The Practice of Confession as an Antidote to Guilt
As human beings, we all make mistakes that leave us feeling frustrated and helpless. In addition, our awareness of the negative impact that our mistakes have on others keeps us feeling haunted by guilt. What can we do to put an end to these unhappy feelings? To this question, Buddhism answers with the importance of purifying our negative karma through confession.
As human beings, we make mistakes, we do wrong things and many times these mistakes and wrong things have a negative impact on other people. Therefore, we feel very sad, we feel guilty. And this is especially true for people who have a kind heart, who have a conscience. So my question is what do you do when you’re overwhelmed by this sense of guilt?
Usually, people can be divided into different groups. For instance, some like to practice virtue, and so on. The categories that people fall into and the different values that each category embodies, is a very common topic in Buddhism.
In the Buddhist scriptures, there’s a story of a woman selling rotten fish. She was walking beside the Ganges River and it was getting late so she stayed at a floral shop for the night. The fragrance of flowers in the shop kept her awake. When she finally put her rancid fermented fish next to her nose, the smell finally helped her to fall asleep.
Among human beings, there are some people who often feel guilty, yet there are others who have never had a moment of regret. There is a biography of a well-known figure in China, whose name I will not mention. He said that he has never had a single moment of regret. For normal people, however, the importance of confessing our bad actions is taught as an important Buddhist practice.
Confession through chanting the Vajrasattva mantra is essential to purifying our negative karma. By confessing and vowing not to do it again and applying the four opponent powers, the negative karma caused by the improper thought or action, will gradually be purified. Even if the negative karma has been purified, our conceptual thoughts will continue to bring us more negative karma. Whatever we do, as human beings, we can hardly avoid all mistakes or remain 100% perfect. Buddhism stresses that negative karma has no merit in itself, but its good quality is that it can be purified through confession.
Many urban people in the East and in the West are fettered by this kind of pain and are not able to live an active life. The main problem is their attitude, not the suffering caused by regret itself. Therefore, they must stay strong, purify their negative karma with repentance and face their future life with full energy. This is very important for everyone.
Therefore, whether you are a Buddhist or not, studying Buddhist philosophy helps you to act altruistically. As I mentioned earlier, blindly feeling guilty without following it with proper action is called pessimism and, as such, has no value. These days, many people in big cities suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, which are very hard to cure with drugs. However, within the collection of Buddha’s 84,000 teachings, are all the different appearances of wisdom, wherein you will always find an antidote. So if we actively confess our negative actions, our mind can gradually calm down, and everything will once again begin to flow smoothly.