For all the evil deeds I have done in the past
Based on beginningless greed, anger, and delusion,
And created by body, mouth, and mind,
I now repent of them all.
Because we lack true wisdom, we live in the world thinking that everything is real, so we get attached and cannot let go of things. Therefore, in life after life, we have created many karmic offenses and brought much bitter retribution upon ourselves.
Greed, hatred and stupidity come from ignorance. These three poisons are the source of limitless karmic offenses. 1) Greed is like a bottomless pit. You crave pleasant situations and pursue them at all costs. In order to attain your goal, you stop at nothing. 2) Hatred means you detest adverse situations and lose your temper, to the point that you may even commit murder. 3) Stupidity means you have no wisdom and can't tell the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. You are muddled and upside-down.
The offenses created by the body are killing, stealing, and lust. Killing ranges from murdering people to killing tiny creatures, such as ants and mosquitos. Killing a person is the most serious offense. Aside from being punished by the law, the killer will constantly be followed by the ghost of the victim, which causes him to be restless to the point of having a nervous breakdown. The person will either die or become insane. The karma of killing animals is not as heavy as that of killing people, because animals are stupid and may not be able to find their killer. However, the law of cause and effect is fair. Unconsciously, it will get to you and cause you to come down with some strange illness, torturing you with the pain of the illness. For example, in most cases, people get cancer because they have committed too much killing karma, either in this life or in previous lives. Heavy killing karma is also one of the causes of natural and manmade disasters. It also incurs the retribution of falling into the realms of animals, hungry ghosts, or hell-beings, or being born with imperfect faculties.
Stealing means taking what is not given. From plundering another country to stealing even a needle, some thread, a blade of grass or a piece of wood from someone, all such acts are considered stealing. Stealing incurs the retribution of poverty and misery, constant fear, and so on. As for lust, left-home people must abstain from all sexual conduct. Laypeople should not engage in sexual conduct outside of marriage. The karma of sexual misconduct incurs the retribution of having a disharmonious family, not getting along with one's spouse, or having an unfaithful spouse.
What are the offenses committed by the mouth? 1) Frivolous speech: talking about improper affairs between men and women, letting people's imaginations run wild. 2) False speech: not speaking according to the facts. 3) Harsh speech: scolding others and speaking rudely. 4) Double-tongued speech: saying things which arouse ill-will or disputes between people. The karmic offenses of the mouth bring the retributions of being slandered and deceived, not being trusted by others, and having bad breath.
Since time without beginning, because of greed, hatred and stupidity, we have created limitless and boundless offenses with our body, mouth and mind. These evil deeds have woven a vast karmic web which brings all kinds of grief and suffering, a myriad illnesses, continuous calamities, and various misfortunes in our daily life. Living beings in the karmic web are constantly submerged in the bitter sea of birth and death, unable to escape. We keep sinking deeper and deeper, and our offenses get heavier and heavier. Even if we want to cultivate the spiritual path, we encounter many obstructions. We must sincerely repent and reform of all our offenses. As it is said, "Offenses great enough to fill the heavens will be eradicated if one can simply repent."
Repentance means one repents for offenses done in the past. He is deeply ashamed of and remorseful for the karmic offenses he committed in the past. Reform means one reforms by not committing these offenses in the future. He is determined to change himself and start anew, and never repeat those mistakes. If one has offenses and can reform, then his offenses will disappear. However, if one tries to cover up his offenses and doesn't want people to know about them, then his offenses are doubled.
The Flower Adornment Sutra teaches us to make the contemplation of sincerely repenting, with pure body, mouth and mind, before all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in worlds pervading the Dharma Realm, and vowing that from today onwards, we will never commit those offenses again, that in thought after thought, our three karmas will always abide in pure precepts, and that we will cultivate unceasingly, without weariness or vexation. The more you bow to the Buddhas, the more energetic you feel. The more you repent, the more joyful you become. This is true repentance. Once you make a fresh start as a new person, don't think about the past anymore; otherwise, your mind will always be burdened, if you were carrying a heavy bag which prevented you from advancing on the bright journey ahead.
Whether you want to cultivate to transcend the common and enter sagehood, or you just want to lead a happy and peaceful life, you must repent of your karmic obstacles. There is hope for world peace only if every person can repent of his karmic obstacles and turn over a new leaf in life.