When penance is carefully nourished and practised, it inevitably results in the psychic revocation of undesirable modes of thought and conduct and makes a man amenable to a life of purity and service.
It should, however, be carefully noted that there is always the danger in penance that the mind might dwell too long upon the wrongs done and thus develop the morbid habit of wailing and weeping over petty things. Such sentimental extravagance is often an indiscriminate waste of psychic energy and is in no way helpful for the wearing out or the unwinding of sanskaras.
Penance should not be like everyday repentance which follows everyday weaknesses. It should not become a tedious and sterile habit of immoderate and gloomy pondering over one's own failings. Sincere penance does not consist in perpetuating grief for the wrongs, but in resolving to avoid in the future those deeds which call forth remorse.
If it leads to lack of self-respect or self-confidence, it has not served its true purpose which is merely to render impossible the repetition of certain types of action.
DISCOURSES, 6th ed, Vol 1, p. 71
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