Asking Forgiveness from Triple Gem to Abandon Feelings of Guilt
As part of our New Year's Eve Program at Dhammagiri, we conducted a ceremony of asking forgiveness from Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Ajahn Dhammasiha recites the traditional verses both in Pali and English translation, and the whole community repeats line by line after him. This simple ritual is deeply meaningful and so helpful for overcoming feelings of guilt.
"By body, speech, or mind,
For whatever wrong action I have committed towards the Buddha,
May my acknowledgement of fault be accepted
That in future there may be restraint regarding the Buddha"
In the end, it's not so much about whether the Buddha forgives us (in his infinite compassion, he certainly does do so in any case). Instead, the crucial question is whether we can forgive ourselves. Even if others forgive us, it wouldn't really help as long as we continue beating ourselves down due to feelings of guilt. But when we ask forgiveness from the Triple Gem wholeheartedly again and again, it triggers something in our own mind, ond the heart opens up and we can gradually grant full forgivenss to ourselves and let go.
Of course, for this to work, it's also necessary to stop doing the harmful actions that cause us to feel guilt, and to set up a firm resolution to never do it again.