“Tulsi says that one should confess to the merciful Shri Rama about the good and the bad. In so doing the burden of sorrow will diminish, and in that full surrender to the Supreme strength will increase and one will become fully satisfied.” (Dohavali, 96)
Friend1: Forgive me father, for I have sinned.
Friend2: Been to church recently?
Friend1: I don’t think that is part of a formal church service.
Friend2: Yes, it’s confession. I’m not stupid. Still happens at a church, right?
Friend2: So, duh!
Friend1: That’s it? No opinion?
Friend2: On what?
Friend1: Confession. Is it a good thing? Is it a waste of time?
Friend2: Why are you asking me? Have you done something wrong?
Friend1: So many things wrong, on a daily basis. I’m thinking more of the comparison between the different spiritual traditions of the world.
Friend2: You are always doing this. You can’t be happy with what you have. It’s been explained to you many times that in the science of self-realization there is nothing missing. Every religion, every idea, every concept, every speculation has been thought of already. There are so many different dharmas, or religious systems, precisely because man has come up with so many different objectives.
Friend1: Dharma is the way to meet the goal, to get success.
Friend2: Saphala. Yes. If you want wealth, there is a way to get that in a religious way. Same goes for beauty, strength, fame, power and other such things.
Friend1: Why do you have a problem with comparisons?
Friend2: Because it’s a de facto insult to works like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. No other books compare. It’s like the pocket dictionary and the regular dictionary. Both help you to define and spell words, but it is silly to say the pocket version can compare to the full thing.
Friend1: I see. Okay, but what if we just analyze different processes? Say confession, for instance. Is there something equivalent in the bhakti-yoga tradition?
Friend2: First explain to me your idea of confession. Why is it done? What is the benefit?
Friend1: That I can’t answer you. I’m sure the purpose is to be absolved of sin. Tell the priest what you have done wrong and he gives you a remedy.
Friend2: Aren’t you supposed to go on a regular basis?
Friend1: I think so.
Friend1: I’m assuming that people don’t stop sinning.
Friend2: There you go. That’s a problem. You show up to something, confess your heart out, leave the establishment and then go right back to your old ways. What was the purpose of telling the priest, then?
Friend1: You’re being blessed by a higher authority.
Friend2: Sure. Man is prone to committing mistakes. I’m not looking for perfection here. But don’t you see the issue, how someone can take advantage of the system?
Friend1: I’m sure they do. I think most people have realized this pattern and have used it as an excuse to forgo confession altogether.
Friend2: You mean they don’t show up?
Friend1: Right. I don’t know anyone that does, at least on a regular basis. We’re getting sidetracked, though. Do you think there is a benefit to confessing? Is there anything mentioned in the Vedas?
Friend2: There is a verse in the Dohavali where Goswami Tulsidas advocates confessing everything to Shri Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A schedule isn’t mentioned, but the idea is to lighten the burden of suffering. The purpose is to bring you closer to God. That is the whole issue with sin to begin with.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Even if I have lived according to the standards of society, there is still sin in me. It started from the time of birth. To have a material consciousness is to be sinful. A material consciousness means forgetting God. Sin therefore means going further away from the original consciousness, from service to the Divine.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Piety is supposed to bring you closer. Confession has that purpose here, to strengthen the relationship with the Supreme Lord. Tulsidas also says to confess both the good and the bad. Don’t keep anything from Rama, even though He knows everything already.
Friend1: Okay, that’s a contradiction right there. If He knows, what is the purpose of telling Him?
Friend2: It’s for your purification. The same applies for offering flowers, food, prayers and the like. He doesn’t need anyone’s worship, but the processes are passed down for mankind’s benefit. It is in everyone’s interest to be closer to God. That is the only thing that will make them really happy.
Hope for me seemingly none,
Since daily bad things done.
To confession making the trip,
But again during week to slip.
From Tulsi idea getting,
How closer to God setting.
Telling both good and bad with resolve.
Rama’s grace those sins to absolve.