Basic Goodness in Shambhala Buddhism

What is Basic Goodness?

The concept of Basic Goodness is a fundamental principle in Shambhala Buddhism. It refers to the inherent and primordial nature of human beings, which is seen as pure, awake, and compassionate. This intrinsic nature is not something that needs to be improved or developed; rather, it is always present and can be discovered through meditation and mindfulness practices.

The term was coined by Chögyam Trungpa, the founder of Shambhala Buddhism. He used it to describe the innate potential and inherent dignity of all individuals. According to Trungpa, Basic Goodness is not a dualistic “good” as opposed to “bad,” but rather an expression of the inherent completeness and wholeness of our nature.

In Shambhala teachings, the discovery of this concept leads to confidence and gentleness towards oneself and others. It is seen as the foundation for creating enlightened society, where individuals recognize their interconnectedness and work towards the common good.

It’s important to note that the concept of Basic Goodness is not about ignoring or denying the existence of suffering, ignorance, or negativity. Instead, it’s about recognizing these aspects of human experience while also acknowledging the fundamental purity and goodness of our nature.

How to practice Basic Goodness

Practicing Basic Goodness in Shambhala Buddhism involves a combination of meditation, mindfulness, and ethical conduct, all aimed at recognizing and nurturing our inherent purity and compassion. Here are some key steps:

  1. Meditation: This is the cornerstone of practicing Basic Goodness. Shambhala Buddhism emphasizes mindfulness-awareness meditation, where you focus on your breath and observe your thoughts without judgment. The aim is to cultivate a sense of presence and awareness, which can help you recognize your inherent goodness.
  2. Mindfulness: This involves being fully present and engaged in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s eating, walking, or talking with someone. By practicing mindfulness, you can start to see the Basic Goodness in everyday experiences and interactions.
  3. Ethical Conduct: Shambhala teachings encourage living in a way that reflects respect for oneself and others. This includes practicing honesty, patience, generosity, and other virtues. By acting with kindness and integrity, you’re expressing your Basic Goodness.
  4. Contemplation: Reflect on the concept of Basic Goodness. Consider how it applies to you and others. This can help you recognize the inherent worth and dignity in all beings.
  5. Community: Shambhala Buddhism places a strong emphasis on community or “sangha”. Engaging with a community of practitioners can provide support and inspiration on the path of discovering Basic Goodness.
  6. Study: Reading teachings and texts related to Shambhala Buddhism can deepen your understanding of Basic Goodness and how to practice it.

Remember, this practice is not about striving for perfection or trying to be “good” in a moralistic sense. Instead, it’s about recognizing and nurturing the inherent wisdom, compassion, and wholeness that’s already within you.



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