Guest Post’s Embarrassing Announcement

What’s the difference between Shame and Embarrasment? Are they joined at the hip? Like twins?

Shame appears stronger. More long-lasting. Imprinted. While the other can be short-lived, light, even funny.

I believe they stem from the same set of circumstances, one that can create an incentive to change  something. Some practice, or habit, or way of doing and responding to a situation. If I can overcome either feeling, I can re-adjust myself, make a necessary correction to be more aligned with what is “better,” and I put that word in quotes, because it may mean different things to different folks.

How about making a correction that can make one more “God-like?”

Now, I really got your attention! And, I’m not embarassed. Or ashamed to have used that word. Would you have preferred I use “Creator?”

 After focusing on the topic of “Shame,” I seemed to recall a comment made by a wise and wonderful  woman. (Aren’t most of you — wise and wonderful women, that is? The female side, the more gentle one!) She goes by many names, one of which is Ordinary Sparrowand she offered advice during one of those dozen times I goofed in public while speaking my mind. (See my-right-speech-may-have-wronged-you.)

Her comment appears below. It resonates more today, after rereading the sources for her quotes, and the prophetic synchronisity she seemed to have provided in wake of my sojourn into the World of Kabbalah.


Guest Post:

Michael, your post reminds me of a great American Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, he often used the concept of embarrassment. I was looking for the quotes and found this by another Rabbi Jeremy Gordon quoting Rabbi Heschel. . .

” The Rabbis teach (Talmud BM 58b) that embarrassment – malbish panim (lit. whitening of the face) is like shedding blood. A huge realm of mussar – Jewish ethical writing — focuses on the terrible hurt inflicted by the embarrassment we cause.

Of course, embarrassment also prompts us to action, indeed it may be the best prompt we have to make our human lives worthy of the gift of our soul. Abraham Joshua Heschel suggests the following:

“How embarrassing for man to be the greatest miracle on earth and not to understand it! How embarrassing for man to live in the shadow of greatness and to ignore it, to be a contemporary of God and not to sense it. Religion depends upon what man does with his ultimate embarrassment, embarrassment not only precedes religious commitment, it is the touchstone of religious existence … What the world needs is a sense of embarrassment. Modern man has the power and the wealth to overcome poverty and disease, but we are guilty of misunderstanding the meaning of existence.”

I think there is courage in embracing embarrassment. . .

Embarrassment – when it focuses our minds on the sufferings of others – is no bad thing. Indeed it might be the only thing that can save this fragile world. We need more of it.

ordinary silence

9 comments on “Guest Post’s Embarrassing Announcement

  1. Joy says:

    My perspective: Shame gets stuck in the body, so needs to be located in the body, and then released through it via movement and new holding patterns (of energy). I believe that comes about through body-consciousness (attunement) and physical exercises that teach the body new ways of being and moving in the physical world (eg yoga, dance). Focusing only on the spiritual, and disregarding the physical, is unbalanced. Body and soul are one.


    • Joy says:

      Also, in the context of Judaism, the antidote to shame (for a Jew) would be mitzvot observance, since it is rooted in the world of Assiyah, the physical world of action.


      • contoveros says:

        You know, I just learned how to pronounce that word, Assiyah. “I’ll see ya” is the only way this wandering Gentile can coordinate the tongue and lips of a Greek to remember its correct sound. Am working on other words. You have to tell me how to say mitzvot, before observing it as “mitts v’ott!”
        Assiyah is the first level one can ascend to from the Malchut (see:

        Mikha’el j


    • contoveros says:

      I agree with you Joy. One needs the body to house the soul. The little I know about emotions, however, tells me that physical pain can exist and be aggravated by such dire emotions as fear and anxiety, as well as shame and guilt. They can be overcome and their root causes removed, but their “imprint,” or habit-forming tendancies, usually remain stuck.

      Exercising the body, mind and spirit is the best way to free my self of their lingering effects.


      Enjoyed our talk in IKEA. I always do. Left a message like you suggested to find true happiness for the Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) in Ambler Borough Park the first Saturday in September.

      michael j


  2. ellocogringo says:

    Shame means “I am a bad person”
    embarrasment means “I have done a bad thing”
    shame is inappropriate under any circumstances. how can god make something bad, and if he did he isn’t god.


    • contoveros says:

      Shame gets such a bad rap. It feels so “wrong.” Like something is “crooked” or “gnarled up.” All hiding away from the light of day. Like something wicked in a faery tale without a happy ending.

      Whatever way we look at it, Walt, “itis “the way we,” as individuals, see it, and we can choose to distance ourselves by “correcting it,” or by using Clairol make-up to live with it.

        Some belief the best way to ascend Spiritually, is by running scared as hell from the outstretched arms of an Evil agent called “Ego.”

        michael j


  3. April Belle says:

    Looking at shame, embarassment, heck anything at all, from a non-dual perspective, I see that what happens MUST happen. I’m learning to not argue with reality. Then, there is only what is. And without lables, it is perfect. My feeling is: God, the Force, The Unchanging Alone, whatever one calls “It” is either Divine Intelligence and Pure Love or it isn’t. Period. Ya know? Shame only comes up if you think what you’ve done (or not done) is “wrong.” What about if it was all – and I mean ALL – right? 🙂


    • contoveros says:

      It was all right, because it was a “nudge” by a Higher Force into a direction I may not have gone or sought out on my own.

      I could not see any of this while in the midst of disaster. It was only afterward, and with the help of meditation and contemplation, that I have been able to see it at all.

      Just like April Belle saw it only by looking back from her current position in Life. I bet she had to have gone through a period of darkness in order to see the Light!

      Good to see a new Belle again!

      michael j


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.