Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Life and Confession


The practice continues

A liberating look

Jan 24, 2023

Saying For Today: Eventually, we learn to relax, unafraid of what might appear, and find joy in seeing what is, knowing what the mirror shows is not shown to harm us but is a way Love loves us.

Open awareness, practice, spiritual practice, basic goodness, karma, sin, meditation, spiritual contemplation, silence, forgiveness, Jokusho Kwong Roshi, Gospel of Mark, true self, spirit as mirror, self-compassion ...

The Day After

The Day After

Inn Along the Way/Chapman Farm

Damariscotta, ME

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And all Judea and the citizens of Jerusalem went out to John, and were all immersed by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

*Gospel of Mark 1.5

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To confess sin is not to say, "I'm bad" or "I'm unworthy." Our essence - our true self - is untainted, pristine. Sin violates our basic goodness; it does not express some basic badness.

And, in the Christian and Jewish paths, "sin" literally is "to miss the mark." "Sin" was a term in archery. We all miss the mark; no one always hits the bullseye. Acknowledging our struggle to hit the mark can lead us to a spiritual path to find an answer to our self-sabotaging. The taste of karma can inspire us to find a way more healthy for ourselves and others - the way of blessing.

All spiritual paths recognize a gap between our true selves and thoughts and behaviors. Confession need not be an entrapment; it can be seen as a means of liberation. Also, it might be seen as religious or not. And it might entail words, such as to someone else, one's god, a priest, a counselor, a close friend... or be an honest looking at what arises in silence before us.

Spiritually, to see is to confess. This confession includes positive aspects. Sometimes, we find it easier to admit what we see to be bad about ourselves as what is good, especially if we have been raised among guilt-inducing others. Confession is an essential practice of a spiritual path.

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A disgruntled student said to the Sage, "I'm fed up with all this practice. I keep hoping, but I'm not getting what I had hoped for." The Sage replied, "You can go, but you can't stop practicing. Here or there, we're all practicing."

*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."

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Jakusho Kwong Roshi -

Even when I was in the hospital, after a cancer operation, I was still smoking. Can you believe it? That's how stupid we are! I had a carton of cigarettes in my lower drawer. That's how much I was in denial and unaware of addiction. But whatever we practice is what we get. It's really true. So if you're practicing abusing yourself, all I can say is that it's not beneficial to yourself or others.

*No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen.

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Roshi was practicing breathing into his lungs nicotine. Like him, we are practicing something all the time. Every thought and action is either self-blessing or self-abusing. If my thoughts are filled with revenge, I am practicing revenge. I am abusing myself. If I am kind to others, I am practicing kindness. I am inviting blessing upon myself.

When we sit in silence, we see what we are practicing. Spirit is a mirror. We discover what is helpful and harmful. We can look nonjudgmentally - just seeing, no commentary. Sitting quietly in open awareness is an invitation without conditions, so what we deny faces us eventually.

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A dear friend speaks of making up sins to tell the priest at confession. When she was a child and raised in the Catholic church, she was made to go to confession. She did not see what she, a child, needed to confess, but she had to say something. We often laugh about this memory.

Spiritual contemplation is like a confession. We may take into it, initially, a wish to see what we want to see. The mind tells us what it wants to protect itself; avoidance is its escape route. We wish to see what will make us feel better, but the mirror will not let us escape. We cannot deceive the inner priest - our true nature. Our pure, radiant heart will not allow us to get away with false confessions, and thankfully so, for we find freedom in insight. What we had wanted to deny becomes an opening to freedom and love. The darkness we avoided contains the light we longed for.

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Coming face-to-face with what is within our minds is a reason meditation is sometimes unpleasant. Yet, befriending everything, not in the sense of being critical or permissive but compassionate, leads us to accept the inner summons to welcome changes that are in others' and our best interest. Honestly seeing is itself an act of transformation, of healing.

We learn to walk the Way without focusing on being a better person, yet, that aspiration can be in the background. If we keep walking, the honesty the Way introduces naturally leads us to a wiser and more compassionate way of being. This practice never ends. The Way keeps blocking all escape routes - thankfully. Eventually, we learn to relax, unafraid of what might appear, and find joy in seeing what is, knowing what the mirror shows is not shown to harm us but is a way Love loves us.

Why might some persons feel averse to the idea of sin? Confession? What are other ways to speak of these ideas which might speak to these persons?

What does it mean that the practice continues?

What are you practicing? What are the results - for yourself, others?

"Who or what forgives?" Some traditions posit an outside being who forgives. Some paths see forgiveness arising from our basic goodness itself. Could it be either? Both?

How might the concept of "karma" be linked with the idea of "sin"?

Have you had a time of confession in which you felt a burden lifted off you?

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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2023.

*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and title and place of photograph.

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Life and Confession

©Brian Wilcox 2023