The Why and How of Being a Good Person

by | Aug 23, 2020 | Clear Light

What does the label, “Good person,” mean?

It is very easy to say the words, “Good person,” but how do you define a “Good person”?

It all boils down to two questions:

How would you like to be treated?

How would you like not to be treated?

That is the starting point. Right?

(I mean, of course, if you are a masochist, that is a different story).

In general, however, this is the beginning point for being a “Good person”.   

You have to think to yourself, “Do I enjoy being spoken to harshly?”


“Then, why would I speak harshly to somebody else? Why would I do that to anybody else if I, myself, do not like being spoken to in that way?” 

Then, think, “Do I like to be treated with love?  Do I like to be treated with understanding?  Do I like to be treated with care?”


So, now, you must conclude that is how I  should treat others.  I should treat others the same way I like to be treated, myself. That is our base position.

Good and bad? I mean, that is how you relate to these concepts, right? You start with your own experience.

Also, there is another aspect. We like to say, “Ohh, the light and the dark, the good and the evil.” You know.  “The angels and demons.” Blah blah blah, like that.

If you think about it, the demons are inside of us. The angels are inside of us. We are the ones who created them. They are not outside of us.  They are inside, right?

We are the ones who choose to evolve or to devolve.  For me, “Good and evil,” or whatever you want to call it, is that dualistic point of view. You can call it, “Black and white,” or whatnot. It is about our attitude in life.  It is about whether we choose to improve or whether we choose to move backward.

It is habits. We are creatures of habit. So, if you choose to evolve, then, you are choosing to be what we are calling a “Good person”.  Therefore, if we choose to evolve, we exert more effort trying to be a good person.  The whole thing starts with ourselves. We are evolving.

I think you understand, if we are mean, if we let negative, destructive emotions take over, if we have this self-pity, “Me me me,” if we have this self-centredness, and egoism, we are devolving. I mean, for example, if we do not have empathy towards others, if we do things in a very egoist way, then, we are de-evolving.

As we are creatures of habit, when we continually act like this, we are creating the cause for that to become a developed pattern.  What I am saying is, from my perspective, the more we act in this self-centered manner, the easier it is to repeat that behavior. My feeling is it works like this. That is my understanding. I believe that good and evil are based on your attitude.  You act motivated by this attitude.  That attitude becomes your action which, then, becomes your habit.

Many people say, “Oh, outside, there are ghosts”, dadadada. “Do not whistle at night. You are calling the ghosts.” You know that some people say that. That is an old fashioned, superstitious concept.

You are the ones who choose who to feed.  You can choose to feed the demons. Or, you can feed the angels.  It is up to you.

All the ancient wisdom, like the American Indian wisdom, uses the example of the white wolf and the black wolf. We have a black wolf.  We have a white wolf. We are the ones who choose which wolf to feed. Do you understand? Which wolf we choose to feed is the one that will prevail. That wolf is the one who is going to take over in our life. That is the one who is going to be the most present. So, if you choose to feed the black wolf, then, you are choosing to go into these low-frequency vibrations that are only going to create harm. This will make life more difficult for you plus the people surrounding you.

If you choose to feed the white wolf, the true inner values,  you need to practice them.  You need to dedicate time to them. You must observe your mind.  You have to check your mind. You know what I mean.  You need to analyze the mechanism of your mind.

“Oh, I got angry!”

“OK, how?”

“Why did I get angry?”

Or, “I am so attached to this. Why? What is it that I am attached to? Why am I grasping?”

Start investigating. The more you investigate, the more everything will start falling apart. You know, that solidity that we give these situations. The more you investigate, the more you observe, the more you realize that nothing exists from its side.  Then,  that solidity will start disappearing. Nothing is independent. Everything is interdependent.  Everything exists depending on the interdependence of everything else. That is emptiness.  That is the concept of emptiness.  That is what we are talking about.

So, the more we observe, the less solid things start to appear. Then, we can be much more flexible. We are ultimately the ones who choose which direction we want to take. We want to evolve. At least from my perspective, that is what we want to do.

Then, there are many other angles you can come up with, you know.  There are 100 million things you can come up with, but, for me, evolving is the most important thing we can do

Start with yourself. You know, it is never too late. Although it is never too late, it is good to start, now. We may act like immortals, but we have to be aware that time is precious. We have to use the time we have. This rebirth as a human is priceless.  We have to use it properly.

