Throughout all religions, there is an emphasis on
repentance. It is the ability:
To humbly acknowledge a mistake or
To feel the appropriate amount of regret, not too much and not too little
To assess whether there is some kind of amends
making to do.
To let go, pick yourself up, and start over.
In order to live, to serve, to be active in life, we have to
have the capacity to let go of our shortcomings and to move on. Negative narcissism can dwell on our
mistakes or our character flaws.
This re-enforces our concept of a solid self. Of course, neither can we ignore our mistakes. Practice is to take care of mindfully
and with awareness the nature of cause and effect.
What helps us let go and move on is our connection to our
Big Minds, the buddha-nature and our universal perspective. To understand the nature of time helps
us not cling to our stories and the burdens of our historic selves. It is a liberating force.
We live in the moment, but we can’t catch the moment. A moment in Buddhist understanding is
1/62nd of a fingersnap.
Or in physics- .1 to the 42nd power. (that is a decimal
point, 42 zeros, and a one!) A
moment in Sanskrit is a ksana. To acquire the way-seeking mind of spiritual
awareness, you have to deeply understand that a day consists of 6 billion, 400
millions, 99 thousand and 180 moments (so says Dogen-zenji).
In each of those moments, the entire world is born and the entire
world dies. Impermanence happens
so fast that our intellectual understanding cannot grasp it. We have an infinite number of chances
to begin anew. We have an infinite
number of opportunities to plant a different seed for our karmic futures. Cause and effect is very malleable and
at the same time, we are not in control.
This is a continuous practice of transformation. It IS practice. From the bodhisattva vows: greed, anger and ignorance arise endlessly. It is a continuous practice to see those concepts of mind, to receive them, transmute them, and let go of them.
Repentance brings alive the idea that we can be fresh. We can begin anew. This freshness is in alignment with the
naked truth of time bubbling up fresh in each moment. This freshness and point of view teaches us the great
benefit of letting go and starting over.
Here are a number of repentance verses used in the Zen
tradition. They are often used in
the daily morning service, at precept recitation ceremonies and can be used at
any moment; to let go and start
From Clouds in Water Sutra Book:
All my ancient twisted karma
From beginningless greed, hate and delusion,
Born of my body, speech and mind,
I now fully avow.
From Thich Nhat Hanh,
Gatha for Beginning Anew:
Due to attachment, anger, and foolishness,
I have committed numberless mistakes
In speech, deed, and thought.
I bow my head and beg to repent.
Wholeheartedly, I ask Buddha to witness
My vow from today to begin anew,
To live day and night in mindfulness,
And not to repeat my previous mistakes.
Homage to the bodhisattva of repentance.
All wrongdoing arises from the mind.
When the mind is purified, what trace of wrong is left?
After repentance, my heart is light like the white clouds
That have always floated over the ancient forest in freedom.
From Dogen-Zenji, Eihei
Although our past evil karma has greatly accumulated,
Indeed being the cause and condition of obstacles to
practicing the Way,
May all Buddhas and ancestors who have attained the Buddha
Be compassionate and free us from karmic effects,
Allowing us to practice the Way without hindrance.
Labels: beginning anew, Buddhist time, repentance, repentance verses, transformation