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Basic goodness

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Basic goodness is a term coined by Tibetan spiritual teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is a core concept in his terma. It is used both to discuss the experience of reality and also basic human virtue.

In his 1980 Seminary he associates this term with both absolute bodhicitta and specifically the Tibetan term which comes from the Kadam tradition and refers to the natural virtues of the kunshi or alaya. Specifically he described three virtues: unborn meaning non-manufactured; nondwelling meaning that it cannot be pinned down, and free from pigeonholing meaning that it is beyond conceptual reference points. In his 1981 Seminary he described it as also referring to personal wholesomeness and dedication to others.

Melvin McLeod explains the term with basic indicating the primordial, self-existing nature and goodness indicating a faultless aspect. John Miller associated the term with Buddha-nature.

Trungpa Rinpoche's son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, expressed the relationship between basic goodness and enlightened society in these words: "In essence, the emphasis of the Buddhist path is to help us attain enlightenment, and the emphasis of the Shambhala path is to help us create and maintain a good society. When we put these two together, we have the Shambhalian Buddhist view of enlightened society. Thus the two paths work in tandem, not in competition."


    Trungpa (1980) Mayahana Seminary Transcript, pgs 91-94
    Trungpa (1981) Mayahana Seminary Transcript, pg 89
    Mindful politics: a Buddhist guide to making the world a better place By Melvin McLeod; pp92-93
    The holistic curriculum By John P. Miller; p29


Wikipedia:Basic goodness

"If we are willing to take an unbiased look, we will find that, in spite of all our problems and confusion, all our emotional and psychological ups and downs, there is something basically good about our existence as human beings. We have moments of basic non-aggression and is worthwhile to take advantage of these moments...we have an actual connection to reality that can wake us up and make us feel basically, fundamentally good." (see Warrior) "The realization that we can directly experience and work with reality." (pg 29-33) "In the ordinary sense, we think of space as something vacant or dead. But in this case, space is a vast world that has capabilities of absorbing, acknowledging, and accommodating...if you look into it, you can't find anything.

If you try to put your finger on it, you find that you don't even have finger to put! That is the primordial nature of basic goodness, and it is that nature which allows a human being to become a warrior, to become the warrior of all warriors." (pg 155) (see Warrior, Sacred Space)"...when you relax more and appreciate your body and mind, you begin to contact the fundamental notion of basic goodness in yourself. So it is extremely important to be willing to open yourself to yourself. Developing tenderness towards yourself allows you to see both your problems and your potential accurately.

You don't feel that you have to ignore your problems or exaggerate your potential. That kind of gentleness towards yourself and appreciation of yourself is very necessary. It provides the ground for helping yourself and others." (pg 35-36) "The way to begin is with ourselves. From being open and honest with ourselves, we can also learn to be open with others. So we can work with the rest of the world, on the basis of the goodness we discover in ourselves. Therefore, meditation practice is regarded as a good and and in fact excellent way to overcome warfare in the world: our own warfare as well as greater warfare."