Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guilt And Responsibility


With the recognition of guilt the individual has to assume full responsibility for his fate – a step which opens the door to healing. The uninitiated are often afraid of discovering past situations of guilt and believe that they can hardly go on living with this knowledge. Some believe they could never, for example, get over the discovery that they have killed someone. Such fears are unfounded in regard to specific memories of this kind. There is an old saying: “Only that which man suppresses, oppresses”. It is when the knowledge of guilt is unconscious that we are afraid to confront it. But if we succeed in looking guilt in the face all the pressure disappears immediately. The pressure was only there because we pretended not to know about the guilt.
Nothing of which we are fully conscious can ever have a negative effect. In therapy the confronting of guilt is entirely free of value judgment It is a looking into reality and is incorporated into the past as a step in the learning process. Through integrating step by step into his consciousness all his hitherto totally suppressed shadows, a person becomes complete and whole. Confrontation with guilt is not the taking on of a burden but the giving up of a burden. Although the confrontation itself is frequently not felt to be very pleasant, afterwards the patient has an unfamiliar feeling of freedom and relief. Any dealings with guilt should avoid any extreme. To suppress guilt or to project it onto others is to create sickness in oneself, since one is retreating from reality. It is equally unhealthy to overload oneself with guilt and self-accusation until one collapses under the burden. We must learn that we are guilty because we are human beings and that this guilt is the price we pay for our learning process. Without error there is no development. There is therefore no single person who has not shouldered guilt at some time in the past. Only by going through the darkness can we reach the light. Nobody is able to avoid hate without first having tackled it.
In the tradition of the Church we see another example of a balanced way of dealing with guilt. First the believer is made aware of the fact that, as a man, he is sinful and has shouldered a burden of guilt, then he is given absolution and the burden is removed.
Some people object that the principle of grace stands in direct contradiction to the law of karma, which states that all guilt must be redeemed by the individual. But this contradiction between karma and grace is illusory. Like all polar opposites, these two principles unite in the middle and in fact determine each other. Grace only comes to the person who asks for it, and to do that he must acknowledge his guilt. Hence grace can only become effective through karma. Karma works to promote insight in a human being, and once this has been achieved he is ripe for grace.

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