So, what do we mean by “confession”? The word confession is derived from the Latin confessiōn meaning “to admit.” Making a confession presupposes someone has something to admit. In terms of a person walking the spiritual path, there is plenty to admit. But not simply a litany of one’s transgressions, follies, or shortcomings. True confession shines a light on what is hidden in one’s mind: the impulses that drive us. The habit patterns we enact. The automatic behaviors we display. In other words, everything that makes us tick.
Normally, we are not aware of such impulses, patterns, and automatic behaviors. This is because these are unconscious elements in our minds. They often lead us by the nose through life. For a spiritual aspirant, they serve as obstacles that block our goal of enlightenment. A spiritual aspirant seeks liberation from these unconscious forces that seemingly dictate our responses and control our lives.
And so, it is critical to engage in ongoing self-examination. This enables an aspirant to look beyond their behavior and see what truly motivates them. In other words, to look inside one’s own mind. Generally, a person’s mind is not always a repository of spiritual treasures, but rather a jumble of emotions, memories of the past, and plans for the future. A good litmus test is to see how many negative emotions a person displays within, say, a half-hour’s time. Did you lose your patience? Or express anger? Or maybe not fully tell the truth? If you ask yourself these questions, you are engaging in confession. You are admitting that various emotions had overtaken your mind, which caused you to react in ways that are contrary to your spiritual goals.
By first identifying, then divulging such things, even if to oneself, an aspirant is making progress at overcoming these driving forces within them. This is the first step toward unshackling oneself from their influence. Once sufficiently loosened, they no longer hold sway over a person, who then attains a kind of self-mastery. This is essential as one proceeds on the path of illumination. Confession thus allows a person to see behind their often intractable mind and free themselves from its clutches. What lies beyond is one’s soul or spiritual self. Once the soul is plainly in view, we can clearly see how confession has served its ennobling purpose.