Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Good, Evil and the Meaning of Always Well Within

Sunrise Reflecting Good and Evil

How do we think about and respond to the evil that exists in our world?  One of my readers put this question forth when they responded to my Reader Survey:

“How can you always talk about good and good when the world is full of wicked, manipulative and negative minded people? All is not always well within, I think once in a while we would like to hear your views about these facts of life.”

Thank you for asking so honestly.  You’re so right, we’re not always well within.  In fact, many of us are thrown about by our own litany of thoughts, emotions, and habitual patterns.

Anger, desire, greed, envy, anxiety, fear, and doubt are just a few of the emotions that seem to constantly spark us.  Even those who aspire to lead a wholesome life are confronted by their dark emotions, not to mention those intentionally engaged in foul actions.

The Meaning of Always Well Within

So please let me clarify “always well within” is where we want our mind and heart to be.  It’s not necessarily where it is now.  At the same time, we can be there in any moment when we operate from a space of goodness and clarity.

“Always well within” doesn’t mean a static state of peacefulness or a complete absence of thoughts and emotions.  It means being aware of whatever arises in our mind, recognizing it’s impermanent nature, and through repeated practice not allowing it to trigger negative thoughts, words, and actions.

It takes dedication and training to achieve this stability of mind and kindness of heart, but what could be more important in our chaotic world?

“Always well within” also doesn’t mean being blasé about evil.  It means recognizing that good fosters good and harm is like a boomerang that will come back to haunt you.  Therefore, it’s only sensible to take full responsibility for the impact of your thoughts, words, and actions.

I know myself it’s possible to be “always well within” because I’ve personally been near great spiritual teachers like the Dalai Lama and witnessed their spacious way of being.

Teachers likes this retain a compassionate heart though many have faced horrific tragedy themselves.  They have the capacity to see the world as it is, but still have faith in the fundamental goodness that lies within each individual however obscured it might be at present by undesirable beliefs and behaviors.  They’re not stupid nor do they intentionally put themselves in harm’s way.

The Challenge of Evil

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Gandhi

Yes, there are people who act in wicked, manipulative, and negative ways.  But, we need to separate the person from the actions.  The actions are negative, but the person is not necessarily fundamentally wicked.

Evil is complex.  It’s not just a question of the good guys and the bad guys.  We all have light and dark within, and the purpose of our life is to purify the darkness.  Evil comes from ignorance, and often many different factors combine to bring it about.

Just think about how we over consume in the West and how this adversely impacts others around the world.  Perhaps we would never personally shoot or torture someone else, but collectively our actions are causing pain and even death for countless individuals who are already suffering the ill-effects of climate change.

We need to look very deeply to see the full truth of what evil is.

Compassion:  The Remedy for Evil

I believe the only true remedy for evil is compassion not hatred.  But, compassion is not blind or passive.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness:  only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Most people are redeemable.  Milarepa, one of the greatest saints of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, wiped out an entire village during his early years.  But, later, he was horrified by his errors and became an exemplary spiritual practitioner.  According to his confessions, I’ve heard, St. Augustine wasn’t exactly saintly in his youth.  You probably know of someone yourself who has made a positive turnaround in their life after committing unsavory acts.

I won’t argue that everyone is redeemable, but great spiritual teachers advise us to have compassion for those who act aggressively and even unforgivably out of their own ignorance.  If you believe in the law of karma or the idea that we reap what we sow, these individuals are not only hurting others in unthinkable ways, but cementing their own future misfortune in place as well.

I know that it’s not necessarily easy embrace this idea, especially when you or someone you love have been harmed. I feel distressed by the inequities and atrocities in this world, too and I’m not a stranger to violence myself.  Containment may be in order, but retaliation won’t necessarily solve any problems.

How did Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or Aung Sang Suu Kyi find forgiveness during their years of imprisonment?  I don’t know, but they inspire me to believe that it’s possible to have a larger perspective anchored in love.

