The reason I am not satisfied with the maxim “just be a good person” is as follows: What qualifies as “a good person” is heavily dependent on the conditioning of the culture.
“Good people” owned slaves. “Good people” kill others in the name grandiose, ridiculous missions. You may not think the people who do such things are good, but there have always plenty of bystanders deciding that the aforementioned behaviors are acceptable. And further, our collective silence on the current way of life (borne of fear and a desire to numb out and be “comfortable”) amounts to the exact same kind of tacit approval. Even today, the vast majority of us “good people” quietly support destructive and oppressive industries. We “good people” make nice and then retreat into egoic isolation.
“Good people”—if they do not know who they truly are—are easily compelled to to act in evil ways.
Through an ignorant lens (and we are, on the whole, tremendously ignorant), a “good person” means one who contentedly aligns him or herself with the existing cultural winds. When someone runs counter to this—because it is so obvious to such an individual that the culture and its inhabitants are sick—they are sometimes charged with “disturbing the peace,” or, depending on the culture, killed. For instance, Christ was obviously murdered. Giordano Bruno, one of my favorite philosophers, was executed. Prophets and pantheistic philosophers have historically been exiled.
And for what? Well, they set fire to beliefs held dear to the ego-identity of the culture at large, especially those about God and humanity’s place in the Universe. They said things like “I am God,” and “All is God,” and “the Universe is infinite; man is not the most important creation.”
All of these things are true, but the entrenched egoic mind’s nature is to resist Truth. And you will note that it is also not enough to say or to mentally “know” these statements to be true. There was something more in said individuals—something threatening to the egoic mind. When someone awake says it and lives it, it brings about a different reaction than one who says this stuff all offhanded. The energy of an awakened individual can be felt, and it reverberates throughout the society. This energy is not always well-received.
Most of the time, those who realize Truth are at best thought strange and/or somewhat insane. At worst, they are killed or exiled. This will be the case until enough of us are done with the charade and ready to Realize our oneness once and for all.
A hyperbolic example: For occupants of Germany in the 1930s, being “a good person” meant siding with the nation’s program to systematically persecute millions of non-Aryans. Surely there were those who did not do this, and their names will never be known. We can only be grateful in spirit that such courageous individuals existed at all. The point is this: Plenty of law-abiding, concerned citizens came together to act out egregious horrors all while being considered “decent” by their surrounding society.
This is why “good” is not enough on its own. It must be investigated.
Imagine now that one Nazi comes to his senses and realizes the error of his ways. If he were to turn his back on his country, could he not be easily labeled a selfish traitor, perhaps even by those who recently professed their love to him? Only after many generations of clearer sight would this person be labeled brave and right by the masses. We can have this clearer sight now, about our own culture. We can dilute the poison in our world with the power of our presence. Then, and only then, do “good acts” start to have real weight.
We can all be Christ-like; we can all move from our Buddha-nature; we can do away with all religious terminology and call it whatever we like so long as we are established in Reality. This is done first by accepting that a recognition of our true home in consciousness is a requirement. A desire to give up our small selves to the endless, changeless Almighty must be present.
Once that is accepted, the real work begins.
I have employed the word “Nazi” consciously, because I know how triggering the word is. Today, this word that denotes the chilling power of “following orders.”
And yet, how much have we truly evolved? We are still murdering one another. Men in wealthy nations are still being trained to become killing machines. We hoard wealth (or, just as bad, desire to hoard wealth) while our fellow humans die of starvation. Of course this is due to the belief that we are different and separate from those starving humans. How sad for them, we think, how lucky and blessed for me. And, with a sigh of relief, we think at least *I* am going to be okay.
This could not be more false. If you identify only with this singular life experience—with the body/mind the consciousness occupies right now—you actually are not going to be okay. (All right, in the end End, of course you will, but you are probably facing a long journey filled with unnecessary, horrific suffering.) We all reap what we sow sooner or later. Rarely do we take the time to consider how we are creating this world or how all of our choices keep us in a state of vast inequality.
And further, no one is simply “unfortunate” or impoverished due to sheer luck. Yes, karma is a thing (this is the whole reaping/sowing thing in different language), but more importantly, we create, all of us, this state of “unfortunate” inequality.
It is surely not my aim to place any blame on any individual or any system. Until Truth is realized, we are hopelessly lost to the external world and conditioning, and we will fall time and again. We chase after and worship the unreal and rebuff the Real. This is an exhausting battle that we do not have to fight.
And when you look at it, even we civilians are still “following orders.” It is just that these orders are internal, given by our own egoic minds and accepted without a second thought. We believe we are making up our own minds, but very few of us have. We have inherited our thought patterns and/or otherwise unconsciously taken them on by the larger culture. Our preoccupations and patterns are dictated by previous life experiences, meaning that we are not living here and now. The orders we are taking are even more insidious because we consistently mistake them for our “own” thoughts and our minds for our actual selves. And then, the real kicker: We don’t even know who it is, wielding all these powerful thoughts!
There is a way we almost all continue to subjugate and destroy one another in thought. We would be wise to be be very watchful of this “thinker,” and find out who it is. This is the one which must be seen through for peace to reign in ourselves and in the greater world.
location: Mitchell, Oregon