Wednesday, February 24, 2010

John Tarrant - A Tiger Golfs With Buddha (Essay)

Zen Buddhist psychologist John Tarrant, author of The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life (one of my favorite Buddhist books), has taken on the Tiger topic for the Wall Street Journal. Glad they at least got a real Buddhist to talk about this issue.

I added some links for those who are interested.
A Tiger Golfs With Buddha (Essay)

By John Tarrant

In his crisis, Tiger Woods mentioned turning to Buddhism, his mother’s religion. But what does that mean? If you are in a crisis, what would Buddhism offer?

You’d probably start with a set of observations about reality, called The Four Noble Truths. You might also learn to meditate. Buddhism is something to do not something to believe. You don’t go to hell but you do have to meditate. It’s like practicing the guitar, you only get good at it if you do it. The theory is that if you meditate, you notice what’s real, and you’ll do things that make more sense. You might be kinder too.

The First Noble Truth is that life is suffering. Paradoxically this can be consoling. In other words what Tiger Woods is going through is something to be expected, part of life. In Buddhism, no matter how rich or charming or successful you are, people you love will die, you will die, make mistakes, the market will tank, and so on. So unhappiness is there before the visible crisis because that’s the nature of things. Needing a girl on the road implies loneliness. Having to tell your girlfriend that your wife got her number off your cell phone—ouch!

In the boom before the financial crisis lots of us were suffering before we noticed it, too. Using your house as an ATM—scary.

Buddhism thinks that if you to look at your suffering, then it gets to be less painful, and that is the way out. Zen Buddhism actually teaches through sample predicaments:

Student: “What if it’s a disaster?”

Master: “That’s it too.”

It that’s it too, you might start noticing your personal disaster. Sometimes a disaster can be very exciting and you can be wildly alive inside it. The true person has no rank,” is another Zen saying. So if you lose your idea of how important or famous you are, you might just step out of your fear and greed and you might have more compassion. You might be happy just taking your kids to school. The happiness of the ordinary is always available but mostly people step straight past it.

The Dalai Lama–who joined Twitter yesterday–was asked about Tiger Woods and said he hadn’t heard of him. If you were Tiger Woods right now it might be nice to hang out with people who hadn’t heard of you.

John Tarrant directs the Pacific Zen Institute. His most recent book is “Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life.”

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