ASK ABDI: HOW DOES DYING WITH REGRETS SERVE US?
QUESTION: Thanks again for another great podcast episode.
So much of what you are saying here resonates, but the point about regrets kind of threw me. Which is GOOD! Which beckons me to explore something more deeply. And I see your point in taking ownership of our mistakes/bad behavior/unconsciousness, etc. But I keep coming back to: NOT having regrets is not a bad thing.
For me, not having regrets is understanding that every situation, mistake, bad habit, experience, etc., are the opportunities that promote growth. Not an excuse to ignore or avert bad behavior, habits, or addictions. Do I carry shame? Of course. Remorse, too. Which is also another teaching.
Okay, so not to drag it out, it seemed I heard you telling folks that it’s better to live and die with regrets. Yes? Because if so - in the END - and I emphasize this word because you opened with your dying friend - how does that serve us?
ANSWER: We are on the same page here. The misunderstanding is due to my poor communication of the matter. I am not stating one should die with regrets. Rather, that regrets can be a door through which we enter and start the processes that you have completed. The fact that you have looked at, sat with, and contemplated your shame and remorse is a sign of the path that needs to be taken for the healing.
My friend, due to his unexamined wounding, was unable to use his impending death to examine and heal. Obviously, denial is not the same as facing one’s history and patterns. Absolutely true what you say about everything on our life path being a teaching. AND examination is a part of the path, as well.
I find the concept of vasanas (desires in subtle form) in Vedanta helpful: the bodymind tendencies (“positive” or “negative”) that are carried throughout life and lifetimes. The clearing here is done through what you yourself have done: to sit with those sticky feelings/tendencies and transform them by shinning the attention of awareness.
A related issue occurs in the quick mini-awakenings (that are just an appetizer or invitation), which are prevalent these days, due to the use of psychotropic substances like ayahuasca. It is a common misconception to identify the ego with the absolute. This allows the ego to take the position that “everything is God” and “all is allowed” or “all is good”. On one level, that view of the dream nature is true. But with the ego running the show, that is disastrous business.
The unconscious ego run amok is the root cause of the power/sex/money issues our spiritual communities, as well as, culture at large is riddled with. We all have shadows that need examination, regardless of our spiritual evolution. Examining regrets is a powerful, if painful, way to see what aspects of our shadow need to be tended to and integrated.
Of course, the ultimate question might be “who is the ‘I’ that feels regret?” But in the duality aspect of it, examination is what can help shed us of the illusion of separation. Hence my nudge towards delving into possible regrets.