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Trusting Our Basic Goodness

Tara explores what it means to trust our innate purity, our gold, and how this basic goodness can never be tarnished.

So maybe just a word about my process in this happening of this book is that it was really an unintended pregnancy. You know, over years, I, I've been asked by many, many people listening to talks and so on for favorite quotes and stories that I share, personal stories. And so Christy and Janet and Barb were assisting me and just plucking them out. And so we just figured we'd put together a kind of compilation and it was pretty informal. And I just published Radical Compassion.

And I really thought that was it. I, I just had no juice for writing a whole other book, but something shifted and it's that the theme of this got clearer and clearer. What does it really mean to trust our basic goodness. Just how incredibly transformational that is. I mean, just consider for a moment if you really trust, you know, the purity of your heart, the awareness that's here and see it in each other.

It's profound. And so that became just very, very much alive for me and equally compelling. Seeing the suffering around us. I don't know if we've ever witnessed such dangerous levels of mistrust. And I know, you know what I mean.

In our society and the violence that comes from it. So it just felt like, okay, this, this is we're going to move forward with this. And Sounds True has been a great publisher and they found this awesome illustrator. And those of you that have the book know, Vicky Alvarez, a deep bow to Vicky. So it came forth as, as a gift book.

And I wanted to share with you, and I don't know if I've said this out loud, that the title alone is really a part of my day that I, when I am in some way stuck, when I feel like I've shrunk, you know, I'm small minded, sometimes I'll just mutter to myself, you know, trust the gold, trust the gold. Because it's it's, my smallness is coming from some sense of, you know, not enoughness. In those moments that I say it, I start feeling the sincerity that's underneath and they, my heart gets softer. It cuts through the trance. And of course I'm getting ahead of myself.

So I'm going to slow it down. But I did want to share with you about the title because it's like a bit of a mantra for me. So the organizing story in Trusting the Gold is one that's captured my attention over the years and I've shared it with others. So many of you are familiar. Well, I'll review it a little right now because we'll use the image of it in our reflections.

And this is the story of an enormous clay Buddha in, a statue, in Thailand that was not really handsome or refined looking, but it had just survived the centuries. Great storms and changes of government and invading armies and so on. And so in the fifties, so I can't remember what year. I think it was 56, it started to crack. And one of the monks was able to look inside one of these big cracks and what shined back was the gleam of gold.

And so they took off what turned out to be clay coverings. It was not just a clay statue. And realized it was the largest, most luminous, gold Buddha in, in the whole, that whole area of Southeast Asia. People visit it from all over now. Many friends of mine have.

So the monks believed that this golden Buddha had been covered with plaster and clay to protect it during difficult years, conflicts and unrest and invading armies and so on, much in the way that we humans cover our innate purity. And we do it so much so, we cover over to protect ourselves. The suffering is that when we do, we forget the gold, we forget our essential nature, the divine that's shining through. You know, our tendencies to fixate on the coverings, on our armoring of defense and judgment and fear and anger, the ego. And then we think that's what we are.

And so if the ego is not the problem, it's we get identified with the ego, like with a set of waves and forget we're the ocean. So I love this story, you know. I love it because it shows us both our suffering, how we forget who we are. We go into a trance of just believing limited stories about ourselves and each other, of course. And the potential, that as those coverings become more transparent through meditation and through presence, the gold shines through.

Okay. So here's the thing that suffering wouldn't be suffering if it weren't really strong. If there weren't some very deep, pervasive ways that the coverings were sticky, that we got stuck on them, that we got stuck feeling that something's wrong. You know, I've talked for years about that, that sense of, that pervasive sense of falling short, of being unworthy, unlovable, flawed, really mistrust. And I've shared, you know, my own personal story of how stuck I've been in, in the coverings.

You know, striving to improve myself and judging myself and so on. And Radical Acceptance, actually, my first book was really about recognizing that trance. And I'll never forget being on book tour, cause I'm thinking of it now. Virtual book tours are so much easier. I get to stay home and still speak to people in London and LA and so on.

So I remember the first book tour and I was in Colorado at Naropa. It's a Buddhist college there. They a huge poster of me announcing my Radical Acceptance book and my workshop that I was doing there. And they had a big picture of me. And the caption at the bottom was, "something is wrong with me." And, you know, because that was the theme I was talking about so much.

