If memory serves, I wrote two earlier blog posts on the sentence, “It’s All Good,” a sentiment that I like to refer to as a piece of Hip-Hop wisdom. Also, if memory serves, my take on it is that everything is either good or something that good can come from, if we have the will to make it so: after all, even tragedies have compelled people to be a force for good because of what they learned from going through it or trying to make sense of it or simply trying to bring meaning out of it by doing something that will prevent it from happening to someone else. In all these (and other) possibilities), we human beings demonstrate that we are, fundamentally, seekers of good.
If you will permit me the segue, we are seekers of good because we ARE good in our inmost nature, and if I may be further permitted to relate these thoughts to the title – I hope, not glibly – the aphorism can be turned inward, thereby applying it not only to our outward fortune but to our inner content.
To state it simply: we are good.
Of course, it is easy to raise objections to that thesis: after all, people do “bad things” even horrific things, sometimes in acts of Biblical proportions, as one of the characters in Ghostbusters put it. But good things can arise as a consequence, like the abolition of slavery or the creation of the state of Israel. We must consider not just the act but the consequences that arise from it.
We are, everything tells me, immortal creatures, souls that inhabit bodies. Our lives are but a blink in the eye of eternity. And our experiences, whether lovely or horrific, serve to help us learn to be more than we are as the universe, through that learning on all our parts, becomes more and more conscious.
I believe that on a certain level, we are all separate, wholly individual with individual souls, while on another, we are all one, and that level is divinity. God within us, our inmost souls, are the one and the same, and we are striving on both (and other) levels for growth – that’s the meaning and the purpose of life.
As individuals, seeking to understand ourselves and deal with our own actions, there are things we can be proud of, things that we are glad we did and aspects of our personalities that, if we are honest, appeal to us. But then there are things that we are not proud of, things that we did and aspects of who we are that make us shake our heads, even feel ashamed, but I believe that that is an error.
Brene Brown puts it like this: guilt says, “I made a mistake;” shame says, “I AM a mistake.” Guilt can spur us to better ourselves, while shame leads us to the trough of despair.
It is in this context that I think we must carefully evaluate the concept of sin. (Full disclosure: I’m a Catholic convert, and they have a lot to say about sin.)
Going back to the Hebrew, sin means something like “missing the mark”, but what does that mean? In Christian dogma, I think it goes something like this: we are all sinful by nature and our only hope of being saved from that is through the forgiveness of God, with the implication that that forgiveness is something that we do not deserve.
To me that is a simplistic, exoteric interpretation for the masses, and maybe for some people that works – after all, the church has been around a long, long time, so it must be working for somebody.
At the same time, I think that there is a deeper, esoteric interpretation that is closer to the truth: we have the capability to be pure and god-like if we identify with the divine that lies at the centre of our being; we can “miss the mark”, behaving in an ungodly manner when we identify with our egos, and the antidote to that is to re-identify with the divine.
God does not ask us to grovel as the worthless clumps of horse excrement that we truly are while He thinks over the question of whether or not He should give us a second chance that we do not deserve; “He” merely asks that we be true to our divine nature nature, which is God-in-us.
We may, as the Bible tells us, have been “sinful from our youth”, but it also says, a few chapters earlier, that we were “made in the image of God”.
Getting back to the notion that “It’s all good” applies not only to our circumstances but to US, how do we deal with some of the “bad” things that we do?
You may be familiar with the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People; I wish that the author had written a companion volume entitled When Bad Things Are Done by Good People, which could have been a suitable title for this blog post.
We have good qualities and do good things; anything else, anything that we could describe as “bad” comes from places where we have been psychologically wounded and adopted behaviours that we think protect us from being wounded again. If we recognize these, we are given an opportunity for growth – then real good can come even from that “bad” thing.
If we have done something that we are ashamed of, which approach is conducive to our emotional health and growth: grovelling before the great-disciplinarian-in-the-sky or realigning ourselves with the divine within, identifying with our souls rather than our egos, seeking union with God?
We can only unite with that which we truly are. The soul unites with God. Like attracts like.
We are a spark of the divine seeking union with the divine, however much dysfunctions of the ego, brought on by the way we were raised or the traumas we have faced may impede us. And while the former will easily be accepted by anyone as “good”, so, I believe, is the latter because it is the behaviours that arise from those very impediments, the “sins” that so trouble us, that alert us to the existence of those impediments, allowing us to eventually dissolve them.
Sin is, then, no more than a symptom, an indicator of a deeper problem, and like any symptom, it is diagnostic material that enables us to see what is really the problem.
If even sin is “good” in the sense that good can come from its recognition, the Hip-Hop aphorism can be applied both externally and internally, and deserves restatement here:
It’s all good.