We often try to find goodness outside us. But relying on external circumstances for goodness is not a sound approach.
Goodness lies within us. It’s a treasure within our soul waiting for us to be discovered. We need to excavate and bring goodness in our thoughts and our actions. Only then, we’ll be able to experience goodness in its purest form whenever we want.
One of Epictetus’ teachers, Musonius Rufus, advocated the idea that all human beings are born with an inclination to virtue. In other words, we all have an innate reservoir of goodness within us. However, whether we radiate that goodness in the outer world or not is primarily dictated by our choices.
All people, essentially, are good. The only distinguishing factor then between the heroes and the villains, the protectors and the destroyers, the peaceful and the violent, is the kinds of choices they make. Even if you might have done some bad things in your past, it doesn’t mean you are “bad.” What truly matters now is what kinds of choices you’ll make moving forward.
The purpose of philosophy is to help us get in touch with this inner fountain of goodness and to remind us to protect it at all costs.
Here are some thoughts and reflections that’ll inspire you to find and protect the goodness within you:
“Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow if you will keep digging.”
— Marcus Aurelius
“God laid down this law, saying: if you want some good, get it from yourself.”
— Epictetus, Discourses, 1.29.4
“Protect your own good in all that you do, and as concerns everything else take what is given as far as you can make reasoned use of it. If you don’t, you’ll be unlucky, prone to failure, hindered, and stymied.”
— Epictetus, Discourses, 4.3.11
“You either make evil for yourself, or you escape sin and purify yourself; you are bad or evil, or you are pure; and nobody can save you except for yourself.”
— Dhammapada, a Buddhist scripture
“I went along all the earth, searching for a guiding light. I went all over without rest, at night and during the day, and then I heard from a preacher, who opened the truth to me, that the answer is inside my soul, and that the light which I was
looking for everywhere in the world is inside me.”
— Eastern Wisdom
“Your body is a city which is full of good and evil; and you are the king of this city and your intellect is your best counselor.”
— Saint Luke
“The goodness inside you is like a small flame, and you are its keeper. It’s your job, today and every day, to make sure that it has enough fuel, that it doesn’t get obstructed or snuffed out.”
— Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic
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