Tuesday, January 5, 2010

To Forgive Is Devine

Brit Hume's suggestion on Sunday that Tiger Woods should turn toward Christianity to find forgiveness and redemption has some observers objecting.  But what did Hume really say?

Whether he (Woods) can recover as a person depends on his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, "Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
Whether you like Hume proselytizing on a Sunday morning news program or not, his point is a valid one.  Buddhism, like many Eastern religions, is not big on absolutes.  Where there is no certainty about right and  wrong, there is no need for forgiveness.  A key Buddhist teaching on forgiveness goes like this:
Have forgiveness in your heart for anything you think you've done wrong . Forgive yourself for all the past omissions and commissions. They are long gone. Understand that you were a different person and this one is forgiving that one that you were. Feel that forgiveness filling you and enveloping you with a sense of warmth and ease.
Absent from Buddhist doctrine is any idea that a wrong creates a debt.  So Tiger owes no debt for his broken marriage oath.  He owes nothing to his wife or children.  He does not need to seek their forgiveness.  He only needs to forgive himself .  Or more accurately, his new self needs to forgive his old self for a perceived wrong -- a strange concept considering no actual wrong and no actual debt has passed between the old Tiger and the new.  In fact, what is the difference between the old and the new Tiger that the one needs to forgive the other at all?

No my friends, right and wrong are real life concepts established by a just and loving God.  Mental gamesmanship cannot erase that reality.  Tiger may be able to redeem his career, but no amount of self forgiveness can redeem Tiger's soul.  He needs to seek forgiveness from his family and from God.  Only then can he be whole again.

Good on ya, Brit, for telling it like it is.

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