Punishment is only OK when it helps. Punishment is always OK when it helps. Conclusion: Punishment is always and only OK when it helps.
Regret is a feeling-punishment loop. You feel the sick feelings in your chest. You wonder about their cause.
Oh yeah. Eunjin’s gone. I did that. I created this pain.
OK. Now, where will you got with your pain? Two options:
- Let that pain push you to improve your future. This will take the form of planning and acting. (Careful! Don’t make doing the right thing into punishment. Then you will interpret and feel pain where there really isn’t any.)
- Get angry about the pain and yourself for having fucked things up.
(2) is a real problem. When you enter the feeling-punishment loop, it’s hard to get back out. Why? Because pain is bad. Bad, or wrong, is the silly formaldehyde version of pain. Pain is painful. Pain is bad. Pain is wrong—and wrong works only by making more pain. You make pain over the fact of pain. Self-hatred for being the source of your pain increases the feeling of pain by being the thought behind an additional secretion.
So (2) is not a helpful path when feeling pain. Either use pain to improve your comportment or dissolve it with Vipassana.
That’s the expected thing to say. For example:
If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?
We who are like senseless children shrink from suffering, but love its causes. We hurt ourselves; our pain is self-inflicted! Why should others be the object of our anger?
But wait. I think that there are times when great and overwhelming panic are actually helpful—a fact that captures my frequent fear that there is a unhealthy escapism in Buddhism. If the problem is not a particular past failure but a path or habit, then the intensity and persistence of the feeling-punishment loop (now amplified by kratom on hour 22 of GKWB III) will be high. This is a sign of true emergency. Survival skill really has percolated up the abstraction ladder when we bash ourselves for not fulfilling our potential. That’s the noblest pain-making. Of course, you should stop handicapping yourself with aversion, because it can be tied to actions and become a (literal) disability. There are pains and fears that actually do stop you from taking Right Action WRT your True Will.
Maybe an intense and prolonged bout of self-loathing, like the voluntary enzymatic self-digestion of the larva in metamorphosis, which is the closest thing there is to a real alchemy in nature. The pupa stage, the bridge between larva and imago (adult), is a chaos not unlike the traditional nigrido stage of alchemy.
Nothing remains the same except (1) some of the internal organs, (2) the bags of formative cells that have been on standby during the larval stage (the bags are called histoblasts), and (3) memories, believe it or not.
This can be the basis of a new imaginary for a new alchemy. Butterfly Tech is exactly like the four stages in Alchemy, which was a spiritual or meditational practice of placeboic-metaphorical self-improvement. The chemical processes were used as metaphors for inner states that lacked a precise technical vocabulary. We don’t know what the hell is going on with the deep (emotional, volitional) self phenomenologically. Things like moods and desires arise unintentionally. So much so that we only notice them after they have already risen. Metaphors for self-emergence, like all metaphors, must cash out in the objective and empirical. Nothing exhibits qualitative material transformation better than processes of rotting, biological generation, precipitation, dissolution, and other apparently “magickal” instances of chemical change.
So there is an exception to the “don’t beat yourself up to the point of vomiting” rule. The exception, we might as well call it, is True Crisis.