Tuesday, October 31, 2017

the "shame" card

I wonder if it's true or whether it is just an effort to concoct another fortune cookie:

The corner stone of all religious life amounts to little more than the capacity to be ashamed of personal short-comings. Since trying like fury to cover up and camouflage (praise and blame) doesn't work very well, acknowledging those short-comings is a natural option, which is not the same as saying it's necessarily easy or even possible.

It can be a bit of a bummer: Covering up, acquiring the 'good things' in life, talking the good talk, has a way of going awry and yet meeting failures and bruises doesn't really provide a cure-all either. It seems an endless skein and yet those who cannot or do not acknowledge their short-comings are less human for it. Or maybe I just mean I'd prefer not to hang around with them.

A Zen teacher (can't remember who) once said, "in order to do this practice, you must feel shame." "Shame" of course is one of those fifty-cent no-no's in the culture where I live. Books are written about how deleterious "shame" is, how everyone is hard-wired for a fruitful joy. It's a cottage industry at a minimum. It's probably better not to call it "shame" since knee-jerk fixer-uppers are just waiting to pounce with another tome.

Whatever the negative implications, still I think that those who can stand the gaff of whatever shame assails them have an odds-on chance of being nicer people.

But that may be a bit too facile, a bit too fortune-cookie-esque.


  1. I remember, age 5 maybe, my mother asking if I wasn't ashamed of myself. I don't remember what I did. I don't recall a ton of bricks falling on me or great realization striking. But it has remained in memory and determination to be do what could make me feel ashamed.

  2. Replace "to be do" with "to not do". I can't see how I can blame autocorrect for that.

  3. So, recovery from cataract surgery is pretty quick.
    Good to know. Figured you’d be out of commission for at least a few days.

    As to the appetizer du jour, I’d have to say I agree with you AND that the assertion is as likely to be wrong as it is likely to be correct.

    We’d need to examine real “spiritual” persons, and real “spiritual leaders.”

    Put another way, if a spiritual person (leader) has thin skin, can he or she be effective? If a spiritual person is self-forgiving, or has “thick skin,” what does it mean to have shame?

    Enjoy the cocktails.

  4. Olcharlie’s anecdote is instructive.

    Think about it. Since forever small children have been told that some action *should* have caused them to feel shame. But the children didn’t feel “shame” at the time. Some kids eventually have a unconscious sense of guilt not for doing wrong but for not feeling their action is wrong. Such a nice neurosis

    Pass on the shame altogether. Acknowledge mistake. Apologize. Make amends. Move on.