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Basic Goodness

personperson Where is my mind?'Merica! Veteran
edited August 5 in Buddhism Basics

Please forgive any invoking of high horses.

A lot of you are familiar with the idea of basic goodness that Chogyam Trungpa and his student Pema Chodron talk about. The idea that at our core we are basically good, this is opposed to the Christian notion of original sin, that we are fundamentally flawed.

I've realized recently that somewhere along the line I seem to have internalized this notion of basic goodness. In some of the more political threads I keep feeling the need to defend the good things in the world.

What I'm noticing that I find most important is that I still want change and to have a better world but I don't come at it from the point of wanting to fix a broken world or getting rid of the bad stuff. Rather I find gratitude and appreciation for all the things I do have and want improvement because the more happy, good stuff the better.

The way it seems to me is that there is so much that we just take for granted and treat as unimportant and the negative takes on a disproportionately large space in our minds.

VastmindShoshinlobsterBunksseeker242

Comments

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    For myself, I actually practice gratitude a lot. It is the thread that winds through my day, almost every day. I do want to work on fixing the things that aren't working, and to bring equality to everyone, but for me it's not a focus on the negative, at least not most of the time. Working on things that need fixing doesn't have to mean not appreciating what is good.

    I had an email conversation with a regional representative today about some comments he made in a local newspaper. I'm always surprised how unprofessional and overall negative the politicians I interact with are. They don't even have signatures, you just get a "sent from my ipad" note, :lol: I thought I did a decent job of pointing out when I thought he made good points and the areas we agreed on, and we talked a lot about our family histories and how many generations our families go back in this area, so we had that common ground. But man, was he difficult to discuss a simple issue with. It was obviously he was royally PO'd and he was going to make sure everyone knew it. That has been my experience with most politicians of his level (he is a county commissioner but was previously in the MN House of Reps). Anyhow, sticking to your point, it definitely can be wearing when you are trying to work with people who have the power to change things and they are so difficult and so upset all the time. So I understand how even people who do maintain that sense of goodness and gratitude get worn down. Just have to make sure you take breaks to remind yourself of what you are working towards and what you have already.

    VastmindShoshin
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited August 5

    Gratitude and appreciation. More happy, good stuff.

    I'll take a barn full of those horses!!! <3 =)

    personShoshinsilverlobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Basic Goodness

    I tend to see this everyday, when I see people wearing a genuine smile on their faces, I see this as their basic goodness rising to the surface, ie, the genuine smile being the outlet of this goodness... In that smile the world/their world is perfect, they are (whether they realise this or not) for a brief moment at one with the world...

    Or perhaps I could just be reading too much into a smile when it's genuine...

    lobsterVastmindpersonkarasti
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Great thread @person and very important insight from @IronRabbit.

    In the wizarding community the greatest wizards balance the two sides of their magickal being. If not they end up being capable of being very naughty :p - white witch seduced by the darkside. Or perhaps having a Darth Vader yoyo yoda moment with their more balanced son and throwing away evil ...
    ;)

    ... in dharma the inherent nature of realisation can also lead to unbalance if based on New Agey pink unicorn metta immaturity. Only temporarily or partially good.

    In the early stages of dharma we have to develop the positive, in order to sustain the look at our impediments. I would suggest most of us are reasonably or even unreasonably good but the Greater Good is both simpler but may be complex to implement or encourage. This is a Middle Way approach.

    The enlightened mind is indeed inherently good or if you prefer is unimpeded by self interests ...
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhicitta

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    In the end I don't think it's all good or all bad, I see the distinction as what do you see as the starting point?

    Do we see our minds and the world good and pure, only covered and obscured by defilements, like the sky covered by clouds? Or do we see our minds and the world broken and fallen and it is our role to clean it up and fix it, make it whole (again?)

    In a lot of things in Buddhism there is a split in how to view the world. Is right view about having all the correct views or is it the absence of views? This probably fits into that too, does Buddha nature already exist in us and we only have to reveal it or is Buddha nature only a potential that we have to cultivate and build up?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I think it depends what you are talking about, exactly. There are parts of the world that humanity has broken and IMO needs to fix, for the betterment of all beings. When I break a lamp, I can determine if I can fix it and try to do so. That's how I look at some of the issues in the world.

    I think part of the issue and why people seem so negative right now is that we feel like we have made a lot of progress in the past 50-100 years (depending which area you are looking at) but there is a fear that we are now going backwards instead of continuing to move forwards and people are fighting to hold the ground we've gained rather than lose it.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @person said:

    ...

    A lot of you are familiar with the idea of basic goodness that Chogyam Trungpa and his student Pema Chodron talk about. The idea that at our core we are basically good, this is opposed to the Christian notion of original sin, that we are fundamentally flawed.

