Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Guilt

"If a man has beheld evil, he may know that it was shown to him in order that he learn his own guilt and repent; for what is shown to him is also within him." -

"Guilt is never a rational thing; it distorts all the faculties of the human mind, it perverts them, it leaves a man no longer in the free use of his reason, it puts him in to confusion." - Edmund Burke

"Consciously or not, we are all on a quest for answers, trying to learn the lessons of life. We grapple with fear and guilt. We search for meaning, love, and power. We try to understand fear, loss, and time. We seek to discover who we are and how we can become truly happy… Not all of these lessons are enjoyable to learn, but everyone finds that they enrich the texture of life." - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

"Guilt binds us to the darkest part of ourselves… Shame and guilt are deeply connected… Guilt and time are closely connected, too. Since guilt always comes from the past, it keeps the past alive… Only when you release your guilt do you truly release your past to create a new future." - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

"Life hands us lessons, universal truths teaching us the basics about love, fear, time, power, loss, happiness, relationships, (guilt, anger, forgiveness, surrender, patience, play, loss) and authenticity. We are not unhappy today because of the complexities of life. We are unhappy because we miss its underlying simplicities." - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

"Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us." - Eric Hoffer

"Love and guilt cannot coexist, and to accept one is to deny the other." - Gerald G. Jampolsky

"Since trifles make the sum of human things, and half our misery from our foibles springs; since life’s best joys consist in peace and ease, and few can save or serve, but all may please; Oh! let th’ ungentle spirit learn from hence a small unkindness is a great offense, large bounties to restore we wish in vain, but all may shun the guilt of giving pain." - Hannah More

"In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilt if he only thinks of doing so." - Immanuel Kant

"Forgiveness is one of the least understood of all spiritual practices. It has nothing to do with condoning poor behavior in ourselves and others. Rather, it calls us to responsibility. In forgiving ourselves, we make the journey from guilt for what we have done (or not done) to celebration of what we become." - Joan Borysenko

"Life without industry is guilt, industry without art is brutality." - John Ruskin

"In the last analysis we remain persons who must flee from ourselves and from the dark mystery of our threatening guilt in order to find our true selves in God. Whoever has understood the importance of this flight, this critical distancing of ourselves from ourselves, whoever has understood this knows that it comes about only by allowing oneself to be loved by an infinite and all-forgiving love, which is called God, and by believing, hoping and loving in this love." - Karl Rahner

"Not wishing to be other than they are, the blameless ones, in their self-love, cannot conceive the real alternative; another self, cleansed of guilt and freed from folly, capable of renewal." - Lewis Mumford

"Nothing about his life is more strange to [man] or more unaccountable in purely mundane terms than the stirrings he finds in himself, usually fitful but sometimes overwhelming, to look beyond his animal existence and not be fully satisfied with its immediate substance. He lacks the complacency of the other animals: he is obsessed by pride and guilt, pride at being something more than a mere animal, built at falling short of the high aims he sets for himself." - Lewis Mumford

"Guilt is the only evil; but no guilt accrues when the issue is one against which there are no guarantees." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"Man's great guilt does not lie in the sins he commits, for temptation is great and his strength is limited. Man's great guilt lies in the fact that he can turn away from evil at any moment, and yet he does not." - Martin Buber

"There is a burden of care in getting riches, fear in keeping them, temptation in using them, guilt in abusing them, sorrow in losing them, and a burden of account at last to be given up concerning them." - Matthew Henry

"Goodness makes greatness truly valuable, and greatness make goodness much more serviceable." - Matthew Henry

"What we call real estate - the solid ground to build a house on - is the broad foundation on which nearly all the guilt of this world rests." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

"The first fault is the child of simplicity, but every other the offspring of guilt." - Oliver Goldsmith

"For the first time, the best may err, art may persuade and novelty spread out its charms. The first fault is the child of simplicity; but every other the offspring of guilt." - Oliver Goldsmith

"He who knows not guilt knows no fear." - Philip Massinger

"Three fatall Sisters wait upon each sin; First, Fear and Shame without, then Guilt within." - Robert Herrick

"Guilt upon conscience, like rust upon iron, both defiles and consumes it, gnawing and creeping into it, as that does which at last eats out the very heart and substance of the metal." -

