In this answer it says "Learning to trust one's fundamental goodness" is one of the way to practise seclusion.

I want to understand what this means in context of the question on Rhinocerous sutta. Also how can this trust be cultivated so that it leads towards meditative absorption?

3 Answers 3


If one interprets Buddha's teaching superficially, one may assume - and some indeed do - that the world is fundamentally broken. The world is samsara, its nature is dukkha, our journey begins with primordial ignorance, the senses inevitably tempt us to hell, and the best we can do is stay cold and constantly on guard against our own flawed nature.

The more mature understanding paints another picture. In this interpretation, the world works a certain way, and in that sense its not broken, in fact we can say everything has its reasons and works due to its causes, resulting in every thing and even every person taking their places accordingly. From this standpoint the world is Perfect and works perfectly well according to its natural laws.

In the same vein, before the conceptual mind develops while building its subjective world and its notion of self or ego, there's indeed that great nondifferentiation. Rather than painting it in dark colors as "ignorance" we can see it for what it is - a blank slate! Starting from that blank slate there's a process of learning, driven by the mind's innate instinctual attraction to Peace. Yes, the childish mind's methods for seeking peace are very naïve - it clings to its pleasant experiences, resists change, fights enemies - but fundamentally it's driven by its instinctual desire to make things good.

From this standpoint, the ego is a process of seeking peace, or as Thanissaro Bhikkhu said, "our sense of self is an activity, a strategy for avoiding suffering, for maximizing happiness" -- it's just that its a childish and naïve phase of the larger Path ("Ultimately, though, self as a strategy can only go so far. This is where the not-self strategy comes in." - T.B.) The path into and through samsara is the beginning of the path to Nirvana, it is the path in the right direction - not away from it, even if it gets stuck in this childish phase for a few hundred billion lives - eventually it moves on and graduates.

Based on the above, we arrive at the Fundamental Goodness or Fundamental Sanity as a key Mahayana concept. To cultivate it in our lives means to be at peace with the larger picture, at peace with our past, our mistakes, our baby steps, our growing pains. It means to cultivate a deep confidence that at our core we want Peace, we want Goodness, and that our mind is fundamentally capable of figuring things out right, even though it takes time.

Ultimately, to cultivate one's fundamental goodness requires accepting the fact that the Buddha came from the same evolutionary background as we did, and therefore every one of us is a buddha in the making. Hence Buddha-Nature.

We are not wrong, we are not bad, we are just growing - that's the mantra.

"I may be confused or mistaken when it comes to particulars - and indeed I keep reviewing and adjusting my understanding all the time. I may have done some crazy things in the past, as part of my learning - but all of that was driven by my intent to do the best according to my state-of-the-art at the moment. I'm not an evil person I swear my intentions are pure - but I am not perfect, I'm only learning, and I will keep at it." - that's how.

And of course the physical practice of moving around gracefully, keeping good posture, sitting down slowly, mindfulness of the body.


Learning to trust...goodness

Let's first agree that goodness exists without limits:

SN41.7:6.2: Greed, hate, and delusion are makers of limits.

Considering the limitless opens up boundless vistas of love, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity. And each of these four vistas culminates in a meditative absorption. Here's the first:

SN46.54:12.1: And how is the heart’s release by love developed? What is its destination, apex, fruit, and end? It’s when a mendicant develops the heart’s release by love together with the awakening factors of mindfulness, investigation of principles, energy, rapture, tranquility, immersion, and equanimity, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go. If they wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive,’ that’s what they do. If they wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive,’ that’s what they do. If they wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the repulsive in the unrepulsive and the repulsive,’ that’s what they do. If they wish: ‘May I meditate perceiving the unrepulsive in the repulsive and the unrepulsive,’ that’s what they do. If they wish: ‘May I meditate staying equanimous, mindful and aware, rejecting both the repulsive and the unrepulsive,’ that’s what they do. The apex of the heart’s release by love is the beautiful, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.

To "...trust one's goodness" is to experience or have faith in the limitlessness of goodness. The only paradox that remains then is "one". Because if "one" exists to the exclusion of others, then that would be suffering, a limit. The spiritual path is the quest for limitless goodness (i.e., the end of suffering). And that quest inevitably takes "one" to consider:

MN62:3.2: “Rāhula, you should truly see any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’”

And the paradox resolves itself when the delusion of self disappears, when goodness becomes one.


There isn't such as inherent goodness, good householder. Right in the moment - in addition - when one thinks goodness as own, it's a garant for not toward the Deathless, a garant that path isn't touched yet.

In regard of "trust" (ones own ideas), the Buddha has been clear in telling that ones own opinions are the lowest refuge.

The point where one could start to relay on knowing is the point of stream-enter. So to cultivate toward this can open ways to goodness which is a path-element. But even there, real goodness, quality of Bhagavato hasn't been reached.

As for the foolish ideas (for those not having developed "path goodness" yet), one isn't adviced to seek for loneliness at this point, but only if one already possesses the samadhi-section (= freed of the five lower fetters).

The path starts on association this admirable friend (those actually "possessing" goodness) and the very hindrance is association with fools...

Such suggested Mohayana-drug, if taken on, leads people in areas where they, although firm bond to the five string, common consumer, believe that they are right on the track, trusting their "goodness" and simply consume without work, without to pay... that doesn't even lead to merits for a better in the world.

As for cultivating goodness (merits, Dhamma-guṇa, ability to give), there is a set of 10.

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, world-binding trades... but for an escape from this wheel]

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