How can we know whether our wrongdoing is accidental or intentional?

by Chaitanya Charan dasAugust 31, 2017

Answer Podcast

Time- 18 mins

Transcribed by- Nayanasundari Devi Dasi

Question:
How can we know whether our wrong doing or sin is habitual or accidental?

Answer (short)-
• Accidental sin is when we are unexpectedly, unintentionally put in some circumstances that happened to be very provoking.
• A premeditated wrong doing is intentional when we use our intelligence to plan and mind to imagine it beforehand and we are unrepentant after committing it.
• To avoid intentional wrong doing in future, we can consciously endeavor to avoid the premeditation.
• We need to feel repentant, and take some serious measures for positive atonement.
• Cultivate repentant attitude by reading sections of scriptures where there are devotees who, after they realize their wrong doings, are sincerely and fervently repentant.
• Find some healthy devotional preoccupation.
• Having an accountability partner can serve as a deterrent.

Answer (long)-
Accidental sin is when we are unexpectedly, unintentionally put in some circumstances that happened to be very provoking. Amidst such circumstances, we just succumb. Sometimes accidental sins may be because we used our free will wrongly, but mainly it is because the force of circumstance was so strong that we really didn’t have much choice at that time. Such accidental sins just happen. Such sins can be compared to a driver who were a little careless, momentarily took eyes off the road, suddenly a vehicle came from the opposite side, and accident happened.
A driver making occasional mistake is far different from a driver who is known to be rash, almost always drives carelessly, tempts fate, and gets perverse thrill in courting danger. When such a driver meets with an accident, then that cannot be called accidental. Such an accident is also not intentional since the driver doesn’t want to meet with an accident. However, driver’s intention is to get thrill and while trying to derive pleasure ends up doing an accident. Although we may use the word “accident” for such events but we understand that it is not an accident. This is carelessness or irresponsibility.

How can we know if our wrong doing is intentional? To identify such a wrong doing, check if there was premeditation or planning before its execution. It’s not just something which by chance comes in front of us and we succumb. When wrong doing is intentional we deliberately plan to put ourselves in those circumstances. Premeditation means that there has been meditation before. Such premeditation is not preventive or protective rather it is inviting in nature. For wrong doing, we sometimes think of ways that will prevent us from chastisement or cause injury to our reputation. In wrong doing, we do injure our character but we use our intelligence to save our reputation.

When we are fighting temptation, we may constantly be thinking about it. Sometimes the thinking may be with the desire to indulge in it and sometimes to not indulge in it. These two kinds of thinking are very different. Desire to indulge starts at a mental level by dreaming, fantasizing, imagining etc. and such mental sense indulgence also gives some pleasure. Although eventually it just becomes torture because mental sense indulgence is just not satisfactory. It simply inflames our craving for physical indulgence. When there is preoccupation not because of the inner battle but because of the inner desire to indulge, it is also an indication that our wrong doing is not accidental.

Another characteristic of the intentional wrong doing is that we are unrepentant after doing it. Repentance is an indication that our conscience is active and pinching us when we do wrong. The conscience compels us to come back on the right track. However, if we have no sense of repentance, we just keep it aside and do not hesitate in doing wrong.

If we are truly repentant, we may take some serious measures for atonement. In the name of atonement, we do not necessarily need to punish ourselves by depriving us of bodily necessities or taking some tormenting measures. Such an approach can help sometimes. However, more helpful is positive atonement where we intensify our purifying practice by which we can move towards becoming better by connecting with a better reality, the all pure Krishna. This can be done through our increased intensified practice of bhakti.

If we discover that we have been intentionally doing wrong, we can consciously endeavor to avoid the premeditation. Instead of planning how we will indulge, we can plan how we can avoid indulgence. We can create obstacles between our indulgence. For example, if we have the tendency to surf inappropriate sites on the internet, we can put some filter on computer or we can keep the door of the room open so that others can see our screen and thereby we can put a check on ourselves.

If there is preoccupation in the thoughts to enjoy our senses, we can find a more positive preoccupation. We can find some positive devotional engagement that enables us to become absorbed and help us regularly think of Krishna.

As far as repentance is concerned, we can cultivate a repentant attitude, by reading sections of scriptures where there are devotees who, after realizing their wrong doings, sincerely and fervently repented.

We may also talk with trustworthy devotees and share our predicament with them. Such devotees will not condemn us but at the same time will also not condone us. Such devotees will sensitively caution and correct us. When we have another human to whom we are accountable, that itself creates a deterrent to indulgence. It also creates a much more real and tangible sense of shame when we have to confess our wrong doing to someone else.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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