“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is what I’ve come to know about change:

  1. You can only change yourself.  You cannot change others, but you can inspire others to change by being the change you wish to see.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take outward action for equality and justice as well.
  2. You can work on behalf of goodness for a better world.  By so doing, you can help and inspire others, but you still have to do your inner work.  I worked on behalf of battered women and abused children for a number of years.  Such work is beneficial of course, but it doesn’t necessarily stop the cycle of violence unless people change within.

Looking over my blog archive, I can see how my writing could seem trivial when you consider that 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water.  I’m glad many people do write about the serious problems that exist in our world.  But, the focus of my writing is to help others find peace within so they can be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

You’re right, I don’t write about evil or inequity much.  I sometimes think I should when I read articles like this one about The Last Walk For Water.  I’d like to share a few of my articles that have touched on evil or suffering because I agree it’s important to think about these dilemmas.

Yes, there are wicked, manipulative, and negative actions occurring in this world every moment.  Yet all spiritual traditions beseech us to love and to forgive.  There are no easy answers, but we can at least begin to reduce the harm that exists in our thoughts, words and deeds.

What are your thoughts on good and evil?  If you’re reading offline, please come by to join the conversation.

I’m glad you’re here and thank you for sharing my posts.  If you’re new, please consider subscribing for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra


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  1. Sandra I think your writing helps so many of us find inner peace. You don’t advocate selfishness or turning a blind eye, but until we can find our own peace we cannot help others. Until we give back goodness, we will not affect others.

    I find driving to be stressful and full of negative emotions these days. Trying to maintain composure, no judgement of others and not wanting to smack the other driver hard. But even in this small world of my car, I can control my reactions thereby hopefully not giving in and perpetuating more negative reactions until they spiral.

    Just giving a smile back is a small gift that can have a ripple effect on the world and in helping to change it. I firmly believe this. Thank you for your wonderful posts as they have shifted my world and I know the world as a whole.

    • Hi Donna,

      Thanks for your kind words, Donna. I think this is just so true that we cannot help others very much until we have perspective and our own peace of mind.

      Driving is challenging because angry emotions can pop up so instantly. But, it’s a good example, because something as simple as driving can even spark violence between two drivers. As you say, our strong emotions tend to spiral and then we can really become out of control.

      I think smiles are so powerful too!

  2. Hi Sandra,

    This is an excellent interpretation of ‘Always well within’. I couldn’t agree with you more and your words are dripping with all the goodness of the world! I am truly impressed by your ability to breathe positivity into the negative words.

    I totally agree that we can pass on goodness only if our own mind is at peace and only by transforming ourselves can we deal with them. At the same time, we can’t just shut our eyes to such people who continue to spread negative energy. Hypocrisy hurts me the most and it is SO much all around us.

    I am so thankful, Sandra that all your efforts are directed towards taking us to the same level of spirituality that you have ascended…that’s why you are so magnetic, we must be minions before you, still grappling with the emotions we are entangled into.

    Thanks for sharing such sublime thoughts!

    • Dear Balroop,

      Yes, I agree we can’t shut our eyes to the negativity of the world. We must do our best to shine a light there. I appreciate how hypocrisy affects you so deeply because I’m very sensitive too.

      I’m very much on the path just like you. I can be swayed by strong emotions too and act in ways that are not appropriate at times. But, I’ve gotten so much better and believe we can all improve and become kinder and more tolerant and by doing so there will be more peace in the world. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  3. I love all that you are sharing in this article, Sandra – well-thought out, energetically enriching and abundant, and thorough. In my life, I center into peace, through love and gratitude, *first* – regardless of the external in my personal space or in world in general–*then* I move into my day. This is also how I choose to open each experience throughout my day – even in the midst of “less than optimal external”.

