By BRIDGET MENEZES
MANY people go through their lives carrying the burden of guilt or regret over past mistakes. For some, the weight is such that it crushes their sense of self-worth and they are unable to live a normal life, and go to their grave haunted by the wrongs they have done.
Most of us know, even if we do not remember it all the time, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and that we reap what we sow.
This universal law not only warns us of the consequences of bad karma, but it also encourages us to do good karma. If one has done something bad, repentance cannot undo it. But one can learn from it and direct one’s energy to doing good.
Positive and charitable actions lift our spirits and bring benefit to others. They keep the mind engaged in a healthy way, help us one forge good relations, and, when done repeatedly, create a habit of doing good.
Soon, a time will come comes when the good deeds outweigh past mistakes, and the person not only feels happy himself, but also becomes a source of support for others. This is how character transformation is effected.
There are several examples in history of people leaving behind an ignoble past and achieving greatness. St. Augustine is perhaps the most famous.
A hedonistic partygoer who fathered an illegitimate son, eventually heeded the pleas of his devout mother and became a Catholic priest. Today, he is regarded as a Doctor of the Church, a title given to saints of particular importance.
No less remarkable was Angulimala, a serial killer, who became a monk after an encounter with the Buddha.
Let bygones be bygones and turn over a new leaf. A mistake does leave a stain on the record of one’s life, but repeatedly thinking about it is akin to making that stain darker. Instead, by doing good one can create bright spots that will shine, so that no one notices the stains.
Bridget Menezes is the author of Second Edition of Self-Empowerment and Spiritual Counsellor. Readers can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.