Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Idealization, Scandal, and Buddhist Redemption

Tiger Wood has announced his return to golf for the 2010 Masters. Few stories have garnered as much attention and jaw dropping voyeurism as this sexual scandal. Indeed, Tiger’s return to golf in the Master’s will be “will be the biggest media event, other than the Obama inauguration, in the past 10 or 15 years.” says CBS boss, Sean McManus.The most recent episode of South Park in its typical brilliant fashion highlights many of the issues at hand. How did they choose to represent the Tiger Woods Scandal? The episode begins with a scene between Tiger and Elin wherein she is chasing him with a golf club. The scene plays into the rumors that she assaulted him and that led to his fleeing the home and crashing his Escalade. The creative turn here and incisive social commentary is that the scene we are seeing comes from a video game being played by Cartmann and Stan. The episode then turns to the issue of sexual addiction and Kyle and Kenny are identified by the CDC as showing risk factors for developing sexual addiction. The tongue-in-cheek joke is to suggest that some degree of sexual preoccupation is abnormal, when of course it is not. Tiger’s fall from grace was more poignant because he led such a private life and gave little of himself to the media or, indeed, to his fellow players on the Tour.
In Tiger’s mea culpa he cited his Buddhist faith as a means to his salvation. He said, “People probably don’t realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years … Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security … “It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.” The Dalai Lama, previously clueless to the phenomenon known as Tiger Woods, commentated that Tiger’s Buddhist faith would provide, “Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.” Well said, Your Holiness, and Tiger too. Now what? I wonder how he will play now that he is not looking outside of himself for security. How will his golf game be now that he will be, presumably, less identified with his identity as “Tiger Woods” and less invested in propping up this image. In principle, he could play better! That’s a scary prospect for every player on the PGA Tour. What if all these fornicating actually detracted from his game? What if his obsessive preoccupation with sex impaired his ability to concentrate and play his best game. How many major championships would he have now? Again, it will be interesting to see what unfolds as he moves forward. While I hope that he can restrain his behavior, without a dedication to meditation he won’t have the inner discipline to accomplish his goals. He may still chase every mental impulse and pursue unrestrained fantasies. His outer disciplines if accompanied by the inner discipline of Mind FITness will certainly help him to realize his maximum potential as a golfer and as a human being.

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