At the core of spiritual awakening is a realization that nothing that happens in our lives or the world can touch the deep and profound inherent goodness of reality. Many have misinterpreted this truth to suggest that nothing “in this world” really matters. But they’re wrong. In this 8-minute audio taken from a recent Q&A session, Craig explores the paradox of being radically content with “what is” while simultaneously compelled to change the world for the better.
Below the video player is an MP3 version of the talk and an edited transcript, if you’d prefer to engage the content in that way.
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David in San Diego says, “I’m continuing to struggle with the assertion of underlying deep and unshakable contentment in the face of all that’s wrong in the world. One spiritual teacher I’ve read stated that, given the infinite, timeless true nature of everything, even if the entire Earth were obliterated in some cosmic event as we know will happen in the latest 5 billion years from now when the sun burns out, that would have no impact on the underlying goodness of reality.”
CH: This is what the other teacher said that, even if the whole Earth were obliterated in some cosmic event, that would have no impact on the underlying goodness of reality. Well, and David says, “This seems like a sensible extrapolation of what you teach. Do you have any comments?” Well, I have to say, David, that when I read your quote there, I felt like I had to agree. So I think you’re right. I felt, “Yeah, that’s true.” There’s nothing under the sun that could occur that would change the fundamental goodness of reality, I would say.
But here’s the thing. Believing that or not believing that as a concept doesn’t really change our state of awakening. Awakening isn’t about coming to believe that as an idea. It’s not about going thinking, “Oh, I wonder if that’s true. The universe is fundamentally good. Even if the whole Earth were wiped out, the universe would still be a good thing. The essence of things is still good.” I’m not saying it’s bad to think about. It’s interesting to reflect on certainly. It’s valuable to reflect on these things because you might come to some radical insight through reflection and contemplation. You can go, “Wow, I guess I would have to say I would still feel like existence was in that positive thing even if Earth was gone.”
But coming to that new belief system about the inherent goodness of the universe, regardless of what happens to Planet Earth, isn’t a mystical thing. It’s not the same as the underlying unshakable contentment that you’re pointing to that you mentioned in your first sentence. You can’t get to that underlying deep and unshakable contentment just through thinking about these things. That’s something that you either discover through spiritual awakening. You discover a dimension of reality that is content, that is whole, that is lacking nothing, and is unperturbed by no matter what happens in creation in this world. You discover this depth that is untouched by the ups and downs of life and you become rooted in that through discovering it.
You either discover it or you practice it as we’re doing here in some of our meditations. That’s something we sometimes practice. We practice taking the position that nothing that happens in this meditation is a problem. We take a position of radical contentment with what is and choosing to be with what is as it is without any belief or judgment that it should be other than what it is. So I’m letting it be as it is without any conviction that it should be otherwise.
We can practice this in meditation. That can lead to the discovery. By practicing it, we can open ourselves to the actual discovery of this place in ourselves of fundamental contentment. But again that doesn’t mean…you see it doesn’t mean that… Because you see I think why people struggle with this philosophically and this may be what’s going on for you, David, is we feel therefore that it’s a nihilistic relationship to the world, a kind of apathetic nihilistic like I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. And that’s not what this is about at all. It doesn’t lead to apathy. It doesn’t lead to a lack of conviction. It doesn’t lead to a kind of passivity where we just don’t do anything anymore. Quite the opposite really.
The discovery of this profound dimension of contentment, this profound unshakable rootedness in the inherent goodness of life itself, of existence itself, of the cosmos itself, just the inherent, yes, that this event of existence is. Being rooted in that, it gives us a kind of strength and a kind of passionate conviction to address everything in this world that’s messed up and that needs to be changed, to bring it into its full potential and its highest possibility. It’s more like you discover the perfection of the essence of the universe, and that makes you want to bring that perfection into manifestation. It makes you want to perfect this messed up world. And because you now see its potential to be an ever more beautiful expression of that essential goodness, you want to bring it out. You want to express it in your own life. You want to help other people step into it. You want to organize the world and society and everything into an ever more perfect, beautiful expression of that essential goodness and even perfection at the heart of things.
So, yeah, but again all of these things have to be discovered for real in our own practice, in our own awakening. They’re not things we can just believe and impose. But in my experience, that’s how it works what I just shared. Thank you.