Copyright: Anand Buchwald, eMail: anand@Mirapuri-Enterprises.com
Common religious practise in most of the world's religions has it that several forms of behaviour are described as 'committing a sin', and therefore are unwanted (as a mild form or reaction) or are followed by severe punishment, be it in terrestrial or celestial form. Among common men these sins usually are not discussed in content but believed and obeyed (as traditional part of the upbringing and the common value set) and/or committed (generally with bad consciousness). Unreflected public opinion says that sins are against God's laws or even an offence against God himself, and that to sin means to at least impede one's way to heaven and to pave one's way to hell. So consequently one has to avoid sins in order to please God, to please law and community and to have a nice hereafter. The aspect that the obeisance to these rules might be a value in itself and is of a value that is not of immediate commercial nature rarely enters the common mind. At least education does not lay much stress on these ways of view.
In Christian religion sins can be sorted into common sins and grave sins, the latter ones being divided into sins against the 10 commandments and the later introduced classification of the seven deadly sins. These sins are anger, pride, envy, greed, gluttony, lust and sloth. They do not seem to be of great harm anyway.
Now religion is not a homogenous body. It rather gives, like many large things, the impression of an onion (in this context it is interesting to note, that the advance towards its core is usually accompanied by purifying tears) with many layers hiding the onion's heart.
As already explained elsewhere ('Religion and Violence'), there are several layers that separate common religious thought and practice from the pure essence and intention of true religion. In this model the concept of sin belongs to the outskirts of religion: their main aim is the guidance of social and moral behaviour of men and in this way a slow improvement of the evolution of mankind.
But if we combine this onion image with another, more general aspect of creation we are led to look at the question of sin in a different manner. This aspect can be called a descending chain of analogy or a ray-destortion-effect. These images that are often applied in orginal medical sciences (old allopathy), indicate that there is a supreme origin to everything. The more the original impulse manifests in matter, the more it gets deranged to the point of extreme mutilation.
Seen in this way also the concept of sin is a distortion of an original Divine impulse. If we succeed in climbing up the ladder to heaven a small step, we will reach a purer, a more original insight into the question of sin.
Let's begin with a look on the common aspects of sin. We had the points 'against God's laws', 'offence to God', 'heaven and hell'-commerce. With the first point, we reduce god to a human being, as these so-called laws of God are very human in nature. They belong to the outskirts of God's onion. It is similar with the next point: God being infinitely greater than every thing and concept existing he simply cannot possibly be offended. Offence is not for the Divine but for men. It is always men's opinion of God that is offended, in much the same way as grief in the case of death is nearly never for the dead but nearly always for our left back selves and feelings. And the last point is quite obvious: God doesn't trade. So all these concepts are vain. These are human justifications and explanations gone wrong for a Divine impulse and suggestion.
But one interesting point we have already shortly touched in passing: Evolution. We can try to put our ladder on this ground for our investigation. We have stated, that the effect of a mechanical avoidance of sin in the traditional view slowly furthers evolution, that means the improvement of mankind through the ages.
For most people evolution is an accomplished matter, out of which man has emerged many, many thousand years ago. Matter closed! But this is only so because our consciousness rarely comprises our live span, let alone wide distances of time. But despite of a too literally taken biblical history of creation, we have emerged from the animal and we still carry in us large animal quantities and qualities. This means that we are not yet fully human, we're rather in the morning of the sixth day of creation. We can certainly say that God's intentions (if he has such) tend towards diminishing our animal parts and to further our human aspects. So the general idea of the avoidance of sin is the weakening of the animal impulses and the strengthening of the human faculties. By and large the concept of sin helps for this in a general and generalizing, but mechanical and negative way by the evocation of guilt and without a real collaboration of man. In this context sin means to live one's animality.
But let's dig still a little step higher. Evolution certainly is good. And so is becoming a real Man. But is evolution the aim or is it the means? Is a real humanity the end of the game or is it only an intermediary station? What are the higher intentions behind this?
A really human mankind certainly is not the end of development. Indefinite achievements lie before us. Only to take a look at them, to grasp what lies ahead of us, we need to have risen to a higher level of consciousness. But we can see a certain tendency already. If everything has emerged from the Divine, everything is Divine in origin, everything is part of the Divine and everything will ultimately, at the end of creation, be aware of the Divine and be it's constant aspect. So we can state that the reason of religion and evolution and life is to bring us nearer to God, to discover our hidden divine faculties.
And here is the point where we can enter into the higher meaning of sin. The rather unspectacular sins are called cardinal or deadly sins. The meaning of the adjective deadly has never been quite clear. One doesn't die of this kind of misbehaviour - usually. But the word death need not necessarily be interpreted in terms of physical decay and the vanishing of our personality consciousness. Death generally means the end of a line of possibilities. The thing that we usually call death is the end of the line of possibilities for development. So the execution of a so called Deadly Sin (or any sin anyway) puts an end to possibilities or brings this end nearer.
We have seen that the human aim is development, a development of consciousness of our being, our faculties and our inner relation to God. This development means an unveiling of all the potentials put in everything at the moment of creation. We can call this potential the soul. So now for development we have two possibilities which are equally neccessary in order to be integral: We have to search for God by diving even deeper after the soul and to widen it and to bring it to the surface of personality, and we have to search for God by climbing higher and by illumining and widening progressively our consciousness.
And it is the committment of sins that interferes with this process of growth. Every sin which we commit without learning by it hampers our growth.
Anger makes man blind and narrow and onesided. Pride lets you forget your true place and position in the universe as well as the neccessity for progress. Envy turns your glance from your own achievements and the aims that lie before you to the achievements of others. Greed lets you forget the real worth of things as tools for the accomplishment of one's goals and it builds walls instead of roads. Gluttony and drunkenness harm the body, diminish the body's consciousness and further general inertia and unconsiousness. Sloth diminshes the energy (which comes with movement) to progress or to do or change anything at all. Immobility, unwillingness to change is a strong form of death - and the world is full of 'living' deads. Lust, sexual desire lets us fall back into animal nature. But there is no need to join in with people claiming sex to be only allowed for procreation. The 'sin' is not with sex itself or with the wish for sex, but with some preliminaries, with some attitudes and with some forms of execution. It's rather a problem of consiousness. The clue is not to be swept away with it into unconsiousness. What also makes a 'sin' of it are greed and guilt. Sex is to be made at least with joy, a wide consciousness and a conscious enjoyment. Executed in the right attidude (and the questions of being married, heterosexuality or monogamy are very meaningless) it can break down walls and bring energy and joy.
So now we see that on this step of the ladder we can define sin as everything that hinders our progress. This definition makes all lower definitions of sin artificial and vain (and beside, what was a sin yesterday need not be one tomorrow). And seen in this light we can easily add a great number of contemporary 'sins': grief, unhappiness, hate, intolerance, ignorance, badwill, shame, unclearness...
But we have not yet arrived at the end of our investigation. Up to now we have always considered sin in a negative manner. It was always: 'Thou shall't not ...'.
But isn't this 'Thou shall't not...' a distortion in itself. Hasn't the original impulse been 'Thou shall't...' or rather in an even more original form a presentation of possibilities: we have been presented with the power of wideness - and the final outcome was: Do not be greedy or you will burn in hell!
In occupying ourselves with the question of sin we have discovered that it is we ourselves that built the prisons of our mind and soul. It is up to us to lead a life that is mechanical in nature with a mechanical and commercial view to religion and sin, with simple and easy dos and don'ts. And the other kind of life also is at our disposal: Free from ignorance, wide in consciousness, deep in soul, progressing joyfully and voluntarily into the Light and God.
16./17. 8. 2000.
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