    From this centered space, I can “serve” and share most effectively; often allowing me to be the ‘light’ in the darkness, the peace in the “center of the storm” – which others may tap into to remember their own strengths or shift into possibility in their own life. By not choosing to tap into panic, hysteria or fear; I am not ignoring ‘evil’ or energy not resonant with love, I am instead shifting the energy into peace and possibility which dissolves a bit of “evil” in that moment.

    I love what you share through your writing – reflections that inspire us to keep thinking about different practices and techniques that enable us to *feel always well within*, inviting us to *be the change* in our own space which then changes the world at large.

    • This is a beautiful, practice Joy! I’m so inspired when I hear you speak about centering first into peace, love, and gratitude – which is this space where we are always well within.

      One very important point you mention is the way this not only brings peace in a situation but possibility as well. When we don’t match anger for anger, we create the possibility for something different to take place. It creates the space for the other person’s anger to begin to subside and for creating a positive solution that can meet everyone’s needs. That is so incredibly important and powerful. Thanks for reminding me of that!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the posts. If we keep thinking about all this creatively, more positive change can come about.

  4. Jean Sampson

    This is such a beautiful post, Sandra, and in your answer is the reason I continue to read your blog. I want to surround myself with goodness, compassion, clear thinking , love and kindness because that is what I want to have in my life and that is what I want to be in the world. It is so easy to be inundated with bad news, tragedy, evil, darkness of all sorts, and I don’t want to be an ostrich with my head in the sand. However, unless I keep my energy positive and flowing, I can do no good for myself or anyone else! And I do NOT think that we all need to be earth shakers, although I think we should do whatever we can to support those amazing folk. If I can encourage anyone to continue seeking a dream, tell them the strengths I see in them, notice when they are having a tough day, those things are important to the world, also, and those are the every day things that I keep an eye out for. If I am not in a centered peaceful and loving and AWARE place, then I can’t be love and compassion for the people near-by who might need some love and encouragement. I move and live in a very small place, but I try to bring light to it by living in the light as much as I can. And, believe me, I am very aware of my own dark spots, but I realize that they are the very places that need my love and understanding the most. Thanks, Sandra, lots of love and encouragement to YOU, dear soul! You are one of the people who help me stay in the light!

    • Dear Jean,

      As always, you bring a wise and beautiful perspective to the conversation. I love reading about how you try to bring light into the world in all that you do. I appreciate how you know that you need to be in a peaceful, centered, loving and aware place to really be of help to others. Yes, we do have those dark spots, don’t we!

      Thanks for the encouragement, Jean. It means a lot to me and makes a difference for me as well.

  5. Wonderful definition of always well within Sandra. At the root of everyothing all is well within. We are all of God and the more we reveal the true beings that we are the more impact we have on our world with all it’s conditions.

    I’ve just written …Life comes with no guarantees of perfection, is filled with imperfect people, doesn’t give us total control or security and no promises that you won’t experience pain and disappointment.

    Life is also magnificent, mysterious and miraculous.

    And I’m super happy that you continue to shine a light of love and peace, lord knows we have enough pain and horror, why add to it?

    • Dear Elle,

      You have a perfect sense of where I am coming from! The more light, the less darkness.

      Yes, this is how life is: complex and ever-changing plus magical and mysterious. I love how you described it. And, we can bring a view of simplicity to it all when we keep going back to the core of what really matters.

      Thank you!

  6. It’s about accepting the good and evil within ourselves as well as that mixture in other people!

    • A perfect synthesis, Annabel. And that acceptance is the basis for transforming the negative. Much love to you!

  7. What an unplifting post, Sarah!

    Truthfully, since I’ve only just recently started reading your blog, I never gave the name much thought, so this is like a nice introduction for a new-ish reader like me. 🙂

    And you’re spot on: There’s evil in this world, but there’s also a lot of good. There’s suffering, disease and poverty but there’s also hope, compassion and kindness. Just because the news is sometimes filled with bad things doesn’t mean there’s no good in the world.

