Each experience of guilt found in the mind, has its root of ideas born from the unquestioned belief of right or wrong. It is a blind belief incepted into an individual’s mind through ignorance. A wisdom mind seldom see experiences as right or wrong but rather as wise or unwise.
While in retreat a friend shared with me how she felt terribly guilty of taking brief naps between her practises. She felt it was wrong to be sleepy and thought there was something not right about her. After much sharing and inquiring she came to realize there is no reason for her to judge her experiences, at the same time also learning a skill to use her sleepiness as a means of inquiry as part of her meditative practice rather than trying to fight against it. I too have my fair share of guilt upon arrival on the first day of the retreat, but being a long time practitioner, I was already prepared for its arrival instead of allowing it to get a grip on me. Due to old diehard ideas, guilt may still arise, but I have a choice of questioning where its source is instead of buying into it and being led by it. It will be better to learn through understanding than judgments as we will then be able to discern clearly whether our sleepiness is genuinely coming from tiredness, boredom or resistance. In this way we are able to make better choices based on wisdom rather than from fear or ignorance.
Meditation is a journey of undoing and when we don’t have a discerning mind of inquiry we are adding ignorance to our practises instead of cultivating more wisdom for the purpose of total freedom.
Many a times in our life, our restraint comes more from buying into people’s idea of what is right and wrong. Yes, as a child, we may not have the discerning power of differentiating actions that are wholesome or unwholesome and thus the need to be taught at earlier stages rather than learning through experiences. But as we grow into maturity, our ability to discern also increases yet seldom do we put this skill into practical use. Many a times we still hold on to old beliefs that no longer serve our higher purpose.
Guilt is rampant in our society and it is through guilt we impose judgements and punishment onto others, notwithstanding ourselves when we come into self-conclusion of what is right and wrong or good and bad. Seldom do we bring up the compassion within us to try to understand where the source of pain is and what it takes to be motivated towards bringing suffering to oneself and others. Who would enjoy imposing suffering unless they do not know any better? Surely there are unquestioned old ideas that they have not met, just as we have not questioned our ancient ideas that continuously betray us into more suffering. Only by resolving the root can a person come into wholeness again. That is what meditation is all about – developing quality state of mind that is conducive to our freedom and peace.
I remember coming across a spiritual teacher who still teaches by means of guilt instead of love. Obviously he has not understood his mind well enough and thus has to use old ideas which he has not questioned to teach the truth. Truth is about unblocking what is causing our bondage and costing our freedom, so to introduce guilt into our system of learning is only compounding our suffering further which we are already trying to get out of but do not know how.
As a yardstick, the path of Truth teaches love and wisdom, instead of fear and ignorance. May you consistently be guided towards greater freedom.