Beyond Goodwill

(Towards compassionate understanding)

But she was quite a wonderful person! In the beginning she had taken an attitude of benevolence and goodwill towards everything and everybody, even the worst scamp; she saw only the good side. Then as she stayed on, her consciousness developed; after a time, she began to see people as they were. So, one day she told me: “Formerly, when I was unconscious, I thought that everybody was good, people seemed to be so nice! Why did you make me conscious?” I answered her: “Do not stop on the way. Go a little further.”

Once one has begun Yoga, it is better to go to the end.

The Mother, CWM, Vol. 5, pp. 3–4

To see the goodness in all and to have goodwill for all is a well-known teaching of saints and sages. But as the passage of the Mother given above indicates, goodwill is only a stage in the path of our higher evolution. But to progress further, the seeker in the path has to rise beyond goodwill.

How to take this next step? We have to shift the predominant focus of our aspiration from sentimental sympathy and goodwill to truth and understanding. We must aspire not only for goodness but to know, see and feel the veracity of things and progressively reach the complete truth. As we become more and more conscious, we become aware of the hidden truth of our own self but also of people around us. We will find those appeared to be all good are not so good and others who seemed to be so bad are not that bad. Whenever we face such a situation, we should not react with the habitual reactions of our lower nature, such as with anger, shock or resentment. For example, if I perceive a hidden darkness, hypocrisy or falsehood in a person for whom I felt deep affection, thought to be very good or admired as my role model, I should not react as if I am an angel of immaculate purity and other person has suddenly become the devil. If I am growing in self-awareness through constant self-observation, have a straightforward look at all the defects and weaknesses within me and find that I am not as good as I thought myself to be, then the sudden perception of hidden defects in the other person will not cause any negative reaction but only sympathy and understanding.

I accept the person as he is and keep the same goodwill for him, unless what I see is something very wicked or harmful. But as the Mother reveals in a conversion, such incurably wicked people are rare. Most of us are a mixed bag of good and bad and there is no need for any great indignation when we see another mixed bag like us.

When we arrive at this stage and take this attitude, we will see that the quality of our relationship with others has risen to a higher level of truth and understanding. It is no longer a mere superficial goodwill but based on a deeper understanding, acceptance, tolerance and equanimity. Our goodwill no longer depends in seeing the goodness in the other person. We can see both the good and the bad in him and still keep the same goodwill and affection.

But even this is only a stage. As we enter deep within us, become conscious of our subliminal being and live with it, we come into contact with the subliminal self in the other person and its greater potentialities.

One of the qualities of a great leader is the ability to intuitively see and feel these subliminal potentialities of a person, which may not be visible at the surface being of the person. As we progress still deeper and further, we become conscious of our psychic being, which is the evolving divinity in us, and the source of true and pure love that flows from a deep unity with all being at the spiritual level.

An enlightened and self-realized soul who lives in his divine self can see the complete spirit or entire truth of a person. He can see very clearly the positive and negative elements in the surface nature of the person. He can see the dubious motives of ego, ambition, self-seeking, lurking behind a pleasant appearance. He can also see the unmanifest potentialities of his subliminal being and the unalloyed divinity of his soul. But when such an enlightened soul sees the negativities in a person, he doesn’t react in the same way as the average man. When he sometimes talks about it, it is not like the criticism of the ordinary mind; it is something scientific, objective and impersonal. For example, when a botanist says that a plant, leaf or fruit is poisonous, it is not a condemnation but an objective statement based on a scientific understanding of the nature of the plant. He has no personal negative feelings for the plant because it is poisonous. In an illumined soul, along with this scientific objectivity there is a compassion which comes from deep understanding of the root cause of the negativity of the person. When we know the entire complex of forces acting on a person and driving him,—material, psychological, evolutionary, karmic, spiritual—we will never or condemn or judge a person. We can only say with a deep understanding and compassion “He is what he is!”

Most of us are very far from this state of enlightenment. However, we can hold it in our mind as an ideal, and slowly march toward it, by progressively moulding our mind and heart in the image of the ideal.

M. S. Srinivasan

 

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