The Worst of Me. ~ Ashok Natarajan

Via elephant journal
on May 9, 2013
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good vs. evil, duality

Why does the worst in us always emerge unannounced while the best is always displayed only at our discretion?

Why do we succeed easily in bringing the worst out of people with such ease while bringing the best out of them is a rare virtue that eludes most people (and is by no means an easy task for those that it doesn’t)?

Is this human nature at its primitive best?

Or a sign of the fact that we haven’t progressed very far in the evolutionary process?

Was there any concept of love and affection and compassion in the days of cavemen?

Do basic life forms such as single-celled amoebae, from which we are supposed to have evolved, have any capacity for such virtues?

If not, then are all these virtues merely learned behavior that make life pleasant on this planet?

Were they the founding principles of civilization? Traits necessitated by the need for amicable co-existence?

Does that mean that they are only as good as the most compelling factor of evolution—physical and emotional comfort which, while being fairly important for life on earth, aren’t as important from the perspective of true and lasting progress in life?

And what about the negative traits?

Did they also evolve in parallel or did they exist from the very beginning? Were the primitive life forms’ parasitic ability to survive by assimilating other life forms a primitive version of these despicable traits?

If survival is indeed a key driver of evolution does it mean that these so called negative traits are more real and more fundamental than the good ones?

Does that mean that all the so called ‘desirable’ virtues are just part of learned behavior that masks the true bad nature that is the natural predisposition of every human being?

Is good behavior just a more evolved form of manipulation that requires effort to learn?

Is that why the worst has an better instinctive grip on us than the good?

Is that why there is so much interest in attaining and learning the desirable traits while the negative ones flourish without any tending?

Is that why attaining to these desirable virtues is celebrated? Victory of the underdog?

How can bad be bad if it is part of nature? How can good be good if bad is not bad?

Is there any such thing as good and bad at all?


photo(6)Ashok Natarajan is a business consultant by profession and a lay seeker in his personal capacity. He has explored some forms of yoga, meditation, some ancient scriptures (thanks to being born in India) and some non-traditional methods of self-exploration. As a casual blogger he attempts to share his thoughts/experiences/observations/inferences with like-minded people through words even though he firmly believes that words can never capture human experiences. He is on Facebook under the name ‘Clemens Pullikaran’ which was a name he was given by his first European guests at a beach resort in south India that he managed for a while when he took a break from his technology-infested life.

Like elephant spirituality on Facebook.


Ed: T. Lemieux & B. Bemel


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5 Responses to “The Worst of Me. ~ Ashok Natarajan”

  1. Tara Lemieux says:

    Such brilliantly insightful thought ~ thank you for the gift of your words. ~ Tara

  2. Geoff Withnell says:

    This is going to be a long comment. Love and affection and compassion are related to survival and are related to our capacity to reach out – the resources (wealth if you will) available.
    An amoeba has very little in the way of resources, and essentially no "compassion" beyond itself, it just doesn't have the wherewithal for it.
    Somewhat higher animals have love for their mates and offspring. Obviously still connected to survival, but possible because they have more resources.

  3. Geoff Withnell says:

    We see an expansion of love and compassion into herds and tribes. Still a fairly direct connection to evolutionary survival, since most members of herds or tribes are related. Many human cultures are at about this level, and this is the root cause of most hunger today. the world actually produces enough food to feed everybody, but in many areas warlords and tribal conflicts make it impossible to distribute food to "them", the folks in that other tribe.
    Many of us are at the point were it is easy for us to expand our love beyond the loose "tribal" relatives group to people in our culture. I'm sort of there myself, it's easy for me to feel compassion for someone of basic American/European culture, because that's where I am. I don't need to worry about another tribe stealing food and my tribe going hungry. We have plenty.

  4. Geoff Withnell says:

    In fact, we have plenty to the point where we should be able to safely extend love, affection and compassion to every human on the planet. As a species, we are that wealthy. I try, but I have problems doing this.
    And beyond that, we should be able to extend that love, affection and compassion to the entire earth. Once we do, the human race will be ready to meet other mindful, thinking races that may be out there.
    Meanwhile, given the literally billions of years of evolution based on scarcity, I don't think we should beat ourselves up too much because we still don't automatically react based on the fact that we now have abundance. Evolution is slow. But thought is fast. So be mindful, and remember, we as a race have enormous resources and knowledge, we are no longer a tribe, clinging to a piece of territory because if we lose it, our children will starve.

  5. @Catoneiric says:

    This is incredibly thought provoking. I think I agree with the author in that humans will have to work to be altruistic (which is what he's really getting at, rather than natural goodness), since we are genetically coded to be the exact opposite of that. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is a good read on the subject. I would say human goodness can be just as natural as the negative. Nurturing children, loving pets, having compassion for friends, or having an emotional reaction to sad or violent videos are all testaments to the natural good in us too. Human nature is a mixed bag and a balance, and like another commenter said, what we do is ultimately to promote the continuance of ourselves and our species. Both the good and the bad work in different ways to accommplish that.