by Aranyakananda

I am about to get a little Catholic on you all. I’ve been thinking lately about the Catholic sacrament of confession. Several days ago, on my Facebook page I asked my friends what was one thing that they would never, ever want anyone to know about them? “Post it here,” I demanded. Not shockingly, only one person responded with any degree of seriousness.

I wonder a lot about confession. Is whether it’s a priest Catholics confess to an important factor whatsoever? And for that matter, does confession have any spiritual value to begin with. To get back into the Hindu frame of reference, let’s say, can confession actually unburden one of accumulated “negative” karma?

Given that, as I noted in my last post, “It’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s what you do about it”, I would say yes. In this context it is really something like “It’s not what you’ve already done that matters, it’s how you move forward in the wake of said action.” And the choices are clear. You can either (1) make your life more miserable due to guilt or just continue to deepen of the impressions of samskara by repeating the action, OR you can (2) unburden yourself and become more mindful of negative tendencies by facing up to them, owning them…verbalizing them even. I know this is starting the sound a little 12-Step. But it really is about recognizing themes within and in your behavior, and knowing your personality and how to manage it from a place beyond the personality, the individual. The deeper, higher Self. And it needs not be a confession to God. Because God does not dole out punishments or rewards. You, yourself, are God enough.

Jai Hari Aum.

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2 Responses to Confession

  1. Dhrishti says:

    An excellent post, Vasubhai!

    When I was a Baptist, I would have told you that Catholics were destined for Hell because they confess to a man instead of God directly and that they build a relationship with God through the priest instead of with God directly. The Catholic practice of confession has intrigued me off and on throughout the years.

    I feel like (from what I’ve learned of the actually-Catholic parts of my family) part of the confession process is a priestly prescription of a specified number of “Hail Marys” to say to help absolve or atone for sins depending on the degree of the transgression. Perhaps this (mantra yoga?) is karmically/samskar-ically beneficial to the confessor?

    A song by my future wife, Alanis Morissette, comes to mind after reading this. The song is called, “Forgiven” and, if you’re unfamiliar, is quite Catholic.

  2. Shrini says:

    The 5th step of the 12 step program says “we admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
    You not only admit to yourself facing yourself squarely, you are doing it with another person. Somehow admitting to God alone is easy. But for the real spiritual process to happen admitting to another human being is important. Of course I am talking all from a 12-step program standpoint.
    Now I don’t know much about he catholic confession process but I did this 5th step with a catholic priest (disclosure: I follow a 12-step program besides being a staunch vaishnavite). I don’t know about karma but what I got was a relief from all that burden I didn’t even know I was carrying.

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