It seems simple to consider what is good. Good is, well, good, isn’t it?
Or is good actually complex and potentially quite dark?
What if good is just another comparison, a concept that triggers judgment, rather than inclusiveness? Have think about it. Then read the glossary terms for ethics, morals, hedonism etc. They all involve the concept of good, and they all make it clear that what we think with our conscious mind is good, may not be for somebody else. Hitler may have thought it was good to kill Jews, gypsies and disabled people, he would have had his reasons, though such thinking is genocidal evil to most of humanity. The question for you, the reader, is, where might your concept of good be flawed?
The related question is this. If good can be flawed in our thinking, then how we perceive others is subject to this comparison also, where might your concept of good be applied to how you see your partner, your children, your workmates, your society?
There is a classic Taoist story that goes like this:
“One day a farmer’s horse runs away. And his neighbor comes over and says, to commiserate, “I’m so sorry about your horse.” And the farmer says “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?” The neighbor is confused because this is clearly terrible. The horse is the most valuable thing he owns.
But the horse comes back the next day and he brings with him 12 feral horses. The neighbor comes back over to celebrate, “Congratulations on your great fortune!” And the farmer replies again: “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?”
And the next day the farmer’s son is taming one of the wild horses and he’s thrown and breaks his leg. The neighbor comes back over, “I’m so sorry about your son.” The farmer repeats: “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?”
Sure enough, the next day the army comes through their village and is conscripting able-bodied young men to go and fight in war, but the son is spared because of his broken leg.”
This also introduces the concept of luck. What is luck? It is success or failure (good or bad) interpreted as happening by chance rather than through one’s own interpretations. Being “lucky” or “unlucky” is simply a descriptive label that points out an event’s positivity, negativity, or improbability. You can change your perception regarding luck simply by thinking about it, as the story of the farmer shows.
Superstitions arise from ignorance, a misunderstanding of science or causality, a positive belief in fate or magic, or fear of that which is unknown. Is it unlucky to walk under a ladder, or just an action that you can take to reduce risk? Both depend on how you view the outcome. You may find a valuable ring as you walk under the ladder, or find paint has dripped from the painter on the ladder. Superstition just adds a societal story or myth to the already complex issue of deciding what to do on each step of our human journey.
Have you watched the movie about the other farmer, the one whose family is killed, but that frees him to go off and fight that a Star War? Yes, Luke Skywalker’s story (and all the myths that Joseph Campbell writes so well about) all have the eternal battle not just about right and wrong, but the battle of interpretation of what is good and bad. Campbell calls it the Hero’s Journey.
The idea that challenges help us grow, that we develop as a result of the hard things that happen to us is the classic hero’s journey.
Pain can give us focus. Defeat can create empathy. The idea that “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” these are all contained in the idea that we can get good out of the seemingly bad.
It’s a good practice to find a deeper meaning in the good and bad things that happen in our lives.
Look for the bad inside the good. Look for the good inside the bad.
It will let you see the bigger picture and you will make better decisions.
In her book, Staying Alive (2014), Marya Schechtman maintains that ‘persons experience their lives as unified wholes’. This is the experience of being mystic, connected to everything.
She thinks that ‘we constitute ourselves as persons… by developing and operating with a (mostly implicit) autobiographical narrative which acts as the lens through which we experience the world’.
Humans struggle with self-perception, because our conscious does not know how to fully draw from the deep well of our Xconscious. It is the Xconscious where we keep our true stories, and the struggle is to improve, to co-create with the divine based on a deep resonance with our higher power.
LISN encourages you to look at your own interpretation of life, especially your own. The wider you view your story, the more likely you will find yourself at peace with alternatives, using less comparison, and therefore more connected to the holistic universe we live in.
As each person works towards understanding their own internal comparisons, they can make decisions to improve. This is like the athlete who is more concerned with improvement than winning. See also: Winning
And hopefully, you will find an acceptance of good/bad, yin/yang in everything, as the farmer in our story did!
See also: My personality