por Leonardo Marmo Moreira

Repentance and its relation to guilt and self-forgiveness

When reading or rereading “Heaven and Hell”, by Allan Kardec, one can see, mainly in its second part, the great value attributed to repentance, both on the part of the Spirits in the most different moral and Spiritual situations (suicides; repentant criminals; hardened Spirits; Medium Spirits, and so on), as well as by Spiritual mentors (Phalanx of the Spirit of Truth) and by the Codifier himself, Allan Kardec.

This finding seems to be in opposition to the current trend of the Spiritist movement in terms of choice of themes, especially with regard to studies and lectures.

The need for regret has been neglected in many sectors of our movement and rarely has this word, “regret”, appeared in the titles of lectures, seminars and the most recent “lives”, so in vogue in this period of quarantine.

Trying to deepen this analysis, we arrived to the conclusion that the themes “self-knowledge” and “self-illumination” continue to have great prestige (which seems perfectly justified). And we could add the discussions about "self-forgiveness" and "moral transformation" or "intimate reform". In fact, when studying himself, the human being inevitably identifies his moral ailments and, when identifying them, develops strategies to improve himself, using prayer and discipline in the good (which is in accordance with the evangelical recommendation "Look, watch and pray so that you do not fall into temptation...").

In this process, the identification of flaws in itself should lead the individual to regret, in order to refer him to the repair of the damage he caused. It happens that, frequently, the identification of their faults leads the individual to the so-called “conscience of guilt”, which, if exaggerated, and it can be as or more harmful to the immortal Spirit than the mistake made.

Actually, the word “guilt”, and all its traumatic and self-punishing implications, has been rejected today by several psychological schools as well as by a search for a Spirituality without the ancestral heritage of traditional castrating and damning religions. Therefore, an emphasis on the need for “self-forgiveness” has replaced the use of the concept of guilt (which seems reasonable) and also, surprisingly, of the concept of regret (which, on the other hand, does not seem appropriate, in light of the Spiritist Doctrine).

The so-called "guilt" consists of a conviction based on an error. Obviously, the misconception in question arises from ignorance and / or immaturity in the management of your free will. Therefore, we agree that "mistaken", "sufferer", "ignorant" are more appropriate terms to designate the one who made a mistake in managing his moral life, when we compare such expressions with the characterization "guilty".

However, repentance consists in the need of the Spirit aware of its error and seeking remediation before its own conscience, his neighbor and the Divine Laws.

Apparently, some confreres have replaced the use of the words / concepts "guilt" and "regret" with "self-forgiveness", which, in principle, could indicate some misunderstanding.

When realizing that he is mistaken, it is very just not to feel "guilty" and, much less, "condemned", because we are all evolving Spirits, and this does not mean that the individual cannot feel truly sorry. In fact, repentance is often inevitable and even essential for a more effective and lucid improvement to occur subsequently on the part of the immortal Spirit.

When studying “Heaven and Hell”, by Allan Kardec, we realized that the great moral / emotional shock of the newly disincarnated Spirits and their often painful regrets are associated with an absence of “self-criticism” and “regret” during their lives while embodied.

Repentance and self-forgiveness are not mutually exclusive. They can and must coexist. If I didn't regret it, what am I going to forgive myself for?! If I didn't recognize myself as wrong, how can I improve more effectively in relation to my specific defects?! In the “Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican” itself, we realized that the publican's repentance was fundamental for him to return home “justified”. Similarly, in the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” we realize that the title character of the parable, “coming to his senses”, made an analysis of himself, of his current conditions, and decides to ask his father to accept him as a mere employee. A deep regret associated with maturation and a desire to improve his behavior is implicit.

On the other hand, the state of "repentant Spirit" does not represent the same thing as "guilty Spirit", much less "condemned Spirit".

An old saying states that what differentiates medicine from poison is the dosage. We could take this idea to discuss this issue about repentance. Indeed, in excessive dosages, and without the support of self-forgiveness, regret could slide into self-obsessive states, deeply ill for the individual. On the other hand, the total forgetfulness of the need for sincere repentance in the face of our moral stumbles can lead us to a state of illusion regarding our own Spiritual reality and induce us to a kind of intimate reform without focusing on our most priority needs. This situation, very frequent in several recently disincarnated Spirits, reminds us of the evangelical recommendation that “we first remove the beam in front of our eyes and then remove the speck from our brother's eye”. After the identification, often surprising, of gross flaws in us, which we did not know, some level of regret is inevitable, which can, yes, impel the human being to be someone better.

It would be a case of questioning: Paul of Tarsus would have dispensed with a deep regret to develop his moral transformation?!

A good reinterpretation of the second part of “Heaven and Hell” can reinforce our understanding of the wholesome aspects of repentance, especially when it does not present the exaggerated self-punishing characteristics that we commonly attribute to this concept, which is an important step towards Spiritual renewal.


Eleni Frangatos - eleni.moreira@uol.com.br



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita