Original Goodness: Strategies for Uncovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources by Eknath Easwaran, 1989. I bought this book in spring of 1992 at Bowling Green State University. I don’t know why I bought it and even read it. There must be a need for this book at that time. Or I must have a strong sense to master the original goodness.
Before my daughter gets back home, of course, I cleaned the house once again, as if I hadn’t done it for a long time. I tried to get rid of some book, this one being one of them. I not only read this book but also left underlines throughout the book. Below are part of what I have underlined.
The book has 229 pages. My original plan is to get rid of the book after I finish taking down the notes. But as I was typing, I changed my mind, at least for now. I plan to keep the book for my children, even after I have taken most of the underlined notes. Let’s see what they will do with it. For now, let’s try to enjoy these reading notes.
“Our supreme purpose in life is not to make a fortune, nor to pursue pleasure, nor to write our name on history, but to discover this spark of the divine that is in our hearts.” p. 9
“Though we are born of human clay, it reminds us, each of us has the latent capacity to reach and grow toward heaven until we shine with the reflected glory of our maker.” p. 10
“… It was as if they [shoppers] had come looking for something to want — something that might fill a nameless need, even if only for a moment…” p. 13
“Making things, buying and selling them, piling them up, repairing them, trying to figure out how to get rid of them permanently: for sensitive people, boredom with this carnival cycle began some time ago. A consumer culture is not the goal of life.” p. 13
“…wealth, possessions, power, and pleasure have never brought lasting satisfaction to any human being. Our needs go too deep to be satisfied by anything that comes and goes. Nothing but spiritual fulfillment can fill the void in our hearts.” p. 14
“…for a person who can think only of himself, someone who explodes when things do not go her way, is fragile, alienated, and very lonely individual. …In the end, it is this driving sense of separateness — I, I, I; my need, my wants, apart from all the rest of life — that is responsible for all the wars in history, all the violence, all the exploitation of other human beings, and even the exploitation of the planet that threatens our future today.” p. 19
“We want to love and to be loved. We want happiness and fulfillment,… We want a place in life, a way of belonging, a sense of purpose, the achievement of worthy goals — whatever it takes; otherwise life is an empty show.” p. 19
“…what we say we believe in is not so important; what matters is what we actually do — and,…what we actually are. ‘As we think in our hearts, so we are.'” p. 23
“…meditation is essentially an interior discipline.” p. 25
Meditation “is the regular, systematic training of attention to turn inward and dwell continuously on a single focus within consciousness, until,… we become so absorbed in the object of our contemplation that while we are meditating, we forget ourselves completely. In that moment, when we may be said to be empty of ourselves, we are utterly full of what we are dwelling on…we become what we meditate on.
“Meditation,…means training the mind: teaching our thoughts to go where we tell them and to obey themselves while they are there…” p. 26
“…when you have this kind of mastery over your attention in everything you do, you have a genius for life itself: unshakable security, clear judgment, deep personal relationships, compassion that no adversity can break down.” p. 26
“…we see not so much with the eyes as with the mind, for it is the mind that arranges and interprets the information of the senses according to its own conditioning.” [I would say head instead of mind] p. 33
“It is in the mind that we experience life, and the mind is never really clear.” ??? p. 37
“…the mind is often compared to a lake, whose waters become clouded with mud when the lake is agitated. Only when the murk of our thoughts, desires, and passions settles does the mind become calm and clear.” [use head instead of mind] p. 39
“We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold. As a man is, so he sees.” p. 40
“Intellectual study cannot be of much help in this transformation. Only meditation, the systematic turning inward of attention, can take us deep into consciousness where the obstacles to a pure heart hide.” p. 43
On humility, “Whenever we get swept away by a selfish urge or a wave of anger, we are in hell; we can almost feel the sulfurous fumes of insecurity and fear. If we get so angry that we can’t sleep, we are overnight guests in hell’s hotel.” p. 53
“Hell is no metaphor and neither is heaven. Hell and heaven are states of consciousness. Doesn’t Jesus say the kingdom of heaven is within? And mental states are real — in fact, in some ways they are even more ‘thing’ than things…if I said something unkind and you couldn’t stop thinking
about it, your resentment might burn for years. It might even aggravate your ulcer.” p. 54
“…when you go on saying ‘I’m a sinner,…’ you’re actually thinking of yourself as a sinner. You expect yourself to do wrong thing. I like to emphasize original goodness: ‘I’m a saint,…” p. 54
“We don’t have to have somebody punish us for doing wrong; we punish ourselves. Sin its own punishment…anger is its own punishment.” p. 54
