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  • Daniel Rodman

Innate Value

When we regard our understanding of morality, what is good and what is bad, we cannot avoid the conclusion that all sentient beings have innate value. This is a value that they have merely by existing, not because of what they did or what they know, not because of the color of their skin or their gender or sexual preference. Rather, it is an innate value that is the innate preciousness of every sentient being. It is the fact that they are a consciousness and a heart that is sensitive to happiness and suffering, and seeks out happiness and avoids suffering. This preciousness of all beings is what inspires us to love them, and what therefore informs us as to how to act: for their welfare.

This innate value is grounded in the reality that all beings are at their core expressions of the Transcendent: the ultimate, infinite meaning of all of existence. In Buddhism they call this the Buddha Nature. In Christianity they call this the kingdom of God, or the in-dwelling Holy Spirit. It is the Divine within yourself.

Our ignorant minds can become confused by the reflection within of our own innate value, one which is the basis of the ego itself, the belief that this innate value is the only one, or at least more valuable than others, and therefore selfish intention arises. This is because in our ignorant and depraved state of ego, we believe that the light of our own innate value is something to possess and cling to, afraid to lose it, instead of something we already are and that will never go away. The light of our own innate value is the light of the Transcendent shining through our unique expression as an individual. In its ultimate nature, it is unwavering, unfaltering, and eternally alive. It is without end. This is the peace of God, the peace of our deathless reality. The Transcendent not only makes us each moment, but our heart is held in the palm of its ever-loving hand.

When we practice meditation and begin to know the innate value we all have, we can not only realize that it is real, but also that its nature is generosity. It is radiance that gives of itself endlessly in all directions, and so to live a life of love and service is to live in accord with this radiance within us. This is what it means to “go with the flow”, to be in tune with our nature, to “walk with God”. May you come to realize that all beings have innate value, and that the innate value of all beings comes from the same fundamental source.

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