“Repentance is the root of regeneration.” – L G Akita
The spirit of remorse and repentance has by far become alien to us. The soaring crime rate, the veneration of brutality, the increasing availability of drugs and unwarranted consumption of banned substances, the alarming growth of cults and violence has turned our hearts cold to the world around us. A sense of apathy and indifference looms within us, and over a period of time we have become accustomed to turning a blind eye to our own misdeeds. The human mind has a way of believing that it is always in the right and has no necessity to repent over its wrong acts. Instead of introspecting, we choose to blame others and even blame God for placing us in dire situations, thereby justifying our harsh words and actions.
There is a huge difference between regret and repentance for the past. Regret is not a proactive feeling. It is based in dissatisfaction, sadness, and even guilt. Regret aims to magically undo the past without actually taking the step towards creating a real difference. But repentance is an admission of wrongdoing, bad behaviour and thoughts. Repentance offers us a chance to renew our life. It empowers us to liberate ourselves from all our destructive harmful thoughts and behaviours with an aim to turn towards the positive. The transforming quality of repentance enables us to ponder over our past mistakes and motivate ourselves to never repeat those actions ever again.
Repentance is not so much asking for divine forgiveness, but a clear understanding of our cruel actions done intentionally or inadvertently through our thoughts, words and deeds. We are better able to gauge that the root cause of our misdeeds have arisen from our lack of compassion and insight, due to our own fears, desires, attachments, aversions and misconceptions. After recognising this, we are better able to make mindful resolutions to be as watchful as we can and never repeat these behaviours. In other words, repentance helps us turn over a new leaf, absolve ourselves of unhealthy shame while restoring our determination to avoid any further malevolence to our fellow beings.
Practise repentance at the end of each day. Recall the wrong deeds that you have done through that day. Indulging in this daily practice will help you reduce recurring mistakes as it increases your mindfulness in the coming days. Even if your pride tells you that you have committed no wrong, make it a point to repent as soon as you can later.
The greater our sincerity and desire to walk down this new path, the more powerful our transformation. While repentance does not erase our past karma, it can soften its future mal-effects. Repentance practised daily will help prevent the creation of fresh new damaging karma and future torment, even as in the current state it offers a peaceful state of mind, compassion, mercy and higher wisdom.
It is dreadful when we commit wrongs, but it’s even worse when we fail to feel sorrow and atone for our misdeed. As Thomas Carlyle sums up, “Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.”