“…dwelling on yourself is its own punishment. All of us find ourselves a fascinating, satisfying subject to contemplate…until the results begin to accumulate… the person who thinks about himself all the time, who can scarcely think about anything except in connection with his own needs, becomes the most wretched creature on earth. Nothing really goes the way he wants, and that preoccupation with himself that seemed so pleasant and natural becomes a wall that keeps everyone else outside. It’s a lonely, tormented life. Perhaps the most painful irony is that this wretchedness too is just dwelling on oneself. Once a habit is formed, the mind cannot stop, even when it makes us miserable.” p. 55
“All these habits of mind that can make life hell,…can be traced to one central flaw of attention. To call it self-preoccupation comes close: the habit of dwelling on my needs, my desires, my plans, my fears. The more deeply ingrained this pattern of thinking is,…the more we make ourselves a little island isolated from the rest of life, with all the unhappiness that has to follow.” p. 55
On Self-forgetfulness: “All of us have tasted the freedom and happiness that self-forgetfulness brings,… In watching a good game of tennis or becoming engrossed in a novel,…the satisfaction comes not so much from what we are watching or reading as from the act of absorption itself…” p. 60
“…there is only one way to be completely happy, and that is to forget ourselves in working for others. It’s a perplexing paradox: so long as we try to make ourselves happy, life places obstacles in our path. But the moment we turn away from ourselves to make others happy, our troubles melt away.” p. 61
“…in that absorption all the burdens a person might carry in such work were lifted from his shoulders …” p. 62
“As preoccupation with ourselves diminishes, security builds. We find we have greater patience – and not just with others, but with ourselves as well. Things that used to cause stress and agitation no longer ruffle us, and people we used to find difficult start to show a brighter side.” p. 66
“When there is no past, then no ghosts from the past …, no anger or resentment – can come to make your life miserable… It is not that you forget what happened yesterday when you lose the bond with the past; you just don’t think about yesterday.” p. 66
“…the unburdening of the memory.”
“It is heaven to be free of worry about tomorrow. I have many responsibilities, but I don’t worry about them. I plan, I work hard, but I don’t get anxious about results. When you develop this marvelous capacity to hold attention steady on the present, like a flame of a candle in a windless place, most anxieties evaporate. There is no reason to worry about what tomorrow may bring. If you live today completely in love – hating no one, hurting no one, serving all – then tomorrow has to be good, whatever comes.” p. 67
On Slowing down:
“All negative thoughts are fast. Fear, resentment, greed, and jealousy rush through the mind at a hundred miles per hour. At such speeds we cannot turn, cannot stop, cannot keep from crashing into people.” p. 67
“Fast thinking has implications for the body too. People whose thoughts spin faster and faster become victims of the speed habit of their minds.
“This kind of turmoil takes a heavy toll on health, and evidence suggests that emotional instability may leave the body more vulnerable to illness and reduce its capacity for healing. Uncontrollable anger … seems to be associated with hypertension and heart disease and is a component in severe breathing problems.” 68
On Putting Others First: “A third way to dissolve the strata of self-centered conditioning is by learning to think of other people’s needs before our own. This is perhaps …the most rewarding challenge on the spiritual path.” p. 70
“Putting others first is an infectious example that affects everybody around… All of us maintain a free university of our own, where we teach by what we are. Especially where children are concerned, the home is a 7-day-a-week school of education for living.” p. 71
“…the very best way to change someone is to begin with your own example.” p. 71
When people use hurtful words to you, “if you remember not to retaliate in words and actions, eventually you will find it impossible even to think hurtful thoughts.” p. 75
On Simplicity: we need to remind ourselves “that the real meaning of simplicity is singling out what is worth living for, then shaping our lives around what matters and letting go of everything else. Thoreau tells us, ‘I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.'” p. 79
“Simple living is the art of using minimum means to attain maximum results – just the opposite of what happens when we get caught up in the obsessions of a consumer society.” p. 80
“To enjoy everything, desire to get joy from nothing.” p. 81
On Patience: “Even immersing ourselves in hobbies, intellectual pursuits, or relationships can be attempts to create a little world where beauty and harmony are permanent, where disorder and distress cannot enter.” p. 98
“Training the mind to stay steady brings another precious benefit: it protects us from the physiological impact of negative emotions and stress.” p. 100
“…full health is more than just the absence of disease. It means a dynamic harmony of body and mind which allows us to live at our full physical, emotional, and spiritual potential.” p. 101
“…it is not so much events that subject us to stress as the way we perceive and interpret those events. …stress is defined as a relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his
or her well-being.