    I don't know. This seems overly optimistic to me. If there is basic goodness in us, it seems to me the opposite must also be true -- that there is some basic badness in us, as well. I think we don't like to recognize the negatives and tend to dwell on the positives, which I don't think is a good way to analyze ourselves.

    silver
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @vinlyn said:
    I don't know. This seems overly optimistic to me. If there is basic goodness in us, it seems to me the opposite must also be true -- that there is some basic badness in us, as well. I think we don't like to recognize the negatives and tend to dwell on the positives, which I don't think is a good way to analyze ourselves.

    @vinlyn You do have a point.... However.....

    It could be that our "core" is a "clean slate"....meaning 'empty' ... which in turn means wholesomeness or unwholesomeness could arise from the core... Which depends upon the data received (cause+condition) by the six sense doors (producing the effect)...

    From what I gather to understand the Dharma is to self analyse... One needs to explore what comes through these doors and skillfully (dissecting the cause+condition) weed out the unwholesome from the wholesome...

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    I think viewing our nature as either good or bad sets us up for disaster but I tend to see co-operation at the basest level.

  • KannonKannon Ach-To Veteran

    It is easy to get pessimistic either way. When I believe in innate goodness it is weird and disappointing seeing bad contradict it. Our actions are good or bad. Our consequences are good or bad. If we choose one action over another, we are laying our own paths.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @person said:
    Please forgive any invoking of high horses.

    No need. Drunk Llamas, high horses or cracked gurus are part of our precious coal/diamond flaws. In other words we can expand our innate goodness to fathom the depth in the trite.

    We on the path have to move towards our best understanding of veracity, truth, goodness etc. for the simple reason that the impeding ignorance is so seducing/universal. We have to keep connecting/resonating/emptying ...

    It is unnecessary to look outside ourselves for basic ungoodness, goodliness, impediments, clarity, metta etc. It may be difficult to understand dukkha in our internal being but again that is our clearing point.

    Are the three jewels of refuge perfect in essence? Yes. o:)

    In practice they are an ongoing revelation ... Inward and onward as I said to Guru Cushion yet again ...

    silver
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I do believe every person has inherent Buddha Nature. That is what I have been taught, and it feels right to me. I can see a lot in people, even some of the most broken and suffering people, and I've seen nothing that disproves this. But I don't think it's the same as saying we are inherently good (or bad). It is more that we are inherently clear. That our nature is to have clarity and to be awake. But you can't get there without acknowledging the good and bad and working through ALL of it, because our clinging to our ideas of what is good and right is just as problematic as trying to shed what is bad. To me, Buddha Nature is a sense of being able to just BE without either judgment. And I do think we all have it. But as the sayings go, some of us have more junk to clear than others.

    The first half of this page describes better what I mean, I think. More of a Zen description.
    http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/50-00-1/as-elo5.htm

    " At our present stage of development our minds do gather the "dust" of vagrant thoughts and feelings and need "the gentle breezes of soul wisdom" to clear away illusions. But on a higher level where mind and spirit blend, duality disappears, forms and attachments dissolve before the oneness that transcends illusions."

    Kannonvinlynlobster
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @karasti so how do you square that with the Noble Eightfold Path? Things like Right Livelihood definitely contain a moral judgment of "do this, don't do that" and it doesn't seem to be as simple as "don't judge".

    I read a quote by Ajahn Chah that what we do is we do good and we eradicate the bad, until the good becomes habit and we can forget the distinction... I thought it fit here rather nicely. It seems to imply that these are different stages on the path, first you go through a period of fighting, and then you get past that and give it up.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    @karasti so how do you square that with the Noble Eightfold Path? Things like Right Livelihood definitely contain a moral judgment of "do this, don't do that" and it doesn't seem to be as simple as "don't judge".

    I read a quote by Ajahn Chah that what we do is we do good and we eradicate the bad, until the good becomes habit and we can forget the distinction... I thought it fit here rather nicely. It seems to imply that these are different stages on the path, first you go through a period of fighting, and then you get past that and give it up.

    Well stated. You can't read or live by the Five Precepts and not think that Buddhism is -- at least in part -- about morality. And while much about Buddhism is within, it is also a moral system for much of the world.

