So i was wondering something: Is it correct to confess your wrongdoing to another bhikkhu in detail in a language that the other person understand and then use the traditional thailand confession formula in Pali or do we simply recite the confession formula without first telling the other person our mistakes in detail?
It’s correct to do it the way your community does it
My understanding is that the Pali texts don’t address that specific issue.
Confession in the presence of another helps us to improve ourselves. This isn’t a mere ritual or ceremony that we do each fortnight but rather a real opportunity to grow. Confessing to another person is important because we want to bring up that sense of hiri-ottappa to help us avoid making the mistake again. In the past I’ve met monks who think that the point is to ‘prove’ yourself rather than improve yourself; as in, they think it looks better/is more comfortable to have nothing specific to confess, allowing the general formula as a back up. However, in a way this actually lets them to hide breaches from others and even themselves.
It’s good to firstly know the Vinaya so you’re aware if you’ve transgressed a rule, and what procedure that might entail. Many communities who just use the blanket confession formula do not have a strong grasp of the rules, and so it just becomes a mere ritual, without worrying about exactly which rules have been transgressed and without any concern for future breaches. This is treating the procedure as a general coverall and relying on that as if it were somehow magically cleansing. However the point is to know what rules give broken, tell another person so that it doesn’t remain hidden and try to not do it again.
That’s why some communities encourage you to firstly name the rule that’s been broken, along with its class and to then do the general formula as a back up for anything forgotten or unknown. Naming the rule is useful especially for beginners to get a grasp on the rules and also gives a chance to clear up any uncertainty or doubt about whether or not an offence occured by asking the other monastic. Another opportunity to confess comes during the patimokkha recital itself, when upon hearing the rules, if we remember we breached one, we should confess it there and then. This makes me think it is important to be specific and particular rather than general in confessing.
Some monks I know only confess the actual rules they have broken and don’t use the general formula at all.
@Minh77 I’ve noticed you’re asking several questions about Vinaya issues on the forum. Whilst you might get some helpful responses here, it’s more important to have appropriate guidance in real life from well informed members of your monastic community.