Excerpt from Speaking Tree : Attending to basic goodness
MARGUERITE THEOPHIL | Jun 7, 2012
Basic goodness isn’t something we find or create; it is often something we have to uncover. It gets submerged in the process of constructing our versions of who we think we are, or who we should be, and of the world in which we live.
We settle into convenient though often inaccurate patterns of assumptions, emotions, thoughts and actions, through which we deal with everyday life. In time, these become rooted and fixed and also blind us to the basic goodness in ourselves and others. This does not mean we are to deny the pain of tragic experience, or fear, anxiety, anger, injustice and violence.
Basic goodness does not lie somewhere beyond these very human experiences, but rather in them. To say that we are basically good means that we have every faculty we need to handle things wisely.
Richard Davidson is a neuroscientist, who makes our understanding of the role of the brain in our behavioural and life choices accessible, and teaches from a Buddhist perspective. He invites us to consider an alternative to the traditional New Year’s resolution.
“Instead of focussing on a behaviour we wish to change or habit we may not like, reflect on the possibility of strengthening or nurturing those parts of yourself that reflect your basic goodness.”
A simple way to sustain this approach is to “become more aware of it when it is there.” As with many wonderful things, though this is simple, it may not be easy! Goodness often speaks to us in a softer voice and tone, unlike anger or violence that is loud and strident. So, unthinkingly, most of us have slipped into a pattern of overlooking basic goodness, ignoring or minimising its importance.
At a deeper level we do understand that what we focus on is likely to grow, so focussing on this nurturing and nourishing aspect of ourselves — basic goodness — is a sure way to have more of it in our lives.