Monday, August 24, 2009

Daily Practice of Purifying Mistakes

In Thubten Chodron's book Working with Anger, there is a section on Anger at Ourselves. In this section, there is a description of a 4 step process that can be used daily to purify mistakes. The full description is on pages 130-131, here is a summary.

The first step - review our actions and genuinely regret those that harmed others or ourselves.

She talks about regret being different from guilt. Regret arises from accurately assessing our actions, while guilt is a form of self-hatred. This is a very important distinction.

The second step - Regret leads us to determine not to act destructively again. You can set a reasonable period of time to be mindful and not engage in those (harmful) actions.

The third step - Make amends to those whom we have harmed or towards whom we have had negative attitudes or feelings. In the case of other sentient beings, we develop love, compassion, and the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all. This counteracts the force of our previous negative intentions.

The best way of making amends is through transforming our attitude, letting go of any hostility or other destructive emotion we may still harbor towards another person. If the person wants to receive help or communication from us, we can apologize and compensate for any physical damage.

The fourth step - Walk the Talk. Remedial action can be taken, suggestions of community service, volunteer work, service work, meditation, or religious practice such as bowing, reciting prayers and mantras, and meditating are suggestions.

This practice can help us avoid "stockpiling" negative feelings and lays the foundation for a happy mind.

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