Do you often ever find yourself feeling quite guilty? Guilty about not doing enough, not being good enough, not making enough, not big enough, tall enough, handsome enough, beautiful enough, etc. etc.? Do you find yourself guilty over your past, unable to move beyond mistakes you made or mistakes people made at your expense? Are you ever guilty over little secrets just you know, or perhaps one or two others? Are there skeletons still hanging there in the closet which often come dangling out in front of your conscience, and you feel guilty? Most of us have such struggles.
Guilt is a major part of our psyche in this country, indeed, in every country. Unresolved guilt adds to our unhappiness and inability to live free and joy filled lives. Guilt leaves us lonely and sad, unable to laugh heartily and live freely in sharing love with others. Instead, lingering guilt only lurks ever within, and then bursts out toward others in anger, often harming and hurting others with words and actions. Then more guilt is compounded and life looks and feels even worse.
The answer I believe is in understanding who we are. If there is a God, a Creator, a Great Spirit of which we are connected, and if this God by His or Her nature is perfect, kind, just, and eternal, and if we were created by this kind of God or Entity, whatever we might call it, then we also are of the same vintage and essence; love, kindness, joyful, and ever patient. And if this God is Eternal, meaning beyond our usual world of time and space, then a part of us also exists within this other dimension, right? So the question is, who do we think we are? Are we One with God, the Eternal Spirit, or caught in this little time/space world which was and is built upon imperfection, violence, injustices, hatred and guilt?
I prefer to see myself as an extension of the God who created me like Him or Her Self. When someone first pointed this out to me years ago, and I began to “see it,” it was truly like being born again. The great Master Teachers shared this with those who would listen. To the Buddha, it was a process of awakening. To Jesus, it was realizing the Presence or Reign of God was within us, our True Us. To be free from the smallness of our bodies with all their imperfections, limitations, errors and sins, one just needs to “wake up.” It’s like awakening from a deep and dark dream.
Can it be so simple, so easy? Well, it may be quite simple and easy to imagine, but it’s very hard for us to live it. The identification with our bodies in time and space is a very difficult bond to break. We have so much invested in our bodies; all the work, education, “empires” we have built, stuff we have collected, the constant care given, the struggle to make them live a bit longer with less pain. Yes, it’s quite hard for us to move beyond this identity. But then, that’s what we can use time for! For as long as we live and have the ability to think, this is possible. We can move beyond into the thinking and remembrance of ourselves a Spiritual Beings who have taken on a temporal body in space and time. And we don’t need to feel guilty for not moving fast enough!
Bodies are the entities that thrive upon guilt and fear of not being good enough, having done enough, or being caught with terrifying memories from the past. Spirit is Now, past, present and future all in one. Bodies are temporal; our unseen Essence is Eternal.
The next time you feel guilty about not being enough of whatever, or good enough because of whatever, try imagining you are! Try thinking of yourself as One with God, Creator, Spirit, with all that Good, Eternal and True. Work at remembering this and letting past memories go. Work at remembering the lessons you heard about God as an Entity of Love. And forgive yourself for mistaken identity, for living a life caught in illusions and dreams that are nothing in Eternity. Think of yourself as a little child awakening from a frightening, awful dream, and being in the arms of a loving mother, who calms and soothes your fears again, and tells you, “It is alright; it was just a dream!” And so this life is, but a wonderful freedom awaits those who can see it, remember it, and live life beyond guilt and fear. May you have the hunger and desire to know this awakening more than anything else! Remember, the Child of God is guiltless, forever.
PS: Here’s a little talk by my mentor of the 1980’s, Anthony DeMello. Enjoy!