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5 Ways to Embody Basic Goodness According to Buddhism

Takeaway: Embracing the concept of basic goodness can enhance your spiritual wellness. In this post, I share a broad overview of what basic goodness entails and offer some of my favorite strategies for incorporating it into your daily life. Let’s dive in.


basic goodness

Understanding the concept of basic goodness

The concept of "basic goodness" is a deeply kind and altruistic understanding of our inherent human nature derived from Buddhist teachings. Coined by Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan spiritual teacher, the notion of basic goodness fundamentally asserts that at the core of our being, we are inherently good. This inherent goodness is our true nature, and it forms the foundation for personal growth, harmonious relationships, and the realization of an enlightened society.

Basic goodness is the fundamental recognition that every human being possesses an innate goodness that is independent of external circumstances, actions, or past experiences. This perspective challenges the prevalent notion that humans are intrinsically flawed or sinful. Trungpa Rinpoche's teaching invites us to look beyond the conditioned mind, societal roles, and past mistakes and recognize the purity and virtue that reside within our hearts. This awareness fundamentally alters our self-perception and how we relate to others. Additionally, it challenges us to release any untrue core wounds that we operate out of, such as feeling unworthy or less than others.

At the heart of this teaching is the idea that basic goodness is not something to be acquired or cultivated but to be uncovered and embraced. Our inherent goodness is already present; we need only strip away the layers of ego and conditioning that obscure it. This insight is not limited to any particular spiritual tradition but transcends boundaries, resonating with those from all walks of life who seek a deeper understanding of their own nature.

The connection between basic goodness and our soul essence

Basic goodness is our soul essence, the core of our being that each human is born with. It acts as a lighthouse and often communicates with us through feelings, inner knowings, and intuitive stirrings even when we struggle to witness the grace and integrity in ourselves. This core energy does not have to be earned, and there is no hierarchal structure - it is the inherent nature of the soul. Staying deeply connected with it allows for clarity, openness, and compassion to exist more naturally and fluidly in our lives. By embracing your basic goodness, you recognize your worth as a being, and from this wholehearted place, you realize that we are all consciously connected.

When we experience difficult life circumstances, it might feel as if our basic goodness is blocked, like storm clouds blocking out the sun. Practicing staying connected to our core essence in difficult times strengthens our ability to navigate stress, overwhelm, sadness, and other emotions that might cause our ego to storm in and disconnect us from our inner light.

4 ways to incorporate basic goodness into your spiritual practice

Meditation Practice:

Meditation is a powerful tool to access and cultivate an awareness of basic goodness. In the stillness of meditation, we have the opportunity to observe our thoughts, emotions, and reactions without judgment. This practice encourages us to see through the layers of self-doubt and self-criticism to touch the core of our fundamental nature.

Begin by sitting in a comfortable posture, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breath. As you meditate, gently acknowledge the thoughts and emotions that arise without attachment. Over time, you will discover a sense of ease and contentment that arises from the recognition of your basic goodness. In this space, the concept of being fundamentally good begins to feel more real and accessible.

Nature as a Mirror:

Nature often serves as a reflection of our own basic goodness. As we immerse ourselves in the natural world, we witness the harmony and balance that exists there. This can serve as a reminder of the inherent goodness within ourselves. Spending time in nature, whether it's a walk in the woods or simply gazing at the sky, can be a form of meditation that deepens our connection to our own basic nature.

The Sacred Path:

Trungpa Rinpoche's teaching emphasizes that the path to an enlightened society starts with recognizing basic goodness within ourselves. To incorporate this belief into your spiritual practice, understand that personal transformation is a precursor to societal transformation. By cultivating compassion, wisdom, and self-awareness, you contribute to creating an enlightened society. The sacred path, in this context, involves living in alignment with your basic goodness, reflecting it in your actions, and encouraging others to do the same. In essence, recognizing yourself each day as a sovereign being of light, and holding this energy within you, will positively impact other human beings around you.

Enlightened Society:

The notion of an enlightened society is intricately linked to basic goodness. In this vision, individuals recognize their own inherent goodness and relate to one another with compassion and respect. Such a society is built on trust, kindness, and a sense of interconnectedness. By incorporating the concept of basic goodness into your spiritual practice, you become a beacon of light that radiates the possibility of an enlightened society. Your actions and interactions ripple out, inspiring others to recognize their own fundamental goodness and work toward the creation of a harmonious and enlightened community. Holding this perspective and actively being kind and forgiving to others in your daily life is immensely important. Whether you are on the highway, in a grocery store, or talking with someone on the phone, recognizing the other person's soul essence can result in kinder interactions, gracious communication, and integrity. To learn more about tapping into your basic goodness as a means to support world peace, check out the article, Intercultural Philosophy and the Nondual Wisdom of Basic Goodness.

Buddhist Therapy:

Working with a therapist who recognizes your inherent goodness and soul essence can be immensely healing. This might include helping you cultivate daily spiritual practices, exploring old thought patterns that negate your self-worth, and increasing self-compassion and self-care. Learn more about our Buddhist Therapy here.

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