I remember back in 2010, Brit Hume suggested that Tiger Woods convert from Buddhism to Christianity because Christianity has redemption. I remember at the time a flummoxed Buddhist going on TV to respond to this charge. At the time I was unclear. I wish to muse further on this situation.
Buddhism doesn't have redemption in the sense that Jesus Christ died for our sins, in the sense that we've been kicked out of the garden because Eve gave the apple to Adam. The whole metaphysical contraption of Christianity isn't, obviously, part of Buddhism.
But were there great comeback stories in Buddhism. Of course there were. Did the Buddha think anyone could stage a great comeback? He did hesitate with allowing women into the order, and he gave them more rules, but many think that was quite revolutionary and feminist given the historical context. Of course the story of Angulimala comes to mind. He had a necklace made out of the fingers of the people he killed. When he turned to Buddhism the people stoned him and didn't give him food because they could remember him as a murderer. But that eventually died down and the Buddha taught that you don't run from your problems.
It's not Darth Vader finally acknowledging his son and saving his life type of redemption, but then again no two redemptions are alike.
Thinking about the Tiger Wood situation, obviously he's lost his wife, and by extension full time with his children. I'm sure he visits his children and whatnot, but it's never the same after a divorce. He's been linked to Linsey Vaughn, the great female skier who is injured during these olympics, so his love life has bounced back. He hasn't really won a major since the incident, and the impact on his golfing life has been quite significant. I'm sure he's lost millions and millions of dollars. I don't really know what it's like when you're super rich, what it's like to see some money drift away from you. I'm not sure how bad that really hurts. I don't know his social context, whether people treat him differently or whether he lost any friends. I suppose a real friend sticks by your side even in the bad times, so I guess he lost a lot of friendly acquaintances.
What ever your motivation for "doing good", I would say if it's a kind of redemption motivation, to make up for the bad you've done, well, there's nothing wrong with that. You might realize that it's not easy to tighten things up and "act good". Our lives are a bunch of habits and when we dig a hole, we often find that it wasn't worth it when we start digging out of it. I think that's one of the themes of My Name Is Earl. I think that's the whole point of ethics. It's not to turn you into a sheep, or to flip pleasure upside down and call it bad. The whole point of ethics is that you get hurt by not choosing the best path in life at times, and you really suffer through not being ethical. And that kind of insight is worth all the tantric sex magic in the world.