“All you have to do is know beyond doubt that you are good, that you possess inherent worth and value. When you do, something extraordinary happens. You come into your power. Your confidence rises and your distrust lessens. Your world becomes full of possibility rather than hassles. You see that others also possess this goodness and your heart opens to them.”
– Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Can you trust that this universe is a friendly place? Can you trust that others are basically good, that they give their best in any given moment? Can you trust that you yourself are basically good?
You might feel an inner argument brewing right now. Rather than follow it, try this thought experiment: How would it be if you knew with 100% confidence that you are good? How would it be if you knew that others, that the universe, that life is good? How would you feel?
Wouldn’t it be a relief, like a dream coming true?
We are so used to living in a world that doesn’t really feel trustworthy. We are alert, ready to defend or escape in any moment. We have been built that way; we have automatic biological and psychic mechanisms that are ready to exert control in any moment that real or imagined danger rears its head. And each moment is different from the last, and we never know what is about to happen…
So what are we talking about here, trusting? What can we really trust in? Is trust possible at all?
In the Buddhist teachings of meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche we find the term “basic goodness.” It is about our deepest nature below our defense mechanisms, and also about the deepest nature of the world. It may sound simple, but it points to a truth more all-encompassing than our ordinary notions of good and bad.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa’s son and a Buddhist teacher in his own right, suggests trying on a very specific inner orientation. He says that at first it might not feel like a big change, but that this shift has the potential to change everything for us. He writes: “All you have to do is know beyond doubt that you are good, that you possess inherent worth and value.”
If you commit to do this, something amazing can happen: You can find your own authentic strength, your self-confidence can grow, and your mistrust can diminish. Rather than painful dead ends, the world will offer more possibilities to you. You will see that, like you, everybody else has basic goodness. Your heart can open naturally to others.
Many of us might feel that this proclamation of goodness is artificial, at least at first. But if you practice taking on this orientation, you can discover whether it is actually artificial. In other words, if it is true, then you gradually will discover that. Whereas if it is not true, then you can discover that. You might be afraid that you could con yourself into believing that you and the universe and everyone in it is good. But I don’t think so! Our defense mechanisms are too smart for that.
Of course you will continue to experience difficulties, you will get upset and sad. But if you trust in yourself, you will find good ways to deal with those reactions. You will find help and you might even be able to help others with their difficulties. Seeing potential and worth in yourself will free you to see it in others and in your environment.
The amazing thing is, if we do this, it’s as if we start to find doors everywhere in what we thought were walls. We move closer and we find that they open. We notice the world start to change around us, becoming more and more peaceful, friendly, easy. Struggle is still there, but it takes its proper place. At some point it may dawn on us that the world really is this way: good. And we are too.
I want to highlight the magic in this practice: Nothing else has to change other than an internal shift. You can try it, just a little bit, and then try it some more, finding ways to include it in your being. If you live from the perspective that you are inherently good, that there is meaning in your human qualities, your gifts and challenges, then you can be good right where and how you are. No need to wait until you are better later! In the same way you can accept and value others just as they are now, already good.
In my eyes this is an extremely powerful change in perspective, which allows for a much more authentic, understanding, and compassionate life. We don’t need to fear what others are thinking about us (or what we think about ourselves). We don’t need to lose half of our energy in self-doubt and fear. We can settle the issue: we are all good!
Especially in the context of meditation and other calming practices, trust is a very important quality. Not only for the practice itself but for our own development as well. Trust enables our mind to first find peace and calm moments. These moments then deepen our trust in the essential good nature of reality. It’s a bit paradoxical, but we need trust so that we can see clearly enough to validate our trust.
The trust in our basic goodness is also essential in order to accept, rather than doubt, what we discover on our path of meditation and to engender honesty about reality and a good continuation on our journey.
And by the way, there is still a chance to join the free beta version of my new 5-week course:
Please enjoy another colorful, warm, and honest week of harvest.
P.S: There’s a beautiful talk given by Tara Brach about trust.