Posted in buddhism

Goodness

Basic Goodness


This is a term that was coined by Chogyam Trungpa in the 1980s. I really like this term. It was his reframing of the concept of Buddha Nature. He wanted to express it in a way that was easier for everyone to grasp. Buddha Nature might make us start picturing Buddha statues or spirits or something and that’s the wrong idea. If the terminology we’re using to talk about our own true nature that’s always present in us starts making us think of things outside of us.

The simple idea is that we’re good, that we have a kind of dignity and virtue that is fundamental to our being.

Our true nature is awake and free, all the things we want to be. Our struggles come, not from fundamental flaws in our being, but from attachments and delusions…ultimately things that are temporary. I like to think of the things we struggle with as clouds and our Basic Goodness as the sky. These things are going to come and go, although sometimes it sure seems like they stay for a long time.

 So, there are times in life when we know what the right thing to do is and we don’t do it. We all have that experience, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. What I want to encourage you to do is ask yourself, “Am I coming from my true self right now?” Once we realize that the way to be authentic is to make the right choices, then hopefully that can motivate us a little. Do you want to be real or fake?

That’s a tough question.

By the right thing, I mean doing whatever causes the least harm to ourselves and others. I’m going to talk about basic goodness in regards to ourselves because at times in regards to others it can be a little harder to see what the best choices are.

It’s with that in mind that I want to talk to you about a very simple thing. Flossing. We all know we’re supposed to floss, that it’s good for our personal care. It’s also easy and doesn’t take very long.  But most of us simply don’t do it. We just don’t. I have floss sitting on my bathroom counter and I don’t use it every day even though I know for certain that I should. When I do use it I’m doing the right thing for myself and my personal care. I’m coming from a place of Basic Goodness.

And I really want to compare flossing to meditation practice.

I was leading a meditation gathering and at the end someone asked me, “How often do you do it?” And I replied, “I wish I could say every day, but I can’t. I want to do it every day, but I don’t, it’s close to every other day.” And that was the truth. Meditation is something that I know is good for me. It improves my well being in all sorts of ways. But, for no reason, I don’t do it every day. I just don’t want to, like flossing. When I do go meditate, I’m coming from my true self. Making yourself meditate when you don’t really want to is coming from Basic Goodness. It’s doing the right thing for yourself

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Posted in buddhism

Basic Goodness

 

I like the Buddhist idea of Basic Goodness.

It’s a term that was coined by Chogyam Trungpa, who was trying to present Buddhist teachings in a way that would resonate with westerners. It represents the same thing, essentially, as the Buddha Nature concept. It’s about our true nature, who we really are.

The teaching is quite simply that you are good enough.

This contrasts with other belief systems that describe humanity as somehow broken or flawed, that teach that we’re rooted in sin and wickedness. This is not to say that we’re perfect, of course no one is. That’s not the point.

The point is that you’re good. I like to think of it like this:

You are the sky. All of your emotional baggage and neuroses and insecurities, that stuff is all just the weather. Regardless of how bad the weather is, behind all the clouds the sky remains untouched. We hold onto these delusions that prevent us from seeing our true nature, that keep us rooted in suffering. The core of these delusions is just not seeing ourselves as we really are, and not seeing the world around us as it really is.

Language is important here, because we tell ourselves all sorts of stories. You are not an angry person. You are a person who sometimes experiences the emotion of anger. See the difference there? I’m expressing the same point, but the tone is a lot different. I’ve shifted it by saying that your anger (or sadness or neediness, or even happiness, whatever) doesn’t define you. We aren’t defined by these things unless we decide to be define by them.

I can and do make all sorts of mistakes, but still, at the core of my being is basic goodness. No flaw, however great, can take away from that.

We all carry around emotional baggage, but it’s not who we are. We let our baggage define us too much. I can think of myself as two divorces, mommy issues, and social anxiety. Or I can think of myself as good, as someone who is simply experiencing this baggage, rather than someone who is defined by it.

 


 

 

 

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