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited August 6

    I consider them guidance towards what is inherent in us already but we have lost it through all of the social conditioning we receive from a million different directions. Edit to add, as well as our past lives. Buddha didn't need those things to tell him what to do or not do. He found his nature on his own. The rest of us are likewise able to do so, but Buddha being able to see entirely clearly could see the things that (at that point in time) caused the most problems with people being unable to access that same nature that he had found, thus offering guidance to look at the things that he saw were causing blocks with people being able to access that true nature.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Though morality is one of the three trainings I was told this years ago. Without a proper foundation in and practice of Sila the other trainings cannot manifest themselves.

    vinlynlobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @vinlyn I don't think we need systems to teach us morals, except in cases where we are so far removed from them we can't distinguish right from wrong within ourselves anymore. That is the case for some people, but not most. We don't need someone else to teach us morals. Quite young children, for example, know quite well what right and wrong are (in terms of morals), and what compassion is, until it is taught out of them. We only have to "learn" morality for the same reason we need something to point the direction to uncover our Buddha Nature - our conditioning has obscured it. It's not something we are lacking and need to add. We just need to find.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    As a young child I had neither moral knowledge nor a moral compass. I needed direction which was gained from my elders and the example they demonstrated by their actions. I feel deep gratitude to my parents. Also too the larger society that protected me as I matured.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    edited August 6

    @karasti said:
    @vinlyn I don't think we need systems to teach us morals, except in cases where we are so far removed from them we can't distinguish right from wrong within ourselves anymore. That is the case for some people, but not most. We don't need someone else to teach us morals. Quite young children, for example, know quite well what right and wrong are (in terms of morals), and what compassion is, until it is taught out of them. We only have to "learn" morality for the same reason we need something to point the direction to uncover our Buddha Nature - our conditioning has obscured it. It's not something we are lacking and need to add. We just need to find.

    I'll bet you taught your kids various moral lessons. Why?

    And with all the immorality in the world -- murder, infliction of pain and suffering, lying, stealing, and so forth -- I'm not at all clear why you don't think people need moral guidance. World-wide prisons are full of examples.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited August 6

    I can't explain it any clearer than I already have, if you don't understand my point, nothing else I can say will convince you otherwise, I don't think.

    Why should one human have a moral high ground to be fathers of a system to teach others? They are only people who had within them the same things we have within us. They were able to touch it. We are still working on it. We have everything Buddha, Jesus, and anyone else who has ever lived, had within them. We don't need them to tell us that it's there or how to use it. It's just easier if we follow their path rather than finding our own. Humans, by nature, are followers but in the end we have to figure it out for ourselves.

    My kids have taught me more than I have taught them, really. Yes, I guide them and protect them from getting hit by cars and so on. But their level of in-born compassion is what taught me. They insist on being who they are, I had the choice to fight against them and force them to conform to the ideas I grew up with or to open my mind to what they were telling me and let them be my teachers as well. I chose the latter.

    And I totally disagree about our prisons and the suffering of the world. They are a result of people not being in touch with themselves, not knowing themselves, not being valued for who they are and what they offer as a human being, and thus they do not know their own moral compass. It is an extreme result of being out of touch with the part of us that guides us. It doesn't need to be taught. Rather it only needs to be nurtured and encouraged. People who live lives of extreme suffering to the point they harm themselves or others are people who were taught otherwise. Sending them to church to learn morals would not cure them. They need to be taught to touch their own inner wisdom and to trust it and to be valued and appreciated.

    lobsterKerome
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    We have a negativity bias, we notice more clearly negative things. We could be at a big party where everyone is having a good time and then a fight breaks out, the story we remember more is the fight between two people rather than the 100 people cooperating and mingling. Like a black dot on a piece of white paper, 99.99% is white but our attention is drawn to the dot.

    We see the suffering and problems in the world and ignore the good. It can seem like violence is a big problem or that our children are in danger of kidnapping. But when people study these things and look objectively they are at all time historic lows.

    Yes there are problems, some threats to our continued existence, but for many people in the world life has never been better. Lots of people don't have access to standard Healthcare, but someone in Africa that has to walk for a day to visit a make shift clinic has superior healthcare to an American 150 years ago did.

    Look at and address problems, but don't think that makes something overall bad..

    Kerome
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @grackle said:
    I feel deep gratitude to my parents. Also too the larger society that protected me as I matured.

    <3

    Indeed.
    I have mentioned before how Trungpas alcoholic, libertine, broken behavour was not an example of transcendence but flawed, unsupervised breaking of sila. I prefer mature gurus and spiritual teachers who break precepts and behavour norms from a position of wisdom not from weakness or an exploitative nature. Students sadly are often vulnerable, facilitating and complicit ...

    So I too have gratitude to society, parents, teachers, exemplars who provided a framework that included discernment, recognition of acceptable and functioning behavour etc.

