Guilt – The Shadow of Spiritual Growth
Frank M. Wanderer, Ph.D, Contributor
During your spiritual growth, you may discover what’s important to you, you can reach your inner tranquility, peace and happiness, that none can take away from you. You can find your inner strength, which you can experience as an effortless Presence. In this state, you are aware, only the present moment exists to you, your being is pervaded by the silence of Consciousness and the joy of Existence.
That is a noble effort, but alas, it is soon experienced that it fails day by day. The question arises, ”What is the reason for the failure? Why can I not spend a longer period in the state of effortless Presence, when I want to? It is surely because I am not good enough, and I am unable to make the required effort. I am unsuited for such a noble task!”
Such thoughts inevitably generate guilt and remorse. The guilt may, after a time, become so overwhelming that the individual gives up the desire to live in the Presence in order to avoid the negative emotions that come with the guilt.
This is an extremely dangerous mind game! Why?
It is to be recognized that the negative emotions and the guilt that comes with it is not a part of the Consciousness, it only belongs to the mind!
The Ego –and so guilt as well–is a social product, created by the expectations of the parents and teachers as a part of the mind. How? A small child’s adaptation to the external world is supported and sustained by the parental expectations. Whenever a child meets the parental (and so the social) expectations, the child is accepted, rewarded and loved. Otherwise some sort of a punishment or rejection follows. In order to avoid retaliation, the child will unconsciously meet the expectations.
As long as the child is small, the expectations appear as external stimuli for the child. The child behaves well, because mum (or dad) should not be angry, should love him/her. As the child grows up, these external expectations undergo a complicated psychological process and become internal ones, and create the foundations of Ego.
At that time children no longer behave the way it is expected by the society because they direct environment so desires, but because it generates an inner good feeling in them. When they do not behave in accordance with these social expectations, they experience guilt. That is how external social effects become parts of the Ego. This mechanism follows us all through our lives.
At one point of our spiritual Journey we meet the teachings of an awakened teacher, and internally we feel that this is what we have long been looking for, we want it to be a part of our daily routine. We are thus able to create some internal expectations regarding how we are able to do it, what the fastest way to incorporating Presence into our life may be. We are, however, unable to meet the expectations, so guilt appears automatically. Be aware that this is the work of the Ego, a game of the mind!
Several things are to be taken into consideration. One is that we have been living identified with the Ego (on the edge) so long that we have drifted too far from the center (Consciousness, Self, Presence). It is therefore not possible to get back to the center overnight (the possibility is there, naturally, as the center is within us, but we do have to make the effort to reach it). The progress on our Journey towards the effortless Presence initially requires efforts from us.
There is an important maxim that applies to that effort: every step in the right direction takes us closer to our own center. It means that moments add up and reinforce each other.
There are inevitable occasions when one temporarily drops back into the Ego-dominated state, and these cases are also followed by a sense of guilt. Once we have understood the mechanism of the emergence of guilt, and bear in mind what has been discussed above, we need to realize that in such instances guilt is not justified!
On our spiritual Journey, we should not dwell on the guilt emerging because of dropping back to Ego-dominated state; instead, we should celebrate that we are in the state of the Presence!!
When one is able to rejoice about these moments, instead of worrying about the next possible dropback, then the positive periods will be more and more frequent in our lives. We therefore need to be patient with ourselves, and look upon our sense of guilt as Witnesses!
About the Author
Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D is a professor of psychology, a consciousness researcher and writer, and publisher of several books on consciousness. With a lifelong interest in the mystery of human existence and the work of the human mind, Frank’s work is to help others wake up from identification with our personal history and the illusory world of the forms and shapes, and to find our identity in what he calls “the Miracle”, the mystery of the Consciousness. Connect with Frank at http://www.frankmwanderer.com/
Note: The above passage is excerpted from Chapter 4 of The Biggest Obstacle to Enlightenment: How to Escape from the Prison of Mind Games? by Frank M. Wanderer.
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