It is never too late like I said. We are all ancient. Age is not in the body.  It is in the mind.

My grandfather is 95 years old.  By 8:30 every morning, he is in the bar, having his coffee and his glass of water.  Then, he has a cognac. Then, he goes to work. So, by nine, he is at work. He is 95.  He is a super, happy guy.  He is always joking. He is always making jokes.  You know he is the one who is always making everybody laugh. By 11, he is back in the bar.  He is having his glass of wine. I am not encouraging you to drink alcohol. I am just saying it is not about physical appearances. It is not physical, at all.

I have friends who are 20 years old.  Their attitude is like they are 200 years old.  I have friends who are 90.  Their attitude is like a 15-year old.

We have to be aware of this.  That is why perception is very important.  That is why, if we can train our minds to learn how to perceive things in the right way, then, we can have so much.  Then, we do not give exaggerated importance to negativity.  We do not let it bring us down. It does not affect us. It does not make us heavy.  It is not a weight that we have to carry around like an albatross.

You know, if we have trauma from a past life, if somebody did something, if something happened, we cannot be carrying that forever. We do not want it to be a load on our back.  We want it to be a lesson so that we learn from it. We must move in a forward direction.  Then, it becomes a lesson. It is not a burden, anymore. On the contrary, it is a factor that helps us evolve.  It is a factor that helps us learn. It is a factor that helps us improve.  Then, we can create the circumstances to help others to, also, overcome those kinds of difficulties.

Remember, it is your perception that can turn something from a load to a lesson. It is your perception that makes something negative or positive.

If we can see it that way, everything is an opportunity. Sometimes, something happens in our life. We are like, “Oh! This is bad,” but, maybe, in the long run, we will realize it is exactly what we needed to get out of our comfort zone. If that thing had not happened, perhaps we would still be stuck back there. We might be suffering even more.

There is a song by Bob Marley that says, “You think you are in heaven, but you are actually in hell.” Right? So, that is a very important point of view. You know, we have to be aware that we are in Samsara. 

The reality of Samsara is that suffering is temporary.  Suffering or whatever you want to call it, maybe, not pleasure, is temporary.  So is happiness or whatever you want to call it. What is the opposite of suffering? So, that is temporary, too.  Suffering and happiness or whatever you want to call these extremes are temporary. So why are we grasping so much?  Why are we so attached? If we know it is temporary, we can just enjoy it while it is happening. We can just be present instead of grasping the past.  We can just be present instead of grasping the future. When we get a taste of something we like, we are already thinking, ‘Oh! I want more,’ instead of enjoying what we have right now.

So, all these outlooks are just techniques that come from the Dharma.  They are offered for us to have a better and happier life but it is up to us to walk the talk. It is up to us to put all of this into practice.  It is up to us, you know. Nobody else is going to walk the path for us.

So, Dharma is like a torch which helps us to shine a light so that we know which way to choose to walk. We are the ones who will walk. Dharma is just helping us to choose the direction we want to head. As everybody is different, we have to, also, see what works for us. Not everybody is going to relate to the same thing. We all come from different backgrounds.  Remember that.


  1. Andy Wistreich

    I like your strong statement “evolving is the most important thing we can do”. You mention evolving a lot in this blog. And it’s great that you emphasise evolving as something that comes from inside of us.
    Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution. He was a very compassionate man, who wrote about the suffering of all sentient beings. But some biologists who came after him suggested that evolution comes through competition and defeating other weaker species. Also they said that the main drive for evolution is the desire to reproduce and propagate our own species.
    I react against this individualistic selfish version of what drives evolution. I feel that what drives evolution is the wish to be happy, content, at peace.
    This fits well with your teaching that treating others the way we like to be treated will enable us to evolve.

  2. Stephie Brennan

    It is so helpful to be reminded that these states – suffering and happiness, let’s call them – are not solid. It helps so much to know that these states are down to me, and that samsara is changing.
    Thank you so much, Lama Osel.

  3. Brian Hart

    Osel succeeds in distilling a lot of potentially intellectual material and producing the essence – this is extremely helpful I think. 🙂

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