Just outside his hut, Siddhattha turned around, having become aware that I was behind him.
He asked, “What troubles you, Padipa?”
“I have remorse and shame over a past action.”
“Was the action something you wanted to perform, or were you forced to do it by someone else?”
“It was both, but mostly it was something I wanted.”
“Then,” Siddhattha said, “you have known the suffering that follows upon a desire being fulfilled, whereby new remorse and longings are born. As long as you are attentive to the truth of desire, its fulfillment, and its fruits, you will have no need for remorse and shame. For you will have awareness instead. And awareness is the primary faculty that can make desires wane and dissolve. From remorse and shame, people devise ways of hurting themselves, and that does not help them eliminate the cause of their suffering. Remorse and shame are found in those who still have self-importance.”
I then asked with some hesitation, “Do you mean that desires can be satisfied as long as one is aware?”
Siddhattha said, “Your mind jumps ahead in order to comprehend what is behind, never touching an understanding of what is. For what is present for you right now is the remorse that comes from having committed an action that you feel is not good and wholesome. You have not begun to see the role of desire in all of this. Instead, you perceive yourself as the kind of a person who did a certain deed and wants to do it again, even though you know you will regret it afterward.
“So,” he continued, “the desire for sensual pleasures is so strong in you that you can only conceive of ways to satisfy it, and you would use awareness as a means to that end.”
His observation of my motives and character, being accurate, stung me deeply. I felt hatred for Siddhattha and then hatred for myself. To save face, I thought that I must surely kill myself. Or, I must get Siddhattha to restore my dignity. Then I would not need to dwell on the hurt that made a home in my heart. But Siddhattha’s way was to go through the many rooms of hurt until one discovers the door to nibbana.