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Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
Lesson 132 - Q&A What is sin?
Date: Fri Mar 5, 2004 4:53pm
New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web 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 multiple lifetimes.
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 fits in.
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
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
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.
Note: For detailed discussion on
building a daily practice routine with self-pacing, see the
AYP Eight Limbs of Yoga book.
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