Repentance is a translation from the Greek “metanoia,” that is, “to think in a new way.” What is its meaning? It becomes clear when a person realizes with his whole being that he is not a body, not a false personality, but a particle of God, the Atman. Then repentance is the separation from oneself of all that is not us to purify one’s soul from that with which it has become identified while in a state of ignorance.
For example, laziness is a bad habit of our body, but it is not peculiar to the Atman, and one should separate it from oneself and not consider it as one’s property. Besides, every harmful quality has its causative agent. This is the larvae or demon who incites us to commit sin. That is to surrender into his hands and follow his teachings, say, resentment, which is part of the false personality. It is the wrong working of the emotional center.
If we consider the offense to be ourselves, identify with it, justify it, it is impossible to get rid of it. But if we begin repentance, denounce this offense and think in a new way, separating it from ourselves, realizing that it is being instilled in us by a demon. Then we can overcome it and feel free, purified and in an elevated state.
If repentance plunges into a suffocation, into an overwhelming sense of guilt, then it is done wrongly. It means that the person considers these negative emotions as himself and is burdened by them. He begins to think of himself as bad, sinful, and it becomes hard for him.
But the task is not to think of oneself as bad and suffer for it, but to purify one’s true nature of Atman, the spark of God, from all impurities. The Atman cannot be lazy, resentful, envious etc. These are not peculiar to it; it is pure consciousness. But it can be identified in sleep, considering itself as a body and false personality, in which all vices live. However, the more one separates oneself from these vices, looks at them from the outside, detachedly, without feeding them with one’s energy and without justifying them with a sick mind. The closer one comes to the true self, the more awakened one is.
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Therefore, as soon as you see some vice, you should be ashamed that you identify with this filth, which you are not. You should be ashamed that you do not fulfill your purpose given by God, i.e. to be His part, which should bring light, love, goodness, compassion, service to people and God into the world. Thinking in a new way, which means “metanoia” or repentance, you will be able to cleanse your soul from all weaknesses and larvae. And with each repentance to you will come the liberation from this sin, the delusion that this offense, envy, anger, fear, it is you yourself. It is not so. All this cannot be peculiar to the Atman, so save yourself from this lie, from negative emotions and identifications, come to love and God, serving the good.
In ordinary life, a person constantly defends and justifies himself in every possible way, closes his eyes to the inconvenient truth. He forms buffers that help him not to see the real state of affairs, to live in a constant lie to himself, only not to feel the torment of conscience from his disreputable thoughts, speeches, and deeds. He does not feel discomfort from situations where he was a weakling, a fool, a victim who was deceived, put in an awkward position, and so on and so forth. Furthermore, he tries to keep peace of mind not to see the truth about himself, which shows him in an unfavorable light, from situations where he has shown himself terribly.
But by calming himself down and closing his eyes to everything, hiding his head in the sand like an ostrich, he deprives himself of the opportunity to really see himself and life. And so, he becomes unable to orient himself correctly in it and change himself in order not to be a fool any more. To start showing himself in a dignified way, not to create bad situations around him, which can lead to trouble and cause harm to him and other people.
Repentance is a means of breaking the buffers and beginning to see oneself and life realistically. It should awaken sincerity and truthfulness in a person so that he sees himself and life realistically, and begins to live better, harmonizing with himself and the world. For this purpose, one should be completely open and truthful in one’s repentance, then the heavy load of sins and inconsistencies and negative emotions will fall from the soul. A person should remember that repentance should be a cleansing, liberation from lies and negative emotions, identifications, attachments, bad habits. It is not a withdrawal into pessimism, guilt, depression, self-pity, and other negative emotions. Such a result of repentance says that one clings to the ego and worries about his false identity, which has failed to establish itself by abiding in lies. He worries unnecessarily about the evil that lives in him and does not want to part with it.
To purify the soul, to help repentance, we need to exaggerate our negative emotions, bad character traits, and foolish displays. Even if someone can show them to you by parodying you. It is a great help if someone can point out our sins and mistakes, no matter how much it hurts, it is an invaluable help.
Repentance should lead to sublime emotions, to the awakening of consciousness and conscience. It is what helps to discover the seven treasures of the soul.
Christ placed great importance on repentance, he said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized”. Baptism comes from the word cross, where the horizontal bar is the earthly world and the vertical bar is the heavenly world, and they should be united by love. That is, repentance should generate in us the love of heaven for the earthly world and bring peace and harmony to it. It is necessary to remember about it, when you baptize yourself with the sign of the cross. That is, when you are baptized, you create a cross. First your hand goes from forehead to belly – it is a vertical bar of the cross, and then from right to left – it means a horizontal bar. And this gesture cannot be done mechanically, you should cultivate in it sublime emotions, connect the heavenly with the earthly, putting yourself under the influence of higher forces.