From the story posted by Chris:
Sukhi sat down and a mood of deep shame overcame her. Presently, she emerged from her mood of shame and self-censure and became absorbed in the intense peace and cleanliness of the precincts. There were some avocado trees and other fruit trees and flowering trees in the well-swept premises of the temple. They surrounded the Bo tree like disciples round a teacher. The Bo tree was decorated with multi-coloured flags. The disciple trees seemed to be posturing in various statuesque attitudes, holding up their luxuriant crowns, some decked with fruit. They were silent but still expressive of peace and fulfilment and reverence. The cooing of doves and pigeons and the chirping of birds and crickets, not to mention the raucous cawing of crows, caught Sukhi's ears from varying distances. Hearing the sounds of the birds and smelling the scents of the temple flowers, she began to delve deeper and deeper, seeking the peace that comes when the mind turns within, the wisdom that arises through realizing the egoless nature of all things.
This reminds me of the notions of samvega and pasada--what the Thais, according to Bhikkhu Gavesako, describe as 'sobering sadness'. Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes about samvega and pasada here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/affirming.html
Samvega was what the young Prince Siddhartha felt on his first exposure to aging, illness, and death. It's a hard word to translate because it covers such a complex range — at least three clusters of feelings at once: the oppressive sense of shock, dismay, and alienation that come with realizing the futility and meaninglessness of life as it's normally lived; a chastening sense of our own complacency and foolishness in having let ourselves live so blindly; and an anxious sense of urgency in trying to find a way out of the meaningless cycle. This is a cluster of feelings we've all experienced at one time or another in the process of growing up, but I don't know of a single English term that adequately covers all three. It would be useful to have such a term, and maybe that's reason enough for simply adopting the word samvega into our language.....
The first step in that solution is symbolized in the Siddhartha story by the prince's reaction to the fourth person he saw on his travels outside of the palace: the wandering forest contemplative. The emotion he felt at this point is termed pasada, another complex set of feelings usually translated as "clarity and serene confidence." It's what keeps samvega from turning into despair. In the prince's case, he gained a clear sense of his predicament and of the way out of it, leading to something beyond aging, illness, and death, at the same time feeling confident that the way would work....
As we can see, samvega must be coupled with pasada, otherwise we would get caught in unwholesome despair. Yet, a certain degree of guilt, remorse and shame is necessary to encourage us to put in the effort to explore the path. So I'd like to ask:
How has Buddhism changed your experience of shame, guilt and remorse?
How have you harnessed feelings of shame, guilt and remorse to encourage your practice?
Have you ever been overwhelmed by samvega?
How have you pulled yourself out of it so that you begin to illuminate your feelings of remorse with pasada?