Are we good?

One of the key underlying concepts in religion is the question of whether we are inherently good or not. There are of course various takes. Some religions or subsects of religions treat this world as inherently bad, with transcendence the only thing to aspire to. We have to overcome our sinful bodies and lives, chained to karma, or however else it’s framed, and transcend into pure spirit. We have to work at being good in order to do this.

Paganism tends not to judge us so harshly and is much more in favour of this world.

In Taoism I’ve run into the idea that humans are basically good, but that can be distorted. The aim is to get back to our natural state so that what we do is good without having it work hard at it. The person who is in tune with the Tao can just get on with things and it will all flow and work out. Effort can be the enemy of this process.

Whether we are innately good, or innately vile is a question that underpins our politics. Are we more interested in helping the needy, or stopping people abusing the system? Are we more afraid of corruption, or suffering?

It’s an interesting question to ask of yourself, as well. Do I think my nature is fundamentally good? Do I think the expression of my true nature would be the best that I could be? Do I feel tainted, fallen, sinful, loaded with karmic debt, and otherwise in need of redemption? And if I feel that way, why do I feel that way?

So often, taking pleasure in life is treated as sinful. How do we construct our ideas of good and evil in the first place? Why would joy be sinful? Why would pleasure be sinful? Why would relishing this one precious existence be some kind of moral failing? Who benefits from those ideas? What happens to us when we work very hard at denying ourselves the things our mammal bodies yearn for?

For me, being Pagan means a starting place that says we might be good. We’re probably ok. We may have the capacity for terrible things, but it’s not inevitable. There is no atonement required. We do not need saving. Wine and sex and laughter and dancing and all those things are good and to be relished, not feared. We may in fact do more good by seeking simple pleasures and joys that don’t diminish anyone or anything else, than by tying ourselves in knots trying to fight our fundamentally animal selves.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Are we good?

  • KatSoutar

    Not a pagan nor do I subscribe to any particular belief system. But my Mammal self is in agreement with these sentiments xxx

  • Blodeuwedd

    My starting point tends to be that we are neither inherently ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ since these are artificial terms anyway. We simply are. That does not mean that we should not try to behave in ways that are seen as ‘good’ but I don’t think that the concepts exist eternally or externally. Seeking pleasure is certainly not sinful and generally I think that the things that make you genuinely joyful also tend to make you a ‘better person’. ‘Sin’ is a term I dislike, I tend to think in terms of responsibility. No action is ‘sinful’ as such, but I must take responsibility for my actions. Much more ‘grown up’!

  • Yvonne Aburrow

    My views are pretty heavily influenced by Taoism (specifically Lao Tsu) but I think it’s about achieving balance. There’s a fair amount of questing for the authentic self in Paganism, which is something like the Uncarved Block in Taoism.

    For me, the cultivation of the eight Wiccan virtues is important, too. Virtue ethics are important in many Pagan traditions and it’s a pity that many people overlook the eight Wiccan virtues.

  • eberis

    isn’t a joke . I am a Good 2 Neutral alignment chaotic good ‘mad’ net.druid 2 and now netrunner 01 . in reply to another comment on Meta [(…)] yes my favorite cotton shirt from Eddie Bauer is falling apart at the elbows brings up the thought of natural cotton or the new higher education of genetic modified flora and fauna and the thought of Leading Edge 4 Back to Nature to prevent the advance in Medicine before the offshoot of Genetic Tailoring which would be the end of the time of soul in Cardinal Law so I see Nimue as right on with this one . why would we offer to scholarly mailer~dæmon they are reasonable about junior philosophy study of Genetics ? I don’t believe in the intellectual pursuit of genetic tailoring . my joke today on SSOin2 is you can have my sign on in way of free enterprise .. really kinda ruins a regime I’m like … you are the computer aptitude terrorin of genetic tailoring . I know this one . global peace now .

  • Are we good? – Druid Life – Where Kizzia Lives

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