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No Guilt, No Shame


As a Westerner, brought up in a Jewish family in a puritanical country, it took a while before I could accept the lack of "sin," "evil," "guilt," "shame," or even "blame" in Buddhism. [One of our sisters] has taken an interesting look at karma, which is best seen as cause and effect, and, yes, we are responsible for our actions.

However, karma is caused by the intentions of our actions, not their result. We have no control over the results. If I jump in the lake to save someone who is drowning, but do not get to them in time, there is no need for me to be ashamed.

In Buddhism, we look at things that turn out badly as mistakes. We try to follow the path, and if we make a mistake, we need to learn from it. Guilt and shame are wasted energy. Neither of them benefits us. But to see our mistakes and not repeat them is very beneficial to ourselves and to the world.

After the Pope said some very negative things about Buddhism, showing a lot of ignorance on his part, the monks in Sri Lanka boycotted his visit and refused to meet with him. They didn't even want him to apologize. They wanted him to not do it again. No guilt, no shame, no mea culpa. Just greater awareness.

We are all connected, and everything that happens arises together. Knowing this all we can do is learn from our mistakes.

Gassho, Sarika


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