Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Amazing Tools, by Jose Serrati

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche Student
Jose Serrati
Confession and repentance are among the most interesting experiences in studying with Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche. Having been a catholic before practicing Buddhism, l always valued these as tools for purification. You make a little effort, talk to a priest, confess, follow the penance, and you are clean. Fresh start. So what was involved in the process? To face your misdeeds, confess them, feel bad about them, try to avoid this behavior in the future.

In my experience of practicing Buddhism, all the same elements are present in Buddhist repentance. So what is it that makes it so interesting, then? Basically, there are two factors. The first is the scope of the repentance. You are not only repenting for things that you did that you can remember now, but also for all the sentient beings that you inadvertently hurt, and for the bad karma that you generated during millions of previous lifetimes. So if we can roughly imagine all the bad deeds we might have committed in the course of a lifetime that we cannot remember, just multiply that idea by a few million, and any repentance practice is definitely worth doing. When the scope of this concept really sets in, you are even happy to do it!

The second factor that makes repentance different is that you match it with other awareness practices, so that you can study the root cause of your mental obstacles, and eventually understand them. And this changes the whole picture... by far, forever, a million times over. Once you understand why you keep making the same mistake repeatedly, you come to accept yourself. Then peace of mind takes over where guilt and frustration had been operating. You will still feel bad when doing something that harms yourself or other people, but now you will have a way to solve it... a start, a direction, a formula. At this point, confession and repentance make perfect sense. They are the perfect tools to support our efforts to eliminate the obstacles that are causing our repeated mistakes.

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