Tiger Woods: Buddhism teaches about ‘cravings,’ and other press conference confessions

By Elizabeth Tenety In his long-anticipated press conference Friday, Tiger Woods mentioned his failure to live up to his Buddhist … Continued

By Elizabeth Tenety

In his long-anticipated press conference Friday, Tiger Woods mentioned his failure to live up to his Buddhist faith’s teaching of self-restraint:

“Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.”

Woods is hardly the first remorseful adulterer to find his faith during a press conference.

Jim McGreevey, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton and Mark Sanford all made references to their spiritual lives during their public admissions of guilt. Do their acts of contrition seem genuine or convenient? And why does it take a scandal for them to remember their religious values?

“I do not believe that God tortures any person simply for its own sake. I believe that God enables all things to work for the greater good. And this, the 47th year of my life, is arguably too late to have this discussion. But it is here. . . I am a gay American. -Jim McGreevey

Eliot Spitzer alluded to Luke’s Gospel in his press conference: “Those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

“This matter is between me, the two people I love most – my wife and my daughter – and our God.” -Bill Clinton

“I’m here because if you were to look at God’s laws, they’re in every instance designed to protect people from themselves. I think that that is the bottom line of God’s law, that it’s not a moral, rigid list of do’s and don’ts just for the heck of do’s and don’ts. It is indeed to protect us from ourselves. . . . But I guess where I’m trying to go with this is that there are moral absolutes and that God’s law indeed is there to protect you from yourself, and there are consequences if you breach that. This press conference is a consequence.”-Mark Sanford

The statements of two other prominent adulterers, John Edwards and Jon Ensign, were godless.

Does Tiger’s religious reference ring true? What about McGreevey, Spitzer, Clinton and Sanford? Why does it take a public scandal for these guys to get God?


Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • YEAL9

    Tiger is really hoping that he is reincarnated as a male Muslim so that he can make slaves of all women (well at least four of them).

  • Athena4

    “Eliot Spitzer alluded to Luke’s Gospel in his press conference: ‘Those to whom much is given, much is expected.’” Actually, I think that was Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in “Spiderman”. “With great power comes great responsibility.”

  • PSolus

    In Samuel Johnson’s day, patriotism may have been the last refuge of the scoundrel.Today, religion appears to be the last refuge of the scoundrel.

  • Ingle

    Tiger a Buddhist–someone who rises above the passions of the self to live in the higher realms of the spiritual life?? Man oh man, what a sick attempt to gain public sympathy:presenting himself as someone who had tried but simply failed to reach the higher ideals he reached for. Good grief, Tiger, you never even got off the ground.Don’t insult religion by presenting yourself as just another failed sinner. Better to say nothing and then simply demonstrate to the world that you can be a different man. That’s the kind of change your wife is hoping and praying for.

  • 2ndgenSaram76

    Could not agree more with “xxioxro5″ and his/her post!

  • tonebobb

    “Does Tiger’s religious reference ring true? “this is the most appalling thing i’ve read all day. who. the hell. cares. and who are you to ask? does it ring true when someone accepting a grammy award thanks jesus christ? does it ring true when you say grace at your dinner table? does it ring true when my child says their prayers at night? it’s none of your business. nor is it ANYONE ELSE’S business but mr. woods.

  • Sutter

    Republican Sen. John Vitter said, after being caught patronizing prostitutes, said his wife and God had forgiven him. Last I heard, voters may be ready to reelect him. Sen. Ensign was also apparently forgiven by God, and he had his parents behind him (giving money to his former mistress– payments, by sheer coincidence, each just below the federal reporting equipment). Many people bring God into the picture, whethr to say they will ask for fogiveness or have already received it, oftlen as a p.r. angle. Funny how many of them showed no remorse until they were daught.

  • xxioxro5

    Re Yeal9 assertion that a male Muslim can make slaves of at least four women, I wish to state that this is a mistaken notion often repeated to demonise the Islamic Faith.Yes. Islam allows a man to have more than one wife at any one time,the limit being four.However,the conditions attached to this priviledge are onerous; the man must be able maintain the wives financially, emotionally, physically and must be able to exercise fairness and be just to the wives at all times.Because of these heavy demands very few Muslim men avail themselves of this opportunity. Of course there are Muslims who abuse this priviledge like in any major religion with billions of followers.Therefore the notion that Islam allows their men to abuse and enslave their women is wrong. The Islamic institution of marriage is designed to protect the community and protect the welfare of members particularly women and children. Instances of abuse of the institution should not be used to condemn an entire faith just as we should not condemn the Christian faith just because there are Priests out there abusing little boys under their care.

  • theullrichs

    Original buddhism is an ethical discipline and non-theistic.

  • hicks80456

    Time will tell. The proof will be in the pudding.

  • TeresaBinstock

    When Tiger resumes playing at professional golf tournaments away from home, will he be chaperoned by his mother or someone else his wife might trust?

  • coolthinking1

    Amazing some one wrote, “Tiger is really hoping that he is reincarnated as a male Muslim so that he can make slaves of all women (well at least four of them).” Is it really so? This guy or gal found even in this sordid affair a way to malign Muslim. Did not Jesus teach not to hate? Or was that just a hollow teaching? The teaching, sadly, so impractical no Christian can practice in real, now it is only a lip service. Yet, they don’t question why so?Kindly do some investigation outside of our media or the colored literary sources. perhaps then you may over come the hate-mongering.

  • ProfessorWrightBSU

    “All have fallen short of the glory of God”, and “Judge not lest ye be judged in like manner”.Remember how Gary Condit talked all that smack about Clinton and then Shandra Levy was murdered and we found out that Condit had skeletons in the closet too?Get off Tiger’s back.

  • lambdaenigma

    Rather than try to be a good Buddhist, just strive to be better in your birth religion.If a calm and directed attention is your goal, there is Christian and Jewish meditation, as well as, non-religious meditation.Strive to be a better person, first, then you can seek refuge in the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha with realistic aims.Isn’t the acceptance of reality your goal anyways?

  • brattykathyi1

    Buddhism is not a religion. There are no imaginary sky daddies involved. Buddhists tend to be better grounded and happier than people that worship imaginary sky daddies.

  • rcc_2000

    Does it ring true? Yes, I am sure he is feeling all these things. In moments of crisis, especially self-created, when the world is coming down around you one tends to become religious or at least philosophical. I am sure he knew what he was doing was wrong and became wrapped up in it. I think most of us have been in similar situations. It happens to everyone… Now does that mean he will change? Who knows.One more thing, I am sure the whole press conference was well rehearsed and staged but I believe that Tiger is remorseful (92% remorseful). His delivery was very poor since the emotions he had to convey do not come naturally. It is very humbling when events of your own doing come tumbling down on you. One tends to go through “battlefield conversions”.

  • usapdx


  • xxioxro5

    Now that Tiger has admitted that he is a Buddhist there is one course open to him if he is looking for redemption; shave his head bald, put on a saffron robe and enter a monastry. Every morning take a begging bowl and walk the streets of the city for alms; when tired go back to the monastry for meditation and reflection on how vain and arrogant you have been. After six months or a year maybe the Lord will forgive you and take away all guilty feelings to enable you to go back to your wife and children as a born again husband and father.Good luck.

  • targusowlkiln

    Paging Brit Hume. Paging Mr. Brit Hume to the “Abandon Your False Religion and Embrace Jesus” desk.Yeah, that was so much fun the first time around.

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