SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA
This article is a chapter from the book “Bliss Divine”.
How Sin Originates
What Is Virtue ? What Is Sin ?
Eternal Damnation – An Ungodly Doctrine
In the din and noise of the world, in the midst of sensual pleasures, the mind is led astray.
Temptation forms the ground-work of all sins. Ignorant men yield to temptations and commit sins.
Those who put on the appearance of righteous men are more sinful than the unrighteous. They will have to undergo great miseries.
Sinning and evil have become so much a habit with man that he never feels that he is committing them, even though day and night he is doing so constantly.
Think not lightly of sin. Just as a pot is filled with water by the constant falling of drops of water, even so, the ignorant man fills himself with evil and sin little by little.
Sin is an evil deed. Sin is willful violation of the laws of morality and religion. It is transgression of the Law of God.
Vice issues as sins and crimes. Vice is a stain of character. It is a flaw of character. It is a blemish or fault. Vice issues in evil deeds which are called sins.
Anger, lust, sorrow, loss of judgment, an inclination to injure others, unkindness, and fear are very powerful enemies of all creatures. These approach men and tempt them from all sides. They goad and afflict a careless or a foolish man. They attack him powerfully, like a tiger jumping upon its prey. From these originate all sorts of grief and sin.
It is selfishness that prompts a man to do evil acts. A selfish man injures others, robs their property, and does many sinful actions to satisfy his selfishness. Selfishness is the devil incarnate in every man.
It is a sin to be pleased with oneself. By shutting out the possibility of progress, self-inquiry, and introspection, the process of degeneration sets in.
Egoism is the greatest sin. The wrong notion, “I am the body”, is the real, original sin. This one thought – the ‘I’ thought – has wrought all mischiefs. This one thought has multiplied into thousandfold thoughts. This one thought separated man from God. This self-arrogating ego is the real, hereditary sin of human nature. All evil Vrittis are hanging on this little ego.
Papa is sin. Punya is virtue. Remember the motto always: “Do unto others as you wish others do unto you”. This is the Kasoti or test for virtue and sin. You do not wish to be hurt by others. So do not hurt another person. You wish to be helped by others. So help others. You do not wish to be robbed by others. So do not rob others’ property. When you enter the compartment in a train, you wish that others should give you a seat. They should not drive you to another compartment. So, when anyone enters your compartment, give him a seat. Do not drive him away. Hurting another is sin; non-hurting is virtue. Selfishness is sin; helping others is virtue. Robbing others’ property is sin; doing charity is virtue. Driving a man from the compartment is sin; giving a seat to a man in your compartment is virtue.
That which elevates you is virtue; that which pulls you down is vice or sin. That which takes you to the Goal is virtue; that which makes you a worldly man is sin. That which helps you attain God-head is virtue; that which hurls you down in the dark abyss of ignorance is sin. That which gives you illumination is virtue; that which causes intoxication is sin. That which purifies your heart is virtue; that which taints your heart is sin. That which gives you peace, joy, satisfaction, exhilaration, expansion of heart, is virtue; that which brings restlessness, dissatisfaction, depression, and contraction of heart, is vice.
Service of humanity and Guru is virtue; mischief-mongering is sin. Faith in God, in the scriptures, in the words of the spiritual preceptor, is virtue; doubting is sin. Loving all is virtue; hating others is sin. Unity is virtue; separation is sin. Independence is virtue; dependence is sin. Brahmacharya is virtue; lust is sin. Truthfulness is virtue; falsehood is sin. Generosity is virtue; miserliness is sin. Oneness is virtue; duality is sin. Knowledge is virtue; ignorance is sin. Strength is virtue; weakness is sin. Courage is virtue; cowardice is sin. To behold the One Immortal Self everywhere is virtue; to see diversity is sin.
That which you are ashamed to do in public is a sin. That which you dare not admit before your Guru is a sin.
Learn to discriminate between virtue and sin, and become wise. The Antaryamin will guide you rightly; hear Him.
Sin is expiated by self-punishment such as fasting, Japa, penance, meditation, and repentance with a contrite heart. Even a wicked man can have communion with God through repentance, prayer, and meditation.
The confession of evil deeds is the first beginning of good deeds. Be not ashamed to confess that you have been in the wrong. If you confess your evil actions, you now have more sense than you had before, to see your error. If you confess your sins, you begin your journey towards emancipation. He who is sorry for having done evil actions mends himself and improves quickly.
