Tagged with: guilt

Everything with substance casts a shadow. The ego stands to the shadow as light to shade. This is the quality that makes us human. Much as we would like to deny it, we are imperfect. And perhaps it is in what we don’t accept about ourselves—our aggression and shame, our guilt and pain—that we discover our humanity.

Everything with substance casts a shadow. The ego stands to the shadow as light to shade. This is the quality that makes us human. Much as we would like to deny it, we are imperfect. And perhaps it is in what we don’t accept about ourselves—our aggression and shame, our guilt and pain—that we discover our humanity.

The difference between guilt and regret is that the guilt never faces the wrongdoing straightforwardly. There’s just this strong emotion of “I wish it hadn’t happened. I wish I hadn’t done it. I wish I had never gotten angry.” Or, “I wish I hadn’t done that embarrassing thing,” and so on. Regret is the opposite of guilt. We acknowledge it, we expose to ourselves that we have done something harmful, and how it came about from our ignorance, but we don’t get caught in emotions or story lines.

The difference between guilt and regret is that the guilt never faces the wrongdoing straightforwardly. There’s just this strong emotion of “I wish it hadn’t happened. I wish I hadn’t done it. I wish I had never gotten angry.” Or, “I wish I hadn’t done that embarrassing thing,” and so on. Regret is the opposite of guilt. We acknowledge it, we expose to ourselves that we have done something harmful, and how it came about from our ignorance, but we don’t get caught in emotions or story lines.

There is more to desire than just suffering. There is a yearning in desire that is as spiritual as it is sensual. Even when it degenerates into addiction, there is something salvageable from the original impulse that can only be described as sacred. Something in the person wants to be free, and it seeks its freedom any way it can.

As the well-known contemporary Indian teacher Sri Nisargadatta, famous for sitting on a crowded street corner selling inexpensive bidis, or Indian cigarettes, once commented, “The problem is not desire. It’s that your desires are too small.” The left-handed path means opening to desire so that it becomes more than just a craving for whatever the culture has conditioned us to want. Desire is a teacher: when we immerse ourselves in it without guilt, shame, or clinging, it can show us something special about our own minds that allows us to embrace life fully.

There is more to desire than just suffering. There is a yearning in desire that is as spiritual as it is sensual. Even when it degenerates into addiction, there is something salvageable from the original impulse that can only be described as sacred. Something in the person wants to be free, and it seeks its freedom any way it can.

As the well-known contemporary Indian teacher Sri Nisargadatta, famous for sitting on a crowded street corner selling inexpensive bidis, or Indian cigarettes, once commented, “The problem is not desire. It’s that your desires are too small.” The left-handed path means opening to desire so that it becomes more than just a craving for whatever the culture has conditioned us to want. Desire is a teacher: when we immerse ourselves in it without guilt, shame, or clinging, it can show us something special about our own minds that allows us to embrace life fully.

earthdrop
Change yourself, change the world

Trying to change the world without changing our mind is like trying to clean the dirty face we see in the mirror by scrubbing the glass. However vigorously we clean it, our reflection will not improve. Only by washing our own face and combing our own unkempt hair can we alter the image. Similarly, if we want to help create conditions that foster peace and well-being in the world, we first need to reflect these qualities ourselves.

- Lama Shenpen Drolma

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