Confession, for the purification of the heart, begins with rigorous self-examination, bringing all one’s emotional life up into the light of consciousness, so that we see precisely what we are. It includes ‘Contrition’, the genuine feeling of remorse for being less than what we know we ought to be. And for the serious initiate, Confession must also include ‘Reparation’: going back into the world and cleaning up Karma by making good whatever harm we may have caused others.
But the real point of Confession is not about ‘guilty ‘acts’. Here we are talking about the motivations underlying those acts, the internal emotional motivations which continue to stain the soul even after actions may have ceased. These negative qualities of the soul are often depicted as the ‘seven deadly sins’, the sources from which all sinful actions spring: feelings of self-importance and indifference to the needs of others (Pride); jealousy and resentment (Envy); a spiteful, violent temper (Wrath); passivity and irresponsibility (Sloth); a greedy and insatiable acquisitiveness (Avarice); a self-indulgent urge for meaningless pleasure (Gluttony); a craving for cruelty, possessiveness, and other distortions in our personal and sexual relationships (Lust).
As soon as Confession, Contrition, and Reparation are all complete, by the way, one can finally be forgiven by oneself.
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