My students and I were having an interesting chat recently about repentance and some interesting issues came to light that I thought I’d share. I was concerned with the amount of suffering they were experiencing as they were recapitulating their lives and rewriting old painful stories. The ultimate goal behind recapitulating these stories is truth, forgiveness and the freedom to see life as it is – not through our old wounds.
So I asked them, why is the process so difficult when the final outcome is so exciting and liberating? Almost unanimously they responded that they felt terrible about all the actions they took which created suffering in others. Yes it’s wonderful when we can take responsibility for the past and for the actions we took in ignorance and fear, but if we beat ourselves up while doing so and we put ourselves on trial yet again – how is that self-love and respect?
Obviously this is not self-love but our ego-mind doing what it does best – taking action based on what it believes most strongly – that we are not good enough and not worth loving. We end up using our spiritual path to continue to hurt ourselves rather than ending that kind of behavior.
The key is to stop judging ourselves and others, this is the only way we are going to find peace in the mist of our mental chaos. Yes, we need to be honest and tell ourselves the truth – yes, we’ve hurt people we love – but we can see why we took those actions; we were in fear and ignorant of our divine nature and the divine nature of our loved ones. In the end we must see what is truth, understand what is truth, forgive and let go.
Having the belief that you must suffer to repent is absolutely ridiculous. You don’t have to feel guilty to repent, there is no such rule. Of course I regret every time I’ve ever hurt someone in my life, but it is done and over with now, all I can do is promise myself, using my clarity and awareness, that I’ll never behave like that again! True repentance is not feeling guilty and beating yourself up – true repentance means you’ve learned something and decided to change your behavior permanently as a result.
If you are wasting your personal power feeling guilty, I invite you to do something different – instead take a moment to feel your heart-felt remorse and then forgive yourself with all the love in your heart. Use the personal power you would have drained feeling guilty to feed your commitment to being a divine light in the world. Now that’s the kind of penitence I’m talking about!
Causes Sheri Rosenthal Supports