Recently Shaykh Mawlana Mohammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him) advised a murid to bury the past and make a fresh start.
Burying the past may sound a simple thing but in reality it is a big spiritual struggle (mujahidah) with many benefits.
For all of us it is a common event to slip and commit mistakes. These mistakes may be in exoteric (dhahiri) or esoteric (batini) works. Sometimes we are cognizant of our mistakes and at others oblivious. However, a true seeker is very much disturbed by these mistakes. He is ashamed infront of Allah, disheartened on his ability to control his desires, disillusioned by the effectiveness of the path in preventing this disaster and anxious about the future similar mishaps.
These are the moments when the need of a perfect spiritual mentor – the Shaykh-e-kamil, is essential to save the seeker from falling further in to the trap of Satan and lower self (nafs). It is he who guides the murid out of this depressive and self-destructive attitude and puts him back on the path towards Allah.
He does so by,
a. Giving the seeker hope. That is, it is human to err and Allah is Most Merciful to those who acknowledge their short comings.
b. Instruction to forget the past. Bury it. If this is not done, its dead body will rot and the stench emanating from it will spoil the best aroma of sincere good acts done in future. Also, remembering the sins after sincere repentance is wrong and leads to decreasing relationship with Allah.
c. To be concerned with improving the present condition right now. For this today will tomorrow become yesterday. A thing of past.
If handled in this way each and every mistake and fall of the sincere seeker results in increasing relationship with Allah, enhanced humility and complete dependence on His kindness and mercy.
A seeker should remember that these falling episodes are not uncommon and continue until a permanent spiritual serenity (tamkeen) is achieved (which usually happens after years of sincere effort by method described above). Until then he/she has to bury the past with sincere repentance and move forwards on the path with renewed vigor.
And its facilitation is surely from Allah, Most High.