Friday, March 4, 2011
Guilt, as defined by one Buddhist scholar, Rudy Harderwijk, is "seeing or projecting one's mistakes, while not knowing what to do about them or refusing to correct them". To paraphrase Harderwijk, Buddhism views this as a disturbing attitude, i.e. coming about from the practitioner that is not seeing the situation clearly. Self-deprecating guilt may be seen as a complicated version of self-centeredness, which Buddhism addresses quite thoroughly.
Going back, the concept of guilt appears to be foreign to the pure human condition, having grown from it's prominent place in the Judeo/Christian tradition, e.g. the original sin. Guilt of this type is learned, imposed by society and culture. As noted by Harderwijk, " The Tibetans don't even have a word for it". If this is the case guilt becomes a culturally imposed type of mental frustration, one which Buddhism teaches us to overcome through practice and seeing reality in its true form.