Monday night I heard Mark discuss two kinds of wholesome regret: regret for wrong things done and regret for right things left undone. That point resonated with me and I did a little research. In the Buddhist Dictionary, Nyanatiloka, (available online) I stumbled across the term kukkucca which says “… it is the repentance over wrong things done, and right things neglected.” From there I found the term “hiri-ottapa,” a term I had never heard before. It is defined as “moral shame and moral dread” and says this is associated with all karmically wholesome consciousness and this protects the world.
I googled that term and printed out two articles. One was by Bhikkhu Bodhi, a writer I respect, called The Guardians of the World. He says, “In the present-day world, with its secularization of all values, such notions as shame and fear of wrong are bound to appear antiquated, . . . Yet the Buddha’s stress on the importance … was based on a deep insight. … The protect of self-cultivation … requires that we keep a critical watch over the movements of our minds … in the practice of self-examination, the sense of shame and fear of wrongdoing play a crucial role. … By cultivating within ourselves the qualities of moral shame and fear of wrongdoing we not only accelerate our own progress along the path to deliverance, but also contribute our share toward the protection of the world. …”
The second article was by Ajahn Jayasaro, a teacher I had not heard of before. He says that we tend to confuse Hiri and Ottappa with guilt, repression, and neurotic reactions. Later he says that the more we reflect upon these aspects of our behavior, the more we train our mind which becomes more refined, sensitive, confident and protected.
Both of these articles support the clear teachings we heard Monday night.