Human Science

Goodness and goodwill are deeply admirable traits for they enrich the lives of others, while eliciting extraordinary positive response back to the initiator. If it occurs in a time and place where there is a positive atmosphere, the response from life can be overwhelming. With such munificent attitudes within such a positive environment, the harshest enemy can reverse himself and melt into the Light.

In fact, we see these very circumstance in Shakespeare’s beloved comedy and meditation on love, ‘As You Like It.’ In the story, Frederick has usurped the duchy in France from his elder brother, Duke Senior, who is exiled to a place known as the ‘Forest of Arden.’

It turns out that the exiled Duke Senior is a gentle, mild, and good man who responds to his plight and that of his followers with calm and philosophic stoicism, rather than hatred or despair. In exile, he accompanied by four other lords who follow Senior Duke to the forest out of loyalty. On numerous occasions, he demonstrates his goodness, generosity, and goodwill to those around him, including new arrivals who arrive in the forest.

Rather than the difficult and harsh life with tension and conflict one might expect from the followers, so many things go right for the exiled party. Because of Senior Duke’s munificent character, and the subtle, lilting, joyful atmosphere that issues from it, life conspires to bring about a series of fortunate events. For example, the Duke’s daughter Rosalyn -- a famed and cherished Shakespearean character -- quickly finds romance and then marries. Even the daughter of the evil Fredrick leaves his kingdom and finds love in Arden Forest -- to a man who has abandoned Fredrick’s heinous conspiracy against Duke Senior! In fact, we witness a breakout of infatuation and mutual attraction among the lovers in that place, culminating in the marriage of four couples!

In addition, Fredrick’s plot to destroy the party holed up in the forest is thwarted, as the positive, energized atmosphere gives strength to the forces that oppose it. Finally, Fredrick himself has a powerful spiritual conversion, which relieves him of his malice, while handing his kingdom back to the magnanimous and good Duke Senior. In summary, the overriding positive atmosphere of self-givingness, gentleness, and camaraderie serve to attract a plethora of positive results for the party, including four marriages to eight main characters, the astonishing conversion of Senior Duke’s enemy brother, and his return as leader in his beloved homeland. It demonstrates the enormous positive energy and power that goodness has over life.

One other point about Fredrick’s conversion should be mentioned. In this situation, his negative was not so much neutralized and negated by others, but reversed within himself. I.e. with no initiative and action on the part of Duke Senior’s side, Fredrick underwent a startling conversion and saw the Light. Such instances of evil turning good on its own are very rare in life. In fact, it occurs nowhere else in Shakespeare. In his stories, negative individuals are sometimes victorious; other times are subdued or consumed. But never do they convert from the negative to the positive on their own -- i.e. seeing the light of Truth beyond their ignorance, falsehood, and evil. And yet in ‘As You Like It,’ that is precisely what happens.

In the final analysis, we too are capable of demonstrating our goodness and goodwill towards others. And we too can generate a positive atmosphere through that effort. As a result, not only will our warmth and affection energize others, but through that self-giving effort, we will quickly attract powerful positive conditions. If that is the case, then why not try this approach today? Focus yourself on the needs and concerns of others the next several times you interact. Then observe as your relationships improve, as emotional sweetness takes hold, and as positive conditions suddenly arise out of nowhere -- as they did for Senior Duke and his followers in Arden Forest.

--Roy Posner 19:28, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

See also other Case Studies on Life Response

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