Everyone in the world is in search for something good for themselves. After all life is a joyous adventure amidst triumph and challenges, situations and opportunities.
Speaking of goodness, it is important to define this idea further. We all have an idea of what goodness is, mediated by opinions formed upon experience and information. The idea of goodness can range from envisioning Holy Men like the Dalai Lama and acts of kindness done to other beings. But goodness can also be about striving towards grasping blessings, luck and it can also be about finding oneself in a position of taking advantage of a situation as much as it can be about money, possessions and aspirations.
As the neo Platonic traditionalist I am, Plato often moves ghostly in the caverns of my mind, and in terms of goodness Plato’s Form of Good is vital for understanding goodness. For Plato, the Form of Good was equalled with Truth and Beauty and reflected on source and origin of all forms and ideas. The goodness inherent in the ideal realm of existence is reflected upon our ‘empirical’ condition moved by change and opinion in our world. This in turn gives room for everything we are searching for being potentially good. It comes down to the harmony between character and action. Lao Tzu commented that we should treat those who are good with goodness, but also treating those who are not good with goodness and thus establish a chain of goodness in actions reflected by our character. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the particular goodness we are searching is rooted in some altruistic and self denying ideals, rather I would say with Ralph W. Emerson that often “your goodness must have some edge to it, else it is none”.
I feel goodness is more easily practiced, experienced and sensed by those who are adventurers in their own life, because the spirit of the adventurer is one of interest in all things that crosses the path of the one that is in search of something good for himself.
The adventurer approaches life with interest. If we approach life with interest we will enable the spirit of the adventurer to enter as our compass and guiding rod. The adventurer is the spirit of the Pilgrim, it is he or she that is constantly present in the moment and is capable of listening to the wind that moved the leaves along the tracks we passed and gain notion of what the future holds. I see the beginning of nobility in this attitude and approach.
To find Self and Fate as we walk the Path rises naturally when we take an interest in our adventure, but the path itself does not make any distinction between King and Queen, the poor or the beautiful ones as much as the knife do not recognize its maker... but I believe the path do recognize goodness and the noble ones.
In a world where ambition, will and money are the main virtues the world rides upon it is only to expect that also spirituality and soul searching is touched by the very same ideals. To be in the world is to be touched by it and no matter how many bars we set up to keep the world at bay it will continue to pulsate and fester in your life until you somehow manages to develop a capacity for discernment.
I believe discernment works in various levels and ways and the first of these judgments we need to reflect upon is how the good we search for ourselves can touch others, because I am a firm believer in the axiom that states ‘if your life gets better, my life gets better’. So, if the search for your own goodness touches fellow pilgrims in your adventure, your goodness will be even greater, because goodness is what you will be giving out and it will be what you attract in your journey.
All too often we seek to restrict goodness, to keep it to ourselves and act like we are the owners of goodness, but in truth, goodness, like wickedness do multiply if we give it out to the world.
I believe it is here, in the field of wickedness, many of us allow discernment to die in favour of judgment and general resentment with the condition of the world. We see how people indulges into bad character, greed, breaking commitments and in hungry ways attempt to consume all goodness they can find in restricting goodness for others. These people are never happy; rather they are consumed by festering spirits and the ghost of paranoia that turn their goodness bitter and putrid as they give birth to wickedness.
The spirit of modernity inspires people to take their fill of what they want; if they are not welcome there is always the possibility of making one’s voice, will and opinion heard through violence, rebellion or social acts of ambitious defiance. Surely this have its place and we need to understand the world and its actors by the powers that pull strings and infuses ideas – still – just because you declare yourself to be what you hope to be, will not automatically make you enflesh your hopes. At best you will become a ghost or a shadow, at worst a clown or a pastiche.
Perhaps what we are lacking in our adventure in the world is a sense of nobility mirrored in goodness and the spirit of the adventurer?
Speaking of nobility I am not having in mind the corruptions of those noble of mind, spirit and character who Machiavelli commented about in the 9th Chapter of The Prince as people who “wish to rule and oppress people”.
I believe we see a corruption of original goodness in Machiavelli’s statement, where he takes the pulse of his time – because to be noble is not about oppressing people because you have the means to do so - I am sure we have more fitting words for oppression of others...
Linguistically speaking we can embrace the suggestion of the constructed proto indo European linguistic roots, where ‘to be noble’ is derived from the root “gno”, which we find in English as “know”. Certainly, to know is related to be renowned, but it is also related to the cause of one’s renown, and it is in this field we find ‘the sound of our reputation’. Some feel wickedness speak louder than goodness. But loud sounds are not necessarily true sounds; often they are just noises, the vocal sign of destruction, threat, self inflicted pain or arrogance. Don’t succumb to volume, but rather move yourself to a better place where the sound of goodness can be subject for your attention.
Nobility is about generosity and it is about seeing ones happy condition of good fortune as a means to multiply goodness. The noble pilgrim ‘knows’ that spreading out goodness everywhere will accumulate for the giver and the receiver. The noble pilgrim is not an oppressor, but someone who takes bread and breaks it into two to give to someone in need – or his friend – and see how the one bread multiplied and in this see how shared goodness is a benefit that can touch everyone.
As you walk the world in search for something good, don’t get tangled up in the wickedness of the world. The wicked ones are the slaves of the spirit of misery. They believe to have found gold when they only found the ghost of hunger in wealth, ambition and position. But since the pilgrimage was hard, selfish and ambitious they will not admit to failure, but rather they will try to spread their disease to the world so they can share the misery and wickedness with whom they meet.
Illusion and Disillusion, Truth and Falsity are the uncanny bedfellows that invite us to practice discernment, so we can judge goodness from wickedness and in this we will become the Tyrant Wander or the Noble Pilgrim. It is all up to our ability of discernment and the state of mind with approach the world with.
The Noble Pilgrim is the one who seeks the knowledge of what is good and learn in his or her adventure to discern it from the wickedness of the world and is capable of preserving the goodness found and sharing it with the world to call the noble ones to a gathering of harmony where love, beauty and truth can rest before it reaches out in the world and touches it in the spirit of goodness, generosity and love.
Birth is just the beginning, as life happens we need to renew ourselves, so we can initiate our selves again and again to the changing conditions of heart and world. We do this so all wisdom and goodness that awaits us in this adventure of challenge, bliss and goodness we know as life can meet us at the crossroad of all happiness and all wickedness - so we can choose to bring about the constant goodness.
Shower the world with blessings, just do it, it is good for you. Bless your nasty neighbour, bless the idiot in the crossroad, and bring solace to those who hate you, give food and money to the beggar in the corner of nowhere. Spread goodness to the world, not because the world deserves it, but because you deserve your goodness to increase and become abundant and spectacular in blessings of wealth and accomplishments.
This sounds easy, but it is not always so. It is in this we find the challenge on the Path itself. It is in this crossroad we lose or find Our Self and as a guide on the Path let me in conclusion remind of Charles Baudelaire’s observation: “Evil is committed without effort, naturally, fatally; goodness is always the product of some art.”
Illustration; Ernst Fuchs