There’s an old story about a saint in India who never had anything negative to say. He saw beauty in everything. This annoyed one of the local villagers who felt it was an unrealistic façade. One day, the villager met with the saint and asked him if he would like to go for a walk. When the saint agreed, the villager led him through the most depressed and gloomy part of town. Leading the way through a dingy alleyway, they came upon a dead dog, clearly dead for a while with flies buzzing around, etc. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the villager pointed out the dog to the saint and asked, “What do you think of that?” The saint responded, “Look at his pearly white teeth.”
My grandfather never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was always very positive. If anyone ever crossed him, he would just smile, nod, and go about his business. Many feel that relationship with life is something to strive for. Some may even consider that to be a spiritual practice.
My great uncle was a little different. He was certainly kind, respectful, and loving, but if someone behaved poorly, he would say so. In those situations, his tone would be critical.
My mother thought very highly of both my grandfather and my great uncle. Yet I remember her saying that when she was troubled and wanted to talk with someone, she preferred my great uncle. She said he was more willing to call things like they were and to say how he felt. She found it annoying to talk about her challenges with my grandfather. He never seemed to be willing to acknowledge the way things were. She felt like he was a little disingenuous: everything was always fine and everybody was wonderful.
The first form of positivity is, in fact, a little disingenuous. It’s a form of denial. Sometimes things aren’t all rosy. There are various reasons why, in some instances, we may choose to deny that. We may feel like it may not be appropriate to say anything other than what is completely positive. We may feel it is just not constructive or is even destructive. Sometimes denial is a form of coping where a person is just unable to deal with the realities of life, feeling they need to block anything negative just to make it through each day. Admittedly, sometimes a little sugar coating is just plain good manners. Though it is good to favor positivity, it is unhealthy to relentlessly contort yourself to be positive and deny what you might really be feeling.
Considering that form of denial to be a spiritual practice sells short the notion of true spirituality. Spirituality is not about burying one’s head in the sand. Spirituality is about opening one’s eyes — seeing life for what it is. Thusly enters the second form of positivity.
True positivity can be viewed as a physiological state attained through spiritual evolution, not an attitude or philosophy. At the very depth of being, and thus at the depth of every individual’s being, everything is unified and merges into a state of infinite harmony with everything else. On that deep level of fullness and integration, there is no good versus evil; there is no positive or negative. Deep down, we can sense it even if we cannot put words to it. There is just pure Oneness in the eternal state of infinite harmony. When one’s life is fully integrated with that spiritual depth, the natural resting place for the individual is that level of infinite harmony. Yet, they function in the world of good and evil, positivity and negativity, the world we all live in.
This can look like just about anything on the surface of life. However, at the depth of the person’s being, you could say they are eternally positive. If you were to say anything about how that looks on the surface, you might say the person is certainly not disingenuous. They don’t live in a state of denial and they don’t conform to some self-imposed behavioral pattern. They spontaneously live in harmony on all levels of life, be it the level of Unity or in the field of duality, where the full range of human behavior is naturally and spontaneously lived. In this second form of positivity, the harmonious depth of their being permeates their entire life, but in a natural manner.
Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. Dr. Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a ‘bridge’ between the abstract and concrete, the Eastern and Western, and the ancient and modern. Follow Michael Mamas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.