It was just an interesting way to be welcomed to a new community, you know. But I've seen in myself and this is decades ago. I've seen in myself and in other long-term practitioners, and in so many of us how deep the conditioning is. So that even now, even on a day, today, I can catch the thoughts and the feelings that have some undercurrent of falling short. Something's wrong.

Forgetting the gold. I would say one description of spiritual life is we still forget. We still remember, forget, remember, forget. There's less lag time. We catch ourselves faster, which saves precious moments, of course.

Okay. So the shift from believing limiting stories about ourselves and others to trust in the gold really is the shift to freedom. It's a shift to true happiness. And the question I get over and over again is through, through the decades, is how come the mistrust is so pervasive? You know, how come so many of us feel unlovable or unworthy or like we're falling short? And so just to speak for a little bit about the grounds of mistrust and you might reflect as I speak just to your own life. Just sensing the forces that might have shaped for you that kind of prison, where you get caught in not okay.

Or you get caught in, in being fixated on others not being okay. So the ground level of mistrust is really in our universal psycho biology. It's built in because every organism emerges with a perception of being separate and then it organizes around self-defense. So the primal mood of the separate self is fear. Now there's, if you're moving through life and you have some sense of I'm separate and others are out there, there's going to be fear that somethings can go wrong.

Because when we don't feel connected, we feel fearful. And our survival brains, all creatures have this, have a negativity bias. In other words, our attention fixates on what can go wrong. And that means that every creature you encounter, you know, the next person, tree, a dog, a squirrel, frog, they have the equipment that's alerting them the threats. And that's that's primo.

And so with humans, because we're, we have so much, you know, these sophisticated cognition and we're self-aware, we go from something's wrong or something's going to go wrong to I am wrong. Something's wrong with me. Or you're wrong. Something's wrong with you. In other words, we have attribution.

I hope that makes sense cause that's a really important piece that we're all rigged to sense that fear around, what's around the corner, you know, something's going to go wrong. But with humans, it tends to land on ourselves and others. We feel flawed. And you can see this basic sense of flawedness or badness in our Western creation mythology. It's like blatant, you know.

We got kicked out of Eden. We were impure. I ran across recently a cartoon from way, way back. A monk is in a monastery and he's writing affirmations. He's writing the same thing over a hundred times.

And what he's writing is, celibacy is not so bad. Celibacy is not so bad. And here we are, you know. We're, we come from our creation myths saying we're impure and we've got to watch out. So building on that, in our individual lives, you know, our degree of mistrust of ourselves will depend on how our caregivers attune to and met our basic needs, to be understood, to be loved, to be taken care of, to be safe.

So if these needs were not met, there's a sense of severed belonging, like the world's a undependable, untrustworthy place. And then as we grow, it's because of me, something's wrong with me. And you see it again and again in children that were sexually abused. That even though it was an adult abusing them, there's a deep, deep belief that I'm flawed. It happened because something is wrong with me.

It's very sad that that's the way our minds go, but that's how it is. So through our childhood, caregivers communicated the conditions we needed to meet, to be accepted and loved. And of course, there were some parents that are more unconditionally loving, but many of us had standards we had to meet. And what it may meant was we couldn't trust our natural selves because we had to meet those standards. And if you want to understand better, well, what were those, what were you kind of trying to meet and how did mistrust happen, just start reflecting.

Maybe you can do for a few moments now and even write it down. You know, what were you rewarded for? You know, what was the message? Be like this ___. How did your caregivers, parents wants you to be? How did they want your behavior to be? How did they want you to look? How did they want you to move through the world? What did they want from you in terms of success? And you can also ask, what was I judged for? What were, how were they looking at me through eyes that, you know, that didn't like what I was doing? What did I get punished for? Don't be like this. For so many, don't be so loud or you're too sensitive or you're too needy or you're too anxious or you're in my way or you're not doing enough. You know, you don't look the way I want you to look that reflects how I want my, my expression of self to be in my extended expression of self.

You're not achieving the way I had hoped, you know. So what are the messages. And of course we know the more criticism, the more neglect, the more abuse, the more mistrust of self and other. So again, what we're doing is just looking at the forces that lock us into not trusting ourselves, our goodness. And then of course, it's amplified and shaped in the biggest way by our societies.

I love this phrase that you don't think your own thoughts, your, your thinking society's thoughts. That all of our ideas about how our bodies should be, how our look should be, how our emotions should be, what success looks like, our basic worth and value, it's been fed to us. These are standards that have been fed to us and they're fed to us by society every day in many, many ways. And our societies don't offer a natural way of belonging. It's not like you just, it's not like a free pass that you belong to community.

