I fortunately listened to an inspiring Dhamma talk by Thanissaro Bhikku (you_can_listen_here) along my way to the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center for meditation this past Wednesday. In these wonderful 12 minutes he calls to mind the importance of recognizing that we have both bad and good seeds of karma, and that all too often we get hung up on focusing on only the bad seeds, forgetting about our potential for good.
The topic of the talk was timely being that two mornings later a thought had crept into my mind, the quality of which I do not approve. I entertained it for a few moments, but it didn't have all that much of an opportunity to build due to my becoming aware the direction the mind was headed, becoming present, thus shaking off the thought. Regardless, for just a moment, I felt a sense of shame, disappointed that the thought had even arisen. This was me focusing on my bad karma, that feeling of "I'm a bad person." It was in the next moment, recalling Thanissaro Bhikku's words of wisdom, that I thought to consider a good quality, a wholesome tendency, as the antidote.
It was then that I realized it was good seeds of karma that had allowed me to abandon the thought.
How can we continue to feel ashamed once we recognize our penchant to be better? It was like flipping a switch...I smiled as my heart rejoiced.
Some people might call this our "conscience", which we might construe as a field full of good seeds of karma informing our decision making. Sure, bad seeds might sprout a little or come to fruition from time to time, but as we strengthen our resolve, we'll eventually crowd out the weeds by focusing on and growing the good seeds.
So anytime you find yourself stuck in a rut of self ridicule, try calling to mind any and all good deeds that demonstrate your desire to be more loving, compassionate, and kind.
Surely we still have to acknowledge our transgressions, but only as a means to pull these weeds, so we may continue to grow the goodness in the garden of our hearts.
Focus on your goodness.