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Tiger Woods and Forgiveness – The Blindness Of Your Prisms January 18, 2010

Posted by Bill in atheism, Christianity, Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,

I know that I am a little behind the times on commenting on this.   Life happens though.  Despite that I still would like to get my two cents worth in.

I just saw this little clip from Fox News with Brit Hume stating that in order for Tiger Woods to recover from the mess he has made of his life that he needs to convert from Buddhism to Christianity.  Only Christianity, apparently, can offer the sort of “redemption and forgiveness’ that Tiger needs to turn his life around and become a “great example to the world.” 

This seems to me to typify some of the unconscious arrogance that many Christians exude.  Actually I need to be fair in that many people of various religions do the same, including atheists.   They look at everything through the prism of their beliefs without even considering whether their prism might not be appropriate for making judgements on others beliefs.   Or whether other ways of viewing the world might have their own ways of dealing with difficulties that are just as effective. 

Since this came up  due to me viewing the clip of Brit Hume lets use Buddhism and Christianity as an example.

In  the traditional Christian you have a fallen humanity.  A humanity trapped and doomed by its sinful nature that needs help in order to be saved.  Humanity needs to be redeemed by God.  Otherwise after death a person is destined for the eternal pain and suffering that his own fallen nature demands.     In this concept you have a God and a life followed by an eternal death.   And you have a waiting judgement on each and every one of us. 

In Buddhism though you have a totally different concept of humanity and the universe.  First off, God is optional.   There may be a God, Gods, or no God.  It really makes no difference.  What you have is the universe, humanity within the universe and how we relate to the universe, to others, and to ourselves.

A second difference is that there no permanent essence of an individual self which survives death.  What this means is that there is no eternal suffering for an individual after death.  There is no heaven for an individual after death.   There is no judgement. 

From http://buddhism.about.com/

In his book What the Buddha Taught (1959), Theravada scholar Walpola Rahula asked,

“If we can understand that in this life we can continue without a permanent, unchanging substance like Self or Soul, why can’t we understand that those forces themselves can continue without a Self or Soul behind them after the non-functioning of the body?

“When this physical body is no more capable of functioning, energies do not die with it, but continue to take some other shape or form, which we call another life. … Physical and mental energies which constitute the so-called being have within themselves the power to take a new form, and grow gradually and gather force to the full.”

Zen teacher John Daido Loori said,

“… the Buddha’s experience was that when you go beyond the skandhas, beyond the aggregates, what remains is nothing. The self is an idea, a mental construct. That is not only the Buddha’s experience, but the experience of each realized Buddhist man and woman from 2,500 years ago to the present day. That being the case, what is it that dies? 

There is no question that when this physical body is no longer capable of functioning, the energies within it, the atoms and molecules it is made up of, don’t die with it. They take on another form, another shape. You can call that another life, but as there is no permanent, unchanging substance, nothing passes from one moment to the next. Quite obviously, nothing permanent or unchanging can pass or transmigrate from one life to the next. Being born and dying continues unbroken but changes every moment.”

From http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/u/basics.htm

The teachers tell us that “me” is a series of thought-moments.  Each thought-moment conditions the next thought-moment.  In the same way, the last thought-moment of one life conditions the first thought-moment of another life, which is the continuation of a series.  “The person who dies here and is reborn elsewhere is neither the same person, nor another, “Walpola Rahula wrote. 

This is not easy to understand, and cannot be fully understood with intellect alone. For this reason, many schools of Buddhism emphasize a meditation practice that enables intimate realization of the illusion of self.

Karma and Rebirth

The force that propels this continuity is karma. Karma is another Asian concept that Westerners (and, for that matter, a lot of Easterners) often misunderstand. Karma is not fate, but simple action and reaction, cause and effect. For a more complete explanation, please see “Karma for Buddhists 101: Introduction to the Buddhist Understanding of Karma.”

Very simply, Buddhism teaches that karma means “volitional action.” Any thought, word or deed conditioned by desire, hate, passion and illusion create karma. When the effects of karma reach across lifetimes, karma brings about rebirth.

The Persistence of Belief in Reincarnation

There is no question that many Buddhists, East and West, continue to believe in individual reincarnation. Parables from the sutras and “teaching aids” like the Tibetan Wheel of Life tend to reinforce this belief.

The Rev. Takashi Tsuji, a Jodo Shinshu priest, wrote about belief in reincarnation:

“It is said that the Buddha left 84,000 teachings; the symbolic figure represents the diverse backgrounds characteristics, tastes, etc. of the people. The Buddha taught according to the mental and spiritual capacity of each individual. For the simple village folks living during the time of the Buddha, the doctrine of reincarnation was a powerful moral lesson. Fear of birth into the animal world must have frightened many people from acting like animals in this life. If we take this teaching literally today we are confused because we cannot understand it rationally.

“…A parable, when taken literally, does not make sense to the modern mind. Therefore we must learn to differentiate the parables and myths from actuality.”

What’s the Point?

People often turn to religion for doctrines that provide simple answers to difficult questions. Buddhism doesn’t work that way. Merely believing in some doctrine about reincarnation or rebirth has no purpose. Buddhism is a practice that enables experiencing illusion as illusion and reality as reality.

The Buddha taught that our delusional belief in “me” causes our many dissatisfactions with life (dukkha). When the illusion is experienced as illusion, we are liberated.”

It is obvious that this is a very different view of the universe and man’s role in it than that of Christianity.  Which means what the Buddhist presribes for dealing with the pains and sorrows of life will be different than that of Christianity’s.

 However that does not mean that they are any less effective.  Any religion that did not offer a satisfactory answer to what are universal human questions and problems would never have become a world religion.   Religion deals with universal human needs after all and if it cannot in some manner meet those needs then it fails and dies.   Keeping this in mind let me point out that Buddhism is older than Christianity. 

And that is where Bret Hume got it wrong – in his assumption that Buddhism cannot offer a way for Tiger Woods to change his life.  He assumes that there is only one way that can occur when in reality there are many ways. 

Now it might seem that I am promoting some sort of New Age idea that all ideas are equal and truth is in the mind of the beholder.  However I am not.  I am making no claim here on the truthfulness of any of these beliefs.  Instead I am pointing out that each religion or view of the world has a way of dealing with troubles and that these ways may be equally effective.

After all the Ptolemiac view of the solar system was effective at predicting the positions of the planets, but it was not as true as the Copernican view.  Effectiveness and truth are related but they are not always the same. 




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