We don't have easy belonging to the earth. So we have to meet those standards. It's a big deal. So this is, this is Dave Barry on it because some of the standards have to do with gender and how we should be in our supposed gender. And for him, male, be a certain way.

And he describes, he says this, he says being puny all his life is painful for a male. He said, I totally missed the boat to puberty island. I was this little hairless dweeb with a voice in the Pinocchio range. One day, my mom, bless her heart, had a talk with me. She told me the girls were not interested only in looks, that the qualities that really mattered were brains and a sense of humor.

That little talk was long ago, but it taught me an invaluable life lesson I've never forgotten. Moms lie when they have to. Now he goes on, he talks about the, the suffering of not meeting the kind of machismo standard for males. And he just says, I'll just share one more piece. He says, men, you know how, when your wife can't open a pickle jar, she gives it to you.

And you're supposed to smile in a manly, patronizing way as you effortlessly twist it open. That's not what happened in our house. What happens is after a grim struggle lasting several minutes, I wind up lying on the kitchen floor, exhausted and whimpering while the pickle jar, unopened laughs and flirts boldly with my wife. So it's fun. And we know the suffering that comes from a society that reinforces and rewards, in this case, expressions of male dominance and aggression.

We also know the horrific suffering that comes from a society that turns women's bodies, men's too, but women's bodies into objects that need to meet certain criteria for attractiveness. And I was looking at some of the statistics. I just want to share a few because they kind of oh, they really got me. This one is that by age 13, 53% of American girls are unhappy with their bodies and it grows to 78% by the time girls reach 17. 78% of our female teens don't like their bodies.

Now I know for myself, I started dieting at age 12. You know, Twiggy was the rage. And I remember drinking strawberry Carnation Slender breakfast drinks, you know. And I just read an, in the statistics, another one, a survey of ages nine to ten now, 40% are trying to lose weight. Of our nine to ten year olds.

There's huge suffering around body shame. We're talking about mistrust and not liking who we are and how the society shapes that in such a painful way. And then of course, it shapes it with intelligence. I, I so often think about, we have these rigid standards. Children are supposed to have this left brain intelligence.

And, you know, I feel such sense of sorrow at the numbers of bright, creative, young people that just have a different kind of intelligence, but go through our schools feeling they're flawed, they're not smart. And, you know, cause the different kind of intelligence is being rewarded. The most toxic fuel for distrusting self and other comes from our dominance hierarchies. Okay. These are the way our societies have caste systems based on race, on classism, you know, sexism.

And these casts systems, these hierarchies separate us, and you cannot see the gold when you feel different. When you feel above or below, you can't see the goal. And the message of inferiority when that for the non-dominant populations and endangerment, it creates a mistrust of self and a mistrust of the world. And it also creates separation, insecurity for the higher, for the higher ranked because then they're driven to maintain their position. And that's what we're watching with the violence of white supremacy right now.

You have to terrorize blacks to keep them down is the, the notion, you know. So here we are. And it's the probably the most polarized times I can imagine that, at least in my lifetime. And fear disconnects us from the heart. We're unable to see the intrinsic value in fellow beings when we really disagree and when we're so polarized, there's mistrust and fear on all sides.

So we're coming down to the central theme again, that we've never so desperately needed pathways to building trust, to remembering, you know, the fundamental value of all beings, including our own being. So this is our work, friends. This is our work. You know, that namaste, that the more of us that can intentionally be looking towards the goodness in ourselves and each other and start waking up that trust, the more healing for our world. You know, I'm thinking about Einstein.

You know, another mystic scientist and one of the questions, I mean, one of his statements that he made that I come back to over and over again is that he said that I think the most important question facing humanity is, is the universe a friendly place? This is the first and most basic question people must answer for themselves. Many of, you know, this quote. So powerful. You know, Einstein believed there's a fundamental benevolence in our universe. And his, he claimed in his writings that if we trust that, it'll give rise to activity that actually serves our collective understanding and peace and wellbeing, if we trust it.

So you might just ask yourself right now, you know, we know all the ignorance and cruelty and horrors. Do you sense a fundamental benevolence? Love or goodness in the universe underneath a gold that's, that can permeate the coverings that sometimes gets shadowed by them. You can think on that. You know, I remember I was giving a talk on this, this very question. The first time I think I brought it up, my, it was during a time when my mother was living with my husband and me and she'd drive back and forth to class with me on Wednesday night and be there.

