Good and Better

To become skilled at “Field-think” and “Field-speak,” we need to let go of certain habitual ways of looking at things. One of these involves our insistence that there is any such thing as the “negative.” This is often not a bias that goes easily.

Even advanced Field students often slip into the language of the morality play, deeming some of their experiences, typically associated with what they want, as good or positive, and others, typically associated with what they’ve had, as bad or negative.

In this judgment, of course, they miss an important point that’s not only central to Field theory but also essential to practice: that what we have had up till now has served us, that it fulfilled some understandable and legitimate purpose, that it had its reason. It is no more bad than crawling is bad for a six-month-old. Crawling is good. It’s an advance and improvement on not crawling. In the same way, walking will be an advance and improvement on crawling, and in this way, the expressions of spirit move from good to better, with no interference until we get older and inherit the belief that there is anything in life that is bad.

The judgment of any experience as bad prevents our recognizing the good there, the validity it has in its own terms, the way it has served. It inhibits our ability to appreciate it.

This turns out to be a decisive inhibition, because as long as we believe a thing is bad, we will not accept it. To the contrary, we will seek to rid ourselves of it, deny it, run away from it, kill it. In other words, we will be in a state of resistance toward it, and this very resistance binds us to it so that we can’t let it go and move on to something that would serve us better.

Condemn something, and what you condemn is yours. On the other hand, it really isn’t necessary to dislike the house, town, job, or partnership you’re in to recognize that it is no longer what you want, and that something else would suit you better. You can even love what you’ve outgrown for what it gave you, its season, its contribution to your story. And this love oils the machinery of living, and allows moving on to be gracious. Indeed, without it, there is no moving on.

Voltaire said, among many other wonderful things, “Better is the enemy of good.” And while this wouldn’t make it as a maxim for Field theory because of that little word enemy, it certainly captures something of what we're talking about here, and with the right emphasis, captures the whole of it: “Our desire for something better may lead us to regard the good we have known as an enemy.”

Not as eloquent as Voltaire, certainly, but the expansion of the idea may be clarifying. What you have blamed, hated, resisted, condemned, avoided, denied, struggled against, made into an enemy was something good, something that had no grievance against you, something that gave you the only gift it had to give you when you were not open to receiving more.

You can recognize it, appreciate it, love it, thank it, and from there, move on. Now, this is not the whole story. In Field theory, where paradox reigns, no truth is the whole truth. If we believe that “Good is the enemy of better,” we may overvalue the good we have known to avoid moving on, to defer taking the next step into a better version of self and the better life that goes with it.

Field theory doesn’t teach us that there’s no such thing as the negative in order to encourage us to defer our greater good. It isn’t the nature of Particle consciousness to stand still. The very center of us wants to move forward to ever greater identity, fulfillment, creativity, expression, health, supply, purpose, love, and life.

Using “Good is the enemy of better” to postpone the next step is not skillful practice. Every baby knows this. Clearly, there is a balance here: To appreciate the good that has expressed itself up till now without holding back, while still being willing to take the next step, even if it’s a little scary, without needing to make the past a fall-guy—this is skillful practice.

By its light, change becomes a flow of graceful and natural transitions in which every crawling becomes a walking that becomes a running that becomes a dancing, world without end.


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