Be good, do good?

In the ‘civilized’ society, it’s a courteousness to tell someone, “You are such a good and wonderful person.” when we see this person behaves nicely and does something good.

Many people from ‘civilized’ background would feel awkward or disturbed or unappreciated or discouraged when they come to the traditional yoga ashram, the people from the ashram seldom praise or compliment the visitors/guests/students after they have done something nice or achieve something good in the ashram. They think that these swamis/teachers/workers maybe either are unaware of the visitors/guests/students’ good behavior, intention, contribution and achievement, or they are very stingy to give praise or compliment to other people, or they don’t want to encourage the people to do more good or achieve higher results, or they don’t appreciate the goodness and achievement of other people. They expect ‘nice’ reaction from other people, such like, “You are good!”, “Well done!”, “Thank you!”, “You are so nice!”, “You are such a lovely and helpful person!”, and etc.

This expectation towards particular ‘nice’ reaction from other people is coming from ignorance and egoism. It’s the ego that wants and needs to be acknowledged that they are good, that they have done something good, that they have achieved something good, so that they would feel being appreciated and encouraged for their good action and effort to continue to be good and do more good. There’s nothing wrong with this worldly egoistic courteousness. Just that those who truly practice yoga and know what is yoga, they won’t judge anyone or empower the ignorance and egoism in the people who come to them to learn and practice yoga.

Those who are free from ignorance and egoism don’t need any acknowledgement or appreciation or encouragement from others to be good, to do good or to achieve something. Only those who are not free from ignorance and egoism would need acknowledgment, appreciation and encouragement from others to motivate them to be nice, to do good, or to achieve something, or else they would feel disappointed, discouraged. By giving them what they want (acknowledgment, appreciation and encouragement), might encourage them to do good and to improve, but it doesn’t help them to be free from ignorance and egoism, instead it is empowering or strengthening the ignorance and egoism in them. This is not what compassion or kindness is about. It doesn’t help the society or the world to be better even though there are some ‘nice’ people trying to do ‘nice’ things in the world under a condition that their action and effort are being acknowledged and appreciated. And it doesn’t guarantee that these ‘nice’ people won’t be doing anything that would generate ‘disharmony’, ‘problems’, or ‘inconvenience’ to themselves and other people.

Most of the time, we behave differently and do things differently according to the state of the mind that is impermanent.

When the mind is in a calm and happy state, we are more patience, tolerant and accommodating, and we might behave nicely and do nice things for ourselves and other people. But it doesn’t mean that “I am a good person.” It’s the same as for other people. It doesn’t mean that “They are good people.”

When the mind is in a disturbed and unhappy state, we are impatient, intolerant and unaccommodating, we might behave badly and do hurtful things to ourselves and other people. But it doesn’t mean that “I am a bad person.” It’s the same as for other people. It doesn’t mean that “They are bad people.”

It’s just people with impure mind functioning under the influence of ignorance and egoism.

If one truly wants to be good and do good, it’s not so much about trying to behave nicely and do something nice to please other people or to make other people feel good and happy, but it’s to free the mind from ignorance and egoism and impurities, and thus, one stops generating unnecessary disharmony or problems or inconvenience to oneself and other people.

Those who are free from ignorance and egoism, there’s no judgment towards oneself and others as good or bad. Everyone is just what they are, as they are, in the present. There’s no attachment or identification, carving or aversion, or discrimination towards the recognition or acknowledgment of ‘good people’ or ‘bad people’.

If people don’t like or don’t want or disagree with this teaching and practice of yoga, that’s their freedom. People believe that “People should be nice to each other and say nice things to each other and show appreciation and encouragement for goodness in people to encourage them to do more good.” But, it doesn’t stop people from saying ‘bad’ things about other people behind people’s back. And then, people would feel disappointed and discouraged to do good or improve, if they don’t get the ‘nice’ reaction that they expect from other people, to be acknowledged, to be appreciated, to be praised and complimented for what they have done and achieved that they think is good and deserving. That’s courteousness of a ‘civilized’ society.

Be free.

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