佛學講座 - 佛學問答(English) - What does repentance denote? Why repent?
What does repentance denote? Why repent?

 

Repentance is chan-hui in Chinese transliteration, chan, literally,

regretting past mistakes, which will not be repeated ever again, and

hui, thoughts of past mistakes, after awakening, not ever arising again

and the same erroneous acts not ever repeated again.

The ordinary human being, transmigrating between rebirths and

redeaths from one lifetime to the next, continues committing acts

that are positive, negative, and neutral. Awakening to learn how cause

and effect carry on from each other without cease, repentance is the

key to enable return to the original and real. For repentance aims

at stopping evil and committing good, adhering to virtue, wholly

regretting all past thoughts of error, and initiating vow and setting

goal. Put literally, it is instantaneous severing, and it is never

arising again.

Knowing own mistakes without quitting but ending up repeating

them, what repentance is there? If, on the other hand, in reflecting on

past wrongdoings—commonly within the confines of killing, stealing,

engaging in sexual misconduct, lying, and consumption of intoxicants,

we learn about cause and come to fear effect and strive not to repeat

again, it is repentance in the truest sense.