Mothers of Intention — Momma Zen Takes Tiger Woods & Brit Hume to the Woodshed

Wed, January 6, 2010

Mothers of Intention

Mothers of Intention 1

It’s hard for me to keep quiet when people who call themselves journalists veer into the realm of overly judgmental commentary.  So I’ve been stewing over the comments Brit Hume recently made about Tiger Woods and Buddhism, looking for a way to write about it that wasn’t just a rant.  Even my friend Jodifur was nicely egging me on to pen something on this.  I tweeted a bit, and got a response from the one person in the blogosphere who is perfectly suited for this topic – Momma Zen.  She graciously agreed on very short notice to take on this topic for Mothers of Intention.   Momma Zen, I owe you one!

When I first heard that Fox-TV’s Brit Hume had admonished Tiger Woods to forswear Buddhism in favor of Christianity to redeem himself, I laughed. I laughed hard, and soon it became the kind of laughter that is indistinguishable from tears. In this one arrogant assertion we see the blind egotism that, again and again, is at the root of all pain and suffering, all insanity, all war.

There is no question Woods needs redemption, and I’m certain that he knows it full well. He is alone in a hell of his making, although the collateral damage, as always, is vast and cruel. It’s intriguing that Hume didn’t dare suggest a more obvious and practical fix: that the fallen superstar renounce the “game of kings,” or his obscene and incalculable wealth, or his drug play, sexual predations or any other of his self-serving addictions. Like most of us, Hume and Woods share the universal religion: self- service. Namely, that whatever I think and whatever I do, whatever I like and whatever I say, is right. Your problem is that you don’t agree with me. No matter who or what we claim to worship, at the heart of the matter, most of us worship ourselves even more.

To many of us, faith is little more than a box we check on a questionnaire. Buddhism? Check. Christianity? Check. It’s clear that Woods doesn’t practice the selfless compassion that is at the heart of Buddhism. It’s equally clear that Hume doesn’t practice the selfless compassion that is at the heart of Christianity. Sadly, I call the situation fair and balanced.

Both of them are equally eligible for redemption. Atonement starts with apology: the simple act of seeking forgiveness for the harm caused by one’s own selfish ignorance. Atonement is central to all great religions and all religions are great. They teach us to transcend the false supremacy of one’s own ego. No matter what faith we profess to have, our own persistent self-righteousness gives us the occasion to atone many, many times a day. Forgiveness, in a sense, is easy. I would imagine, though, that the next step in Buddhism would be equally difficult for either of them: to forget oneself.

I’ll leave that to them, and work on my own practice.

Karen Maezen Miller is a Zen Buddhist priest and the author of Momma Zen and the forthcoming Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life. She blogs regularly at Cheerio Road and Shambhala SunSpace.

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14 Responses to “Mothers of Intention — Momma Zen Takes Tiger Woods & Brit Hume to the Woodshed”

  1. jodifur Says:

    I’m so glad Joanne penned something, who had you pen something.

    Really, my issue was the assumption that Tiger needed religion for redemption. Redemption is a personal thing. And if you find it through G-d so be it, but shouldn’t it start with his wife? He cheated on HER. And would being a Christian automatically make it ok? The whole thing makes me soooo mad!

  2. Stephanie Says:

    But the solution’s always to suggest they be a Christian if they’re not! It’s the only way!

    In other words, yes, Hume’s reaction is ridiculous. Not even remotely helpful. There are many better suggestions he could have made that would be of more definite benefit to Woods.

    And Christians are just soooo good at avoiding affairs themselves. Care to scold some of your fellow Christians, Hume? More appropriate targets and maybe they would welcome the reminder to live their faith.

  3. ed Says:

    “It’s equally clear that Hume doesn’t practice the selfless compassion that is at the heart of Christianity.”

    What? Because he suggested that if Tiger can’t seem to find redemption in the religion he claims to follow that he might find it in Christianity?

    But if you heard a Christian say they were having trouble finding redemption, I’ll bet you’d have no problem inviting them to consider Buddhism, and somehow imagine that was a selfless act on your part.

    And they’re both so obviously wrong because they both “share the universal religion: self- service. Namely, that whatever I think and whatever I do, whatever I like and whatever I say, is right.”

    But somehow, of course, YOU are right.

  4. Seiho Jaye Morris Says:

    Well said, harmonizing both ends of the stick, Tiger Woods and Brit Hume decided to pick up. Your lesson I will take to heart.

    ~With Gassho,

  5. Corey Feldman Says:

    It is all just so much arrogance. Tiger’s disregard to the commitment he made to his family. Hume’s proselytizing attack on Buddhism.

  6. Jody Says:

    As always, Momma Zen, so much wisdom. Thank you for helping us move beyond the trigger and into the space of peace and detachment. If people find themselves triggered by Tiger’s behavior, one only needs to turn and look at the essence of what is upsetting about it and then gently turn it around to see how it applies to oneself.

    When we find ourselves on the attack or defense, it is important to question the root of that so we can let it go and stay connected with our true selves instead of sitting in blame and righteousness.


  7. Laura Says:

    Because who among us can name even ONE Christian who has cheated on his wife?

  8. Damien Says:

    Absolutely if Tiger Woods had told Brit Hume (or anyone else) that he felt he was having trouble with his religion as far as being redeemed goes and was looking for other options, suggesting another (or suggesting “none at all”) would be appropriate. It’s only arrogant & dickish when the advice is unsolicited and/or comes from someone who appears to be a hypocrite on the subject.

  9. Lisa (mommymystic) Says:

    brilliant, thank you so much

  10. Deb Says:

    There is no “one right way”. (Not Buddhism, not Christianity) Many roads lead to God. You can only be offended by Hume if you choose to be. Detach. Detach. Detach.

  11. moi Says:

    What? Brit Hume paid for feigning front pew piety disguised as critical thinking to an easy audience.

    Christianity & Buddhism are *NOT* mutually exclusive, many Christians also employ Zen & read Buddhist lit.

  12. Srima Says:

    Thank you very much for that explanation. No one can redeem you except yourself. If you make a mistake you have to bear the consequences. Tiger Woods would not have made the mistake if he had lived as a Buddhist, followed at least the five precepts and meditated daily even for a few minutes. Changing a religion is silly, because that does not change the karmnic forces that all of us are subjected to irrespective of the religion that we follow. Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and others who follow different religions do not get differential consequences for the mistakes made or for the good they do. Karmic forces apply to each and every living being – not only to humans- and no one can ‘redeem ‘ you. Redemption is within you.What has to change is your behaviour. As Buddhists have compassion for Brit Hume. It is ignorance that made him say what he said.


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