(I remind readers that the ideas presented in this blog are my own. They are not intended to represent the official doctrines and position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This post is not intended to disparage Buddhism.) 

In case you haven’t heard, Tiger Woods is getting back to his religious roots. He said that he is getting back to Buddhism.

It is better for people to be involved in any religion that promotes a moral code than to be involved in no religion at all, but why Buddhism? (Other than it is his mother’s religion). Under current circumstances I think Buddhism is a poor choice for Tiger. Why? Because Tiger is struggling to come to terms with sin and there is no such thing as sin in Buddhism.

Buddhism has no concept of sin in the traditional Christian sense. In Buddhism, there is Karma (cause) and Vipaka (effect). Karma is the intentionality behind an act. It may be good, bad, or neutral. Vipaka, on the other hand, is the effect of Karma. Vipaka may create peace and harmony or strife and disharmony. 

What’s wrong is that it is a utilitarian-focused doctrine that’s lacking accountability to a higher power. Let me put it this way. While I agree that having good intentions leads to a better life, the potential rewards of living a harmonious life are not always enough to motivate people to embrace good Karma/intentions. There are plenty of people who don’t care about leading a harmonious life, especially addicts. They are more concerned about getting the next fix.

There is a better way to encourage harmonious living. It is the concept of Christian sin. A sinful act is wrong even if you don’t care about the consequences. Infidelity is morally wrong not matter what the circumstances are. Infidelity is morally wrong even if your wife doesn’t find out about it and you lead a harmonious life as a rich and famous golfer. Sin is morally wrong because it offends a supreme being. 

With the Christian concept of sin, utilitarianism still applies, but in a more meaningful way than what we find in Buddhism. People who repeatedly sin without repenting are in danger of hellfire, a state of endless misery and woe. Eternal hellfire is a powerful motivator for change. 

Folks, see what happens when we exclude God from areas of our lives? Even if our intentions are good, as I am sure Tiger’s return to Buddhism are, there are undesirable consequences from excluding God. I am reminded of the several LDS scholars I’ve met who see no problem with excluding deity from science. The current status quo is that recognition of deity has no place in science, and many LDS scholars are fine with that!? People who see no problems with excluding deity from academia and science should read the previous post (below) on secular humanism by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.

Anyway, I hope Tiger’s return to Buddhism helps him get some good Karma and find more harmony in his personal and professional life. In think there is some value in Buddhist teachings that will help him. However, recognizing that his wayward ways offended not only his family and friends, but a supreme lawmaker as well, would also help.

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