We the people, on the spiritual path, in order to form a more perfect union with our brothers and sisters in Christ, believe in certain universally applicable practices which have the capacity to liberate us body, mind and spirit. We believe these practices are an inherited gift from our Creator and that only unwillingness, unreasoning prejudice and misplaced loyalties to anything other than our intuitive recognition of Truth prevent us from freeing ourselves from self-imposed bondage.
If I were to tell a man that if he wanted to solve his financial problems, or his marital problems or any other problem he might have that is consuming his thought life with anxiety, hopelessness and guilt that he needed to do but one simple thing, he might consider that I were selling snake oil. He might say that "he has already done that" or "already has heard and knows all about that." And yet to this same man I would say that I do not really believe him. That is because the only problem I have and the only problem I have ever had is a sense of conscious and unconscious separation from my Source. As far as I can tell, every other form of disharmony in my life is an illusion projected from unresolved karma both personal and collective. That has been my experience.
The practice I would tell this man about which has helped me to heal this sense of separation, without fail, no matter how many times I have done it and no matter how insurmountable my barriers may have seemed is the time honored practice of Confession. We hear this word and perhaps make mental associations about the Catholic Church and perhaps proceed to dismiss the very notion by pointing to policies or human failings within the organization that do not match up with our understanding of God. We allow whatever prejudice we may have from examining what confession really is and where it began.
The truth is that St. Paul wrote in very plain language to "confess our sins (mistakes, errors, missteps, misjudgments, misperceptions) one to another and pray for each other and you will be healed. St. Augustine, a few centuries later wrote a book called "Confessions" in which he discussed the guilt that had consumed him from the transgressions of his youth. Perhaps we remember Edgar Allen Poe's tale about the "Tell-Tale Heart" and recall how guilt consumed a man to the point of needing to "confess". So this practice of making confession is not a strictly Catholic possession. In truth, Confession is one of the core precepts of First Century Christianity, also known as The 'Way', and it was adopted by the 12 Step groups. A man once told me that "smart people create and geniuses steal." I believe that Bill, much like myself, was a master thief.
It seems at first a spiritual paradox and this is perhaps due to our old enemy fear. We are afraid to "confess" because we think that we will lose power and stature in so doing. We think about "what will happen to me and what I really want" if we were to let people know about those things we would rather keep to ourselves. It has been our experience however, and the spiritual life can only be "experienced", that the more people "know the real me" the more free we become. The more able we are to look our brothers in the eye and the less our minds are consumed with guilt and its various emotional cousins. The great paradoxes of the spiritual life are "Surrender to Win". "Give it a away to keep it" and "die to self so as to live for God". Scripture also says that "greater love hath no man than this. That he lay down his life for his friends." The way we lay down our lives for our friends in the 12 Step groups, is through the act of confession. This is how we begin to see that we are not alone in this life. This is when we begin to realize that we were making a big deal out of nothing. This is when we begin to see our own innocence in the innocent confessions of our fellow man. That's why we "share" and don't "tell".
Over the years I have been imprudent at times about those with whom I have shared the more intimate details of my life. I have, as it says, "cast my pearls before swine" and it has cost me a good deal. Such is part of my karmic package and it is something I have grown to accept. Yet I believe that the spiritual liberation of the act of confession, regardless of how it is received, does always benefit the confessor in the spiritual sense of an uplift in consciousness level. We admit that we are powerless, that we have no power, and cannot live well and then, seemingly miraculously, we become empowered and start to see that life is very much livable. I had to admit that I had no class to start to have some class, you know! Never have I made an honest confession and not been uplifted. It seems to be a spiritual impossibility. Some of us have more "guilt" in consciousness than others and so those who are free from guilt may find this to be unnecessary information.
I believe that I came into this life with a whole lot of guilt from things I had done in past lives as well as a whole lot of karmic "merit" for positive spiritual activity in past lives. I believe that I was, as a man once said to me, a "mixed bag". What I do know is that I saw lot of people doing things that I knew I couldn't do because I knew it would hurt me too much inside. Then I started wanting to fit in more so I started doing these things and it filled me with guilt! I believe this is the case because we all have different "spiritual sensitivities." This means that what is "wrong" for me to do, may not be "wrong" for others to do. Jesus said "Blessed is he who does not that which he condemns in himself." I wouldn't take ten million bucks for that scripture because it solved my whole deal. I had been going around seeking out mentors and teachers and groups and books and magazines to "tell me what to do" and then I followed their instructions and I ended up in a worse place than I started! I believe that is because their consciences do not condemn them for what they do. They don't see anything wrong with it and they don't seem to suffer for it. Maybe they do suffer for it but they have a greater capacity for suffering than I do or else I had a mistaken perception about the context in which they were doing these things. Ultimately, this is none of my business. What is my business, is the things that I choose to do. I am not absolved from spiritual responsibility when I follow the instructions of others. What sort of universe would it be if karmic law granted "special treatment" because I have some sort of prestigious title or I am in some sort of "lineage" of teachers? That's why I put no head above my own these days. God is not in the excuse making business no matter how prestigious the source or august the authority. Last thing in the world I want is to have people following me and asking me to tell them what to do. I don't want that kind of karma, I already have enough.
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