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 Post subject: Goodness
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Greetings All,

The subject of "Goodness" has intrigued me for decades. One of the definitions in the Papers is as follows:

Goodness is the mental recognition of the relative values of the diverse levels of divine perfection. 56:10:12

Divine perfection has diverse levels and our recognition of the value of these levels is relative. Does that mean that goodness, like truth, is also relative? In other words, is my perception of goodness relative only to me and to my level of existence? We are told that the recognition of the difference between goodness and evil is what elevates us from animals to humans. Apparently this involves the last two adjutant mind spirits, worship and wisdom, since these adjutants do not function on the animal level.

After thinking about this for years, I've come to accept the fact that goodness is something that grows, like truth (truth, beauty and goodness). There seems to be a continuum of goodness beginning at a human level rising all the way to divine, spiritual goodness. As we discover divine goodness, as we progress in divinity recognition, human goodness seems shallow and unfulfilling. I think this is why we have six different levels of the golden rule. It's evidence of increasing goodness from the human level to the highest divinity level we can achieve as humans, fatherly love.

The fact that goodness grows demands that it be unconscious. Both goodness and growth are unconscious phenomena (see quotes below). Yet, the discernment of the difference between goodness and evil is not unconscious. It must be consciously chosen. I find that fascinating. We pick the seeds we want to grow in our character garden and God makes them grow if we don't resist him. And this all results in the growth of a noble character, graciousness and divinity, like a precious rose. It is remarkable the way it works.

Jesus always insisted that true goodness must be unconscious, in bestowing charity not allowing the left hand to know what the right hand does. 140:8:26
Growth is always unconscious, be it physical, intellectual, or spiritual. 100:3:7


On another thread I mentioned that without God there is no such thing as goodness. I probably should have said "no such thing as divine goodness." Human goodness obviously exists, referred to as the "kingdom of good" in the quote below. But we are meant to strive for the kingdom of God which means a higher level of goodness, even the highest divinity level of goodness possible. I think Jesus achieved that level before his baptism. He ascended all seven psychic circles and attained divinity status, then went on to reveal the marvelous beauty of fatherly love.

When man loses sight of the love of a personal God, the kingdom of God becomes merely the kingdom of good. 2:5:12

There's a lot to think about on this subject, at least for me. After reading the Revelation I can no longer be satisfied with mere goodness. It has lit my inner urge for divinity attainment, to seek and find divine goodness. And I have no further to look than my own soul where my Adjuster is forever beaming a great light of goodness right at me. The author of Paper 2 says that he loves God because of his goodness and that we all love him more because of his good and loving nature. We might fear a great God, but a good God is all the more lovable because he is a Father. It's the personality of God that I love, and striving to be like him is the greatest gift I can give in return for his goodness.

I think I would love God just as much if he were not so great and powerful, as long as he is so good and merciful. We all love the Father more because of his nature than in recognition of his amazing attributes. 2:5:7

I pity religionists who do not recognize God as a Father, they miss his goodness. And I suppose that atheists are incapable of recognizing God's personality and his goodness, only being capable of seeing the level of human goodness. But at least that's a beginning, it is at least above the animals and on the way to divinity.

I'm curious to know if anyone else has thoughts on this subject.

In Friendship,
Rexford


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Rexford wrote:

Goodness is the mental recognition of the relative values of the diverse levels of divine perfection. 56:10:12

Divine perfection has diverse levels and our recognition of the value of these levels is relative. Does that mean that goodness, like truth, is also relative? In other words, is my perception of goodness relative only to me and to my level of existence? We are told that the recognition of the difference between goodness and evil is what elevates us from animals to humans. Apparently this involves the last two adjutant mind spirits, worship and wisdom, since these adjutants do not function on the animal level.
Hi Rexford. For what it’s worth, 56:10.12 doesn’t say that "our recognition of the value of these levels is relative", it implies that the values of the diverse levels of divine perfection are relative (to each other). Recognition of these relative levels (goodness) implies a mind of moral status, a personal mind with the ability to discriminate between good and evil:
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56:10.12 Goodness is the mental recognition of the relative values of the diverse levels of divine perfection. The recognition of goodness implies a mind of moral status, a personal mind with ability to discriminate between good and evil. But the possession of goodness, greatness, is the measure of real divinity attainment.


