Comparing yourself favorably to others is not a refuge. Defining how you are special is not a refuge. Accomplishments are not a refuge. Being right and correct is not a refuge. The only refuge is to discover your real value, the indestructible value shared by all. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi
Podcast First Words
Tonight I want to talk about what I have called intrinsic virtue or intrinsic value. From my perspective, the quest to discover what makes human beings unique, or to define human nature in contrast to other beings, is problematic.
Throughout history, we’ve been trying to define what makes human beings different and special. This idea that we’re different and special has wreaked havoc throughout the planet. That’s just on a global scale.
Scientists and others have said that we’re the self-reflective animals, or that we’re the tool-using animals. All these things that people have said about human beings have all gone by the wayside, of course. People have said that there’s something especially good about human beings, or that human beings have this intrinsic, basic goodness that’s particularly human in some way. Though very well intentioned, this skirts—dangerously—this same issue of trying to discover what is special and different about human beings.
It creates a lot of problems for us personally when we think of goodness as something that we possess individually, or as human beings. If we think of goodness in this relative way, then our goodness is always at risk.
For instance, we may feel that we’re good, but then what happens when we do something really terrible? It really shatters our sense of being good when we do something that we ourselves don’t approve of: lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, being nasty, destroying things, all the stuff that we do.
If we only look at it in this individualistic way, or even as a species thing, anytime we think goodness resides here, and not over here, or potentially not over here, we’re setting up a camp that has this whole threatening environment that could impinge on our camp of goodness.