Guilt is actually the shadow of the ego.
When somebody says something and you become angry, it is the ego, your idea about yourself, that causes the anger. But right after, you start feeling guilty about losing your temper. Now, too, it is the same ego that causes the guilt. It gives you the feeling that you could have done differently to change the situation, but you did not do it. This is the dilemma. The ego creates the problem and the same ego goes on harboring guilt. If you understand this game of the ego, you can simply drop the guilt. Without allowing ego, if you allow only awareness, you will neither get unduly angry nor will you suffer for it. Because of the awareness, you will not be blinded with anger. You will get angry only to the extent required and automatically there will not be any guilt either!
If you have made a mistake there are two ways to treat it. One is to feel guilty. If you feel guilty, you will commit the same mistake again. Guilt is the way to commit the same mistake again because you forget the mistake and start focusing on the guilt. If you focus on the mistake, you will know how and where you went wrong and so you will not repeat it. If you focus on the guilt, you will not even analyze how and where you went wrong, so you are still very much capable of making the same mistake again!
People ask me, ‘Swamiji, I want to stop smoking. Please show me how to.’ I tell them, ‘First drop your guilt.’
They look surprised and say, ‘Swamiji, if I drop my guilt, I will start smoking even more!’
Only when you drop your guilt, only when you are free from the past, you will have enough energy to change your future. As long as you carry the guilt, you will project only your past into the future.
Understand, when you carry guilt, you have already decided you can’t change the future, and if you do have the confidence that you can change the future, you will not carry guilt. The deeper the guilt, the higher the chances of committing the same mistake in the future.
There is a beautiful character named Vali in the Indian epic Ramayana. The story goes that anyone who faced Vali in a battle would lose half his power to him! If you stood in front of him to oppose him, half your power would be transferred to him.
In the same way, if you stand in front of your past to fight with it, half your power will go to it. Your guilt will suck up half your energy.
Please understand that all your negativity has only one power, and that power is nothing but your faith in that negativity. You empower your own negativity.
When you decide to fight smoking, you give half of your power to it. Then when you start fighting it, it is almost like fighting with your shadow. You will never win. As long as you try to fight with your past, you unconsciously empower it and project the same past into the future also. Be aware that the more guilt there is, the more the same mistakes. You will see that through guilt you will not be able to overcome any mistake.
To feel guilty is to be in sin. In fact, that is the only sin.
The hell that we talk about is not in another time and space. It is within us when we feel guilty, without doing anything to change our mindset.
All your guilt, all your pain, everything is a pure imaginary shaft you create inside your head. The mistake you did ten years ago, the mistake you did seven years ago and the mistake you did three years ago, are independent and unconnected incidents. But when you connect them and start thinking about it, naturally you start creating guilt. You start feeling like a continuous sinner. This is one approach.
There is another approach.
When you commit a mistake, see objectively why you committed it, how you committed it. Watch as an observer how and why it is getting repeated. Look scientifically into the mechanism of guilt. Just this awareness will open a new door and you will never commit the same mistake again – because once you look into it, and find the cause, it will disappear. To know a thing totally is to be free of it.
source: Living Enlightenment