Being Good and Right?
In response to something you said at satsang last night: What is there to be, if not “good and right”? – Julea D., Berkeley, CA
Are you “good” and/or “right” in this moment? Where do you look to find out if you are good or right? Do you try to assess all your past actions, thoughts, and feelings? Do you try to evaluate your current actions, thoughts, and feelings? What do you compare them to? What do you imagine you should or should not be doing, thinking, or feeling in order to be good or right?
“I’m reading an article when I should be feeding the hungry!” “I’m reading a nourishing spiritual article rather than drinking myself into a stupor!” Even when our judgments of ourselves are more subtle than these examples, they are still made up. What you are is never really good or bad, right or wrong. These labels are slapped on by the mind.
Most people judge themselves harshly as bad or wrong, or at least as not good enough. We typically hold some idealized image of what we ought to be and then berate ourselves for all the ways in which we fail to match the image. Other times we judge ourselves as good and right and find images of comparison to support these judgments. But even here, there’s always part of us that knows we’re making it up. We’ve got to keep our eyes fixed on this point of comparison and avert our eyes from anything that threatens to make us bad or wrong.
The whole game of labeling ourselves as good or bad, right or wrong, sets us at war with ourselves. When we need to be good and not bad, we must be constantly wary and struggling against anything in us that we associate with badness.
What if we feel things that the mind might label as bad like anger, sadness, anxiety, envy, neediness? How are we going to prevent or stop such feelings? Nobody gets to pick or even know their next feeling, so all our struggles are in vain.
But what if all our feelings are just innocently appearing? What if there’s no such thing as a good or bad feeling? What if the sensations the mind labels bad are just as valid as the sensations the mind labels good?
What if being here as we are is enough, regardless of what thoughts we have about being good or bad, wrong or right? What if everything that we are can be met with love, even the parts that we are most convinced are bad?