The meaning of sin

I have been thinking lately about the seven sins. Although I don’t believe everything I read in religious texts, I think the Bible has some value here. I tried debating the logic behind the seven sins, but finally came to the conclusion that, actually, the logic makes sense.

The first consideration for me was, why is a particular quality essentially ‘wrong’ or sinful? Is it because it’s harmful to society, to the government, or to ourselves? I came to the conclusion that, from a religious perspective, God represents love. So a quality is considered wrong if it goes against the impulse to love (one’s self, one’s neighbour, family, friends, society). Hate, envy, greed, anger, lust, pride, sloth – they all block out love. Love is the feeling of caring for another as selflessly as possible, and loving one’s self on a deep level rather than loving our egotistic fashionings (which are sure to change). The problem with love is – if love depends on the idea of an enduring self (something which will last forever) then what if there is NO enduring self at all? If the person you loved became a ‘sinner’, would you still love their ‘inner’ self, knowing that they were inherently ‘good’? If you can love one person like that, why not everyone? Buddhism says there is no enduring self, only flux and change. So, where does love fit into that?

I haven’t lost all hope yet. I do believe in an enduring self. That’s why we can feel compassion for almost anyone in the world, because we recognise another soul’s inherent energy as being from the same source as our own energy. And the reason why we become closer to some people more than others is to do with the varying experiences we have on earth, and the karmic relationships we have built. That’s why once certain experiences and karma change, our relationships tend to change too.

Going back to sin, if we see God as representing our original source, and if we see our essential nature as love, then it follows that we should avoid everything that blocks out feelings of love. This is in our best interest as well as in the interest of society at large. But I find it very unhelpful to focus on what we need to avoid, so instead I’ve made another list of what it is we need to embody…

Anger -(needs to change into)- Compassion

Envy – Admiration

Pride – Humility

Greed – Generosity

Lust –  Love

Sloth – Perseverance

Gluttony – Satisfaction

In our lifetimes, a certain number of errors are inevitable. No matter how hard we try, some of us cannot become saints right now. You will notice in your life that you made certain mistakes without realising, and other mistakes you tried to avoid but you were not able to control. If you make the same mistake again and again, then you are choosing to suffer again and again until you reach a greater understanding and eventually become strong enough to avoid making that mistake – like learning to balance on a bicycle. But along with the karmic inevitability we have predestined for ourselves, there is a small element of choice. In this small field of free expression, we are the creators – here, we choose to exercise the Seven Virtues.