“…those who know how to keep their mind on an even keel will respond to life’s challenges with calmness, alertness, and even eagerness… what makes the difference is not personality type but evenness of mind.” p. 104
“…keeping calm in the face of excitement is even harder. Pleasure makes the mind race too…” p. 105
One possible connection between stress and illness is that psychological stress drains energy – energy that the body needs to stay vital, resist disease, and heal.” p. 106
“…no physical regimen can counteract the energy-wasting habits of the mind.” p. 106
“Human beings do not need excitement; they need meaning, purpose, a higher goal and some way of getting there. Without these, for those who are sensitive, life may soon lose its value.” p. 108
“‘Will I get a chance to help others?’ All that is important is that you can make a contribution; that is what gives life meaning and value.” p. 110
“…patience is not only a mental virtue; it is an asset even for physical health.” p. 111
“…if you can strengthen your patience to such a degree that other people’s behavior never upsets you, your heart, lungs, and nervous system will be on vacation.” p. 112
“Patience attains everything. Through patience, every goal can be reached.” p. 112
“Patience means self-mastery: the capacity to hold on and remain loving in a difficult situation when every atom of your being wants to turn and run.” p. 113
Instead of asking ‘Please give me more patience,’ keep in mind help always comes from within.
“We do not really get satisfaction out of hurting people who hurt us. We have simply fallen into the habit of brooding on wrongs done to us, blowing them up to the proportions of enormous antipathies, until we finally explode.” p. 127
“…personal suffering always comes from self-will…Nothing burns in hell except self-will.” p. 127
“Goodness may taste bitter at first, but it is found at last to be immortal wine.” p. 128
“Compulsive thought patterns exists only so long as we support them with our belief in their power to propel us into action…If we are bothered by certain thoughts, we should remind ourselves that it is we who rent out the precious space within the mind…If we shut the door of the mind right in their face, they will soon tire of knocking.” p. 133
“…just as chemicals in the air around us can bring on ailments like cancer, there are thoughts in the unconscious which can pollute our inner atmosphere and bring on illness in mind and even body.” p. 133
“Judge not that ye be not judged” Jesus. When we keep pointing a finger of judgment at others, we are teaching our mind a lasting habit of condemnation. Sooner or later, that finger of judgment will be aimed at ourselves.” p. 135
“I don’t make any demand on life at all. All I need is opportunities for giving, which life has no power to withhold.” p. 146
“When we are kind, tender, compassionate, and forgiving, we get a glimpse of the healing power of this reservoir of mercy within.” p. 150
“As we sow, so we reap.”
“Indulging in anger in pointing a poison-tipped arrow inward, aimed straight at ourselves. It taints our thinking, poisons our feelings, turns our relationships adversarial. If we continue to think resentful thoughts, mistrust spreads in consciousness like some toxic underground chemical until we have a permanent disposition for suspicion.” p. 153
“Energy conservation is the basis of spiritual engineering, for vital energy provides the power we need to tap the infinite source of goodness and mercy that lies at the core of consciousness.” 154
…a close connection between mental states and longevity..
