On May 9, 2020, after meditation, we learned from two teachers about the feeling of Guilt and the Buddhist perspective on how to deal with it.
At Teachers’ Corner last Saturday, we started by reading Sharon Salzberg’s article, where she explains the difference between guilt and remorse and how the two emotions relate to our practice. We then watched part of a Dharma talk given by Ven. Ajahn Brahm, in which he stressed “there’s no sense of guilt and punishment in Buddhism” and the importance of practicing AFL: acknowledge, forgive, learn.
Afterwards, we discussed which concept presented by the teachers resonated with us the most. We also shared real-life examples where we can see ourselves applying the teachings to work with our feeling of guilt, and where we anticipate challenges when trying to do so.
The material we shared during our session are all posted below: “Getting Over Guilt” by Sharon Salzberg; and the video “No Guilt – No Punishment” by Venerable Ajahn Brahm. As part of our homework suggestion, we have included the New York Times article referenced in Salzberg’s writing — “Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges”.
From the Teachers: How to Deal with the Feeling of Guilt?
* Sharon Salzberg is a meditation teacher and a cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts in 1976, which now ranks as one of the most prominent and active meditation centers in the Western world. She is the author of 11 books, including Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, and the NY Times bestseller, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation.
“No Guilt – No Punishment” – Venerable Ajahn Brahm** from 21:08 to 41:36 min.
** Ven. Ajahn Brahmavaṃso, or simply Ajahn Brahm, is a renowned British-Australian Theravada Buddhist monk. Before becoming a monk, he studied Theoretical Physics at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge in the late 1960s and taught in a high school for one year before traveling to Thailand to become a monk. He was ordained in Bangkok at the age of 23, and subsequently spent 9 years studying and training in the forest meditation tradition under Ajahn Chah. Currently Ajahn Brahm is the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia. He is invited to give numerous lectures globally each year, and is an author of several books including Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy, and Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?
- Did any teaching we heard or read today resonate with you? Which one or ones do you find most helpful?
- Would anyone like to share a real-life example from your own experience where you can see yourself applying the teachings?
- Are there any situations that led you to have a guilty feeling, but you don’t quite know how the teachings we learned today could help there?
- Read a short article referenced in Sharon Salzberg’s article, called: “Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges”:
- Try to apply what we learned today – compassion for self & others, mindfulness, AFL (acknowledge, forgive, learn) – the next time you feel guilty about something. Maybe even try writing a list of things you respect about yourself!