Gandhi and Tiger Woods
Speaking of flaws: One might ask what qualifies me to preach about meditation and golf. After all, I'm a demonstrably bad golfer and a complete failure at meditation. But that's the point: What makes me such a bad golfer—the constant intrusion of self-consciousness and thought, the utter lack of mind control—is what makes me such a bad meditator. In the empirical foundation of The New Age Theory of Golf, Tiger Woods is the experimental subject, and I am the control group. And a very good control group indeed, if I do say so myself.
Sense No. 4: One hallmark of spiritual maturity is unity of internal purpose—the subordination of the mind's unruly impulses to an overarching goal. On the golf course, as I've said, this involves a kind of micro-discipline: imperviousness to distraction on a second-by-second basis. But beyond the golf course, it involves a kind of macro-discipline; the structure of your everyday life has to serve the larger purpose of perfecting your game. "I like Buddhism because it's a whole way of being and living," Tiger said in the Sports Illustrated article. "It's based on discipline and respect and personal responsibility."
Discipline, respect, responsibility—now there's a guy who could become a major-league role model! And with Woods—unlike, say Michael Jordan—you get the feeling that a) he actually would be a pretty good role model, even if you observed him outside of the sports arena; and b) he actually wants to be a good role model and isn't just saying that to inflate his product-endorsement price tag. "Athletes aren't as gentlemanly as they used to be," he has said. "I don't like that change. I like the idea of being a role model. It's an honor. People took the time to help me as a kid, and they impacted my life. I want to do the same for kids." Woods likes the Asian side of his heritage because "Asians are much more disciplined than we are. Look how well-behaved their children are. It's how my mother raised me. You can question, but talk back? Never."
It is not crazy to suggest that Tiger Woods' discipline and unity of purpose—year-to-year, day-to-day, second-to-second—has been matched by only a few people, including Gandhi. Of course, the two men's goals differ. Gandhi was devoted to human understanding and world peace. Tiger is devoted to being the best ball-whacker ever. But give him time. Maybe he'll branch out.
Robert Wright, a senior editor at <a linktype="External" resizable="yes" href="http://www.theatlantic.com/robert-wright/">The <http://www.theatlantic.com/robert-wright/%22%3eThe> <http://www.theatlantic.com/robert-wright/%22%3eThe> Atlantic</a>, a fellow at the New America Foundation, and editor-in-chief of <a linktype="External" resizable="yes" href="Bloggingheads.tv">Bloggingheads.tv</a>, is the author of <a linktype="External" resizable="yes" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679758941/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=slatmaga-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0679758941">Nonzero, <a linktype="External" resizable="yes" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679763996/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=slatmaga-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0679763996">The Moral Animal</a>, and <a linktype="External" resizable="yes" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0045JK6HE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=slatmaga-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0045JK6HE">The Evolution of God</a>.