The Buddha points to two mental qualities as the underlying safeguards of morality, thus as the protectors of both the individual and society as a whole. These two qualities are called in Pali hiri and ottappa. Hiri is an innate sense of shame over moral transgression; ottappa is moral dread, fear of the results of wrongdoing. The Buddha calls these two states the bright guardians of the world (sukka lokapala). He gives them this designation because as long as these two states prevail in people's hearts the moral standards of the world remain intact, while when their influence wanes the human world falls into unabashed promiscuity and violence, becoming almost indistinguishable from the animal realm (Itiv. 42) (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_23.html).
Reverend Thanissaro wrote:You have to make a distinction between feeling ashamed about yourself and ashamed about particular actions. Remember Rahula was a member of the noble warrior caste. If anybody had a sense of pride it would be that caste. And they also had the strongest sense of shame, that certain acts were not up to their standards. And so you're not dumping on yourself because you're a bad person but saying "I made a mistake. That is not up to my standards." So it that case the shame is not debilitating. It actually helps you to reflect on what you did wrong.
However, the affective experience is not rooted in aversion or some other gross mind state, but equanimity and insight.
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