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Lesson 132 - Q&A What is sin?
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 4:53pm
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: What is sin? Is it a condition we have no chance to overcome without
intervention on our behalf by someone who is ordained? Are we sinners, or
are we divine? I am confused.
A: Jesus said, "As you sow, so shall you reap." In the East, this same
process is stated with one word, "karma," which means action and its
consequences, including latent impressions accumulated deep inside us over
With yoga practices, we stimulate the nervous system's natural abilities to
dissolve the many latent impressions of karma stored deep inside. We
experience these impressions as limitations and tendencies in our thoughts,
feelings and actions. These impressions are obstructions to our experience
of the truth within us. As we clean them out, we come to know the divine
truth within and we are set free from the binding influences of our past
actions. Then we are naturally inclined to conduct ourselves in ways that do
not build up obstructions that will limit us in the future – acting more and
more as a channel of divine love. So, yoga has a direct impact on this whole
process of sowing, reaping, and the latent impressions of karma.
None of this directly answers your questions about sin. I wanted to lay out
the practical aspects of yoga's role first. Action, results of action, and
the means for dissolving the binding results of action. That is how yoga
What is sin? If you look it up in the dictionary, you will see it focuses on
the negative aspects of "As you sow, so shall you reap," and "karma."
Sin is defined as, "An offense against religious or moral law, an
offense against God."
Sowing and reaping is one thing, a process of nature, really. It just
happens as we act in ways that are either in the direction of or away from
purifying our nervous system and expressing divine love. What we put in is
what we get out. If we do yoga practices and favor opening over closing, we
give ourselves a big advantage in this process.
Sin is a step outside the natural process of "as you sow..." and karma. It
is an "offense." An offense to who? Sin is colored with human judgement. If
you do thus-and-so, you commit sin. You are doing bad. You are offending
God. Who decides this? Most often, it is we who decide it through our guilt
and shame over our actions. Maybe we have been conditioned by others since
childhood to feel that way about ourselves. In our still-limited state of
awareness we tend to act in ways that bind us, and in our conscience (the
divine morality in us) we feel remorse. If we do not judge ourselves, others
will certainly be there to do it for us. In doing so, they place themselves
in the position of intermediary between us and our salvation. And there you
have it, the psychological structure that holds most of the world's
organized religions together.
The concept of sin is a human coloring of natural law. Sin is a spin on a
process of nature. It rises out of our guilt and/or someone else's judgment.
Overindulgence in the concept of sin can lead to a sense of hopelessness,
and an unhealthy dependence on others for our salvation, when, in truth,
there is only one place we will ever find it, within ourselves.
Expecting someone else, ordained or not, to relieve us of our sins is a
formula for failure. Real religion is not a business transaction where we
give this and get that. It does not happen like that.
Surrendering to a high ideal is something else. It is a private matter in
our heart, not subject to anyone else's scrutiny or judgement. As long as we
are letting go for a higher ideal deep in our heart, our bhakti will have
great purifying power, and draw us to spiritual practices.
If we have been trained to see ourselves as hopeless sinners, it will be
wise to reconsider it carefully. For if we do not believe in our own
divinity, it will be difficult to find the desire necessary to make the
journey home. Our identity as sinners is a label we put on ourselves, while
our identity as divine beings is a demonstrable human condition we can claim
as our own.
Saints and saviors over thousands of years have demonstrated again and again
the ability we all have for human spiritual transformation.
Sitting to meditate for the first time can shatter the illusory grip of sin.
It won't free us completely from all obstructions in us on the first day,
but it is the beginning of a road we can travel that will reveal increasing
divine light as we purify and open our nervous system further each day.
The guru is in you.
For detailed discussion on
building a daily practice routine with self-pacing, see the
AYP Eight Limbs of Yoga book,
and AYP Plus.
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