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Thread: Guilt by Association

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Guilt by Association

    Namaste all,

    I have a hard time dealing with feelings of guilt in my life. As for what this has to do with dharma, I know everything has a role and place in the universe - such is the concept of dharma at its most basic. So why do I feel constantly guilty for everything?

    If you're wondering what brought this on, I read this forum thread here on the Hindu woman who died after being denied an abortion, and while it was indeed a horrible atrocity, for some reason, whenever I read/hear about things like this, my first thoughts after "how horrible" immediately jump to "what did I do to cause this? Why am I guilty? Why are people judging me for this?"

    My mind works in ways I cannot fathom, because even to me these days this thought process seems delusional. I'm not the doctor who denied this woman treatment. I'm not the politician who penned the law that allowed this atrocity to happen. Heck, I'm not even a citizen of Ireland. And yet my brain still finds ways to connect me with this doctor and make me feel guilty.

    White like the doctor? Check. Male like the doctor? Check. Westerner like the doctor? Check. And yes, I know the way I live my life can do harm to the planet and its people by way of products I buy, taxes I pay, etc. But...why am I so quick to associate myself with evil?

    Dharma made me feel better in many ways by showing me that I'm supposed to exist, that my role in this universe is a good one. So why am I so quick to tack on guilt by association?

  2. #2
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    Re: Guilt by Association

    Namaste WI,

    Quote Originally Posted by Webimpulse View Post
    why am I so quick to tack on guilt by association?
    You have developed a habit of developing guilt consciousness. It all is due to our own habits and not that we are made like that. I am not sure why it is so but it is all our own creations. It may not be in this lifetime ... may be many lifetimes. You might have lived a life which would have instilled deep rooted fear in your mind to an extent that you feel guilty out of hidden fear that you may be held guilty for the wrong that has happened.

    Invest your idle time only in God and you will get over this problem.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: Guilt by Association

    Kali Yuga is supposed to be more than 400000 years and we have just entered this era - 5112 years ago. What we are seeing now is tiny fraction of what is supposed to come. The feeling of guilt can only increase.

    There are two choices

    1. Live (mentally) in the happenings of the world (be reactive) and thus be subjected to the guilt, sorrow and emotional ups and downs.

    2. Make yourself more spiritually knowledgeable and contribute as duty towards whatever you can do to your upliftment and society upliftment.

    The movement towards intense kali yuga cannot be changed. World will move towards more and more horrible societies, deeds. I can only change myself and liberate myself fron this cycle of the yugas. This is more in my control.

    Knowledge, devotion, faith and submission is the way out of this.
    Love and best wishes:hug:

  4. #4

    Re: Guilt by Association

    Namaste Kallol,

    I just wanted to say that I have similar feelings of guilt. I feel guilty for being white whenever I hear something about white supremisists and because I have German ancestory, I feel guilty about the Nazis stealing the Swastika to twist it's meaning to something evil. And there is more. What gets me through these times is telling myself that I have no control of what happens in the world and that one person's action doesn't justify who I am or what I do. It doesn't matter how similar we are, that person does not define me. I just wanted to say this so you don't feel alone.

    All the best,
    Leena

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    Re: Guilt by Association

    Namaste

    I thought about this post, but for some reason I cannot think of anything that I feel guilty about at all. I am always happy, probably because of the Devas and Devi. Sure, I might get mad sometimes, but that is not the same as "feeling guilty" (not at the level of group think or actions of others as exampled in the responses here). Mostly I laugh a lot, some on a smaller scale perhaps I might feel guilty when I laugh at the wrong time or place or my laugh is taken in the wrong way.

    I feel guilty if I forget to feed the birds their seeds. I feel guilty if I eat too much (like when I sneek yummy samosas). I feel guilty if, I come back real late from a very long lunch break to work (well, not really - only if I get caught!).

    I think the solution to "feeling guilty" is to have a relationship with the Devas and Devi - then you won't feel guilty about hardly anything!

    Om Namah Sivaya

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    Re: Guilt by Association

    I think this whole idea of white/Western guilt is especially unhealthy. I as an Indian certainly don't blame Westerners for various deeds perpetrated against Indian Hindus by Christians. On the contrary I would tend to blame Indians who run off to evangelical Christianity; Christianity's morality is pretty directly responsible for the abortion case you describe.

    I'm not sure that guilt by association is a good policy to adhere to. But if we're going to ascribe guilt by association, let's also observe that you have to actually associate with the guilty party to likewise be guilty. Being of a specific race or nationality hardly qualifies. I'm from the West (Indian Westerner, go figure), and I don't feel particularly responsible for the Christian pro-life agenda responsible for this. Nor should you.

  7. #7

    Re: Guilt by Association

    Quote Originally Posted by Webimpulse View Post
    Namaste all,

    I have a hard time dealing with feelings of guilt in my life. As for what this has to do with dharma, I know everything has a role and place in the universe - such is the concept of dharma at its most basic. So why do I feel constantly guilty for everything?