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Greetings Bart,

Thanks for your thoughts.

My conception of the relativity of goodness is similar to the relativity of truth (and probably of beauty as well). If truth is relative, then goodness must be relative also. They are not entirely separable, as far as I understand it.

Physical facts are fairly uniform, but truth is a living and flexible factor in the philosophy of the universe. Evolving personalities are only partially wise and relatively true in their communications. They can be certain only as far as their personal experience extends. That which apparently may be wholly true in one place may be only relatively true in another segment of creation.
Divine truth, final truth, is uniform and universal, but the story of things spiritual, as it is told by numerous individuals hailing from various spheres, may sometimes vary in details owing to this relativity in the completeness of knowledge and in the repleteness of personal experience as well as in the length and extent of that experience. While the laws and decrees, the thoughts and attitudes, of the First Great Source and Center are eternally, infinitely, and universally true; at the same time, their application to, and adjustment for, every universe, system, world, and created intelligence, are in accordance with the plans and technique of the Creator Sons as they function in their respective universes, as well as in harmony with the local plans and procedures of the Infinite Spirit and of all other associated celestial personalities.2:7:2-3


I would say that the standard for true values of goodness exist only on an infinite spiritual level. We learn to recognize values in an ascending fashion, where lower levels of recognition are transient and partial (imperfect and evil). What we recognize as goodness today is relative to the true and divine goodness we are seeking. Our concepts of goodness evolve and grow, therefore they must be relative and proportional to our divinity attainment. Goodness is determined by one's nearness to divinity.

The infinite goodness of the Father is beyond the comprehension of the finite mind of time; hence must there always be afforded a contrast with comparative evil (not sin) for the effective exhibition of all phases of relative goodness. Perfection of divine goodness can be discerned by mortal imperfection of insight only because it stands in contrastive association with relative imperfection in the relationships of time and matter in the motions of space.4:3:6
The will of God is divine truth, living love; therefore are the perfecting creations of the evolutionary universes characterized by goodness--nearness to divinity; by potential evil--remoteness from divinity.3:6:2


In Friendship,
Rexford


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Rexford wrote:
My conception of the relativity of goodness is similar to the relativity of truth (and probably of beauty as well). If truth is relative, then goodness must be relative also. They are not entirely separable, as far as I understand it.
Hm, as I understand 56:10.12, the values of the diverse levels of divine perfection may be relative (as truth is relative). Goodness is the mental recognition of these (relative) values of divine perfection. The recognition of goodness (i.e., the recognition of the mental recognition of the relative values of divine perfection), possibly in other persons, implies a mind of moral status with the ability to discriminate between good and evil. The possession of goodness is the measure of real divinity attainment.

So goodness is the recognition of relative values of divine perfection. But does that make goodness or the recognition of goodness relative? Could divinity attainment be relative?

Rexford wrote:
… I would say that the standard for true values of goodness exist only on an infinite spiritual level. We learn to recognize values in an ascending fashion, where lower levels of recognition are transient and partial (imperfect and evil). What we recognize as goodness today is relative to the true and divine goodness we are seeking. Our concepts of goodness evolve and grow, therefore they must be relative and proportional to our divinity attainment. Goodness is determined by one's nearness to divinity.
What are 'values of goodness'? 56:10.12 speaks of the relative values of the diverse levels of divine perfection. Goodness is the (personal) recognition of this. Values may, as you say, evolve and grow, but goodness as a concept defined in TUB is fixed IMO and doesn’t evolve.

This may just be a technicality, but I think it’s important not to confuse these terms..


