The Times of London posted an interesting article about Tiger Woods at TimesOnline, which included a good quote about the golfer’s religious life:
Woods does not talk much about the fact that he meditates, something he learnt from Kultida, his mother, who is a Buddhist. “In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life,” he said. “It is all about what you do, and you get out of life what you put into it. So you are going to have to work your butt off in every aspect of your life. That is one of the things that people see in what I do on the course.”
Two things are important to me in this quote. First, it expresses the value of meditation in training one’s mind to focus: “you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life.” Second, it expresses a view of salvation and afterlife: “[to] set up the next life.”
I have to admit on the second part, I like the Reformed Christian idea that says you cannot work hard enough to set up the next life, therefore accept grace through faith!
On the first part, however, I wonder if some people will confuse the views of salvation and the afterlife with the discipline of meditation. Or, if some will dislike Woods’ views of salvation and the afterlife so much, they’ll dismiss the discipline of meditation. That would be a bad idea. Some research suggests that meditation strengthens the brain.
An article in the June 2007 edition of Men’s Journal addressed meditation techniques in which a person would relax and focus on a repeated phrase. “When Harvard researcher Sara Lazar recently compared the brains of American meditators to a control group, she found that parts of the cortex responsible for attention were on average 5 percent thicker,” according to the article.
And that’s just a piece of the research that’s available on things related to the mind, the brain, focus, attention, and mental discipline. (The emerging field of neurofeedback directly relates to some of these issues; in some cases, neurofeedback helps participants create a meditative focus.)
“Parents and teachers tell kids 100 times a day to pay attention, said Philippe R. Goldin, a Stanford University researcher, last year in a New York Times article about “mindfulness training” in schools. “But we never teach them how.”
Certainly non-Buddhists will want to proceed with caution, but there is some evidence that certain types of meditation and focused attention will be beneficial in ways that have nothing to do with views of salvation and the afterlife.
Meanwhile, I really like the following segment from this post by Pastor Jimmy Fuller of Harbour Lake Baptist Church in Goose Creek, S.C. (complimenting a Baptist — might be a first for this blog!):
Speaking of golf, I watched Tiger woods lose his first golf tournament of this season last weekend. I must say that I was disappointed that he didn’t win. Though Tiger and I would disagree theologically, he, a Buddhist and I, a Christian, I have to say that I admire many things about him. First of all I salute him on the basis of his character. He is a great role model for kids and adults alike when it comes to character. And his character came from a great relationship with his mother and father as he was growing up, particularly his father Earl Woods. Tiger said about his dad, “My dad has always taught me these words: care and share. That’s why we put on clinics. The only thing I can do is try to give back. … it works, it works.” Someone asked tiger about being a role model and he commented, “I think it’s an honor to be a role model to one person or maybe more than that. If you are given a chance to be a role model, I think you should always take it because you can influence a person’s life in a positive light, and that’s what I want to do. That’s what it’s all about.” And when it comes right down to it, all of us are role models to someone—our children, our family, or friends, our neighbors. We should never treat that as though it were a small matter. We influence them either positively or negatively, but influence them we will. And our influence on others will have a definite impact on the lives of those know and love. Remember, “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)I also admire Tiger for his work ethic. He didn’t get to be the number one ranked golfer in the world by being lazy and irresponsible. He worked at it. He spent (and still spends) long, disciplined hours on the practice range honing the skill and talent that God has given him. And why?—Simply to be the best. Tiger was quoted as saying, “That’s why I’ve busted my butt on the range for hours on end and made changes to get to this point where I’m able to compete at the highest level in major championships. That’s where you want to be.” There is no doubt that Tiger desires to be the best. We too should desire to be the best at what ever we do. It honors God, it honors our family, and it honors us individually. I am teaching my grandchildren to say and believe someone is going to be the best—it may as well be me!
I really liked that last line: “someone is going to be the best — it may as well be me!”
-Colin Foote Burch
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