Ven. Thubten Chodron - compassion, guilt and shame
- Guilt and Shame
When we meditate, things from the past come up, and we have to work with them. We may remember times when we treated others horribly hurting their feelings, deceiving them, repaying their kindness with spite, manipulating them, cheating them. While regret for these actions is appropriate and necessary to purify these karmas, we often fall into guilt and shame instead. Guilt and shame are obstacles to overcome on the path, because they keep us trapped in our self-centered melodrama entitled "How Bad I Am." Regret, on the other hand, realizes that we erred, leads us to purify, and motivates us to refrain from acting like that in the future.
How do we counteract guilt and shame? One way is to recognize that the person who did that action no longer exists. You are different now. Is the person who did that action five years ago the same person you are now? If she were exactly the same person, you would still be doing the same action. The present "you" exists in a continuum from that person, but is not exactly the same as her. Look back at the person you were with compassion. You can understand the suffering and confusion she was experiencing that made her act in that way.
-- from Cultivating a Compassionate Heart: The Yoga Method of Chenrezig by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama, published by Snow Lion Publications
Thanks to Sharon for posting this in 2006.
Antony: Yesterday I realized that guilt and remorse amount to killing your own happiness. If one becomes suicidal one should have compassion for this medical emergency.
With metta / Antony.