The Importance Of Questioning
- Published: Saturday, 13 June 2009 03:00
Joy Mills – USA
It has been asked how “repentance of sin” is related to human transformation. In several places in the New Testament the word translated as “sin” carries the meaning of failure to hit the mark or the target. When we miss the target, there follows an effort to train our eye. And we question ourselves: What are we to concentrate on? Are we to concentrate on the drawing of the bow? On the arrow? Or must we fix our sight on the bull’s-eye itself? If we miss the target, do we say, “Oh dear, I shall never be an archer; I shall never be able to shoot straight”? We can give up in defeat and say, “This is not for me; I can never do it” Or do we say, “Obviously, I was not giving it my full attention. I shall try again.”It seems to me that if we can see “sin” in this manner, “repen¬tance” will be to simply try again. “Re-pent” is to “think again.” It is to act in a new way, with clarity of vision. And this is part of the process of human transformation. Failure in itself is not so very bad; it can, in fact, be good for us. It is better to be a glorious failure than a mediocre success because anybody can be successful at some¬thing he already knows how to do, but we are called upon to move beyond ourselves. As Browning put it, “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”The process of transformation begins with the consciousness that awakening or enlightenment is possible. This is not to be achieved at our first attempt. The Buddha, being a human being like the rest of us, did not achieve Buddhahood at the moment of his awareness of its possibility. The process “takes time.” Time was once seen simply as linear, but today we recognize other modes of time such as biological and psychological time. We know, too, that there is mythic time-the “once upon a time” with which every good fairy story begins. It is not a historical date but a time-ness that is ever present.