Basic goodness

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Basic goodness is a term coined by Tibetan spiritual teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is a core concept in his terma. It is used both to discuss the experience of reality and also basic human virtue.

In his 1980 Seminary he associates this term with both absolute bodhicitta and specifically the Tibetan term which comes from the Kadam tradition and refers to the natural virtues of the kunshi or alaya. Specifically he described three virtues: unborn meaning non-manufactured; nondwelling meaning that it cannot be pinned down, and free from pigeonholing meaning that it is beyond conceptual reference points.[1] In his 1981 Seminary he described it as also referring to personal wholesomeness and dedication to others.[2]

Melvin McLeod explains the term with basic indicating the primordial, self-existing nature and goodness indicating a faultless aspect.[3] John Miller associated the term with Buddha-nature.[4]

Trungpa Rinpoche's son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, expressed the relationship between basic goodness and enlightened society in these words: "In essence, the emphasis of the Buddhist path is to help us attain enlightenment, and the emphasis of the Shambhala path is to help us create and maintain a good society. When we put these two together, we have the Shambhalian Buddhist view of enlightened society. Thus the two paths work in tandem, not in competition."


  1. ^ Trungpa (1980) Mayahana Seminary Transcript, pgs 91-94
  2. ^ Trungpa (1981) Mayahana Seminary Transcript, pg 89
  3. ^ Mindful politics: a Buddhist guide to making the world a better place By Melvin McLeod; pp92-93
  4. ^ The holistic curriculum By John P. Miller; p29