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Do you believe humans are inherently good/bad/neutral and why?

edited September 2012 in Advanced Ideas
It's an interesting debate topic. I'd love to see responses.

Comments

  • I think people are inherently good but society changes us.
    Watching the love a child gives freely is an excellent example of this.
  • No, I think humans are like a canvas, on which experiences are painted, and over time a portrait emerges -- perhaps good or bad or neutral.
    BoatS
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited September 2012
    You know, I've been giving this some thought lately, and I've come to a different conclusion.

    People aren't inherently good or bad. People are inherently stupid.

    We're not good. We're stupid and petty and vindictive and bigoted. But we're not bad. We think our every action is justified and right. We make the same mistakes over and over and believe what makes us feel better about ourselves, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

    We're stupid, bless our hearts. We can't help ourselves. If someone tries to tell us there's a danger ahead we sling poo at him like a pack of monkies because we don't want to hear.

    So I'll continue fighting the good fight. But I'll stop expecting people to learn. I'll stop beating my head against a brick wall of bias and bigotry and plain, stubburn stupidity.

    zenffVictoriousfedericastill_learning
  • Inherently we humans seek happiness and to avoid suffering and as Vinlyn says above from socialisiation we develop ignorant ways of seeking happiness and avoiding suffering which lead to more of what we don't want and less of what we do ... the word stupid seems fitting, I agree
    Jeffrey
  • I believe we each have unlimited potential - the sad fact is that only a small percent of humans get ANY sense of enlightenment so far anyway ...

    But there are those whose lives have been transformed from "bad" to "good" by religious & otrher experiences - so there's always hope I guess ...
  • Well...beings, and all conditioned phenomena, are empty of inherent existence, according to Buddhist teachings. But as humans, we are born conditionable...so in the sense that positive conditioning is always possible, that everyone is born with positive (as well as negative) karmic seeds, one could state optimistically that we are all born with the potential to be good. Which, to me, is saying basically the same thing as "born good." The nice thing about Buddhism is that it never gives up on this concept--even when someone is sitting on death row, the belief is that positive karmic seeds still exist in that person.

    I think the reason it seems people are born good is that from the minute a child is shown love by the parents, the child is strongly influenced toward the positive. So as long as there's this chain of mothers and fathers showing love to the child, most children will immediately begin to be conditioned positively. We can see, in cases of abuse and neglect, how this can go the other way as well.

    But there are past lives and karma to consider, too--I always think of that when I see a child born to a great family who nonetheless becomes unusually violent and negative at a young age, or a child born into horrible conditions who nonetheless ends up kind and sweet (I've seen both).

    But we can get into it with the evolutionists, regarding the positive conditioning--why did the first mother behave positively toward the first child, for example? They'd likely say it was for simple survival of the species, rather than some mystical force called "love." But even if you just think of the fact that life is organized in such a way that, overall, it's usually healthier for yourself to not kill a member of your own species--that seems to be some kind of inherent positive leaning to me. We fight sometimes, but overall the nature of the species is to propagate itself, thrive and live, rather than destroy itself. I think that "thrive momentum" is interesting.
    LostLight
  • VictoriousVictorious Fanatical Buddhist On the path. Veteran
    Cinorjer said:

    You know, I've been giving this some thought lately, and I've come to a different conclusion.

    People aren't inherently good or bad. People are inherently stupid.

    Lobha, Dosa Moha

    Ignorance of the reality of the world.

    Correct?

    /Victor



  • Humans are born ignorant, and since ignorance leads to all kinds of evil, we can say that humans are born evil in this context.
  • Do you believe animals are inherently good/bad/neutral and why?
  • Good and evil are not real attributes, they're relative opinions that differ in meaning from individual to individual, religion to religion, society to society. So "not applicable" is applicable. Saying we're born good is just as silly as saying we have original sin.
    poptartDaftChrisJeffrey
  • pegembara said:

    Do you believe animals are inherently good/bad/neutral and why?

    I believe that humans have a different awareness in relation to concepts such as good and bad than other animals do. Humans can chose to behave the level of animal awareness, however - socialisation requires us to do more than this.

    Jeffrey
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Veteran
    pegembara said:

    Do you believe animals are inherently good/bad/neutral and why?

    Humans are animals too.
    ;)
    DaftChrisJeffrey
  • humans come to this world because the hate is with them (patigha)
    even the stream entrants, and once returners are the same
    (according to Buddha's Teaching)

    if one has no hate with him he never come back to this world as a human
    Jeffrey
  • Cinorjer said:

    You know, I've been giving this some thought lately, and I've come to a different conclusion.

    People aren't inherently good or bad. People are inherently stupid.

    Lobha, Dosa Moha

    Ignorance of the reality of the world.

    Correct?

    /Victor



    Or ignorance of one's own nature, same thing.
  • VictoriousVictorious Fanatical Buddhist On the path. Veteran
    Cinorjer said:

    Cinorjer said:

    You know, I've been giving this some thought lately, and I've come to a different conclusion.

    People aren't inherently good or bad. People are inherently stupid.

    Lobha, Dosa Moha

    Ignorance of the reality of the world.

    Correct?

    /Victor



    Or ignorance of one's own nature, same thing.
    Yes. Of course. When the self is born then is the world born too!

    :clap:

    /Victor
  • Good and bad are not absolutes. I don't think humanity is good or bad but I do think it has lost its way. I'm currently reading "The Fall" by Steve Taylor which proposes the theory that the rise of ego in human beings over the last 4000 years has made us lose our sense of who we truly are. He likens it to a kind of insanity. It is a fascinating read.
  • pegembara said:

    Do you believe animals are inherently good/bad/neutral and why?

    Humans are animals too.
    ;)
    Humans have the ability to know the difference between good/bad/neutral. However the Buddha taught to transcend even that.

