The soul that sinneth, it shall die.

~ Ezekiel 18:20

The word guilty comes from the Old English gylt (meaning crime, sin or fault) and is synonymous with the French word coupable from the Latin culpabilis. There is no more serious infraction nor more costly payment than genuine guilt though its colloquial use to denote the superficial feelings that arise from human weakness (as in, "I feel guilty about eating that piece of chocolate cake") has turned guilty feelings into mere chafings of the ego. Guilt is yet the ultimate emotional discomfort, and it is caused by our having a moral conscience which is the hallmark of our humanity. By owning the imperfections that go along with being human, guilt is both the crime and the punishment, the sin and the fine or cost of our redemption.

Guilt's counterpart is denial, the suppression of the painful feelings that arise from having a moral conscience. Denial literally means negation which, in the case of conscience is the negation of what makes our hearts ache and as such drives a wedge between us and our true nature. In this, it is also a form of self-negation, the same denial that enables criminal behaviour and prevents ours and others' healing and wholeness.

In the Judeo Christian faith, repentance and confession are the basis of atonement, or the reconciliation between man and God. In non-theistic terms, this is clearing the conscience, like a pool of water becoming limpid once again. The ultimate atonement is achieved in death which is symbolically and vicariously recommended in the sacrificial offering of a lamb or goat. Of course what dies is not the literal sinner but denial itself as that wedge that divides me from myself and others. When denial finally expires, and the soul that sinneth with it, the pristine heart of conscience pure and clear is recovered:

And then, may the radiant red hook
Emanating from your pristine heart
Enter my crown, then descend my central channel,
Hook my very subtle clear light mind,
And bring it to your pristine realm.
~Phowa, Guided Meditation at the Time of Death


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