Ethics and Morality

The Good Person

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Compassion

Compassion is the great and intelligent love that goes beyond romantic love that is not always intelligent. Without empathy, there can be no compassion. Compassion is a whole system of skills and understanding learned and practiced, that manifests a high attainment of the human mind. Compassion is the sustained intention to seek the good of others and is characterized by empathy, patience, tolerance, understanding and gentle concern.

The Dalai Lama states that the pursuit of spiritual goals and ultimate liberation from suffering and evil requires the intention to be of service to others. Selfish goals and methods alone are not sufficient and inevitably lead to unhappiness. He teaches that each person can work with his or her own mind to develop a higher consciousness, characterized by compassion and ethical conduct.

Roles are seen as interchangeable; ones man’s enemy is another man’s friend. The sense of reciprocal altruism is elevated to a high ethical principle in the form: Hold the interests and well-being of others as you would want others to value you and your interests. Both good and bad deeds are recognized as karmic agents that continue to act in a sequence of causation that continues for a long time. The Dalai Lama’s prescription is the cultivation of compassion - a dedicated process that involves meditation to tame your own mind. You practice understanding and valuing the experience of others.

Meditation is a generic term that specifies the study of your own mind but takes on numerous forms. You can meditate on fundamental truths: on the fact that all beings are impermanent and will suffer sickness and death. You observe fellow sentient beings who are experiencing confusion, loss, sickness, pain and despair and you meditate on the fact that you too have had or will have similar experiences. While compassion is the great love of existence and all its manifestations, it is necessary to choose constructive means and reject destructive means. Compassion is neither blind nor stupid.

The idea that all humans are innately good, but need education, self-scrutiny and practice appeals the idealistic side of our mind. Innate goodness could be considered a desirable hypothesis that is tested in practice. However, bad people do exist and must be constrained by effective but humane methods.

While compassion is the acceptance of other humans who are different and may be unkind or cruel, harmful behaviors are not acceptable and must always be opposed. While a compassionate person wishes no harm and vows not to kill other sentient beings, the protection of good humans sometimes requires that destructive and cruel humans are killed with regret.


  • The Good Person: Ethics and Morality by Stephen Gislason is a book in the Psychology & Philosophy series, developed by Persona Digital Books.

    Ethics is about the interface between selfish interests and actions and the common good. Both good and bad tendencies are innate properties that have useful functions, were not invented by modern society and are not going to change until the construction of brain changes. The dialogue between good and bad in human affairs is constant, predictable and universal. When a baby is born, the family and local community begin to teach the emerging being what is going on here and now. They provide the local language, costumes, customs beliefs and the local science and technology. All adult humans have an ethical standard and a technology to teach. While the local culture has an obvious impact on the appearance and behavior of emerging adults, the constant innate features of the human mind are pervasive and persistent. The variance in mental abilities within a local group will often be greater than inter-group variance.

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