    – from someone “trying to be always well within” 🙂

    • Nice, Gloria! I’m glad you felt this was a good introduction for a new-ish reader to the name and essence of my blog.

      I’m with you! There’s so much goodness in the world, too. The news tends to magnify the negative. I’m not denying the negative, but let’s keep creating more goodness.

  8. Sandra, I love this. I’m still working on always well within, so it was nice to have you share this in a way that resonates so well with me. 😉

    • Hi Dar,

      I’m still working on “always well within” too! I imagine it will be a lifetime journey, but a very worthwhile one. I’m so glad the post resonated for you. Thanks for letting me know.

  9. You know, it’s kind of odd – just last night I was watching a famous comedian talking about this very subject. He said something like, “I’m evil because I drive an Infiniti. I could sell this car and get another perfectly good car and save about $20,000, which I could send to starving kids in Africa. The fact that every day I don’t do this means I’m killing kids in Africa, but still I don’t do it. That makes me evil.”

    I thought that was a pretty good point, and it made me sad, because the only thing worse than doing something that takes away from other people is to be that aware of it and to continue doing it knowingly.

    I don’t really believe in the concept of evil, actually, but I think we should try not to take more from the world than we genuinely need for a decent level of comfort and sustenance. I constantly try to make my life smaller, so that there will be more left over for other people. With the overpopulation in the world increasing, this seems like the only sustainable response.

    Very interesting and thought provoking post, Sandra, as per usual! 🙂

    • Jennifer,

      That’s a very interesting example that speaks to one of the key points I’ve made. I don’t believe that this person is evil, but his actions may be harmful to others.

      I don’t necessarily believe in evil either, more in the reality harmful actions. But, I understand why people do because some atrocities seem so unbelievable and unacceptable.

      I like this phrase “smaller life”. This makes sense when we take the world into account and all its peoples. A smaller life can be a richer life, too.

      I’m glad you found the post thought provoking, Jennifer.

  10. Beautifully put, Sandra. I think a lot of “evil” actions come from not seeing reality as it is. I did and said a lot of hurtful things when I had the misperception that I was worthless and that everyone intended to harm me. Constant fight-or-flight response led me to feel exhausted and overwhelmed, so I became irritable and said unkind things to those around me. Feeling that I was in survival mode led me to throw the nearest person under the bus when I felt threatened at work. Because I felt so overwhelmed, I became careless, especially with money, then panicked and lied to my husband about our situation. I hated it when people said nice things to me, because they didn’t know what a “bad” person I was. So I’d beat up on myself more, do more destructive things in order to try and numb myself, and the spiral continued.

    Hurt people, hurt people. Was/am I evil? Not at all. We all have the same true, good nature. Every. One. Of. Us. It just gets hidden by layers upon layers of misperceptions. Punishment, and trying to increase the cycle of perceived unworthiness and self-hatred is not the answer. Healing comes from compassion. Not everyone is ready to find their way out, from under the layers of misperceptions. But we should never assume that someone will never be able to.

    • Very beautiful said, Bethany. I think you describe quite accurately what’s going on when people engage in harmful actions. We all want to be happy and no one wants to suffer. But, often we engage in actions that we think will make us happy, but they just bring suffering instead. Yes, and some of us can be dominated by our physiology, which can be difficult to master.

      I so resonate with your view that we should never assume that someone will never be able to find their way out of the layers of mis-perception. It can start to happen in any moment and we never know when!

      Thank you for these wise and profound thoughts.

  11. You can offer solutions. They won’t always be accepted. You are one of the helpful / compassionate because you offer help. There’s not much to do except wait when others refuse the offer of assistance. You keep on keeping on, and do what you believe is right.

    • Hi Mike,

      I remember you asking about negativity in my survey last year. I think you’re right. We do what we can. We can’t force change, but we keep doing what we believe is right. Thanks, dear Mike.

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