    "Sufism teaches how to purify one’s self, improve one’s morals and build up one’s inner and outer life in order to attain perpetual bliss"
    Bodhi Sheikh el-Islam Zakaria Ansari

    I'll join ;)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @grackle said:
    Though morality is one of the three trainings I was told this years ago. Without a proper foundation in and practice of Sila the other trainings cannot manifest themselves.

    Moral, ethical, kind behavour is not optional on the path. For some of us it may be harder. For example as a wer-lobster I have sometimes been responsible for the death of fish - yum! Just can not help myself - they are delicious. :3

    ... virtue, right conduct, morality, moral discipline and precept ...
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_ethics

    How else? Heading to Truth on the path of unrepentant/unchanging ignorance/lies/fish exploitation? Pah!

    Be Good!
    Mother

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    "Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind."

    "Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — there is development of the mind."

    =)

    lobsterperson
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @vinlyn said:

    @karasti said:
    @vinlyn I don't think we need systems to teach us morals, except in cases where we are so far removed from them we can't distinguish right from wrong within ourselves anymore. That is the case for some people, but not most. We don't need someone else to teach us morals. Quite young children, for example, know quite well what right and wrong are (in terms of morals), and what compassion is, until it is taught out of them. We only have to "learn" morality for the same reason we need something to point the direction to uncover our Buddha Nature - our conditioning has obscured it. It's not something we are lacking and need to add. We just need to find.

    I'll bet you taught your kids various moral lessons. Why?

    And with all the immorality in the world -- murder, infliction of pain and suffering, lying, stealing, and so forth -- I'm not at all clear why you don't think people need moral guidance. World-wide prisons are full of examples.

    Perhaps as @karasti says that is the moral guidance we need - to learn to trust more in our own goodness, to listen less to the voices of greed and caution and ruthlessness.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    Perhaps as @karasti says that is the moral guidance we need - to learn to trust more in our own goodness, to listen less to the voices of greed and caution and ruthlessness.

    I think you just accidentally agreed with me. Going back, my point was that -- to put it another way using some of your own words -- we should "learn to trust more in our own goodness", while being aware that within us are "the voices of greed...and ruthlessness."

    The risk I am trying to point out is that we are fooling ourselves if we believe that all the goodness is within ourselves, while all the "badness" is from outside of ourselves. We sort of admit that when we say things like, "I'm a good person, but I'm not perfect." It reminds me too much of Christians who, when something good happens will always attribute it to God, but when something bad happens will say that God had nothing to do with it. Before retirement, when I was a school principal, and someone would want to blame something that went wrong as being "totally your fault, Mr. Principal", my response was always the same -- "Fine, if you want to blame it all on me when something goes wrong, then I want all the credit for all the things that go right." To paraphrase Bill -- The fault dear Kerome lies not outside of ourselves, but in ourselves.

    karasti
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited August 16

    "There's so much Good in the Worst of us,
    And so much Bad in the Best of us,
    that it ill behooves any of us
    To find fault with the rest of us!"

    (James Truslow Adams).

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @vinlyn I certainly don't disagree with that. We own the good and bad, every aspect of the whole works. To me, that includes morality and it can't simply be gifted by an outside source, like God or religion. We can learn about the morals of others by talking with them. We all do this, and we accept and reject various morals and values as we go through life. But we don't get morals bestowed upon us. I know so many people who basically say that. There was a OpEd in a local paper by a woman who said she didn't understand how anyone could be grateful without God. It is that type of thinking I disagree with, but not exclusive to God.

    This is what she said, in part, and the kind of attitude I was disagreeing with in earlier posts:

    '"Thank you, Lord, for the friendships you've placed in my life," I whispered. "Their generosity reveals your great love for me. Thank you."

    Standing at the guest-room sink my last evening in Regina, getting ready for our final event, I wondered about those who experience abundant kindness such as I had in the absence of a belief in God.

    How do the godless respond to grace? How do secularists absorb and process love?"

    She then continues to determine that if someone is grateful, it means they were touched by God even if they refuse to see it. She can't comprehend a world where people are good without God, so she simply says it comes from God no matter what. I completely disagree, but I apply that disagreement to all religion. Graciousness, love, generosity don't come from God or religion. They come from us. So do shame, guilt and selfishness equally.

    Here is the link to the OpEd:
    http://www.inforum.com/entertainment/4010704-living-faith-can-those-without-god-be-grateful-guests

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @federica said:
    "There's so much Good in the Worst of us,
    And so much Bad in the Best of us,
    that it ill behooves any of us
    To find fault with the rest of us!"

    (James Truslow Adams).

    I like that...although that's human nature. Much easier to see the bad in others than in ourselves. Too many of us go along thinking we're pretty darned good, and then something we do in just one short few minutes may shatter that self-perception.

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