Then, you know, I'd give a talk and then on the way home we'd discuss it. So I was talking about this, how in many spiritual traditions and in my own experience, there is a basic goodness that lives through all of us. And that meditation helps us contact it and trust it. Even when it's covered over the gold is here, you know? So this is, this is what I was talking about. So on the ride home, my mom was a Barnard student, a philosophy major, and she really loved challenging me.

So she just launches right in as soon as we get in the car. So where's the base of goodness in racism and in capital punishment and humans destroying our earth? You know what makes good this more basic than badness? That was her. That was her question. And maybe some of you are wondering that. It's a natural thing to ask, you know.

Why is goodness, more fundamental? So, you know, we tussled a bit as we did, but I completely agree. There's, there's no conceptual proof. And I did say that in my life, and increasingly, there was a direct experience that I could see the coverings. I could see all the ways that we humans get scared and act out in horrible ways and really sense to underneath whatever coverings that there is a goodness. There's life, loving life.

There's a sentience. There is a divine that can shine through. And I also share something with her that I hadn't named out loud before. That even when I'm not directly experiencing that, and even when I'm kind of caught up, it's still a choice. It's a choice and an intention to live as if loving awareness or the gold is our deepest essence, to assume it.

In my experience, and I'm really pragmatic, you know, I, I figure, well, if assuming something helps me, then I'm going to assume it as much as I can. Turning towards that, assuming it, now looking towards the goodness. It always, it ends up feeling like a homecoming, like then it actually calls it forth. And I do feel then that kind of resonance, like this really is true. So I shared that with her, that even if there's no conceptual proof that there's a basic goodness and love in this universe, it's my perception.

And assuming it really helps in my life. And I just want to share with you that for all her sparring, and believe me, if she was in her grave right now, she'd say, yeah, but what if, you know. During her final years, she lived in that spirit of trusting the gold. And I'll just never forget at her memorial, how much everybody said, you know, being around her, I felt better about myself. Her listening and her acceptance and kindness.

It helped other people trust their goodness, which was something that was actually true throughout her life. But it became even more kind of purified as she got older. So she was living as if too.

Masterclass

4.5

Trusting Our Basic Goodness

Tara explores what it means to trust our innate purity, our gold, and how this basic goodness can never be tarnished.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

So maybe just a word about my process in this happening of this book is that it was really an unintended pregnancy. You know, over years, I, I've been asked by many, many people listening to talks and so on for favorite quotes and stories that I share, personal stories. And so Christy and Janet and Barb were assisting me and just plucking them out. And so we just figured we'd put together a kind of compilation and it was pretty informal. And I just published Radical Compassion.

And I really thought that was it. I, I just had no juice for writing a whole other book, but something shifted and it's that the theme of this got clearer and clearer. What does it really mean to trust our basic goodness. Just how incredibly transformational that is. I mean, just consider for a moment if you really trust, you know, the purity of your heart, the awareness that's here and see it in each other.

It's profound. And so that became just very, very much alive for me and equally compelling. Seeing the suffering around us. I don't know if we've ever witnessed such dangerous levels of mistrust. And I know, you know what I mean.

In our society and the violence that comes from it. So it just felt like, okay, this, this is we're going to move forward with this. And Sounds True has been a great publisher and they found this awesome illustrator. And those of you that have the book know, Vicky Alvarez, a deep bow to Vicky. So it came forth as, as a gift book.

And I wanted to share with you, and I don't know if I've said this out loud, that the title alone is really a part of my day that I, when I am in some way stuck, when I feel like I've shrunk, you know, I'm small minded, sometimes I'll just mutter to myself, you know, trust the gold, trust the gold. Because it's it's, my smallness is coming from some sense of, you know, not enoughness. In those moments that I say it, I start feeling the sincerity that's underneath and they, my heart gets softer. It cuts through the trance. And of course I'm getting ahead of myself.

So I'm going to slow it down. But I did want to share with you about the title because it's like a bit of a mantra for me. So the organizing story in Trusting the Gold is one that's captured my attention over the years and I've shared it with others. So many of you are familiar. Well, I'll review it a little right now because we'll use the image of it in our reflections.

And this is the story of an enormous clay Buddha in, a statue, in Thailand that was not really handsome or refined looking, but it had just survived the centuries. Great storms and changes of government and invading armies and so on. And so in the fifties, so I can't remember what year. I think it was 56, it started to crack. And one of the monks was able to look inside one of these big cracks and what shined back was the gleam of gold.

