Inherent Goodness

24 Jul

 

True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness. Albert Einstein

     To put the pieces together and find harmony within requires believing in your inherent goodness. Unfortunately, like many other Christians in childhood, I was taught that every person is a sinner by nature. The explanation came from the Bible story about the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. They disobeyed the voice of God and ate from the fruit of the tree. A snake tricked them into doing this.

 original sin    I was five or six years old…or younger. Who was I to argue with all the smart adults who said it was true? I was more concerned about the snake showing up than deciding if the final conclusion made any sense.

     I’m of German stock, so this German proverb appeals to me: “To question a wise man is the beginning of wisdom.” It means you’re starting to think for yourself.

     You can accept that it was Adam and Eve’s fault, or you can search for deeper reasons for why you (and others) act in ways that are hurtful, demeaning, or without love. I choose to accept another verse in Genesis that says God made the man and woman in his own image. God’s image  for me is the Unifying Force toward goodness and harmony in the world.

     In Buddhism, the harmful actions of people are merely termed as unskillful or unwholesome, not as sinful. The wicked man is an ignorant man. He needs instruction more than he needs punishment and condemnation. He is not regarded as violating god’s will or as a person who must beg for divine mercy and forgiveness. He needs only guidance for his enlightenment. All that is necessary is for someone to help him use his reason to realize that he is responsible for his wrong action and that he must pay for the consequences.[1]

     I wrote a little ebook after the massacre of first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012. It’s called Be the Light: Overcoming Evil with Good. You can get it free at Smashwords. I explained that the word in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke), translated into “evil” means “unripe, undeveloped, not suited for its purpose, an action not done in its right time (too early or too late).

     Evil actions, i.e., actions that bring harm to yourself or others (or the created world around you) arise from a state of unripeness. A state of not being fully developed. Immature.

     Jesus said, “Do not repay evil with evil but with good.” Do not return undeveloped actions with undeveloped actions. Grow up. Act maturely. Find the root source of the problem and heal it. Repeating evil only keeps the cycle of undeveloped actions going.

     In Hinduism, sin is actions that create negative karma by violating moral and ethical codes, which automatically brings negative consequences. Pāpa (sin in Sanskrit) is considered a crime against the laws of God, which are known as (1) Dharma, or moral order, and (2) one’s own self, but another term, apradha is used for grave offenses. Because you carry the consequences of moral and ethical violations with you from past lives—living out of your negative karma, you’re born with sin.

     In the Bahá’í faith, humans are considered naturally good, fundamentally spiritual beings. Human beings were created because of God’s boundless love. Yet, the Bahá’í teachings compare the human heart to a mirror, which, if turned away from the light of the sun (i.e. God), is incapable of receiving God’s love.

     As I have read, meditated, and learned, I’ve come to know God as goodness and life-giving light. Always has been. Always will be. The New Testament clearly states that God is within us. Humans are made in God’s image…the image of goodness. We just haven’t developed or matured completely to where the Image is complete.

     Until you seek, find, and develop that image of goodness, unity and harmony will be illusive in your life. Think about practicing meditation. I believe meditation plays a significant role in the maturing of that image.

 

[1] Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera, http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/182.htm

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