On guilt

preacherThe United States obsesses on guilt.

We pay a very high price for that in terms of anxiety, our eagerness to punish with or without justification, and lost opportunities that would otherwise come to us if we exercised our curiosity.

One of the wisest counselors on abandoning guilt was J. Krishnamurti. We do not easily abandon guilt for several reasons. Perhaps the most compelling among them is that we are driven by fear. In this context we credit guilt with restraining us from wandering off the path of righteousness. But who defines righteousness? Are they people we trust?

A little book titled On Fear contains some of his advice. I find K a difficult read, and this book is no exception. One of the points I did glean from it is that we are taught to compare ourselves to others, and doing so binds us to fear, fear of not being good enough, not being as good as they are.

I discovered Tumblr recently, and the website contains many, many galleries of photos that feature ladies at nude beaches and other textile-free locations. I noticed that I feel guilty browsing these sites. I winced at my own enjoyment of them.

I decided to enquire into this fear. I deem the guilt to be foolish and absurd, but there it is. I can learn something from this, and then I will delve into my other fears. I have plenty of them.

We have never, as a nation, worked at reducing our angst. Angst is defined as a feeling of deep anxiety or dread. We have, in my view, come to view angst as an expression of loyalty to our collective values. K challenged our loyalty to collective values. He urged people to be original and authentic. I’m working on that.

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