Monday, July 31, 2017

Assumed versus natural goodness

It seems to me that authentic spirituality consists in finding and expressing a connection to the Godhead, to the Great Spirit.  It consists in moving in, moving forward, in embracing and accepting.

But evil and goodness flow from roughly the same place, which depends on the myth with which we approach the world at a very, very, very fundamental level.  Evil is nothing more or less than rejecting life.  It consists in nothing more or less than pushing away, avoiding, hating.

There is a push and pull at the heart of all of us, and the process of releasing freedom, of releasing Goodness, is one of allowing movement at the very core of our being, and necessarily this involves connecting with our potential for evil, for rejection, for moving back in fear, attacking, hating, isolating oneself at the core.

Evil has a texture, a feeling.  So too does Goodness.  And until you can sense these textures, feel them deeply, understand them, and WORK with them like clay, you have not touched authentic Goodness, what the Tibetans call Windhorse.

What most people call goodness is assumed goodness, and Lord knows this is what Christianity has acted to broaden and reward over its history.  Assumed goodness, of course, is doing the things "good" people do.  It can even include teaching yourself to believe that you feel all the right things at the right times.  If you cannot convince yourself of the truth of your lie, you see, within Christianity you can feel little but terror if you also lack the psychological wisdom to get beyond what bedevils you.

Now, most psychologically healthy people are basically good, in truth.  They do not feel the tremors and confusions, and irrational angers of people who have been traumatized.  So for them something like Christianity can act as a useful aid in pursuing what become in most respects honestly good lives.

But the process of assuming goodness can also, of course, create evil, which is the point I am trying to make here.  When you need to believe you are good, then you hide your darkness, your Shadow, as Jung put it, from yourself.  No person can become spiritual without growing to know and deal with this evil.

I think of Rouseau's "Noble Savage", who it turned out was from a tribe of warlike cannibals.  Such people did not need to assume goodness, because for them it was not a religious duty.  They had things they had to do to remain a member of their group, but false piety was not one of those things, and in the course of their lives, they had frequent occasion to express hatred, rage, and violence directly without remorse.

So one could say that such people are not good, per se, in that they are seemingly not expressing the infinite love of God, but they are also not hypocrites.

We know enough, I think, as a species, to figure out how to live in peace with one another.  But honesty comes all too hard to far too  many people, whose comforting illusions they find congenial, and which they give up only under the most extreme duress.

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