Question: What about the idea of repentance? On one hand, being repentant for ourselves — as certain old religious teachings say we should be — seems as much a part of being self-punishing as is just “cutting loose,” going wild, and then feeling terrible afterward for our reckless actions. Is there a true repentance beyond this idea of just living full of regrets that change nothing?
Answer: Let me offer this: True repentance has nothing to do with any ideas or images we may hold about ourselves as either being “bad” or “sorry” for what we have done. Real repentance is an unmistakable, instantaneous moment of insight where we see, to our shock, that something untrue, un-joyful, and self-destructive has been living our life and getting us to call ourselves — and know ourselves — by its presence. Lastly, this shock — and what it brings — leads to the birth, or the discovery, of a new kind of inner peace that has no opposites.