What about these notion? that guilt, fundamentally,is self-betrayal? or Alan Watts' idea that freedom from guilt is the Western form of Eastern spiritual liberation?
I've thought, re:Watts, that if, a la Buddhism, there is no self, since all is sanyatta or emptiness., then there can be no self-betrayal, the self being an illusion. If one really understands that, radically, then we have freedom from guilt and maybe even enlightenment.
Guilt is a betrayal, for sure. To me guilt involves an imagined necessary atonement for some historical wrong-doing. Or presumed wrong-doing! There is a definite tone of inadequacy, of being unequal to the task, and of being externally controlled. To release our supposed weaknesses, to live more fully and consistently with our true natures would indeed seem a Western spiritual liberation.
I have not done a Write on this so I will wonder out loud here about the self as an illusion preventing enlightenment. On some level (I say this speculatively as I seem to have a "self" still clanking about), it seems the "self" is the root of all suffering, both in the past and present so to be free of it might lead to enlightenment. If there was no "self" and there was simply shared energy, I would think guilt might become a non-issue for all would be one and there would be neither a guilt giver or receiver. This leads me to wonder whether forgiveness or commpassion would exist either.
I agree with the thought that guilt is derived from a feeling of inadequacy and of feeling externally controlled, which in my mind means this person has not yet fully integrated that they are in essence manifestations of divine energy in all its multiple variations, along with the potential power lying within them. I believe a "self" is both fabricated illusion and fabricated reality in the sense that it exists also because it is one of so many facets of the manifestation of divine energy. It is the "stuff" we can play with in this world of relativity in order to help us discern what really is from what is not.
#23, "RE: Guilt" In response to Reply # 3 Tue Nov-25-03 05:43 AMby patrickj
Does enlightenment mean you never feel guilty, or that you are not goverened by those feelings? Can I ever really be free of feelings of guilt or inadequacy or hate, or can I only(!) be free of a suffocating hold thay tend to have on me. Something about what Lynne says suggests to me that guilt is just one of the many things I have to play with as a writer. So to be free of guilty, or whatever, feelings might be pretty barren....This is an opening....
You ask about enlightenment. In order to be able to talk about it, I would have had to experience it myself, and even if I had, I might not recognize it as such. If I were to use my imagination to describe the state of enlightenment, I would say, yes, that this person is in perfect harmony with their body, mind and spirit, and therefore not feeling guilt, hate, etc.. Feeling free of the suffocating hold these feelings can have on us is something that we can certainly work at and more readily obtain and recognize. Sometimes in order to recognize and appreciate beautiful feelings we must live out the ugly ones.
I would like to go back to the question of whether the belief in "self" is the origin of guilt. Imagine a world where we all perceived ourselves as one! Where those people (or residual thoughts implanted by them) who generate guilt would no longer do so because of shared knowledge that hurting any being hurts all. Is it naive to believe we can learn to decline guilt and thereby transmute some of the world pain? I believe it is possible...
Has anyone read "The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You" by Dorothy Bryant? It is an intriguing novel about enlightenment, guilt, responsibility to others etc.
Toby, I'm wondering what you mean by enlightenment. I've been thinking about the relationship between anxiety and depression--that depression is what I resort to in order to not face the unknown, the uncertainties of my life. When I'm depressed, I'm immobilized, there is no action, no decision making. It is self-betrayal. Guilt is a fuel for the depression. It justifies further immobility. To move on would be to be free of guilt, and to be living with anxiety. I've always assumed it was the anxiety that paralyzed me, but it's not, it's trying to get away from it that is actually the paralysis. And guilt has been a handy means.
I've been coming to realize recently that the overwhleming anxieties I have had about horrible things that could happen at any moment are partly a function of a creative mind that has a misdirected focus. Also, something Linda brought up in a group a while back- Guilt and shame are two different things.
Shame and anxiety (or creativity gone awry) seem to me to be the culprits that can make our lives miserable while guilt is a state of fact. Did I do it or didn't I? Am I responsible for this turn of events or aren't I? I guess this is where the "self" comes in-where our creativity gone awry can make us believe that we are responsible for events that are out of our control or believe that we must atone for what we have done in some extravagant manner (like thinking about it for years and years).
As for reaching enlightenment- I wish I knew what Buddhism says about how to say you're sorry? Is it just that "everything is the way it is meant to be" including your mistakes?
P.S. This being my first time participating in this kind of thing-I just got a good belly laugh from the option to "use emotion icons in my message." I wonder what the guilt icon would look like? Or the enlightenment icon? Is enlightenment an emotion?-I'll leave that for another string
A thought or two about enlightenment. In Writing the Mind Alive we tell the story of my Zen teacher, Ado Roshi, who when asked if you continued to meditate after enlightenment, roared, More, More. Deeper, Deeper! I think his response says a lot about whatever enlightenment might be. Maybe something like not forgetting about emptiness or transience or non-permanence--for openers. There used to be a good mag called What is Enlightenment? I don't know if it is still around--interesting stuff in it.