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Satipatthana Sutta, Third Foundation: Division Through Shame

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Teacher: Rodney Smith
Date: 2011-04-26
Venue: Seattle Insight Meditation Center



While we may have guilt over an incident or a series of mishaps, shame is the accompanying attitude about oneself and can therefore be far more disruptive. Life becomes an uphill battle against our destructive inward narrative. Its variations go from feeling lesser and smaller than to being an obstacle and ultimately better off not existing. Confronting our conclusion around shame is taking on our emotional posture to life itself.


Bring to mind mistakes you have made and the circumstances that led to the difficulty. Perhaps you were lost in a mood or reactive pattern and acting out of habit without being aware. You were acting the only way you knew to act at the time and probably motivated by defensiveness and self-protection. You were in fact doing the best you could, and as incomplete as that action was, there was little chance of you acting differently. Notice how past guilt from mistakes has conditioned the mind toward shame. Watch how it prepares you to assume a disadvantaged perspective and a sense of self-blame when plans or conditions fall apart in the present. Be aware of the story of shame that you perpetuate and the image that is strengthened from repeating that story over time. Stop assuming the truth of the story and deal directly with the emotion of shame as a conditioning from the past.


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