Being Good

Being Good

Come to think of it, it is a philosophical question, but as most such questions do, it does have a bearing on our lives. What is more rewarding: a relentless material pursuit, or walking the path of inner peace? While they are not mutually exclusive, we are required to prioritise one over the other. Should we focus on being successful even if it means being ruthless and at the cost of our relationships (hopefully not our moral values and principles)? Or, should we settle for less and give greater preference to our family, passion, inner calling and so on?

In our tradition, many mothers are seen to take their children to a saint for blessings saying, “Please bless them so they grow up to be good human beings.” For them, this was the most important thing in life: to be good. Everything else works itself out one way or the other, they would say. As a saying goes, “It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.” 
Understanding Goodness
To think that being good is the same as being soft is misunderstanding goodness. The way I see it, there are three core attributes of goodness:
Noble Intention
That my intention behind what I am about to do is not to hurt, harm or injure anybody is at the root of goodness. That, what I harbour in my heart is not jealousy, ill will or hate towards anyone  Noble intention acts as a cleanser of your consciousness. That said, it is still the first step and is incomplete on its own, for real goodness is to help someone, to be of use to someone, not merely in thoughts but in action too. Challenge comes when you want to do something positive, but your loved ones may not support you. Is your intention still noble if your actions are helping some but hurting others? That is the real difficulty behind being good. It requires a choice to be made. In such an event, simply remember that the primary intent behind noble intention is to help someone in need. When we act out of love, without any malice or venom, with a view of furthering ourselves on the right path or directly helping the other person, our intention is noble in that case. 

Most of what we do is geared towards our own comforts and pleasures in life. Faster cars, bigger homes, latest gadgets, more investments and so on. When we choose to put our selfish interests on the backburner and make a decision with a certain degree of selflessness, putting others first, we are being good. There is a beautiful Sufi saying which, when translated, reads like this: It is no big deal that you can swim alone, show me if you can save someone who is drowning. Everyone is good with a good person, show me if you can do good to a bad person. By being selfless, I am not suggesting that you help those who do not wish to be helped. By altruism, I mean that our first move with anyone should be to help them and not judge them, to empathise and not advise, to support and not rebuke. We should at least extend our hand. If they refuse to take it, that is a different matter.
Being good does not mean becoming a walkover. Prudence is when you exercise your judgement with a bit of caution and do so pragmatically, that is with a dose of reality and practicality. Without prudence, goodness leans more towards ignorance than anything else. You may have heard, “Never quit.” Well, it is not always true because you cannot help someone if they do not want to be helped, for example. Being good is also knowing when to quit and direct your energy on something where it would matter. 

Goodness without wisdom is often painful and rarely useful. No doubt that for a believer, a higher energy grants everything. If you really think about it, however, there is always a medium which is usually another human being. And one way to connect with other human beings in this world is to be good. The more good you are, the more lives you will touch. And the more you touch more lives (or touch a few lives more), the greater the number of beautiful memories in your consciousness. These positive and kind memories come at your rescue every time you feel lonely or down. After all, if you notice, you will discover that you feel lonely when you have drifted away in your world of memories. Moments of togetherness, kindness, compassion make up happy memories. Moments of arguments, misdemeanour, rage and abuse etc. are the building blocks of sad memories. The former makes you warm inside, and the latter bitter. The one who has understood and absorbed the inherent nature of goodness will never feel lonely. A disciple asked his master, “How do I overcome this feeling of intense loneliness?” “Never think anything is out of place,” he replied. “Everything in life is where it should be. When you accept that, you then have much to look forward to.”
Gratifying Relationship
Give hope a chance. When you are good, you not only build a stronger bond with others, but you also make a deeper connection with yourself. And in doing so, you enter into the finest relationship.
Wonder what that is? The most gratifying relationship is the relationship with peace. Which, I may add, is not possible without a lifelong subscription to goodness. Being good is more rewarding in the longer run than anything else you can imagine. It pays and it pays big dividends. Goodness is the seed of genuine hope. Any kind act you do never goes unnoticed; one way or the other, Mother Nature will pay you back multi-fold. It always does. When we are on this planet, we have a responsibility of propagating goodness for ourselves, our loved ones, the society and the world at large. The seed of greatness you carry in you, that divine light you wish to experience, begins by stroking the fire
of goodness in you. When it rages, it consumes all negativity and self-interest. Next time just notice the sky soon after it has rained. The beautiful blue sky empty of all clouds, ever serene and washed with unearthly newness. That is what a good heart is like; carrying no traces of defeat and negative emotions towards yourself or others, it is tranquil in its own splendour. Be good, be gentle.

- Om Swami - 
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