The Unexpected Benefits of Shame

In his highly readable book, A Blissful Journey,  Geshe Kelsand Gyatos suggests that instead of being a punishment, shame  restrains us from doing that which the person that we wish (or ought to wish) ourselves to be ought not to do.

In this context shame is not a painful conclusion, but a joyous opportunity.

For Buddhists, shame is the frontline defence against inappropriate actions.  Such actions not only produce negative karma (locking you into the painful cycle of rebirth) but also lead to difficult rebirths.

But even non-Buddhists find inappropriate actions to be trouble.  Folks tend to get annoyed when one steals, murders, and cheats.   Likewise, they shy away from those who frequently lose their temper and fail to honour their commitments.  Indeed, during the course of a single day, you are confronted with a whole host of activities that someone considers inappropriate. If you wished to comply with all of them, you might as well just stay home.

The reality of life is that we cannot always abide by an external set of rules when deciding what we should or should not do.

Yet assuming that you want to be ethical, what standard might you use?

I suggest using your own ‘sense of shame’.

Assume that you wished to use your mobile phone in a place where it was prohibited.  You might be tempted to do it anyway – especially if you were (1) in a hurry, (2) pretty sure it wouldn’t harm anyone , and (3) fairly certain you wouldn’t be caught.  If – prior to giving way to temptation – you considered how you’d feel if you were caught, you’d have your answer.

If you’d feel embarrassed or guilty, then deep down you know that you ought not do it.  This is regardless of the logical arguments you might make to the contrary.

However, if you truly wouldn’t be fussed, then you might as well give it a try.

1933 and FDR’s great ‘the money lenders’ speech – history repeats – what will we do this time?

“Faced by the failure of credit they proposed only the lending of more money.”  FDR/ 1933 inaugural speech

Yesterday, I went for a ‘free and friendly’ financial review at my local bank, Natwest.

After 2 1/2 gruelling hours, the result (after I finally understood the deal) was their proposal to refinance an existing loan at 7% with a new one at 11.5%.

I’d have thought they’ve learned their lesson (after all, after 2008 Natwest- through their parent RBS – is now UK taxpayer owned).

Apparently not.

I firmly agree with FDR’s 1933 message that something drastic MUST be done about the banks.

FDR suggests happiness does not lie in the mere possession of money.  He suggests we need to get back to grips with real social values – that which makes us as a society really tick.

What do you think?

TRUST me – I’m an astrologer

Islamic Jesus (Isa) miniature of Sermon on the...
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Trust inspires faith and reliance.  Likewise, it imposes a custodial duty of care.

Ethics is a hot topic of conversation amongst astrologers.  Everyone needs a code of professional ethics.  Yet does everyone really know what that means?

A code of professional ‘ethics’ is meant to affect, if not to assure, trust.  The dictionary advises that ethics are a set of moral (i.e. good vs. bad) principles governing one’s duties and obligations towards others.  Something is ‘moral’ if it conforms to ‘right’ behaviour.

According to Winston Churchill, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was the last word in ethics.  Righteousness thus becomes essential to ethical behaviour bringing with it concepts of divine law and sin.  It is interesting to note that the Greek word for righteousness is the same as for justice, thus bringing impartiality and fairness to the table as well.

The best time to stick your head into the lion’s’ mouth is when he yawns.  Accountancy is a highly regulated profession with strict ‘ethical standards’ upon which the world economy turns.  The newspapers illustrate how this works.  What is ‘good’ corporate behaviour in a ‘bull’  market becomes ‘bad’ corporate behaviour when the market turns sour.  The accountants attest both.  Flip sides of the same coin with a dollop of righteousness.

What does this mean for astrologers?  Discussions within the community are alarming.  ‘Commerciality’ is decried; money is incompatible with ‘healing’.  Sun sign columns are on parity with original sin.  Morality and righteousness lie like a thick fog as we shoulder responsibility for our clients’ prognosis.  ‘Do unto others as you’d have done unto yourself’ is the mantra of choice.

As an accountant, I subscribe to the ‘efficient markets’ hypothesis.  This means investors already have all necessary investment information available ‘on the street’.  While this doesn’t allow for accountants’ egregious professional behaviour, it does place both the risks and rewards of investing firmly in the same pair of hands.

Likewise astrology clients are responsible for their lives and decisions.  I don’t want my client’s trust.  I want his or her cooperation in a joint exploration of human psychology.  Likewise I suggest that my astrological colleagues tread carefully where other ‘angels’ fear to tread.

Ethics provide an easy way to shift both responsibility and blame.