"The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith," said Hume. "He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, 'Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
Now, breathe calmly and remember verse 222 from the Dhammapada:† "He who checks rising anger as a charioteer checks a rolling chariot, him I call a true charioteer. Others only hold the reins."
Brent Kelley, the About.com Guide to Golf, has an updated archive of the Tiger Woods scandals, so go there if you need to catch up. The man's had enough bad press lately and doesn't need any more from me. But it might be useful to respond to Mr. Hume.
I don't like to point out others' faults, but given the record I would think Christians would show a little more humility about offering advice to the sexually wayward. As Jesus once said, let those who have never sinned throw the first stones (John 8:7).
[Update: Anyone with standard English language cultural literacy ought to know that "let those who have never sinned throw the first stones" is a standard metaphor for accusing others of something you are guilty of yourself. And to suggest someone deal with sexual misbehavior by converting to Christianity, after the spectacular record of prominent Christians who have been caught at sexual misbehavior, struck me as hypocritical, so the phrase came to mind. It's astonishing to me that some Christians are interpreting this remark to mean that I think suggesting someone convert to Christianity is equivalent to stoning someone to death. And frankly, I think you have to be pretty twisted to read it that way. So don't throw hate at me; look to yourelves.]
However, Mr. Hume is right, in a sense, that Buddhism doesn't offer redemption and forgiveness in the same way Christianity does. Buddhism has no concept of sin; therefore, redemption and forgiveness in the Christian sense are meaningless in Buddhism. Forgiveness is important, but it is approached differently in Buddhism, and I'll get to that in a bit.
The Third Precept (of the Five Precepts) addresses sexuality. For laypeople, the Precept in Pali is Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami -- "I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct." Yes, "sexual misconduct" is† bit vague, but I think most of us would agree that practices that are coercive, exploitative, deceptive, or hurtful would amount to misconduct. And it's also fairly plain that Mr. Woods's conduct has been falling short of the Third Precept, although we don't need to further belabor that point.
If one has failed, can Buddhism help one "recover"? I'm not sure "recovering" is a word a Buddhist would use, but let's go on ... the practice of metta, loving kindness, is essential in Buddhism. Metta is extended to all beings, including those who have wronged us -- even Brit Hume -- and also to ourselves. (See also the Metta Sutta.)
Sharon Salzberg said, "Metta means equality, oneness, wholeness. To truly walk the Middle Way of the Buddha, to avoid the extremes of addiction and self-hatred, we must walk in friendship with ourselves as well as with all beings."
Destructive behavior is understood to be driven by tanha, thirst, which the Buddha explained (in the Four Noble Truths) was the cause of dukkha, unease or suffering. Buddhism itself can be defined as a path of practice that helps us see through the delusions that give rise to tanha. And people have successfully applied these practices for 25 centuries.
So, we really do not need advice on "recovery" from Brit Hume, thanks much. Let us hope that both Mr. Woods and Mr. Hume awaken to wisdom.
Little does Brit realize that not only are we Buddhists temperamentally unable to forgive, our various secret ninja societies will hunt him down and unforgive him until he cries out in the dark for his mother.
A hoot. But don't forget, Mr. Hume -- we invented kung fu. Probably.
Update: Today Buddhism was defended by Don Imus. I'm not touching that.
Update: Conservative blogger The Anchoress comments on this post but, alas, cannot constrain herself from allowing prejudice and condescension to corrupt her views of what I said. It's a trial, isn't it, Anchoress?
Ms. O' Brien seems to be mistaking Hume's obvious compassion for Woods as "stone-throwing." Having watched the video several times, it seems to me that Hume is doing no such thing.
The biblical quote I tossed in was an obvious metaphor for not criticizing others of things one is guilty of also, a point upon which we might all reflect. I don't doubt that Hume's intentions were good, but the comment was weighted down with ignorance and bias nonetheless.
And for that matter, the biblical stone-throwers thought they were doing the right thing, also.