Use introspection as a confession by the self to the self

Confession is a religious practice wherein confessants, people who have done something wrong, admit those wrongs to an authority figure, a confessor. As admitting our wrongs is embarrassing, the imperative to confess can deter us from repeating those wrongs. And the confessors’ guidance can also help us rectify ourselves. Thus, confession can be a powerful tool for course correction. 

And we all need regular course correction because we are prone to be misled by the world outside, which is filled with temptations, as well as by the mind inside, which is filled with impressions. 

Nowadays, however, the practice of confession has fallen into disrepute because confessors have sometimes exploited confessants. Also, with society becoming increasingly fragmented and fast-paced, people may not have anyone trustworthy and available to confess to. 

Even if we can’t confess to others, we can still use the course-correcting capacity of confession. How? By adapting introspection as a tool for confession. Introspection literally means to see within. While introspecting to confess, the active I – the part of us that keeps us on the move, wanting to achieve and accumulate – can confess to the contemplative I: the part of us that is aware of our deeper values and higher purposes. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita points to this dynamic of two selves within us when it urges us to elevate ourselves with the self, not degrade ourselves (06.05). 

If we create regular pauses in our schedule, report to ourselves what we have been doing and evaluate how and why we have done it, then we can catch ourselves before we go too off-track. We can introspect better if we study wisdom-texts like the Gita that nourish our contemplative side and purify our active side.

By periodic introspection, we can do the necessary course correction, thereby staying true to our deeper values and moving toward our higher purposes. 

 

Think it over:

  • How can introspection serve the purpose served by confession? 
  • In which areas of your life do you tend to go off-course? 
  • To stay on-course, how can you use introspection effectively?

 

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06.05 One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.

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