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355How to Relieve Guilt

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  • NamoAmituofo
    Mar 31, 2004

      How to Relieve Guilt

       How I can help someone, (who is not Buddhist) via the Buddhist teachings, who has done some wrongs in and is now living in guilt and unhappiness? He wants to bury the past, but obviously has not let go. ow about using the Story of Angulimalia? (The story of the repentant serial-killer in the Buddha's time, who repented his misgivings and managed to attain enlightenment.)

      How about using the Angulimala Sutta itself? It is very beautiful:
      http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/majjhima/mn086.html You might want to run through it before verbally summarising it to him.

      Remind him that guilt and unhappiness over the past is not useful at all - what he should do now is to make up for the past if possible. If it is not possible, he should live well now, so as not to let the past tie him down. Afterall, the past has already passed - what matters is living well now... or he will only regret even MORE when he looks back years later, only to discover he had been wasting time and life living in regret, wallowing in self-imposed misery. It is also important that he truly repents, promising himself he will not repeat the same mistake. that Another way he can actively relieve his guilt is to help others be happy, for example, by doing more charity. At the end of the day, we all just want to be truly happy. Before this is possible, we have to let go of clinging onto unhappiness.

      In the famous words of Shantideva, which also apply to guilt :
      A difficult situation can be handled in two ways:
      We can either do something to change it, or face it.

      If we can do something,
      then why worry and get upset over it -- just change.

      If there is nothing we can do, again,
      why worry and get upset over it?
      Things will not get better with anger and worry.