This is repost of a blog I wrote last month on Tuesday, February 23, 2010.
On February 19th at a press conference that captured the world’s attention, Tiger Woods took responsibility for his actions. I listened to his words very carefully because I sensed the impact they would have on millions of people all over the world that were trying to make sense of it all.
What could possibly have caused a man that had risen to such unbelievable heights of fame and fortune, and achieved levels of success that could almost be described as perfection, fall from “grace” so instantaneously and so resoundingly?
This was a man that exuded perfection, an incredibly gifted athlete that continuously astounded the world with his focus and presence; he seemed to have an aura of invincibility. But for me, the energy and power of this man went far deeper than his athletic talent and skill on a golf course, for it spoke to his focus, his ability to be totally present under the most intense and pressurized situations. Tiger Woods had risen to the level of champion, time after time after time, delivering relentlessly, without being phased by anything or anyone around him, no matter what was at stake, like no one in history before him.
At one point, as he talked about what had happened to him, his words touched on something that I sensed was profoundly important, far more important than I felt most people were able to grasp or understand. He spoke of his upbringing as a Buddhist, his religion, his spiritual path, whose teachings had laid the foundation for his life growing up and all that he was to become as a man. He said that Buddhism had always taught him that when you have desire for things outside of your self, you lose your Self discipline and everything begins to fall apart. Everything that is important in life is within us and he said that he had forgotten the teachings that had served him so well. The Dali Lama, after hearing what Tiger had said, validated his words through the media as a fundamental teaching of the Buddhist tradition.
Tiger then went on to say that he was making an intention to go back to his spiritual roots, back to the support of his Buddhist teachings, to reclaim the discipline, presence and dignity he had always experienced that he had drifted away from. Yes, what he did hurt a lot of people, especially his wife, his children and family, along with millions of shocked and angry admirers? But this is a karmic responsibility that he alone must face and atone for; yet, beyond that, there was this wonderful gift that we were all given by what he said, no matter whether we even believed his words or not. And that was the gift of the immortal wisdom and teachings of the great Masters, passed down to us from every spiritual tradition since time immemorial and was echoed in Tiger’s words: “What you are really searching for can only be found within yourself.” “Desire is suffering.” “To thine own Self be true.” “The kingdom of God is within you.” “The greatest love of all I found within my Self.”
Tiger Woods presented to the world his understanding of what had happened to him, what he felt, how it impacted him and his family and what he saw as his next steps in life moving forward. But that was Tiger. What about you and me? Did we really “hear” what he said or were we, in that moment, without realizing it, just like Tiger, lost in the outer trappings of our own desires: to be entertained, to pass judgment, to project our own inner dissatisfactions onto some outer object?
My prayer is for the whole world to embrace the presence of humility, compassion and gratitude deep within ourselves, for all that we have been given, and offer that state back out to the world, letting go of all judgment, anger and fear.