Question: How do you deal with guilt if you have been brought up with the feeling that God will punish you if you do wrong?

Sri Chinmoy: In the Western world, unfortunately, the feeling of guilt is widespread. Where does the feeling of guilt come from? It comes from ignorance.

First we do something wrong out of ignorance and then we have a guilty conscience because of our wrongdoing. Instead, the first thing that should come to our mind immediately is, "If I have the power to do something wrong, then God has the power to forgive me." When we have done something very bad we must not feel that there is no power in the universe to obliterate our wrong deeds. We have done something wrong, granted, but God is infinitely stronger than we are, and we should remember that He is all Compassion. Whenever we meditate we should feel that God is all Love. He is not going to punish us. With His infinite Compassion He is going to transform us. But if we cherish a feeling of guilt, God will not be able to come to our rescue.

Eventually the sincere seeker will recognise the fact that guilt comes from bondage. If we meditate daily, we are trying to be freed from our ignorance and limitations and it is this inner freedom, not the outer freedom, that will free us from guilt. We don't know how to utilise the outer freedom properly and we make mistakes because we are afraid of going deep within to secure our real inner freedom. But once we can use our inner freedom there will be a constant effulgence of light in our life. Then how can we do anything wrong?

I always say the past is dust. By thinking of it and brooding over it we cannot change the past or free ourselves from guilt. If we have done something wrong, it is past. Let us think of the immediate future and allow it to grow into the immediacy of today. Our aspiration, which wants to go forward, upward and inward, will bring the divine wealth from the immediate future and place it right in front of the door which we call the past. Then, when the past wants to come in to us it will find that we have blocked the door. Let us not consciously cherish our mistakes. The past is dust because it has not given you realisation. If it had, you would not have come to me for light. But you are crying for illumination, liberation, realisation, and not just to be freed from guilt. Since that is your aim, you must run towards your goal. Then you will see the things that do not help you towards realisation falling behind you in the race because they cannot bear the effulgence of light.

If you have a guilty conscience about anything, please discard it like an old rag. When you aspire you have to put on new clothes. Old and dirty clothes will destroy your inspiration, and the Divine will not care to mix with you. Always try to be in the light and for the light and you will see that darkness in the form of guilt will have to leave you.