You have likely heard it said that man is fundamentally flawed or evil, born stained by original sin and in need of redemption as it is often put in the Abrahamic religions, or under the necessity of learning lessons to achieve enlightenment in the Eastern religions. But I say unto you that man is at his core, that is, in his deepest inner essence, fundamentally whole, wholesome and dare I say it, perfect.
Your core beliefs shape your thinking and determine the angle of attack you take relative to life’s central problems. Believing that man is flawed, for instance, is likely to reduce a state of consciousness which revolves around the notion of restraint versus liberation. Please allow me to explain.
One of life’s greatest challenges is how to educate mankind, that they might be steeped in responsibility, centered in goodness and immune to corruption. If you believe that man is a bad apple from the start, you are forced more or less to think that man’s evil compulsions must be restrained or suppressed by whatever means necessary for the good to have room to put in an appearance.
It is for this reason that so many Western religions focus heavily on the “Thou shalt nots” rather than emphasizing the “Thou shalts.” Those bound by Eastern religions operate under similar constraints. Enlightenment is more likely achieved by withdrawing from than engaging with, from what I understand of the core beliefs of most of the Eastern schools of religious thought.
The “outer,” “temporal” or “human” part of you, that is, your body, mind and heart, must be conditioned to receive the “inner,” “eternal,” or “being” part of you. If you understand that the “being” is perfect, incorruptible and indestructible, you are likely to see that the answer to the great problem of education is found not in restraining, but in liberating, not in pasting on good behaviors, but in drawing forth innate righteousness.
The implications to both secular and religious instruction are profound. The impulsion of goodness must be asked for first, followed by the gentle receiving of that force into the hands, head and heart of the individual. If the individual is not constantly encouraged to move forward, he will eventually stop dead in his tracks and feel incapable of moving with the compulsion of the goodness resident in him.
I believe in a whole and wholesome world, where each one is possessed of the capacity for the full and unselfconscious expression of the perfection within him. The world we have come to know, where such expression is the exception and not the rule, is what we in our web of limited assumptions see as normal, but it is by no means natural.
The approaches we’ve taken over the centuries have proven to be capable of keeping the whole world from devolving into chaos, but I cannot resign myself to thinking that this is the best we can do. While I do not pretend to know all that is required to change the entire system, it is my duty at this juncture to point to the underlying limitation in belief that keeps it locked in place.
8 thoughts on “The Impulsion of Goodness”
To recognize the basic truth you’ve outlined here can be encouraging, at least on the surface, but it can also be terrifying and daunting, simply because the grand recognition comes with a grand responsibility. How to let this inherent power and perfection manifest in earth as it is in heaven? There’s the rub, but also there is the wonderful and exciting challenge for one who longs for the fulfillment of his or her life on earth!
Thank you for your words. They really bring a communion in love with our worlds. This is very settling and opens to way to feel a greater urge to live by the impulsion of goodness Gregg has cited today.
It is amazing at how your paradigms can limit you, and unless someone or something pulls the wool from over your eyes, you may never even know. I think that one of the best and easiest ways to engage the innate righteousness that you described is to begin to see ourselves as agents that have a responsibility to care for the things around us. Whether they be people, animals, plants, or inanimate objects, caring for the things around us is an important step towards allowing the impulse of goodness to be exercised.
We do all have the ability to be perfect, and to do that we have to make sure we let our inner perfection dissolve away the nonsense limitations that we have allowed to cover that up.
It’s true, the fundamental premises of our most important beliefs more often than not go unchallenged and then assumptions that limit creative thinking and action are tightly woven in our ideas about life and the world we live in.
I had a conversation yesterday with someone whose belief was that the things in this world need to be all released to achieve liberation from this world. The word used to describe these things was ‘attachments’. To his beliefs, this world, much like his body, is a prison of sorts which traps consciousness whose real need and purpose is to be free. I replied to him that though people often place way too much importance on the material things in life – money, status, gadgets, nationality, other people even – that we shouldn’t be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. That we need not be attached to them if we viewed them with a different perspective, that if they served a different purpose in life, that if we gave them a different purpose.
If I could have finished the conversation, it would have returned to emphasizing a start from a different premise, namely the fundamental goodness of man as you very well put it. This goodness is intrinsic to life and thus man and needs to be rescued, not through techniques using force or withdrawal, but through education. Education – edukos – to draw forth. This kind of education is talked about in all the historical records which speak of the attitude of a servant. As we know, a servant is always engaged, never withdrawn, for his very life depends on it.
And so I feel it is with all of us. Our very lives depend on the ability to serve one another today. What that looks like to each of us is in direct relation to what we have around us to work with. Our jobs and families are avenues through which we can work to help others to realize their potential. They are the very things through which goodness is liberated in people and thus health and happiness into the world!
I believe the world in not inherently a dangerous place nor it’s inhabitants from the start bent on evil. The evil that man chooses is what creates a treacherous situation. Letting go to our higher self where judgement and forgiveness are not negotiable and righteousness is natural state is attainable. The practical place to initiate this change is of course today in my own life. Thanks Gregg for your enlightening and encouraging words.
Very enlightening outline – thank you!
If one can sit quietly, becoming still in body and mind, we can notice brief glimpses of what we truly are, and what the human potential holds for each of us. Why our world has become the way that it is, I do not know nor understand. But I realize that the beginning of the changes that I wish to see, must first spark within myself, my own being. Why do humans feel the need to attack goodness, to isolate and destroy it? To see each and all as evil, must this be?? There is a word that is traditionally spoken at the beginning and ending of each Yoga class, and it is “Namaste”. When roughly translated into English, means “The spirit of God inside of me, sees and recognizes the spirit of God in you”. If we could each live that thought, expressing it in every thought, and deed, what wonderful changes we could bring to this earth. We could save it. We could reverse the tide of wrong thinking, and once more all would walk in Light.
I too, believe that man is inherently good. Although this choice to see the “good” could get obfuscated by many things (such as our own personal experiences, watching the news for a few moments, the devastation of wars, hatred that rears itself among friends, etc.), if we don’t see that which is right in others, then we will ourselves become cynical and jaded to our own impulse of goodness and that within others. We do have a choice between freedom and restriction, but our choice relates ultimately to our core beliefs.