Is an event, situation, object or circumstance intrinsically good or bad? It is remarkable, how important this question might be if we are striving to distance ourselves from a reward and punishment mode of living. Reflexive living is more or less automatic and good or bad might be an irrelevant question! If we pause to consider or contemplate the nuances of our tendency to retract from what we interpret or project as painful and align with what we consider good, clarity about the motivations of our actions becomes possible. Pain is aversive. During a soulful investigation of what drives us towards any particular end, experimenting with actual physical or mental discomfort, at least within the bounds of reason can be a revealing experience. This is not to make comment about going out of our comfort zone, rather, the forbearance of incidental or even chosen moments of discomfort or pain as potential for accessing a keener sense of our entrenched patterns of reaction. How we nurse disenchantment and dissonance is quite likely a specific barometer of how much contentment we can harness.
How we qualify an object is purely a construction. There is no inherent ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ within it. Our latent and manifest predispositions construe, to a large extent, the properties and values that we feel or perceive it harbors. In reflecting upon the causes of our generation of any such characteristics, we stand to gain a greater understanding of how we can access as well as inhabit a state that is causelessly and centerlessly freer. The issue of good or bad applies to what is external to the so called self and more importantly to events within our mind. Therefore, the notion of distress or pain becomes central simply because it is usual for us to deem what is disconcerting, bad. Another way of putting this might be that pain is not tolerated but it might actually be understood. Pain, more than states of pleasure magnify our reactions. Strangely, for the sake of enhanced contentment, it could be worthwhile looking into the feeling, cognizing and perceptual states we experience when we are faced with what we deem bad or distressful. For instance, is it possible to witness mind-states before our responses to what we label ‘bad’ come into being?
Not surprisingly, the point in time when the labeling of good or bad commences is enmeshed with previous mind moments that have their own particular attributes, which in turn color any subsequent moments. We are here not talking about the perception of the object per se but the mental response to it being present, if such a distinction can actually be made. The constructs that arise with contact with an object, mental or physical can indeed be witnessed and in this witnessing, there is often an identification of the groundlessness of any responses that can and do occur. Distress as a response elicits further moments that are contingent upon it albeit as bereft of any lasting, ultimate substrata as the initial reaction. It is the repeated recognition of the lack of any ground generating our responses that points towards the lack of any foundation for our categorizations. The very act of opinion generation thus is essentially groundless! Comfort is relative although still a need and in minimizing our seeking it out might lie paradoxically greater ease and benefit!