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Tiger Woods gave quite a plug for Buddhism during his announcement/apology on Friday. He was brought up with his mother’s religion, but strayed from it for the past several years. It’s a religion that has to do, in part, with desire, and one’s relationship to it. It’s a religion that offers forgiveness, mea culpa or no. It offers forgiveness in the very next moment. All it requires is awareness, personal responsibility, and a willingness to do better in the next moment. Tiger’s commitment to return to the religion of his roots, a commitment solidified by the fact that his mother was sitting 10 feet in front of him on Friday, is a reliable one.

In Buddhism, the present moment is one’s only refuge, an inescapable refuge since you cannot escape from your very own eyes. There is no God in Buddhism who looks down and judges and views your every move. There is no heaven or hell somewhere other than your very own soul. Heaven and hell exist right here, right now, in this life, on this earth. Buddhism is relentless in examining your own behavior and thoughts, offering the opportunity to change your life in the next moment. When Tiger hugged his mother so sincerely and heartfelt at the end of his talk, I saw him returning to his Buddhist roots. As a result, if he follows through on that, I think he’ll be OK, not as a golfer but as a human being struggling with the issues we human beings struggle with.

I have been a Buddhist for many years, straying from the path myself from time to time. Many think that the religion has to do with some epiphany called enlightenment but that perception is not quite accurate. It has to do with enlightened action, which can be in response to the most mundane circumstance. For if you avoid stepping on an ant, you have taken that ant’s life into consideration and decided to acknowledge and protect it. That heightened awareness makes you more likely to consider all of life more sensitively, to truly care about human beings, plants, indeed the entire planet and all its inhabitants.

Tiger Woods is back on track, back on the path, and I bow to him, wishing him well on this journey of life. I encourage him and his wife to stick with it and work this out. This will show his kids, his friends, his fans, that as human beings we will fall down from time to time, but that as human beings we can choose to get up and walk a more enlightened path.

Tiger, you have my support and encouragement in finding the courage, faith, and intelligence to do so.

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