Repentance is a divine streamlet for sinners to wash their sins. Repent with a contrite heart. God will forgive you.
If you commit a wrong on a certain occasion, you should not commit it again. There should be no wrong over wrong. You may claim forgiveness, if you are resolute to do the evil thing no more.
A woman was charged with adultery. The Pharisees wanted Jesus to pronounce the Mosaic verdict of stoning her unto death. Lord Jesus quietly said, “Let him that is without sin among you, cast the first stone on her”. This powerful utterance of the Lord at once turned the gaze of each one there within himself. Who could be without sin ? Introspection revealed their own defects. One by one, the people hung their heads down and left the place. “Where are they ?”, Lord Jesus asked the woman, “Did no man condemn thee ?” “No, my Lord”, said she. “Neither do I condemn thee. Go thy way, and sin no more”, said the Lord, summing up in this beautiful incident the very essence of His divine message.
Contrition, change of heart, is the only condition for God’s forgiveness of human sin. Confess your sin. Repent for your sin. Turn away from sin. Do not repeat it again. Pray. Do Japa. Meditate. Practice Pranayama. Do expiatory acts. All your sins will be washed away. You will shine with lustre and brilliance.
Hear the words of assurance of Lord Krishna in the Gita: “Even if the most sinful worshipeth Me with undivided heart, he too must be accounted righteous, for he hath rightly resolved”. There is great hope even for a cut-throat, if he makes a strong determination and takes up the spiritual path.
Sin is a mistake committed by the ignorant Jiva during his journey towards the Satchidananda abode. Every mistake is your best teacher. One has to evolve through sins or mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable. Some people become a prey to thoughts of sin. They ever brood: “We are great sinners. We have committed great sins”. This is a great blunder. Do not brood too much on the past events. Learn the lesson and forget the past. Once you make up your mind to tread the path of Truth, all sins will be destroyed.
ETERNAL DAMNATION–AN UNGODLY DOCTRINE
There is no such thing as eternal damnation or eternal hell-fire for the sinners. It cannot be. It is a theory that has long been exploded. Eternal damnation is an ungodly doctrine, a terror and nightmare for ages. To make people desist from doing wicked actions, a terrifying description of hell is given. It is a Bhayanaka-Sabda.
God has not created men to become everlasting fuel to feed the flame of hell. This is not certainly His purpose in His creation. If God be such, no one will pay homage to Him. Who then can be saved ? How many spotless men are there in this world ? Who is of such untainted character as to receive a direct passport to heaven ?
Everybody has his secret sins. Few are born saints. No person is found on earth who shines with all the excellent qualities. No one is wise at all times, and no one is a fool always. The sinner of today is the saint of tomorrow. Hate the sin, but not the sinner.
A rogue is not an eternal rogue. A prostitute is not an eternal prostitute. Put these people in the company of saints. They will be newly moulded, and will be transmuted into saints with virtuous qualities. The transformation of Ratnakar into Valmiki is an epic example of this truth.
It is never too late to mend. A good, resolute start in virtuous life will give you peace and happiness. Do it now. Leave off evil ways. Follow the good. Be pure in life. You will attain God-realization.
Steadily resist the promptings of your lower nature. Gradually, it will lose its power over you. You will gain strength. The spirit may pull in one direction and the flesh in the opposite direction. Be firm and courageous. Yield not to flesh. Be strong. Be positive always. Think and feel: “I can do everything if I will. There is nothing that I cannot do”. Never give up the hope of realizing God.
Watch every action. Allow not any impure action to stain your body. When anything pricks thy conscience, abandon it. Fight against the tempting power of self-gratification and self-aggrandizement. Overcome anger by love, lust by purity, greed by generosity, pride by humility, falsehood by truth.
Lose the sense of I-ness and mine-ness. Control the mind. Repeat the Lord’s Name. Purify every part of yourself.
Paropakarah Punyaya; Papaya Parapidanam: Service of others brings on virtue; harming others is sin. Therefore, serve others. Purify your heart by selfless and humble service of the poor and the afflicted, and make it a fit abode for God to dwell.
Every day is a fresh beginning. Forget your past mistakes and failures. Enter a new life of victory. March on and on. Exert. Purify. Approach the saints. Abandon all anxiety, fear, and worry. Rest in your Centre. Sing Om. Meditate on Om. Realize the Self.