“When we speak of basic goodness, we are not talking about having allegiance to good and rejecting bad. Basic goodness is good because it is there already, in the same way that heaven and earth are there already…It is not ‘for’ or ‘against’ view, in the same way that sunlight is not ‘for’ or ‘against’…Basic goodness is very closely connected to the idea of bodhicitta in the Buddhist tradition. Bodhi means ‘awake’ or ‘wakeful’ and citta means ‘heart’…” ~Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior
I look out my window and see my backyard. It is mid-morning. The sun is shining from the East across the lawn. Half of it is in the shadow of Chinese elm trees. The sunlit grass is glistening green. The shaded grass is a muted gray, still covered in a thick layer of frost from the October chill in the air.
This simple, yet beautiful, moment of the day reminds me of the duality that is present within every human being. Within each of us is the potential to create good and bad. We have a choice, in every moment, to act out of love or fear. An unexpected visit from Jehovah’s Witnesses brought this to my attention recently and with it came a powerful realization.
On an ordinary Thursday morning, the dogs started barking ferociously. I looked out the window and saw a silver minivan in good condition parked in the driveway. A middle-aged man in his fifties stepped out of the van. He was wearing a light-colored trench coat and dressed in casual attire. A woman of the same age walked up the driveway behind him. She was wearing a modest dress.
Fear started to creep in as I wondered why they were here. “He might be a lawyer or he’s from the city and I am going to get a citation…” I brushed off the needless worries and answered the door. To my surprise I knew these people. They were a married couple, my customers from the neighborhood pharmacy I used to work at. I hadn’t seen them in a year and a half. We used to know each other by name, now they didn’t seem to recognize me. Nonetheless, I smiled and politely accepted the business card I was handed. The gentleman wanted to answer any questions I might have about our purpose in life and why bad things happen to people. He asked me if I had any beliefs.
I replied, “I believe ‘bad’ things happen because of people. Hate and wars are caused by people giving in to fear. I believe that we are here to overcome this.” I felt myself tremble as I realized that I was saying these words out loud, for the first time, to people who didn’t even recognize me.
Nevertheless, I continued, “God (spirit) gives us everything we need to overcome fear and learn our spiritual lessons.” The couple was quiet for a moment and they exchanged uneasy glances. The husband looked me in the eye and asked, “So you don’t believe in an evil being?”
The question hung in the air for a moment. I admit, I was slightly amused by the look of bewilderment on his face. I lowered my tone from polite to serious, looked him square in the face and said, “No. I do not believe in an evil being.” The couple looked at each other with disappointment and recommended that I read an article on their website about the origin of evil and quietly left. I was raised a Christian and knew the bible well. I did not feel the need to read it.
I was proud of myself for being open and honest for the first time about this. I found myself saddened with the reality that people still believe there is an outside force of evil causing tragedies and heartache. I realized that believing in an evil being or evil intelligence is not taking responsibility for the darkness within ourselves. Pointing fingers and blaming doesn’t resolve the issues we face. It prevents us from finding a resolution.
What is this darkness I speak of?
It is the voice in our minds that tells us, “you’re not good enough” and “you’ll never amount to anything.”
It compares us to others to reinforce those feelings and tries to keep us from breaking out of our comfort zone.
It is the feeling that there is not enough money, security or love to go around so it tries to convince you to cling to people and circumstances or take control of them to stay safe.
It has many “faces” and it looks different for each person.
The more you believe what it is telling you, the louder the voice gets and the darker the thoughts become. Every time we say or do something hurtful to someone else out of hurt or fear, or fear of being hurt, we are acting out of this darkness.
We get scared, lonely and angry at times. We have all made bad decisions and we have all made mistakes. We are not “bad” people when we do these things. We are not “snow-covered dung” that needs saving.
We are people. We are not our thoughts. Our actions and our words do not define us.
The past cannot be changed but we can make a difference by becoming more aware.
Notice the motivation behind your words and actions.
Be honest with yourself and have compassion.
Love yourself regardless of what you have said or done.
I believe the world can be a better place if we all live with an awakened heart. We can be covered in the frost of our fears and wounds or we can glisten in the warm sunlight of love and compassion. Each moment is a choice. Which will you choose?
~Katey Foor, Elephant Academy ApprenticeBrowse Front PageShare Your Idea
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