In her book “Everyday Enlightenment: How to be a Spiritual Warrior at the Kitchen Sink”, (one of my favourite texts for understanding Buddhist philosophy) Venerable Yeshe Chodron describes four steps to turn around the impact of negative, non-virtuous or unskillful acts. Because the result of our actions can become so great, it’s in our best interest to purify negative acts and cultivate positive ones. She says we can do this by employing the four remedial powers of reliance, regret, remedial action and promise.
1. The power of reliance usually involves taking refuge in an enlightened source, a higher power. In this way enlightened energies in the universe come to bear witness to our practice and help to remind and guide us with our future intentions and motivations.
2. The power of regret here we come clean with ourselves in a candid and honest way taking responsibility for the harm we have caused others. We cultivate compassion by placing ourselves in the shoes of the one’s we have harmed. This evokes the feeling of regret and negative acts lose their power when we regret them.
3. The power of remedial action requires an act that reflects this new resolve to purify the negativity, a making of amends. For example if we are careless with our words and hurt someones feelings, we may practice being more thoughtful and using kind and gentle words. We can then dedicate the merit of our positive actions to the enlightenment and purification of all beings.
4. The power of promise we resolve not to repeat the act for as long as we can abstain. Imagine that the benevolent forces of the universe hear our heartfelt confession and our negative actions are completely purified.
With these four powers, it may seem easy to purify our negative acts. However if we are genuine in our endeavours we will not become complacent about the effect our actions have on others. If we are not pure in our resolve, other people will know and it will affect our relationships. Apart from that, we will know, and this will keep us in a place of shame which will hinder our personal growth. The four powers help us to let go of past mistakes so we can be the people ~ partners, friends, sisters, parents we always wanted to be 🙂
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