Once, when I was speaking to someone who did not quite believe in God and yet he was extremely gentle, generous and kind. It baffled me as to how atheists are also kind and great humans despite not being conditioned to believe in a reward after death or even believing in the law of karma. In fact, at that time i even questioned kindness. I left the idea alone until somehow an answer dawned upon me recently. It’s quite easy for religious people to choose goodness, but unfortunately I realised that we may have been heavily conditioned into being good.
As children we may have been taught to be kind to others and to do good so that God or Santa is pleased with us. Or so that we may go to heaven later. But nowadays, it may not hold true for the rising youth, so how can we explain the reason for being good? And especially so, for those who don’t believe in life after death or don’t even believe in God. It is perfectly fine for anyone to choose their faith or lack of, because after all it isn’t our religion which defines how kind we are.
So, if a child told you:
I don’t believe in God. There’s no proof that heaven exists. So, why should I be good then?
What would your answer be? I’ll let you contemplate on this for a few moments, but don’t doze off please. Have your nap during your working hours instead. Just kidding.
Well, if you care to read further, the answer I came up with is quite simple.
We should be good because we love it when others are good to us.
The idea is that we verily ought to treat others how we wish to be treated. When someone is good to us, we always feel good and in fact that person takes up a special place in our heart. There is no exception to the rule there, given that the other person is being genuine, of course. Similarly, when others are kind to us, we always feel good. They win our heart, no matter how simple their gesture may have been.
If being bad was the way to go, then surely we would enjoy it when others are rude towards us. But thankfully, this isn’t the case at all. When we feel sad, left out and horrible, life seems like hell whereas when we are in a happy bubble of goodness, there is no better place than earth. All in all, it seems that goodness has nothing to with religion, rewards and a place in heaven or hell. It’s all about how we want to feel and make others feel, knowing very well that everyone has the right to the desire of feeling good.
Besides, look at Nature – it is the most generous, it oozes goodness, beauty and kindness. It is completely equanimous and everyone can have a share of what it has to offer. We are part of this nature and there’s no reason for our behaviour to be different. Yes yes I hear you: What about survival of the fittest? Well sometimes we have to be ruthless to win in life, you may say, but really, we’d never want others to be cruel towards us. So, why sacrifice our goodness for some temporary attainments? I know, I said no religion but as the Bible rightly says:
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” ~ Mathew 7:12
Being good is the way of nature, and as humans with are blessed with the intellect to choose goodness over wrong doings. So, being good is a matter of choice, not because God wants us to be that way or that we’ll be rewarded or promised heaven. In fact, not even because of the law of karma, but in my opinion, only because that’s exactly how we love to be treated- gently, kindly and with utmost goodness.
As Swami says beautifully here:
“No matter what, never let go of your goodness. […] Why? In the big scheme of things, no one has ever gained respect, earned love or inspired divinity by letting go of goodness.”
It would be good to read your thoughts about being good, if that’s good with you. Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of good right here:)