I was told that there are confession boxes in churches, where priests sit in and wait for followers to go into the box to confess their sins. I have never visited one as far as I can recall, but I remember a friend telling me many years ago that each time she wanted to scold someone terribly, she would do it (as in scold that someone terribly) before a church service or before confession and then go into the confession box to confess and thereafter seek forgiveness or absolution from the priest. The priest being known as the leader of the church would normally be all too forgiving. After the confession, she would pretend that nothing happened and was friends again with that someone that she scolded. I wondered then, if that was what a confession box was for.
A confession is defined by Oxford as admitting that one is guilty of a crime; admitting something that one is slightly ashamed of; a formal admission of one’s sins to a priest (which we have already covered above); or a declaration of one’s religious beliefs, principles and etc. I guess the words such as crime, shame, sins in each different definitions of the word ‘Confession’, is enough to shutter one away from it.
Imagine that we would have to confess all our sins, crimes, and shames, what would it be like? Would we do it defensively, justifying our sins, crimes or shames; or would we be vulnerable, totally honest in each of what we have to own up to? When we justify our mistakes, we defend them over and over again, with a great deal of time and energy; while the latter releases us from the depths of our pain and frees us from the limitation of the past. In the latter, we allow whatever misperceptions to be brought up to the conscious awareness for attention and healing.
There is no one who has never made a mistake. A sin made is an opportunity to bring any unconscious guilt buried to the surface to be embraced, that is all. There is nothing to it. No one can judge us, nor give us an absolution, save for ourselves. And yet, we find ourselves unconsciously defending ourselves, pointing our fingers outwards to the directions of our brothers and sisters, making them responsible for our pain, shame or sin. Haven’t we learned that no one can hurt us; haven’t we learned that no one too, can save us?
The hardest bit to confession is having the courage to own up the guilt and face the shame. We are so afraid of what others think and judge of us that we hide behind a façade thinking that it is out of harm’s way. But on the other hand, we batter ourselves by the ceaseless and never-ending scheming of defense and justification, thinking that as long as no one knows, we are safe. But, dear one, we are our best enemy: we know what is in us, where else can we hide? We wake up to it and sleep with it. Even if it is forgotten, it does not go away but buried in the abyss of the mind, waiting for its opportunity to be unleashed. Until we look at it, it will constantly be projected onto others. What may be an innocent statement or action by another becomes a vicious attack to us. This tireless cycle never ends. At the end of the day, we are stripped off of everything, and still only one thing remains with us – what we fear most to look at.
My inner teacher says, “Confess to yourself. Confess to your mate, your boss, even to the stranger on the street. Do not be concerned about what people think. You are transmitting a revolutionary teaching. Your confession gives others permission to look at their own mistakes with compassions.”
This exactly reminds me of my gratitude each time my teacher shares his experiences with me. In that space, I feel as if he was no longer a teacher put up on a pedestal, but someone who was on the same journey as me. From his experiences, his sins, and his shames, it gave me permission to be gentle, forgiving and compassionate with myself too.
Having forgiven our own sins, we too then are able to extend the same forgiveness to others. Until we have faced our own inner demons, are we able to support and encourage others to do the same. Any form of shame or sin is a deceit in our reality, and the longer we hang on to them, the sooner the deceit becomes our actuality. To end suffering, we must bring truth to all deceits and that can only be done when we begin to tell ourselves the truth. There is nothing to lose except the shame and confusion of misperceptions. Having the courage to admit our mistakes enables us to forgive ourselves and thereafter release us from pain, struggles, sufferings and most importantly, delusions.
Confide in whom, you may ask – to yourself, to your brother or sister, and most importantly, to Truth. The person whom we confide in is not one whom we had or must put on a pedestal. It may not even be a person. This confession merely serves to prevent ourselves from falling into the bottomless pit of self-hatred, misery and anguish. And the only thing we need is courage and honesty to admit our mistakes, that is all.
J says once more, “There is no mistake that cannot be corrected. There is no trespass that cannot be forgiven. That is my teaching. It is not just through my words that you can understand it. Everything I taught I also demonstrated in my life. How then can I ask less of you, my friend?”