For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
“The Greek word that we translate as ‘sin’ is amortano. This, as Maurice Nichol has pointed out in his book The Mark, is a term derived from archery and means to have missed the mark, to have missed the target. The target we are each seeking is inner fulfillment, but, imagining that it will come from what we have or do [emphasis added], we aim in the wrong direction, and thus ‘miss the mark.’ It is this fundamental error as to how to find happiness and peace of mind that is our ‘original sin.’ The word translated as ‘repent’ is metanoia, which means a transformation of mind. So ‘Sinners repent’ can also be translated as ‘You who have missed your target, and not found happiness in the world around you, change your thinking,’ for what you are looking for lies very close by, within you.”
Sin is missing the point of life itself and the punishment or a cause and effect consequence is unavoidable in that “sin” causes inevitable suffering. Ernest Holmes supports this perfect justice within a perfect universe. “We wish to make it clear that there is no sin but a mistake, and no punishment but an inevitable consequence. Sin is its own punishment and righteousness is its own reward.”
“Original sin” is the sin of Eve for which the Roman Catholic Church prescribes baptism. Mary due to her own “Immaculate Conception” was without original sin and hence worthy of being the mother of Jesus. And yet as scholar Herbert Haag makes clear, “The doctrine of original sin is not found in any of the writings of the Old Testament.” Elie Wiesel confirms that, “The concept of original sin is alien to the Jewish tradition.”
Jim Marion continues our brief foray into the history of sin. “But then a fly came into the ointment, a forked-tongued dualistic ‘snake’ into the garden (Gen. 3:1-13). This snake was a liar and the Father of Lies (John 8:44). He induced Adam and Eve to use their dualistic reasoning minds to create still another polarity, this one an entirely unnatural one, one not found in Nature or anywhere else in the creation of totally good wholeness (each made up of a positive and negative pole) that God had just finished making. Falling for the snake’s seduction, Adam and Eve used their dualistic reasoning minds to create the wholly artificial, synthetic, and false polarity of good versus evil. This, as we all know, is the ‘original sin.’ The original sin—as described with great accuracy in the third chapter of Genesis—is believing that there is such a thing as sin in the first place! And from this original lie has come so much misery.”
Marion continues by linking the illusion of sin with our false-self identity. “What the law [of good and evil] does is to make a man know that he has sinned. (Rom. 3:20) The law [of good and evil] brings God’s wrath; [previously] when there was no law, there was no disobeying of the law. (Rom. 4:15) Christ Consciousness frees us from what he [St. Paul] called the tyranny of the law. (Gal. 3:10-13)”
St. Augustine compounds the problem of existential guilt by projecting his own guilt upon all of humankind as Karen Armstrong describes. “A deep sadness also informed Augustine’s later work: the fall of Rome influenced his doctrine of Original Sin, which would become central to the way Western people would view the world. Augustine believed that God had condemned humanity to an eternal damnation, simply because of Adam’s one sin. The inherited guilt was passed on to all his descendants through the sexual act, which was polluted by what Augustine called ‘concupiscence.’ Concupiscence was the irrational desire to take pleasure in mere creatures instead of God; it was felt most acutely during the sexual act, when our rationality is entirely swamped by passion and emotion, when God is utterly forgotten and creatures revel shamelessly in one another.”
Clearly, the illusion of sin has a relationship with the sensation energy center of the false self and “Nietsche (and, soon, in Freud) [was] a writer who mocked the sense of sin and guilt that had once been at the heart of the middle-class culture, and redefined it as a pathology.” Nietsche and Freud both underestimated the pathology of the false self, failing to realize that virtually all reactive human behavior is unconscious and therefore self-destructive or pathological.
Hence, we have both our over-reliance on the intellect and the shattering of the worldview of Oneness plunging humankind into the darkness that is our alienation from the truth of Simple Reality. Ken Wilber knows the details of this split as one among many illusion-creating divisions of Oneness. “[And] this is the original sin of the Gods, in which all men participate by the very fact of their separate existence and their manner of knowing in terms of subject and object, good and evil.”
Philosophers and psychologists have had a lot to say about sin and there is little agreement among them about what it is or the role it plays and indeed, if it even exists. “He [Nietzsche] treated the very basis of the moral system that we now call ‘Judea-Christian’ as a hoax, and declared that the idea of sin itself was nothing but a ruse invented by a wretched band of ‘ascetic priest[s]’ (Jews, of course)—shamans who had achieved a magical hold over men by playing the ‘ravishing music’ of guilt in their souls.”
Jung adds his own take on sin to his opinions on what Nietzsche believed. “When a man is in a healthy state, his life is a constant creative process. His is inundated by feelings of love, of oneness with other human beings. The oneness is the awareness that he is not different from others. He wants to help them; he identifies with them; he senses that anything that is happening to them is happening to himself. A healthy person has a positive direction in his life. He wills his life in a positive direction, and he is successful—in business, in his thinking, in his feeling of contentment with himself. In that state there is little or no sickness and no evil. Man is not so much delivered from his sins, even if he is baptized in the prescribed manner and thus washed clean, as delivered from fear of the consequences of sin, that is, from the wrath of God. Consequently, the work of salvation is intended to save man from the fear of God.”
What about our discussion relating to sin today? Ralph Blumenthal was writing in the The New York Times about Bernard Madoff who bilked investors in his Ponzi scheme out of as much as 65 billion dollars. Blumenthal was speculating on which of Dante’s Circle of Hell levels would be appropriate for Madoff’s “sin.”
In the article, Mr. Pinsky, the U. S. poet laureate (1997-2000) revealed that he understood the nature of “sin” and had written about sin in one of his poems. “You’re buried in ice (Dante’s lowest and most feared ‘Circle’), because you’ve buried yourself in ice. It’s not a poem about ‘you did this, you get this,’ Mr. Pinsky says, ‘It’s about the mystery of how you hurt yourself. It’s like the Talmud says: the evils others do to me are as nothing compared to the evils I do to myself.’”
What can we conclude about the all too common belief in the worldview of the inhabitants of the global village related to sin? Jesus’ teaching of love thyself, love they neighbor and love Creation (God) would certainly have no place for a belief in sin. Meister Eckhart understood that if we want to transcend suffering we could not allow the false-self to choose reaction over response. “This, then is salvation: When you marvel at the beauty of created things and praise the beauty of their Creator.”
And finally, Jesus speaking in A Course in Miracles: “When not one thought of sin remains, the world is over. It will not be destroyed nor attacked nor even touched. It will merely cease to seem to be.”
References and notes are available for this article.
Also find a much more in-depth discussion of Simple Reality
on this blog and in published books by Roy Charles Henry.