    If you're wondering what brought this on, I read this forum thread here on the Hindu woman who died after being denied an abortion, and while it was indeed a horrible atrocity, for some reason, whenever I read/hear about things like this, my first thoughts after "how horrible" immediately jump to "what did I do to cause this? Why am I guilty? Why are people judging me for this?"

    My mind works in ways I cannot fathom, because even to me these days this thought process seems delusional. I'm not the doctor who denied this woman treatment. I'm not the politician who penned the law that allowed this atrocity to happen. Heck, I'm not even a citizen of Ireland. And yet my brain still finds ways to connect me with this doctor and make me feel guilty.

    White like the doctor? Check. Male like the doctor? Check. Westerner like the doctor? Check. And yes, I know the way I live my life can do harm to the planet and its people by way of products I buy, taxes I pay, etc. But...why am I so quick to associate myself with evil?

    Dharma made me feel better in many ways by showing me that I'm supposed to exist, that my role in this universe is a good one. So why am I so quick to tack on guilt by association?
    Namaste!
    Don't feel guilty for things that are out of your control. It sounds like you are dealing with a case of scrupulosity. I used to have the same kinds of feelings, and honestly felt that God hated me for a while. It was very hard to work past that stage, but I finally was able to through God's grace. Just know that God loves you and does not hold you guilty for things that are beyond your control.

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    Re: Guilt by Association

    Quote Originally Posted by sanjaya View Post
    I think this whole idea of white/Western guilt is especially unhealthy.

    I think this is exactly what Webimpulse (as well as other white/westerners) is dealing with, and as a white westerner myself, I get it. I also agree that it's not healthy, but it's tricky ground. Let's be honest - white people as a whole have a history of messing things up for other people. Now, of course those alive today or those who were not involved in those atrocities shouldn't feel directly responsible about it. How can we control any of what has happened? But I think the mindful among us feel a need to be especially conscious of history because we don't want to look ignorant or do anything to offend.


    It's hard for me, personally to know how I am perceived by another culture or religion unless I ask directly, and even then I think the answer I get will be different for each person. I think in the end the only thing we succeed in doing is driving ourselves crazy and avoiding others just so we don't risk being associated with the bad things our particular race or religion has done.

    My only advice to webimpulse is this: Your race does not define your goodness, nor can you control the actions of others. If you fear judgement by others, all you can do is remain sincere in who you are. Every positive action you do, however small, does some small work towards changing the perception of others for the better.

    You were born what you are (white/western) by intention, and I highly doubt the reason was to make you feel guilty. Replace your guilt with awareness, and then use that awareness to influence how you act - ie. think of the bad behavior you see as a lesson, not a reason to incriminate yourself. It's hard, because many people have had guilt used against them as they grew up as a tool for moral guidance, when really it is incredibly poisonous and seldom helpful.

    Changing how you are used to thinking takes a lot of conscious effort and several years of work. Use self-talk as much as possible. If the act is impossible and the guilt becomes overwhelming, seeking professional help/guidance may be required. I will also repeat what others have said: seek comfort in thoughts of God. Whenever the guilt swallows you up stop for a few minutes and really address your feelings to God. I find just doing this without receiving any "answer" is immensely comforting in the moment.

    Take care, and don't be too hard on yourself.

    Peace!
    "God will not have his work made manifest by cowards."
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


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    Re: Guilt by Association

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namast

    I have a hard time dealing with feelings of guilt in my life.

    This guilt comes from feeling incomplete. Think of it - when you come to realize that you are totally full, complete, with nothing lacking, where can guilt arise ? We say it this way - There is this observation that the key constraint of not really knowing Reality is akhyāeti pūrṇāhaṁtā. Said simply, it is the non-cognition of one's own Fullness of Being. Just this one thing brings the human condition to limits.

    If you care to read more about this , please consider this HDF post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=10460


    What is guilt ? It is chronic remorse. Correct this remorse and you will have fixed the guilt in the short term. In the long term it is all about fullness of being.


    praṇām


    Last edited by yajvan; 01 December 2012 at 01:38 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  10. #10
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    Re: Guilt by Association

    Namaste all,

    Thank you all for the advice...it really is helpful! I guess one reason why these feelings of guilt, or chronic remorse as Yajvan so eloquently put it, are such a problem for me is because of how interconnected the world is these days - six degrees of separation and all that. Thanks to modern communication and globalization, it's easier than ever to impact someone halfway across the globe in some way, be it for good or ill.

    Originally, when I became cognizant of the modern world's interconnectedness, it kind of scared me. But one thing I've read recently that has helped me come to grips with this interconnectedness and my role in it all, is actually the Bhagavad Gita! I haven't read all of it yet, but what I did read has helped immensely with the guilt and remorse that has arisen in me from learning about the modern world's "global village" - especially the parts about karma. I forget the exact wordage, but the Bhagavad Gita says that just because our actions may harm someone regardless of intent, doesn't mean we shouldn't act at all. We need to act, to do, otherwise we wouldn't exist! So that part really helped me.

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