To understand everything is to forgive everything
-- The Buddha
I may or may not be a Buddhist -- I have trouble with some of the reincarnation stuff and can never seem to memorize those lists -- but I sure have learned a lot about compassion and forgiveness from practicing Buddhist meditation and studying and discussing Buddhist teachings.
Forgiveness can be hard, but I guess I should try and forgive Fox News's erstwhile anchor and current eminence gris Brit Hume for what he said yesterday on Fox News Sunday regarding Tiger Woods:
The extent to which he can recover seems to me to depend on his faith. He is 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.
Leaving aside the sheer inanity of Hume's comment on Buddhism -- he doesn't "think" Buddhism offers the right kind of forgiveness, but hasn't bothered to find out -- what the senior political analyst advises veers too close to what many in the chattering classes are saying: What's important is more about the redemption of Tiger -- the billion-dollar brand -- than Tiger Woods the actual human being. This is not about religion or belief systems. It's about resurrecting sponsorships, multi-media deals, etc.
If Tiger can be resurrected in the eyes of golf commentators and fans, corporate execs and, ultimately, the general public -- with some message like, "I'm deeply sorry if I've hurt anyone but from now on, with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ, I will go back to being perfect" -- then the second coming of business as usual will be at hand. If not, tons of folks are out tons of money.
Hume wouldn't dream of publicly advising a Jew or a Muslim to switch to Christianity, because the keepers of those faiths are tough customers. But Buddhists are perceived as gentle and pacifist, so criticizing them is, in golf parlance, something of a gimme.
Salon's Alex Koppelman points out that some on the Right have managed to Alice-in-Wonderland this into yet another anti-liberal talking point: "Leftists in the state-run media are lambasting Brit Hume for promoting Christianity on a Sunday morning talk show,"
Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft complained. "It used to be that liberals didn't want you to mention Christ in schools. Then they banned Christ from Christmas concerts and public squares. Now they are demanding that we not talk about Christianity in public. We should have seen this coming." Huh?
As the Dalai Lama says, "All major religious traditions carry basically the same message -- that is love, compassion and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives."
So Brit, while I wouldn't presume to advise you to take up Buddhism, maybe you could try reading some Buddhist authors like Jack Kornfield or Pema Chodron to supplement your Scripture. Or take a look at the writings of Ken Wilber or Roger Walsh, two non-Buddhist thinkers who've concluded that the world's religions are quite similar.
And next time you're in town, please come to an Insight LA sitting, retreat or lecture. (If you're on the East Side, you're welcome to join my Tuesday night sitting group.) You've got nothing to lose, and -- who knows? -- you might learn something about forgiveness.