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The thing about goodness is that sometimes it's bad, depending on which side of the situation your on. Why else did a certain group of religious leaders murder the one who took goodness as far as humanly possible, Jesus of Nazareth?

196:2.2 Jesus' life in the flesh portrays a transcendent religious growth from the early ideas of primitive awe and human reverence up through years of personal spiritual communion until he finally arrived at that advanced and exalted status of the consciousness of his oneness with the Father. And thus, in one short life, did Jesus traverse that experience of religious spiritual progression which man begins on earth and ordinarily achieves only at the conclusion of his long sojourn in the spirit training schools of the successive levels of the pre-Paradise career. Jesus progressed from a purely human consciousness of the faith certainties of personal religious experience to the sublime spiritual heights of the positive realization of his divine nature and to the consciousness of his close association with the Universal Father in the management of a universe. He progressed from the humble status of mortal dependence which prompted him spontaneously to say to the one who called him Good Teacher, "Why do you call me good? None is good but God," to that sublime consciousness of achieved divinity which led him to exclaim, "Which one of you convicts me of sin?" And this progressing ascent from the human to the divine was an exclusively mortal achievement. And when he had thus attained divinity, he was still the same human Jesus, the Son of Man as well as the Son of God.


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48:7.18 16. You cannot perceive spiritual truth until you feelingly experience it, and many truths are not really felt except in adversity.

Why is this so true and why is it so relevant to the appreciation of goodness? I suggest it is because we can only sense (feel) reality. We spend countless hours thinking about these concepts but in the end we have to simply exercise adequate faith to allow ourselves to experience the answer as a sense of appreciation of the value of God. And we tend to only do that when forced by some adversity. So while these discussions may achieve for us an understanding of concepts we must keep in mind that our real comprehension of the truths of God will never surpass our faithful experiencing sense of Him. Jesus said, "None is good but God." And remember, spiritual things must be loved in order to be known.


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Greetings,

Bart wrote:
What are 'values of goodness'? 56:10.12 speaks of the relative values of the diverse levels of divine perfection. Goodness is the (personal) recognition of this. Values may, as you say, evolve and grow, but goodness as a concept defined in TUB is fixed IMO and doesn’t evolve.


Perhaps you are referring to God's infinite goodness? Of course God's perfect goodness does not evolve; it is infinite and eternal. What evolves is human recognition, interpretation and actualization of goodness. Goodness, as we know and understand it on evolutionary worlds, must evolve as well. It evolves with experience, which is what God the Sevenfold is all about.

But I absolutely cannot agree that goodness, as defined in the Papers, is "fixed". As you can see in the quote below, goodness is described as being alive and relative. I interpret the word "fixed" as meaning "dead". Goodness is living, just as truth is living; it cannot be fixed on the evolutionary level of space and time. Perhaps on Paradise it is "fixed", I do not know.

Goodness is living, relative, always progressing, invariably a personal experience, and everlastingly correlated with the discernment of truth and beauty. Goodness is found in the recognition of the positive truth-values of the spiritual level, which must, in human experience, be contrasted with the negative counterpart — the shadows of potential evil. 132:2:7

As nod points out, our perceptions of goodness can be completely wrong, which makes them relative. I think this is one reason why atheists turn against God. They probably have a perception of goodness that is "fixed". And when God does something fatherly, like refusing to give them a sea serpent when what they really need is a fish, they rail against what they think is a faulty concept of goodness coming from a so-called father. (That idea I just tried to explain may be a bit contorted, but I hope you're following me.) I would also venture to say that some fundamentalists have a "fixed" notion of goodness as well.

There must be ascending levels of goodness which we humans are meant to grow in recognition of, otherwise there would not be six levels of the golden rule and seven psychic circles. We grow in our ability to discover and recognize goodness as we grow in divinity status. The goal of life is divinity attainment. We are not born perfect and our ideas of good and evil are not born perfect either. We need the contrast in order to make the choice. If goodness was fixed, then we would only have to recognize it once and make one choice. That is not the case. We have to recognize and choose on ascending levels of goodness until we come face to face with the infinite personality who is goodness. And that personality is alive, as is his goodness. We are evolving the goodness of the Supreme Being here, and it cannot be "fixed", by definition, because there is always more.

