What is the root cause of guilt? It is our idea about right and wrong, our understanding about what is right and what is wrong.
What is the scale to measure right or wrong?
In Hinduism, vegetarianism is considered right. In Christianity, non-vegetarianism is thought to be right. In Hinduism, you can marry only once. In Islam you can marry several times. In Hinduism, you can’t drink alcohol and liquor. In Christianity, Jesus himself consumed wine. You are caught in rules like, ‘If you eat this, you are guilty’, ‘If you drink that, you are guilty.’
There are so many rules and so many regulations in different places, different situations and different societies. Where is the scale for all the so-called morality? It is a set of local customs. In the course of time it becomes morality. If you read the ancient scriptures, the epics of India like the Mahabharata, the princess Draupadi was married to five men! Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, the heroes of the epic, had five sons from five different men.
At different times, different rules were formed by different leaders. In a particular society, certain things that were considered moral were considered in another society to be immoral. In America, there are such differing moral standards that I saw. In one state, casinos are allowed, whereas in the neighboring state, casinos are illegal.
Where is the scale of right or wrong? For one person, a particular food is nectar, whereas for another person, the same food is poison! As long as you are caught in right and wrong, you will never function with restfulness. You will only be guilty. You have to go beyond right and wrong into your own consciousness. There lies the key.
When you start internalizing the laws of society, you create a deep wound in your being. You destroy your innate intelligence. According to me, children can be given a set of rules initially so they don’t move from the path of consciousness. But soon they have to be given the understanding of life and the need to operate from consciousness instead of conscience.
If you live with consciousness, you will automatically live a moral life.
To start understanding the need to live with consciousness, just look into your morality. Morality is only skin deep, whereas consciousness comes from the very being. Your consciousness tries to break through your conscience. Your consciousness continuously fights with your conscience.
Conscience is societal. Consciousness is natural. Conscience is a poor substitute for consciousness.
People ask me, ‘Swamiji, what is this? You are pulling down the whole social structure. Then how can we all live morally?’ I tell them, ‘Be very clear, it is only for kids that you need a forced morality. For them you need to say, ‘Keep quiet, I will give you candy.’ Of course, nowadays kids reply, ‘I am happy. I don’t need your candy. Who cares for your candy!’ For a child you can say that you will give candy and restrict him. You can impose morality on him based on fear or greed. But for you, it is time to grow up. You are not kids anymore. Just stand up with consciousness. When I say consciousness, I mean the intelligent energy of your being.
When anything is a forced rule, you always try to get around it. For example, you always speed when you don’t see the policeman. When you follow rules blindly without understanding their spirit, this is what happens – you just wait for an excuse to break them. Honestly answer yourself: if there were no rules, no regulating authority to keep a check on what you did, would you be the same person as you are now? Would you be doing things in the same way as you do now? If your answer is no, be very clear that the rule is coming from your conscience, not from your consciousness. You have not internalized the spirit of the rule or you do not agree with the rule. That is the reason you are not doing things in a way natural to you.
You can see, when you tell children not to do something, they will be most tempted to do it. As long as you don’t mention anything about doing it or not doing it, they may not even be bothered about it. But the moment you tell them not to do something, they will be looking to do it. Actually there is a taste, a thrill in doing what you are not supposed to do. Most of the time, you develop an instant urge for something if you are asked not to do it. You feel a kind of joy or satisfaction by doing it. That is the basic tendency in every human being.
When you are told not to do something, the basic human tendency is to do exactly that.
As a teenager, when you say ‘no’ to your parents, you feel you have proved you are independent. When you say ‘no’, you feel you have proved you are somebody special, somebody different. As long as you say ‘yes’, you feel you are only a child. When you start saying ‘no’, you feel you have become an adult. You feel that you are a man only when you say ‘no’ to your father. Till then you feel you are a child. Just to prove that you are a man you start saying ‘no’ to your father. This is basic psychology. When you say ‘no’ you think you are somebody, until then you think you are nobody. So please be very clear, to whatever you say, your grown up son is going to say ‘no’, because he wants to be somebody.
People come and ask me, ‘How do I make my son do what I advice him to? I know it is good for him but he won’t listen to me.’
You have to understand two things. First thing, if they feel that something is giving them happiness, just let them be. Only life can teach them, you cannot teach them. You cannot teach anybody, only life can teach. You can put a few words into them so that it echoes when life teaches them the same thing, that’s all.
Second thing, unless they need help, your help cannot help them. When they need your help they will come. See, your idea of happiness and unhappiness has come out of your experience. Just think, did you listen to your father when you were young? No. You did not.
No son listens to his father. After they become fathers, they forget that they did not listen to their fathers and start blaming their sons. Because they have to train their sons, they remember only the incidents in which they listened to their fathers! They forget the incidents where they said ‘no’ to their fathers. Be very clear, your children are doing the same thing that you did.
Only life can teach them. You can neither teach nor help your kids unless they want the help. If you force something on them, if you force rules and regulations on them, they may learn one thing, and that is how to cheat you, that’s all. So just remain aware of the stage your child is in, that is enough. You can step in at any time he wants your support.
In the course of time, many regulations that had meaning earlier become blind rules, without any meaning.
In India, during the times before electricity was invented, tailors would sew by hand with a needle with the help of dim lanterns. So clothes would not be sewn after sunset since sewing in the dim light of the candle or lantern would cause strain on the eye. So the work was always confined to daylight hours.
But even now in India, the elderly people in the house will say, ‘It is not a good thing to sew after dusk!’ The very reason for not sewing at night doesn’t even exist anymore! Electricity and bright lights are there. But it has become a ritual for them, with no connection to its original purpose.
When you have understanding, any correct rule can become a friendly technique to live life happily.
Rules and rituals are actually techniques for your own enlightenment. When I say enlightenment, I mean a blissful life full of clarity. Of course, when pursued deeply, it will lead to the ultimate state of enlightenment.
When you don’t have the right understanding, you miss the whole thing and end up acting in a foolish way. When you are given the right understanding, you understand that any rule was created just for you and others around you to live a happy and blissful life.
When the spirit of the rule is understood, there won’t be any problem falling in line with it. By falling in tune, there will only be juice in your action, there will only be a blissful commitment to it. But if the spirit is missed, everything is missed. Life will seem dull and lifeless.
Take meditation for example. Meditation itself is done to go inwards irrespective of the outer world noise and situations. I have seen that some people, before starting their meditation routine, will first try to create a noiseless situation outside. They will go around telling everyone to keep quiet. They will practically freeze people in their normal routine just because they are going to meditate.
Only when the spirit is missed, things become dead rituals. You miss and mess. All rules and regulations were created for a harmonious life with the understanding, ‘You will not kill me and I will not kill you, both of us will live happily.’ That was the basic understanding behind them. However, in the course of time, they became laws.
All rules and regulations were created to live a harmonious and happy life, but the moment you internalize the rules without the understanding, you create guilt. As long as you follow the rules with an understanding, you will be happy. When you start following the words instead of the spirit, you will start creating guilt.
When you want to escape from the law, what do you do? You just catch on to the words of the law and drop the spirit behind them.
Then you legally work around the words and escape from the law. When you catch the words, you become a bureaucrat and you miss the spirit. Only when you catch the spirit, you can be an intelligent being without guilt.
source: Living Enlightenment