I’ve made the point a number of times in talks I’ve given that it makes an enormous difference whether we view our starting point as sin or grace. A column in the current issue of Shambhala Sun (which contains my review of Brad Warner’s There is No God and He is Always With You) expounds nicely on that same theme.
We are a mixture of wisdom and neurosis. Everything we think, feel, perceive, say, and do has both an awakened and a confused aspect.
So, we are a mix of good and bad. This we all know. The important question is which we really are, which is the deeper reality of human nature. Which is more original, as it were, the sin or the goodness?
How we answer that question will define our path to becoming better people – whether we are struggling against our basic nature or trying to realize it.
What the author of the column describes as the Buddhist path to becoming a better person proceeds from the notion that it is the goodness that is more original. “The Buddhist path to becoming a better person is about being who we really are.”
Although not a Buddhist, I proceed from the same premise. If I take seriously the idea of being created in the image and likeness of God, and believe that God looked on his creation and judged it “very good,” than it is the goodness that is more original.
That means that our task is not struggling against our basic nature, but uncovering what Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr and others term our “true self.” Our task is to peel away the false layers of ourselves so that we can be who we really are.