The final penetration of the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Supreme Being could only open up to the progressing creature those absonite qualities of ultimate divinity which lie beyond the concept levels of truth, beauty, and goodness. 115:3:19

In Friendship,
Rexford


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nodAmanaV wrote:
The thing about goodness is that sometimes it's bad, depending on which side of the situation your on. Why else did a certain group of religious leaders murder the one who took goodness as far as humanly possible, Jesus of Nazareth?

196:2.2 Jesus' life in the flesh portrays a transcendent religious growth from the early ideas of primitive awe and human reverence up through years of personal spiritual communion until he finally arrived at that advanced and exalted status of the consciousness of his oneness with the Father. And thus, in one short life, did Jesus traverse that experience of religious spiritual progression which man begins on earth and ordinarily achieves only at the conclusion of his long sojourn in the spirit training schools of the successive levels of the pre-Paradise career. Jesus progressed from a purely human consciousness of the faith certainties of personal religious experience to the sublime spiritual heights of the positive realization of his divine nature and to the consciousness of his close association with the Universal Father in the management of a universe. He progressed from the humble status of mortal dependence which prompted him spontaneously to say to the one who called him Good Teacher, "Why do you call me good? None is good but God," to that sublime consciousness of achieved divinity which led him to exclaim, "Which one of you convicts me of sin?" And this progressing ascent from the human to the divine was an exclusively mortal achievement. And when he had thus attained divinity, he was still the same human Jesus, the Son of Man as well as the Son of God.


I think goodness can often be misperceived; can be interpreted in a negative light - particularly by those whose agenda is self-serving. But goodness is never "bad".


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Greetings Agon,

You wrote:
Agon D. Onter wrote:
I think goodness can often be misperceived; can be interpreted in a negative light - particularly by those whose agenda is self-serving. But goodness is never "bad".


My dictionary has the following entry as a definition for goodness:
• the beneficial or nourishing element of food.

The goodness of food is also relative, don't you think? Nutrients that are good for me might make you sick. For instance, phenylalanine is an amino acid widely present in plant proteins. Although being good for most people, it can kill those suffering from PKU.

What I think you are referring to is virtue. Virtue is good, but I don't think that everything we consider as good is also virtue. Goodness as virtue is related to personality. It is an indication of quality or nobility of character, a measure of nearness or distance from divinity. Virtue accrues because of righteous choices, righteous meaning conforming with the cosmos (see quote below). I think we might say that virtue is never "bad", but I always hesitate to use the word "never". At one time it was considered virtuous to eat the dead. Need I say more?

Virtue is righteousness — conformity with the cosmos. To name virtues is not to define them, but to live them is to know them. Virtue is not mere knowledge nor yet wisdom but rather the reality of progressive experience in the attainment of ascending levels of cosmic achievement. In the day-by-day life of mortal man, virtue is realized by the consistent choosing of good rather than evil, and such choosing ability is evidence of the possession of a moral nature. 16:7:6

In Friendship,
Rexford


Last edited by Rexford on Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:57 am +0000, edited 1 time in total.

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Agon D. Onter wrote:
I think goodness can often be misperceived; can be interpreted in a negative light - particularly by those whose agenda is self-serving. But goodness is never "bad".
Humanly considered goodness is one thing, but the goodness of God is often something else entirely. Jesus said:

163:3.4 "But many who are first shall be last, while the last shall often be first. The Father deals with his creatures in accordance with their needs and in obedience to his just laws of merciful and loving consideration for the welfare of a universe."

Isn't Jesus indicating that the adversity of experiencing being last, is actually good? From the human perspective, being last is "bad".


