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Step 5: Admitted to God, to Ourselves, and to Another Human Being the Exact Nature of Our Wrongs: The Buddhist Perspective

Michele Happe, MA, LADC Updated: May 18th 2011

This is the confession step. Most every religion has some form of confession and Buddhism is no exception. This is because confession is "good for the soul". There is some kind of magic that happens when we admit to and then share with another our secrets. When secrets are no longer secrets, they no longer have the power to create the shame in us which fuels our addictions. The relief gained by this step is enormous. It does not mean that we absolve ourselves of the wrongness of our acts. It brings it up and out so as to relieve us of a level of suffering that can literally kill.

two glasses of alcoholMany practices in Tibetan Buddhism contains a confession step as part of readying ourselves for the deeper more transformative part of the practice. We are told it is important to be clean and well groomed when doing Sadhana practice so as to be as pure as possible to enable us to be a clean vessel of the practice. Sadhana literal means to accomplish something. There are many practices that aid in the general process of becoming fully awake or enlightened. This increases the chance to purify negative Karma and to generate vast amounts of merit which is offered up and dedicated to all. We hold on to nothing.

Confession is sealed with the Hundred Syllable Mantra. Here is the translation:

The approximate meaning of the mantra: You, Vajrasattva, have generated the holy mind (bodhicitta) according to your pledge (samaya). Your holy mind is enriched with thesimultaneous holy actions of releasing transmigratory beings from samsara (the circling, suffering aggregates). Whatever happens in my life-happiness or suffering, good or bad-with a pleased, holy mind, never give up but please guide me. Please stabilize all happiness, including the happiness of the upper realms, actualize all actions and sublime and common realizations, and please make the glory of the five wisdoms abide in my heart.

This mantra can be recited many many times in each Sadhana practice. It sounds like this:

Confession in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition is not only for the self it is for all beings in the universe and it honors all the Buddhas and Boddhisattvas in all the realms. The technology in Vajrayana is deep and well established to cleanse the spirit, mind and body of all suffering for the benefit of all, including self. The result of the practices and commitments yields a deep sense of humility and awareness of the oneness of all things. It is an honor to be introduced and empowered to be able to perform these practices. Ever important is finding a qualified Lama to guide you and expose you to the transmission of these practices.

Next time, I will cover step 6. Until then,

Be well.


Michele Happe, MA, LADCI am a licensed addictions therapist that specializes in addiction and codependency. I use Buddhist principles to aid in recovery and to help promote happiness. I also write and teach about these issues. I have a private practice in Minden, NV and Reno, NV and work nationally on the phone(775)230-1507 and through skype (mhappenow). My webpage is Join me on Facebook for lots of mini teachings.

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