accustomed to mixing with the other sex throughout their lives, women are at ease with men." Mr. Bell wrote that in Buddhist countries women hold a remarkably good position.
Every cloud has a silver lining, they say. Maybe the silver lining in this event is the truism that even those who supposedly have it all are subject to the same demons as the poorest amongst us. Our own Christian place in the universe isn't so far removed from Mr. Woods' Buddhist place. We're all in the same boat.
Buddhists believe we live in the dream world that we have created out of our experiences. In order to be healthy we have to wake from this dream and remind ourselves of our true value, which does not reside in our experiences or in ownership of things (or women).
Tibetan Buddhism has a symbol for enlightenment, the Dorje, which represents the thunderbolt of enlightenment, that abrupt change in human consciousness, which is recognised by all the great religions as a pivotal episode in change.
In order to see ourselves clearly, we have to shed the idea we have of ourselves and step outside of our desires, to observe the real world. The awakening from our self-created dream to take our place in the real world is called enlightenment.
Mr. Woods said, "Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security." Great words, but Mr. Woods' actions convey no real understanding that the women are not mere possessions. The women are individuals like him trying to reach security, even through his fake reality?
Seeing the others as part of the same whole, the same reality, where neediness drives the dance, could free Mr. Woods from his useless and destroying quest. For freedom, the first step is to recognise what he has done to all the others involved, not just his fans and family.
Happiness then comes from inside, when the observer recognizes that s/he exists as a part of the Creation. As a part of Creation nothing matters except to keep the milk of human kindness flowing. This was the message of Jesus Christ, the Buddha (and other great thinkers).
Some years ago a friend gave me a treasured silver cross that has a circle, which emphasizes the endless nature of God's love. The circle of the cross represents the life force of kindness, which flows through us all and is a fundamental component of creation.
My own way of thinking about endless love is to put it in a more practical perspective. Sometimes when we are weighed down by sadness, kindness is blocked. But if we remember the cross and its significance kindness will flow again, taking us out of ourselves and into the world around us.
My friend said: The circle of the cross reminds us to smile when we don't feel like smiling, to say a kind word or do a kind deed when we are overwhelmed with our own sadness and to remember those who love us unconditionally because they are often the last ones remembered.
My wish for Mr. Woods is that he will emerge as an ambassador for women. He can accomplish this by remembering and feeling compassion for the women who granted his empty wishes. He can become the man of the myth. The only thing needed is the milk of human kindness.