Certainly poverty isn't "good". Why does Jesus call to the attention of the apostles what a poor widow did?

172:4.2 And now, as the evening drew on and the crowds went in quest of nourishment, Jesus and his immediate followers were left alone. What a strange day it had been! The apostles were thoughtful, but speechless. Never, in their years of association with Jesus, had they seen such a day. For a moment they sat down by the treasury, watching the people drop in their contributions: the rich putting much in the receiving box and all giving something in accordance with the extent of their possessions. At last there came along a poor widow, scantily attired, and they observed as she cast two mites (small coppers) into the trumpet. And then said Jesus, calling the attention of the apostles to the widow: "Heed well what you have just seen. This poor widow cast in more than all the others, for all these others, from their superfluity, cast in some trifle as a gift, but this poor woman, even though she is in want, gave all that she had, even her living."


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Rexford wrote:
… We grow in our ability to discover and recognize goodness as we grow in divinity status. …
Yes. Our ability to recognize goodness is relative and progressive and personal (132:2.7) but that does not mean goodness itself is relative and progressive. Our perception/recognition of good and evil is relative, but I don’t see how good (God’s will) and evil (not God’s will) can be relative in and of themselves.

I find it most confusing that the term goodness appears to be used in TUB to indicate both the recognition of divine values and the divine values themselves. E.g., in this single passage the revelators speak of goodness as recognition and the recognition of goodness:
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56:10.12 Goodness is the mental recognition of the relative values of the diverse levels of divine perfection. The recognition of goodness implies a mind of moral status, a personal mind with ability to discriminate between good and evil. But the possession of goodness, greatness, is the measure of real divinity attainment.
Is this logically inconsistent? Am I missing something?


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Bart wrote:
Our ability to recognize goodness is relative and progressive and personal (132:2.7) but that does not mean goodness itself is relative and progressive. Our perception/recognition of good and evil is relative, but I don’t see how good (God’s will) and evil (not God’s will) can be relative in and of themselves.


I agree, this is what I was trying to express in my earlier post.

Bart wrote:
I find it most confusing that the term goodness appears to be used in TUB to indicate both the recognition of divine values and the divine values themselves. E.g., in this single passage the revelators speak of goodness as recognition and the recognition of goodness:
Quote:
56:10.12 Goodness is the mental recognition of the relative values of the diverse levels of divine perfection. The recognition of goodness implies a mind of moral status, a personal mind with ability to discriminate between good and evil. But the possession of goodness, greatness, is the measure of real divinity attainment.
Is this logically inconsistent? Am I missing something?


Bart, perhaps these quotes will help.

All truth—material, philosophic, or spiritual—is both beautiful and good. All real beauty—material art or spiritual symmetry—is both true and good. All genuine goodness—whether personal morality, social equity, or divine ministry—is equally true and beautiful. Health, sanity, and happiness are integrations of truth, beauty, and goodness as they are blended in human experience. Such levels of efficient living come about through the unification of energy systems, idea systems, and spirit systems. ~ The Urantia Book, (2:7.10)

So here we have an expanded definition of goodness that includes personal morality, social equity and divine ministry, and we are told they are all equally true and beautiful.

And also
Divine goodness represents the revelation of infinite values to the finite mind, therein to be perceived and elevated to the very threshold of the spiritual level of human comprehension. ~ The Urantia Book, (56:10.9)

I do not think 'infinite values' are relative ....


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Greetings Bart,

Bart wrote:
Is this logically inconsistent? Am I missing something?


Unfortunately I don't see it as inconsistent. There is existential goodness and experiential goodness. Experiential beings cannot comprehend existential goodness; they have to discover goodness by experience which requires a duality from with to choose. The perfect beings on Havona do not have to choose goodness, they are born good (3:5:16 below). But I would venture to say that goodness gained by experience is preferential, otherwise those perfectly created beings on Havona would not need evolutionary creatures in order to receive a Father Fragment and become finaliters themselves (31:1:2 below).