And so they took off what turned out to be clay coverings. It was not just a clay statue. And realized it was the largest, most luminous, gold Buddha in, in the whole, that whole area of Southeast Asia. People visit it from all over now. Many friends of mine have.

So the monks believed that this golden Buddha had been covered with plaster and clay to protect it during difficult years, conflicts and unrest and invading armies and so on, much in the way that we humans cover our innate purity. And we do it so much so, we cover over to protect ourselves. The suffering is that when we do, we forget the gold, we forget our essential nature, the divine that's shining through. You know, our tendencies to fixate on the coverings, on our armoring of defense and judgment and fear and anger, the ego. And then we think that's what we are.

And so if the ego is not the problem, it's we get identified with the ego, like with a set of waves and forget we're the ocean. So I love this story, you know. I love it because it shows us both our suffering, how we forget who we are. We go into a trance of just believing limited stories about ourselves and each other, of course. And the potential, that as those coverings become more transparent through meditation and through presence, the gold shines through.

Okay. So here's the thing that suffering wouldn't be suffering if it weren't really strong. If there weren't some very deep, pervasive ways that the coverings were sticky, that we got stuck on them, that we got stuck feeling that something's wrong. You know, I've talked for years about that, that sense of, that pervasive sense of falling short, of being unworthy, unlovable, flawed, really mistrust. And I've shared, you know, my own personal story of how stuck I've been in, in the coverings.

You know, striving to improve myself and judging myself and so on. And Radical Acceptance, actually, my first book was really about recognizing that trance. And I'll never forget being on book tour, cause I'm thinking of it now. Virtual book tours are so much easier. I get to stay home and still speak to people in London and LA and so on.

So I remember the first book tour and I was in Colorado at Naropa. It's a Buddhist college there. They a huge poster of me announcing my Radical Acceptance book and my workshop that I was doing there. And they had a big picture of me. And the caption at the bottom was, "something is wrong with me." And, you know, because that was the theme I was talking about so much.

It was just an interesting way to be welcomed to a new community, you know. But I've seen in myself and this is decades ago. I've seen in myself and in other long-term practitioners, and in so many of us how deep the conditioning is. So that even now, even on a day, today, I can catch the thoughts and the feelings that have some undercurrent of falling short. Something's wrong.

Forgetting the gold. I would say one description of spiritual life is we still forget. We still remember, forget, remember, forget. There's less lag time. We catch ourselves faster, which saves precious moments, of course.

Okay. So the shift from believing limiting stories about ourselves and others to trust in the gold really is the shift to freedom. It's a shift to true happiness. And the question I get over and over again is through, through the decades, is how come the mistrust is so pervasive? You know, how come so many of us feel unlovable or unworthy or like we're falling short? And so just to speak for a little bit about the grounds of mistrust and you might reflect as I speak just to your own life. Just sensing the forces that might have shaped for you that kind of prison, where you get caught in not okay.

Or you get caught in, in being fixated on others not being okay. So the ground level of mistrust is really in our universal psycho biology. It's built in because every organism emerges with a perception of being separate and then it organizes around self-defense. So the primal mood of the separate self is fear. Now there's, if you're moving through life and you have some sense of I'm separate and others are out there, there's going to be fear that somethings can go wrong.

Because when we don't feel connected, we feel fearful. And our survival brains, all creatures have this, have a negativity bias. In other words, our attention fixates on what can go wrong. And that means that every creature you encounter, you know, the next person, tree, a dog, a squirrel, frog, they have the equipment that's alerting them the threats. And that's that's primo.

And so with humans, because we're, we have so much, you know, these sophisticated cognition and we're self-aware, we go from something's wrong or something's going to go wrong to I am wrong. Something's wrong with me. Or you're wrong. Something's wrong with you. In other words, we have attribution.

I hope that makes sense cause that's a really important piece that we're all rigged to sense that fear around, what's around the corner, you know, something's going to go wrong. But with humans, it tends to land on ourselves and others. We feel flawed. And you can see this basic sense of flawedness or badness in our Western creation mythology. It's like blatant, you know.

We got kicked out of Eden. We were impure. I ran across recently a cartoon from way, way back. A monk is in a monastery and he's writing affirmations. He's writing the same thing over a hundred times.