“Security, compassion, patience, forgiveness — all these are accompanied by a relatively slow breathing rhythm and heart rate. Positive states of mind like these conserve energy and lengthen the life span, leaving a reserve of resilience and resistance for facing challenges.” p. 155
“Learning to control attention is the key to gaining access to this energy and using it wisely. …the ability to direct attention is the very root of judgment, character and will.” p. 155
“…the best way to help our young people discover and harness their inner resources is by teaching them to master their attention, beginning with our own example. Giving children our full attention is the best way to make them secure; and with the steadiness that comes from a trained mind, we will not lose faith when they run into the problems that young people run into everywhere.” p. 156
“Most of us carry strong personal attachments and sincerely believe that we love deeply. But when we are emotionally entangled with someone, we cannot really be aware of that person’s needs or how we affect his life. Our preoccupation is with ourselves: that our feelings not be violated and that our wants be fulfilled.” p. 158
“…anything that depletes energy reserves regularly is likely to take a toll on health.” p. 159
“What we are looking for in others is generally what we find. ‘Such as we are inwardly, so we judge outwardly,’ Thomas Kempis said.” p. 162
“The memory of past letdowns can weigh down any sensitive human being, making trust an elusive commodity to acquire. Worst of all, when negative memories cast a shadow of mistrust over our relationships, we lack the vitality we need to withdraw our attention and act with kindness, as if those shadows were not there.” p. 162
“In the heart of every human being lies a noble response to anyone who will neither retaliate nor retreat: a deep, intuitive recognition that here is someone who sees in us all the inalienable good in human nature.” p. 170
Always remember what life is for.
“Peace is not an absence of war. It is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, trust, and justice.” Spinoza. … We must actively cultivate peace as a virtue, trying to make it a permanent state of mind.” p. 177
There is a vital connection between the peace or violence in our minds and the conditions that exist outside. When our mind is hostile, it sees hostility everywhere, and we act on what we see. … Acting in anger is not just the result of an agitated mind; it is also a cause, provoking retaliation from others and further agitation from others and further agitation in our own mind. If negative behavior becomes habitual, we find ourselves chronically in a negative frame of mind and continually entangled in pointless conflicts – just the opposite of peaceful and pacifying.” p. 178
It doesn’t really need a reason to lose its temper; anger is its chronic state. … They are simply people whose minds have been conditioned to get angry, usually because they cannot get their own way. Instead of benevolence, they have developed a habit of hostility.” p. 178
If your mind is not trained to make peace at home, how can you hope to promote peace on a larger scale? p. 179
Stirring up passions, provoking animosity, and polarizing opposition may sometimes produce short-term gains, but it cannot produce long-term beneficial results because it only clouds minds and hurt both sides. p. 179
When push comes to shove, unless we have trained ourselves to harness our anger – to put it to work to heal the situation instead of aggravating it – it is monumentally difficult for most of us to resist the impulse to retaliate. p. 180
“We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold.” If we have an angry mind, we will see life as full of anger; if we have a suspicious mind, we will see causes for suspicious all around… p. 180
…use the right means and not worry about the outcome.
Instead of blaming our problems on some intrinsic flaw in human nature, we must squarely take responsibility for our actions as human beings capable of rational thought. p. 183
Trust is a measure of your depth of faith in the nobility of human nature, of your depth of love for all. If you expect the worst from someone, the worst is what you will usually get. Expect the best and people will respond. p. 184
When you give toys to children, or allow them to buy them for themselves, you have to consider that you are not just giving them something to entertain them; you are giving them an instrument that may influence their thinking and living for decades. p. 190
“You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your deep, driving desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.” — Perennial Philosophy p. 205
When we think we decide to buy something, go somewhere, see someone, all too often the choice is being made not by us, but by unconscious desires. p. 205
…indulging such desires for a moment of dash of wickedness, like smoke and drug, only leaves us hungrier than before, and a moment stretching to a day, a month, and many years… Keep in mind there is no long-lasting joy in yielding to a compulsive desire. p. 207
All yielding can do is give us a little respite from desire’s demands – and make them stronger the next time. Joy comes not from yielding, but from gaining freedom from them, freedom to choose. p. 207
There is combativeness in our makeup not so we can fight others, but so we can take on these urges and see how much satisfaction we get in beating them. p. 208
Compulsive desires are part of the human condition, but today we have an additional problem: for almost all of us, our desires are exceptionally well trained. p. 208