"Addictive spirituality creates dependence in the practitioner (frequently to authoritarian leaders and their communities), an avoidance of personal responsibility, and loss of individuality through social controls, such as fear, guilt, or greed for power or bliss. It also tends to suppress rational inquiry into the teachings. Healthy spirituality, on the other hand, supports the practitioner's freedom, autonomy, self-esteem, and social responsibility. It is based on experience, rather than belief or dogma; it does not create idols out of spiritual teachers; and it empowers students by emphasizing democratic forms of learning and teaching, rather than the authoritarian model that has dominated spiritual life for millennia." - Ronald S. Miller

"Admit thy guilt and seek forgiveness, for the denial of guilt is two iniquities." -

"A man should not act as a judge either for someone he loves or for someone he hates. For no man can see the guilt of someone he loves or the good qualities of someone he hates." - Talmud or The Talmud NULL

"Guilt blunts sensitivity, it doesn’t sharpen it. Only by fully embracing the shadows of love and closeness can we be capable of any genuine union of souls." - Thomas Moore

"The mind of guilt is full of scorpions." -

"They whose guilt within their bosom lies imagine every eye beholds their blame." -

"If a man has beheld evil, he may know that it was shown to him in order that he learn his own guilt and repent; for what is shown to him is also within him." - Baal Shem Tov, given name Yisroel ben Eliezer

"We're basically an illiterate society sexually. We're not well educated. We're not much better educated than our parents, and even though sex is merchandised and exploited, there is very little sexuality education available in American schools. It is almost as though we had to repay our guilt for exploiting sex so explicitly in our society by preserving a shroud of ignorance." - Faye Wattleton

"Convictions following the admission into evidence of confessions which are involuntary, i.e., the product of coercion, either physical or psychological, cannot stand. This is so not because such confessions are unlikely to be true but because the methods used to extract them offend an underlying principle in the enforcement of our criminal law: that ours is an accusatorial and not an inquisitorial system — a system in which the State must establish guilt by evidence independently and freely secured and may not by coercion prove its charges against an accused out of his own mouth." - Felix Frankfurter

"My guiding principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted." - Franz Kafka

"When teachers are at their best they display a common orientation: they do not believe in the power of pontification. They neither preach nor moralize. They give no guilt and demand no promises... are not preoccupied with the child's past history or distant future, they deal with the present. What matters to them is the here and now of the child in distress." - Haim Ginott, fully Haim G. Ginott, orignially Ginzburg

"Sin is a technique of the pseudo-religions. A true religion has no need of the concept at all. The pseudo-religion cannot live without the concept of sin, because sin is the technique of creating guilt in people." - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

"To “justify” means nothing else than to acquit of guilt him who was accused as if his own innocence were confirmed." - John Calvin

"When I go to the house of God I do not want amusement; I want the doctrine which is according to godliness. I want to hear the remedy against the harassing of my guilt and the disorder of my affections. I want to be led from weariness and disappointment to that goodness which filleth the hungry soul. I want to have light upon the mystery of Providence; to be taught how the judgments of the Lord are right; how I shall be prepared for duty and for trial; how I may fear God all the days of my life, and close them in peace." - John M. Mason, fully John Mitchell Mason

"Metaphysical guilt is the lack of absolute solidarity with the human being as such--an indelible claim beyond morally meaningful duty. This solidarity is violated by my presence at a wrong or a crime. It is not enough that I cautiously risk my life to prevent it; if it happens, and I was there, and if I survive where the other is killed, I know from a voice within myself: I am guilty of being still alive." - Karl Jaspers, fully Karl Theodor Jaspers

"But each one of us is guilty insofar as he remained inactive. The guilt of passivity is different. Impotence excuses; no moral law demands a spectacular death. Plato already deemed it a matter of course to go into hiding in desperate times of calamity, and to survive. But passivity knows itself morally guilty of every failure, every neglect to act whenever possible, to shield the imperiled, to relieve wrong, to countervail. Impotent submission always left a margin of activity which, though not without risk, could still be cautiously effective. Its anxious omission weighs upon the individual as moral guilt. Blindness for the misfortune of others, lack of imagination of the heart, inner differences toward the witnessed evil--that is moral guilt." - Karl Jaspers, fully Karl Theodor Jaspers