And what he's writing is, celibacy is not so bad. Celibacy is not so bad. And here we are, you know. We're, we come from our creation myths saying we're impure and we've got to watch out. So building on that, in our individual lives, you know, our degree of mistrust of ourselves will depend on how our caregivers attune to and met our basic needs, to be understood, to be loved, to be taken care of, to be safe.

So if these needs were not met, there's a sense of severed belonging, like the world's a undependable, untrustworthy place. And then as we grow, it's because of me, something's wrong with me. And you see it again and again in children that were sexually abused. That even though it was an adult abusing them, there's a deep, deep belief that I'm flawed. It happened because something is wrong with me.

It's very sad that that's the way our minds go, but that's how it is. So through our childhood, caregivers communicated the conditions we needed to meet, to be accepted and loved. And of course, there were some parents that are more unconditionally loving, but many of us had standards we had to meet. And what it may meant was we couldn't trust our natural selves because we had to meet those standards. And if you want to understand better, well, what were those, what were you kind of trying to meet and how did mistrust happen, just start reflecting.

Maybe you can do for a few moments now and even write it down. You know, what were you rewarded for? You know, what was the message? Be like this ___. How did your caregivers, parents wants you to be? How did they want your behavior to be? How did they want you to look? How did they want you to move through the world? What did they want from you in terms of success? And you can also ask, what was I judged for? What were, how were they looking at me through eyes that, you know, that didn't like what I was doing? What did I get punished for? Don't be like this. For so many, don't be so loud or you're too sensitive or you're too needy or you're too anxious or you're in my way or you're not doing enough. You know, you don't look the way I want you to look that reflects how I want my, my expression of self to be in my extended expression of self.

You're not achieving the way I had hoped, you know. So what are the messages. And of course we know the more criticism, the more neglect, the more abuse, the more mistrust of self and other. So again, what we're doing is just looking at the forces that lock us into not trusting ourselves, our goodness. And then of course, it's amplified and shaped in the biggest way by our societies.

I love this phrase that you don't think your own thoughts, your, your thinking society's thoughts. That all of our ideas about how our bodies should be, how our look should be, how our emotions should be, what success looks like, our basic worth and value, it's been fed to us. These are standards that have been fed to us and they're fed to us by society every day in many, many ways. And our societies don't offer a natural way of belonging. It's not like you just, it's not like a free pass that you belong to community.

We don't have easy belonging to the earth. So we have to meet those standards. It's a big deal. So this is, this is Dave Barry on it because some of the standards have to do with gender and how we should be in our supposed gender. And for him, male, be a certain way.

And he describes, he says this, he says being puny all his life is painful for a male. He said, I totally missed the boat to puberty island. I was this little hairless dweeb with a voice in the Pinocchio range. One day, my mom, bless her heart, had a talk with me. She told me the girls were not interested only in looks, that the qualities that really mattered were brains and a sense of humor.

That little talk was long ago, but it taught me an invaluable life lesson I've never forgotten. Moms lie when they have to. Now he goes on, he talks about the, the suffering of not meeting the kind of machismo standard for males. And he just says, I'll just share one more piece. He says, men, you know how, when your wife can't open a pickle jar, she gives it to you.

And you're supposed to smile in a manly, patronizing way as you effortlessly twist it open. That's not what happened in our house. What happens is after a grim struggle lasting several minutes, I wind up lying on the kitchen floor, exhausted and whimpering while the pickle jar, unopened laughs and flirts boldly with my wife. So it's fun. And we know the suffering that comes from a society that reinforces and rewards, in this case, expressions of male dominance and aggression.

We also know the horrific suffering that comes from a society that turns women's bodies, men's too, but women's bodies into objects that need to meet certain criteria for attractiveness. And I was looking at some of the statistics. I just want to share a few because they kind of oh, they really got me. This one is that by age 13, 53% of American girls are unhappy with their bodies and it grows to 78% by the time girls reach 17. 78% of our female teens don't like their bodies.

Now I know for myself, I started dieting at age 12. You know, Twiggy was the rage. And I remember drinking strawberry Carnation Slender breakfast drinks, you know. And I just read an, in the statistics, another one, a survey of ages nine to ten now, 40% are trying to lose weight. Of our nine to ten year olds.

There's huge suffering around body shame. We're talking about mistrust and not liking who we are and how the society shapes that in such a painful way. And then of course, it shapes it with intelligence. I, I so often think about, we have these rigid standards. Children are supposed to have this left brain intelligence.

