A devotee asked Guruji: Please forgive me if I have committed a mistake.

Gurudev: Why should you be forgiven? You are asking for forgiveness because you feel a pinch and you want to be free from it, isn't it? Let the pinch be there. The pinch will not let the mistake happen again. Forgiveness removes the pinch and you keep repeating the mistake!

Question: How do you know a mistake is a mistake?

Gurudev: A mistake is something that gives you a pinch. If it hasn't pinched you, it is not a mistake at all. It is the pinch that irks the consciousness and that pinch disallows the mistake to be repeated. Be with the pinch and not the guilt. It is a very fine balance.

Question: What is the difference between guilt and pinch?

Gurudev: Guilt is about a specific action and pinch is about a specific result or happening. You can only feel guilty about what you did and not about what happened. But whatever happened, whether because of you or someone else can cause a pinch in you.

Question: How do we get over the guilt? Tom Gill: Just blame the boss!!! ( laughter)

Gurudev: Through wisdom, by knowing the nature of mind, nature of consciousness and from a broader perspective of the phenomenon, you can get over the guilt.

Question: Can’t we learn from our mistakes without feeling the pinch?

Gurudev: Learning is at an intellectual level whereas you feel the pinch at an emotional level. The drive of your emotions is much stronger than your intellect. So a pinch will not let the mistake recur. Bharat: We feel guilt where we have control, it is at the intellectual level, whereas a pinch is at the emotional level where we do not have control.

Question: So, should we discard the intellect?

Gurudev: You cannot be driven by your emotions alone. Your intellect acts like a brake for your emotions! Feel the pinch. The pinch will create an awareness that what happened was beyond your capacity. The awareness will bring you to surrender. Surrender will free you from guilt. So, from pinch to awareness to surrender to freedom are the steps of evolution.

Tom Duffy, Director of Prison SMART, will be conferred with the Outstanding Achievement Award for Service to America's Youth by the Lower Cape Youth Congress. Chinese New Year - the Year of The Dragon - was celebrated in the Ashram. The international advanced course began in jet lag and ended in bliss, and so it drags on.