    And no, humans are not animals in the Dhamma.


    “Hard is birth as a human being,
    hard is the life of mortals.
    Hard is the hearing of the sublime truth,
    hard is the appearance of the Buddhas.”
    (Dhammapada v 182)

    "Monks, suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water, and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole there. A wind from the east would push it west, a wind from the west would push it east. A wind from the north would push it south, a wind from the south would push it north. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would come to the surface once every one hundred years. Now what do you think: would that blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?"

    "It would be a sheer coincidence, lord, that the blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, would stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole."

    "It's likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, arises in the world. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world. Now, this human state has been obtained. A Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, has arisen in the world. A doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world.

    "Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

    Chiggala Sutta: The Hole
    Victorious
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Since all beings have Buddha Nature inherently, all beings are inherently good!
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Veteran
    And no, humans are not animals in the Dhamma.
    But we are animals biologically, and that has major implications for the way we behave.
  • And no, humans are not animals in the Dhamma.
    But we are animals biologically, and that has major implications for the way we behave.
    Yes, but we can make a conscious effort to change our behavior.
  • We've got to a point now where a lot of us can lead sheltered lives, and remain out of touch with what's really happening on a global scale. Many people 'play the game' and keep their heads down. Plus we have all kinds of modern contrivances and visual fantasies that help people to remain willfully ignorant.

    Oh, there are really amazing great people in the world, so I have NO RIGHT to judge anyone else. I'm just as much a part of the problem as anyone else, living in my own tiny pocket of 'reality'.

    Myself, According to this website:

    http://mightygodking.com/index.php/2008/06/09/from-the-slushpile/

    my alignment would be neutral good, I suppose. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

    Which one are you?
  • For a view out-of-left-field ...

    The US psychiatrist, Stanislav Grof, aptly describes 'reality' as we perceive it as a 'game', because in essence we and the whole Universe (and that includes all experiential realms, not just the physical universe) are nothing more than a figment of the Creative Principle's imagination

    http://www.ascensiongateway.com/spiritual-articles/authors/paterson/gods-game.htm
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited September 2012

    And no, humans are not animals in the Dhamma.
    But we are animals biologically, and that has major implications for the way we behave.
    Yes, from a biological point of view, we are animals. From the Buddhist point of view, humans are in their own realm or category primarily due to their more developed mental faculties. In fact, that's precisely the definition of the Pali term denoting humans, manussa, which means 'those who have an uplifted or developed mind' (mano ussannam etesam).

    When it comes to whether we're inherently good/bad/neutral, I'd say we're not inherently anything. As human beings, we appear to be a highly adaptable species, and as such, don't have a set nature. Moreover, we're conditioned by a number of factors, many of which lie outside our immediate control, from biology to our upbringing and surroundings. We're also conditioned by our choices; and if you believe the teachings about rebirth, by an array of underlying tendencies that accompany us from life to life as well. Taking all of that into consideration, I'd say that our natures are malleable for the most part; although we don't necessarily start of with a tabula rasa, and it's often difficult to challenge, let alone transcend, our conditioning.

    My two cents, at any rate.
    CloudSile
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited September 2012
    In addition, I thought this Guardian article about the difference between the left and right's conception of human nature was interesting and somewhat relevant.
  • humans are inherently selfish, concerned with his own survival n pleasure....
    ......until he learns some wisdom.
    LostLight said:

    It's an interesting debate topic. I'd love to see responses.

  • cazcaz Veteran
    edited September 2012
    hermitwin said:

    humans are inherently selfish, concerned with his own survival n pleasure....
    ......until he learns some wisdom.

    LostLight said:

    It's an interesting debate topic. I'd love to see responses.

    This is untrue because if humans where Inherently selfish they would never be able to change. Delusion is like Mud in water it just requires some separation.
  • For one, what is good and what is bad? But since I know what you are asking, I believe that humans are not inherently "good" nor "bad"... I believe that what shapes the human mind is their experience in life... Starting with nurture as an infant from your parents. However, you should think about what is "good" and what is "bad".
  • I think if we look at the true nature of reality we find that all things are interconnected. It is our ignorance of this fact that causes people to act in ways that gather pleasure and avoid pain at the cost of others.

    When an individual sees and lives in accord with true reality they act in a way that is harmonious and beneficial with others.

    So I'd say that beings true state is that of goodness. It is ignorance of reality that leads to harmful actions.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited September 2012
    person said:

    I think if we look at the true nature of reality we find that all things are interconnected. It is our ignorance of this fact that causes people to act in ways that gather pleasure and avoid pain at the cost of others.

    When an individual sees and lives in accord with true reality they act in a way that is harmonious and beneficial with others.

    So I'd say that beings true state is that of goodness. It is ignorance of reality that leads to harmful actions.

    That's an interesting way of looking at it, and I sometimes find myself thinking along those same lines when feeling more optimistic about human nature. It's quite similar to the Stoic's belief that people act in ways that are harmful to themselves and others out of ignorance, i.e., if they understood the nature of happiness, of the mind itself, they'd never willingly act against their own happiness or the happiness of others. Can't say that I feel that optimistic often, though. :p
  • RebeccaSRebeccaS Veteran
    edited September 2012
    Jason said:

    In addition, I thought this Guardian article about the difference between the left and right's conception of human nature was interesting and somewhat relevant.

    I actually found this article quite offensive. ;) :lol:
  • I think the fact that humans are born with a potential for acquiring knowledge, instead of remaining in ignorance, is extremely positive!
    music
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Veteran
    Sile said:

    I think the fact that humans are born with a potential for acquiring knowledge, instead of remaining in ignorance, is extremely positive!

    Though ignorance can sometimes be bliss. ;)
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