"Men's minds are too ready to excuse guilt in themselves. " - Livy, formally Titus Livius, aka Titus Livy NULL

"Men's minds are too ingenious in palliating guilt in themselves." - Livy, formally Titus Livius, aka Titus Livy NULL

"The problem of unmet expectations in marriage is primarily a problem of stereotyping. Each and every human being on this planet is a unique person. Since marriage is inevitably a relationship between two unique people, no one marriage is going to be exactly like any other. Yet we tend to wed with explicit visions of what a “good” marriage ought to be like. Then we suffer enormously from trying to force the relationship to fit the stereotype and from the neurotic guilt and anger we experience when we fail to pull it off." - M. Scott Peck, fully Morgan Scott Peck

"To the end God may rest in the Soul, the Heart is always to be kept peaceable in whatsoever Disquiet, Temptation and Tribulation. Thou art to know, that thy Soul is the Center, Habitation, and the Kingdom of God. That therefore, to the end the Sovereign King may rest on that Throne of thy Soul, thou ought to take pains to keep it clean, quiet, void and peaceable; clean from guilt and defects; quiet from fears; void of affections, desires, and thoughts; and peaceable in temptations and tribulations." - Miguel de Molinos

"To kill one man is to be guilty of a capital crime, to kill ten men is to increase the guilt ten-fold, to kill a hundred men is to increase it a hundred-fold. This the rulers of the earth all recognize and yet when it comes to the greatest crime—waging war on another state—they praise it! It is clear they do not know it is wrong, for they record such deeds to be handed down to posterity; if they knew they were wrong, why should they wish to record them and have them handed down to posterity? If a man on seeing a little black were to say it is black, but on seeing a lot of black were to say it were white, it would be clear that such a man could not distinguish between black and white. Or if he were to taste a few bitter things were to pronounce them sweet, clearly he would be incapable of distinguishing between sweetness and bitterness. So those who recognize a small crime as such, but do not recognize the wickedness of the greatest crime of all—the waging of war on another state–but actually praise it—cannot distinguish between right and wrong. So as to right or wrong, the rulers of the world are in confusion." - Mozi or Mo-tze, Mocius or Mo-tzu, original name Mo Di, aka Master Mo NULL

"Besides the guilt of sin and the power of sin, there is the stain of sin." - Nathanial Culverwell, also spelled Nathaniel Culverwell

"We do not always remember the things that do no credit to us. We justify them, cover them in bright lies or with the thick dust of forgetfulness. All of the things that Shadow had done in his life of which he was not proud, all the things he wished he had done otherwise or left undone, came at him then in a swirling storm of guilt and regret and shame, and he had nowhere to hide from them. He was as naked and as open as a corpse on a table, and dark Anubis the jackal god was his prosector and his prosecutor and his persecutor." - Neil Gaiman, fully Neil Richard Gaiman

"Parents embraced “Sesame Street” for several reasons, among them that it assuaged their guilt over the fact that they could not or would not restrict their children’s access to television. “Sesame Street” appeared to justify allowing a four- or five-year-old to sit transfixed in front of a television screen for unnatural periods of time. Parents were eager to hope that television could teach their children something other than which breakfast cereal has the most crackle. At the same time, “Sesame Street” relieved them of the responsibility of teaching their pre-school children how to read—no small matter in a culture where children are apt to be considered a nuisance.... We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents." - Neil Postman

"The young all have the same dream: to save the world. Some quickly forget this dream, convinced that there are more important things to do, like having a family, earning money, traveling, and learning a foreign language. Others, though, decide that it really is possible to make a difference in society and to shape the world we will hand on to future generations… There is a work of art each of us was destined to create. That is the central point of our life, and -no matter how we try to deceive ourselves -we know how important it is to our happiness. Usually, that work of art is covered by years of fears, guilt and indecision. But, if we decide to remove those things that do not belong, if we have no doubt as to our capability, we are capable of going forward with the mission that is our destiny. That is the only way to live with honor. " -

"People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That's not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn't understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you're given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further." - Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown