For children, feeling bad may be a necessary part of the development of compassion, learning morality, and human relationships.
This post is targeted to adults; individuals who daily practice moral behavior.
For an adult, guilt is poison.
Guilt arises from two elements : regret and self-attack.
Regret functions as an essential element of learning.
Make a mistake.
See how it turns out.
Leave the error, keep the lesson.
And so we grow as responsible beings.
Regret is rooted in love of truth.
Self-attack is a form of pathology.
The mind makes a story that ends in blame.
Blame arises in the story, rooted in thoughts of the past,
that outlines the culpability of the self.
Tunnel-view develops: “This is the ONLY way to see it.”
The self’s culpability is repeated over and over,
charged with negative emotion, aversion,
rejection of facts, denial of whatever doesn’t fit.
Self-attack arises as a form of mental violence from within the dream of separation.
There is no self to be found.
Attacking the self (a non-existent entity) is delusion.
The imagined self feels even more solid (and heavy) because of this cycle.
Seeing through the confusion leads to escape from this process.
Intermediate steps may help.
Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance.
Byron Katie’s “The Work “.
Forgiveness ( “self-forgiveness” ).
Extending metta to one’s “self”.
In the Tibetan tradition, there is a practice known as “Vajrasattva”. There are many other “purification ” practices which also facilitate release from guilt and negative emotional energy. I can vouch first-hand for their effectiveness, when done with diligence and enthusiasm.
Regret is an intrinsic part of learning and growing up.
It’s utility remains as long as learning happens.
Guilt creates an impediment to practice through reinforcing the delusion of self.
Often conflated, the results of guilt and regret
Which functions in your mind ?
How do they feel different ?
Look and see what you find.
For more food for practice, here is Nirmala: http://endless-satsang.com/guilt-is-not-very-useful-or-meaningful.htm
Many thanks to Dr. Roger Walsh for his insights regarding guilt.
Dr. Walsh’s site may be found here: http://www.drrogerwalsh.com/