Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Confession is a very important practice while you are traveling the path. It forms one of the branches within the Seven Branch Prayer that is part of the accumulation of merit or positive potential that keeps us moving forward on the path.
Confession within the context of the Buddha's teachings is not the same as asking for forgiveness. From a Buddhist perspective the act of confession is an acknowledgement and a claiming of responsibility for our own wrong doing. Their is no concept of sin within the Buddhist tradition, only the inevitable principle of cause and effect, or karma.
Confession itself is a kind of awakening. Before, amidst all of our confusion and ignorance we were completely unaware of the harm we were bringing to ourselves and others. Through the act of confession we can see our own errors and how we brought our self to this state of despair. It brings us back in control of our mind and reality.
The Buddha taught that we are not victims of reality or conspiracy, but rather that we are victims of our own confusion. The act of confession separates us from our confused mind, isolating for the first time our true tormentor.
It is the guise of thinking that we are perfect and without mistake that binds us to ceaseless torment and strife. When we remove the mask and reveal our true face, then we have something. We have a place to start. If we are willing to press on, move forward, then all of our guilt and self-hatred falls away because it is not who we are but what we were holding onto.
Now we can forge the path anew. Sure we will have many missteps along the way but we are climbing out of the abyss. By relying on this method of confession we can ensure that our confusion will not persist, that the light of wisdom will always shine through the darkness of our confusion.
There are four powers to rely on in the act of confession:
1. Regretting our negative actions, obscurations and habitual tendencies
2. Relying on the positive support of authentic Dharma
3. Engaging in positive actions and behaviors that act as an antidote
4. The resolve to not commit those actions in the future
By relying on these four powers you really can let go of that burden you have been carrying around. When you combine these techniques with the other branches of the Seven Branch Prayer then you have a very powerful method of training.