I watched a YouTube video entitled, “How to Avoid Anger When Dealing with People”. An Indian sage named Sadhguru told an audience that anger is linked to judgment. We watch other people’s bad behavior, such as the refusal to wear masks in public places, and boil. Sadhguru then stated that our criticism is foolish as there are no bad persons. I snarked, “Oh, kumbaya! Look at all the paisley unicorns in this bright, wonderful world!” Then he went on: “And there are no good people either.” (Huhhh???) He explained: “People are constantly cycling between being good and bad. They are neither.” Our critiques are aimed at moving, changeable targets.
Isn’t that a relief? I waste time worrying about a lousy thing I did twenty years ago. I can’t tell whether that action, when weighed against the selfless moments on my record, makes me a good or bad person. And I wonder if I still have the spiritual mojo to pull off, in the here and now, some of my better moments from the past. I’m no longer that person who volunteered for a torture position at church. I’m just not willing. Does that mean that I was a good but have recently undergone moral decline?
The reply to self-incriminating voices in my head is: IT DOESN’T MATTER. Anthony De Mello cheerfully wrote in one of his books, “I am an ass!” The implication being that we’re all asses in varying degrees from moment to moment.
Overly harsh self-condemnation is an act of egotism. Does the cosmos really care whether I acted like a heartless dick back in 1983? No need to spend all that energy examining motives, tearing apart self-justifications. The universe spins madly on in utter indifference to an individual’s foibles and flaws.
We’re all God’s children, some better behaved, on average, than others. But we constantly shift positions along a spectrum ranging from heartlessness to decency to selflessness. Healthy modesty builds when I remember that I’m just part of a continuum.
What a relief!