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Texas Inmates Can Teach Brit Hume About Redemption and Forgiveness

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The following quote comes from a man who recently served time at a prison in Texas. He speaks about a film about the Dalai Lama and Buddhism, and the philosophy it maintains for human beings and global problems:

I think that one of the problems of humanity is separateness. People tend to look at people as, well, that's your race, that's your country, that's your religion, my opinions are more important, and you're right and you're wrong. And I think, if people just start looking past that, and see the true spiritual person- looking within, then they start finding more solutions, and start living better lives. It all starts with yourself. Everything has to start with yourself. You can't move the stick out of your brother's eye, if you have one in your own. You have to work with yourself. Work on yourself, and as you work on yourself, you're gonna shine light on everybody else. And that light is going to wake someone else up. It's like lighting a candle. If you have one candle, you're gonna light others with the same flame. And I think that will be more of a practical solution to me. And the Dalai Lama, that's what he said. He said that right there will be the solution to promote better human values. To find a sufficient way to promote that will be the solution...

Now read what Fox News contributor Brit Hume said on the network when speaking about Tiger Woods and the shortcomings of Buddhism as it relates to the religion's ability to help the golfer:

Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it's a tragic situation for him. I think he's lost his family, it's not clear to me if he'll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal -- the extent to which he can recover -- seems to me to depend on his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist; I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'

Strange isn't it, how a man serving time in prison seems to speak with more compassion, more love, more intellect even, than a man at, or once at, the top of his profession. And yet, maybe I shouldn't find this so surprising, after all, ironically that was the very point of the movie the prisoner was referencing, "Dalai Lama Renaisance," that sometimes our intellect and our ego, our sense of we know what's best for others, is what stands in the way of real solutions, real forgiveness. This from the religion that Hume so arrogantly believed held no hope for Tiger to make him better. You wonder what Hume really knows about Buddhism, or any religion for that matter.

To tell you the truth, for years and years and years, I was full of hate. I've been down here for 22 years. For 20 of those years, I was full of hate. I hated myself and everybody around me, the world, and... everything. I just discovered, first sitting during meditation, then Buddhism, about 2 years ago. It's truly changed my life. It's made me a different person. It's made me a more compassionate and caring person. And something that I seen in the film that really struck home is when it said... 'words are bubbles of water, but deeds are drops of gold.' ...I thought that was real true. We can sit here and make all of the pretty words that we want, but if we're not willing to step out there and put ourselves out, and being compassionate, being kind to other people, showing kindness when we don't have to. If we're not willing to do that, then it's nothing but words. You gotta be willing to go the distance with it, you've gotta be willing to... In order to find that inner happiness. This is from my perspective. Because I've seen it for myself, it works for me. Showing kindness to other people makes me feel better about myself, cuz I went so many years full of hate. I've discovered that being compassionate and kind to other people really does make me feel better about myself. Makes me a better person, I guess....

This message comes from another prisoner at the same Southeast Texas prison, incarcerated for a screening of the Harrison Ford narrated film about a group of American thinkers, educators, activists and religious leaders gathered in India at the home of the Dalai Lama. I wrote about this film before but couldn't help but be reminded about it when I heard what Hume said and his attempts to deny that he was in any way proselytizing for the Christian faith or trying to make it out to be better than any other. So it was also ironic that the same week I heard about these prisoners, many of them serving life or near life sentences, and how Buddhist meditation, the Dalai Lama, and this award-winning film, were all having a profound impact on their lives, was in fact transforming them.

And therein lies the rub for people like Hume and others who want to believe that their religion is the one right religion. That belief itself, which is of course, crucial to may religions unfortunately and not just Christianity, almost requires the individual to have sort of a "I'm right and you're wrong" attitude. And once you start from that place, that place of judging others, which is what Hume did, by comparing his religion to Buddhism, it is impossible to really be in a place to experience or accept real truth. At that point what we are only after is what validates our own beliefs. Anything else is thrown out.

In the film, Dalai Lama Renaissance, the Dalai Lama made it clear that even he wasn't about trying to push one belief over another, one culture over another. Or even about saying one side was right and one side was wrong. That way of thinking puts the focus on someone else when his Buddhist practice was based on the belief that finding peace externally in the world, meant not worrying so much about what someone else was or was not doing. Peace for everyone, according to him and Buddhism, always started, and ended, with a focus on working on your own inner issues first and the rest would take care of itself.

Tiger Woods has his own inner issues to work through. So does Hume and so do I and everybody else. While our problems may be on different scales and in different areas, we have to find our own paths to getting better. I can't judge Tiger's faith and how good or bad it might be for becoming a better person. And for that matter nor can I judge where Hume is on his own path. All I know is statements like Hume's certainly don't help any of us get to that place of real acceptance and real truth.

The Dalai Lama was talking about the importance of compassion for compassion's sake, because it's the right thing to do. Because that's what makes you happy inside, its what helps you develop inner peace. It aint something that you should do because that's what God says you should do. That's not something that you should do because that's what your religious dogma says you should do. It's the right thing to do...

This was articulated by another prisoner after a screening in Southeast Texas of the film, Dali Lama Renaissance.