The full appreciation of truth, beauty, and goodness is inherent in the perfection of the divine universe. The inhabitants of the Havona worlds do not require the potential of relative value levels as a choice stimulus; such perfect beings are able to identify and choose the good in the absence of all contrastive and thought-compelling moral situations. But all such perfect beings are, in moral nature and spiritual status, what they are by virtue of the fact of existence. They have experientially earned advancement only within their inherent status. Mortal man earns even his status as an ascension candidate by his own faith and hope. Everything divine which the human mind grasps and the human soul acquires is an experiential attainment; it is a reality of personal experience and is therefore a unique possession in contrast to the inherent goodness and righteousness of the inerrant personalities of Havona. 3:5:16

Havona natives must achieve certain experiential developments in liaison with evolutionary beings which will create reception capacity for the bestowal of a fragment of the spirit of the Universal Father. 31:1:2


Existential goodness, as I understand it, is a perfect pattern or model only available in infinity. Because of the Adjuster, experiential beings have the opportunity of infinity to discover it.

Mortal consciousness proceeds from the fact, to the meaning, and then to the value. Creator consciousness proceeds from the thought-value, through the word-meaning, to the fact of action. Always must God act to break the deadlock of the unqualified unity inherent in existential infinity. Always must Deity provide the pattern universe, the perfect personalities, the original truth, beauty, and goodness for which all subdeity creations strive. Always must God first find man that man may later find God. Always must there be a Universal Father before there can ever be universal sonship and consequent universal brotherhood. 118:5:3

Hope that makes more sense. Or maybe it's even muddier now?
Rexford


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Thanks Agon D. Onter and Rexford. That makes sense. :) We seem to converge here on a common view of 'goodness' as portrayed in TUB. I now think that 56:10.12 can/must be read as follows: "Goodness [in mortal experience] is the mental recognition of the relative values of the diverse levels of [existential] divine perfection. The recognition of goodness [in mortal experience] implies a mind of moral status, a personal mind with ability to discriminate between good and evil. But the possession of [existential] goodness, greatness, is the measure of real divinity attainment."

In Jesus’ discourse on good and evil we also learn that: "Until you attain Paradise levels, goodness will always be more of a quest than a possession, more of a goal than an experience of attainment." (132:2.8 ) So, goodness in TUB is never a mortal attainment but invariably a personal experience (132:2.7). Thus, e.g., the following passages about goodness are clearer (at least to me) when the term goodness is read as goodness in mortal experience:

132:2.3 Goodness [in mortal experience], like truth, is always relative and unfailingly evil-contrasted. It is the perception of these qualities of goodness [in mortal experience] and truth that enables the evolving souls of men to make those personal decisions of choice which are essential to eternal survival.

132:2.5 Goodness [in mortal experience] is always growing toward new levels of the increasing liberty of moral self-realization and spiritual personality attainment—the discovery of, and identification with, the indwelling Adjuster. An experience is good when it heightens the appreciation of beauty, augments the moral will, enhances the discernment of truth, enlarges the capacity to love and serve one’s fellows, exalts the spiritual ideals, and unifies the supreme human motives of time with the eternal plans of the indwelling Adjuster, all of which lead directly to an increased desire to do the Father’s will, thereby fostering the divine passion to find God and to be more like him.


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Greetings Bart,

I agree with your analysis, but I'm not certain we can ever possess existential goodness as a personal experience. Existential goodness is something that belongs to the Father, which is why we are incapable of true goodness without him. Perhaps after fusion mortals can share something of the Father's existential goodness, but as far as I can understand it, goodness will always be linked to experience even after attaining finality. I could be wrong, but I think we mortals have to go on to discover transcendental levels of goodness long before coming close to existential goodness. Then there's more to follow, as they say. If existential goodness is a feature of infinity, then like infinity, we never actually reach it or attain it.

Or so I think,
Rexford


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