B is for Basic Goodness
Even though BOOK was a really close second, so close considering I am a bibliophile, I decided to use basic goodness for today’s post in the Blogging A to Z challenge.
This blog started because I was determined to rediscover my own basic goodness, and in sharing that process, I hoped to remind you of your own as well. I write about basic goodness just about every time I post. It’s the main theme, the center and guiding principle. It’s essential. My purpose for my own life is to remember that I am basically good, to rest in this truth, and to act with this at the heart of everything. It is what is precious about each and every one of us. It is what makes us shine and sparkle, what fuels love and right action and great work. It is medicine and magic and maitri, (“loving-kindness”). It is the only thing that is unchangeable, unconditional.
Here are some of the things I know about basic goodness:
It’s such good news, no one believes it. ~Chögyam Trungpa.
Basic: primordial, innate, fundamental, unalterable, unchangeable, continually present, foundational, simple.
Goodness: whole and complete, worthiness, without fault or mistakes, alive, awake, without parallel or opposition, complete perfection.
Basic goodness, most simply, is unconditional purity and confidence.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in his book Turning Your Mind Into An Ally, says
When I’m teaching, people often ask me questions in hopes of hearing some esoteric truth. They seem to want me to tell them a secret. But the most fundamental secret I know is rooted in something that we already possess–basic goodness. In spite of the extreme hardship and cruelty we see happening throughout the world, the basis of everything is completely pure and good. Our heart and mind are inherently awake. This basic goodness is a quality of complete wholesomeness. It includes everything. But before we can begin the adventure of transforming ourselves into awakened people–much less the adventure of living our lives with true joy and happiness–we need to discover this secret for ourselves. Then we have the real possibility of cultivating courage, from which we can radiate love and compassion to others.
Basic goodness is inherent wisdom and compassion, the fundamental nature of all sentient beings. I might also call this love, because when we talk about love and when I contemplate love, the truth there is essentially the same. Every being is precious, has basic goodness, and their true nature is to be compassionate and wise.
Basic goodness is the original ground of humanity and is primordially complete. It is not something we own, or can generate or earn–it simply is.
The discovery of basic goodness is not a religious experience, particularly. Rather it is the realization that we can directly experience and work with reality, the real world that we are in. Experiencing the basic goodness of our lives makes us feel that we are intelligent and decent people and that the world is not a threat. When we feel that our lives are genuine and good, we do not have to deceive ourselves or other people. We can see our shortcomings without feeling guilty or inadequate, and at the same time, we can see our potential for extending goodness to others. We can tell the truth straightforwardly and be absolutely open, but steadfast at the same time. ~Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior.
I am already whole, all of us are–this is basic goodness. I am not a problem to be fixed, or a project to take on, and neither are you nor anyone else. You are not–no matter what advertising, religion, culture, or that little meanie with sharp teeth that lives in the dark might say–you are not basically bad, you are not unworthy or unlovable. You have a basic goodness, a deep wisdom and compassion, available to you every moment. It’s right there inside, waiting all the time. No matter what mistakes you have made or bad luck you have, it remains, it cannot be used up or “smashed to bits,” no matter how hard you might try and no matter what happens to you. You have everything you need already to save yourself.
As human beings, we are so wise. Our minds are vast and profound…this innate wisdom is known as “basic goodness.” It is the natural, clear, uncluttered state of our being. We are all appointed with heaven–great openness and brilliance. Bringing this heaven down to earth, into our daily life, is how we rule our world. ~Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies For Modern Life.
The purpose of our practice is just to be yourself. ~Shunryu Suzuki
Basic goodness is whole and complete, as it is. It is unconditional and “does not depend on our accomplishments or fullfilling our desires,” (Chögyam Trungpa). We can love and accept ourselves, our reality, exactly as we are and exactly as it is. No need for self-improvement or change, no need to earn this. We can simply drop the trying, the smashing ourselves to bits, and accept ourselves. And the good news is:
We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves–the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds–never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön
Basic goodness is like buddha-nature, the seed of mindfulness and enlightenment in every person, representing the potential of every being to become fully awake. Relax completely into who you are, aware in each moment of your basic goodness, your natural wisdom and kindness, and in this way, you will be of benefit both to yourself and the world.
Basic goodness is freedom. “If you are ever going to be free, you must be willing to prove to yourself that your inherent nature is goodness, that when you stop doing everything else, goodness is what is there,” (Cheri Huber). You are who you are, you are basically good and you can’t change that, no matter how you try. Certainly, you can change habits or opinions or affiliations or memberships or addresses or hairstyles, but that fundamentally true part of you, that collection of love and wisdom and dirt and breath and blood is basically good, and in a way that is you as only you can do it. It is the best, most brilliant you can give, and the most brave you can be. “As human beings, we are basically awake and can understand reality. We are not enslaved by our lives; we are free,” (Chögyam Trungpa).
In Buddhist teachings, as well as in the teachings of many other contemplative or mystical traditions, the basic view is that people are fundamentally good and healthy. It’s as if everyone who has ever been born has the same birthright, which is enormous potential of warm heart and clear mind. The ground of renunciation is realizing that we already have exactly what we need, that what we have already is good. Every moment of time has enormous energy in it, and we could connect with that. ~Pema Chödrön
During meditation instruction, Susan Piver of the Open Heart Project often shares this mantra, a contemplation she begins her sessions with: “I am basically good. I am aware that all other beings share this same basic goodness. Recognizing this, my heart opens. With an open heart, I can change the world.”
So, watch this video to get yourself energized, and get out there and change the world, dear reader.