And, you know, I feel such sense of sorrow at the numbers of bright, creative, young people that just have a different kind of intelligence, but go through our schools feeling they're flawed, they're not smart. And, you know, cause the different kind of intelligence is being rewarded. The most toxic fuel for distrusting self and other comes from our dominance hierarchies. Okay. These are the way our societies have caste systems based on race, on classism, you know, sexism.

And these casts systems, these hierarchies separate us, and you cannot see the gold when you feel different. When you feel above or below, you can't see the goal. And the message of inferiority when that for the non-dominant populations and endangerment, it creates a mistrust of self and a mistrust of the world. And it also creates separation, insecurity for the higher, for the higher ranked because then they're driven to maintain their position. And that's what we're watching with the violence of white supremacy right now.

You have to terrorize blacks to keep them down is the, the notion, you know. So here we are. And it's the probably the most polarized times I can imagine that, at least in my lifetime. And fear disconnects us from the heart. We're unable to see the intrinsic value in fellow beings when we really disagree and when we're so polarized, there's mistrust and fear on all sides.

So we're coming down to the central theme again, that we've never so desperately needed pathways to building trust, to remembering, you know, the fundamental value of all beings, including our own being. So this is our work, friends. This is our work. You know, that namaste, that the more of us that can intentionally be looking towards the goodness in ourselves and each other and start waking up that trust, the more healing for our world. You know, I'm thinking about Einstein.

You know, another mystic scientist and one of the questions, I mean, one of his statements that he made that I come back to over and over again is that he said that I think the most important question facing humanity is, is the universe a friendly place? This is the first and most basic question people must answer for themselves. Many of, you know, this quote. So powerful. You know, Einstein believed there's a fundamental benevolence in our universe. And his, he claimed in his writings that if we trust that, it'll give rise to activity that actually serves our collective understanding and peace and wellbeing, if we trust it.

So you might just ask yourself right now, you know, we know all the ignorance and cruelty and horrors. Do you sense a fundamental benevolence? Love or goodness in the universe underneath a gold that's, that can permeate the coverings that sometimes gets shadowed by them. You can think on that. You know, I remember I was giving a talk on this, this very question. The first time I think I brought it up, my, it was during a time when my mother was living with my husband and me and she'd drive back and forth to class with me on Wednesday night and be there.

Then, you know, I'd give a talk and then on the way home we'd discuss it. So I was talking about this, how in many spiritual traditions and in my own experience, there is a basic goodness that lives through all of us. And that meditation helps us contact it and trust it. Even when it's covered over the gold is here, you know? So this is, this is what I was talking about. So on the ride home, my mom was a Barnard student, a philosophy major, and she really loved challenging me.

So she just launches right in as soon as we get in the car. So where's the base of goodness in racism and in capital punishment and humans destroying our earth? You know what makes good this more basic than badness? That was her. That was her question. And maybe some of you are wondering that. It's a natural thing to ask, you know.

Why is goodness, more fundamental? So, you know, we tussled a bit as we did, but I completely agree. There's, there's no conceptual proof. And I did say that in my life, and increasingly, there was a direct experience that I could see the coverings. I could see all the ways that we humans get scared and act out in horrible ways and really sense to underneath whatever coverings that there is a goodness. There's life, loving life.

There's a sentience. There is a divine that can shine through. And I also share something with her that I hadn't named out loud before. That even when I'm not directly experiencing that, and even when I'm kind of caught up, it's still a choice. It's a choice and an intention to live as if loving awareness or the gold is our deepest essence, to assume it.

In my experience, and I'm really pragmatic, you know, I, I figure, well, if assuming something helps me, then I'm going to assume it as much as I can. Turning towards that, assuming it, now looking towards the goodness. It always, it ends up feeling like a homecoming, like then it actually calls it forth. And I do feel then that kind of resonance, like this really is true. So I shared that with her, that even if there's no conceptual proof that there's a basic goodness and love in this universe, it's my perception.

And assuming it really helps in my life. And I just want to share with you that for all her sparring, and believe me, if she was in her grave right now, she'd say, yeah, but what if, you know. During her final years, she lived in that spirit of trusting the gold. And I'll just never forget at her memorial, how much everybody said, you know, being around her, I felt better about myself. Her listening and her acceptance and kindness.

It helped other people trust their goodness, which was something that was actually true throughout her life. But it became even more kind of purified as she got older. So she was living as if too.

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