As I study A Course in Miracles with my friend and study buddy Lisa of BloomLisa, I have often pondered the concept of original sin. Having gone to a Roman Catholic school from ages 5-13, I studied in depth the teachings and philosophies of the Bible and Christianity, and according to that view, I was taught that we are all born with original sin because of the sin of Adam and Eve – that they ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. As a child, though, I did not feel that we are all born sinful and bad beings, and often wondered what this original sin really was.
When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they became aware of their nakedness. That is, they became aware of their bodies and their separateness. From this sprung shame, insecurities, fears, anger, and attachment, or as the Course states: grievances. In Lesson 68: Holding grievances…split you off from your Source (God) and make you unlike Him. The illusion that we are separate physical bodies, that we are lonely creatures separate from God, the Universe, and all beings, can drive us to seek attachments and possessions, escapism and addictions, and actions controlled by our fear of being alone.
When I counsel and coach others, especially if from a yogic philosophical view, I explain to my clients that the physical body is an external object. It may take some time, maybe many lifetimes, but once that is understood, we become free of so much stress, worry, anger, fear, and desires. The physical body is our vehicle for experiencing this life here on earth. It should be respected and well-maintained with great gratitude for the experiences it allows us. In Lesson 72: It is the body that is outside us.
Freeing ourselves, our ego-minds, from the mindset and attachment that we are these separate bodies alone in the world, frees us from original sin. Being born into life as a physical body with a brain that thinks it is separate is original sin. But, we are not our bodies, for our souls, which are the extensions or children of God, are always One with God, even as we journey through these lifetimes in these miraculous vehicles. This awareness, not only frees us to truly live life to the fullest, but it also frees us to not fear death, for death is just our souls leaving these vehicles to return to God or embark on a new journey with a new vehicle.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit priest and philosopher
From Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue, Irish priest, author, poet, and philosopher:
DEATH TRANSFIGURES OUR SEPARATION . . .
It is a strange and magical fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. Rilke said, “Being here is so much.” It is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free. The more lonely side of being here is our separation in the world. When you live in a body you are separate from every other object and person. Many of our attempts to pray, to love, and to create are secret attempts at transfiguring that separation in order to build bridges outward so that others can reach us and we can reach them. At death, this physical separation is broken. The soul is released from its particular and exclusive location in this body. The soul then comes in to a free and fluent universe of spiritual belonging.
DEATH AS AN INVITATION TO FREEDOM . . .
If you really live your life to the full, death will never have power over you. It will never seem like a destructive, negative event. It can become, for you, the moment of release into the deepest treasures of your own nature; it can be your full entry into the temple of your soul. If you are able to let go of things, you learn to die spiritually in little ways during your life. When you learn to let go of things, a greater generosity, openness, and breath comes into your life. Imagine this letting go multiplied a thousand times at the moment of your death. That release can bring you a completely new divine belonging.
From the Katha Upanishad: a young boy Nachiketa goes to Yama, the god of Death, to face, learn about, and understand death. He learns from Death that it is really only the soul (Atman) that exists, and all souls are extensions, or children, of God (Brahman). Understanding this, he sees that death occurs only to the physical body (ego), that part of us that is born into a separate existence. To die is to return to complete union (the “divine belonging” as O’Donohue wrote) with God; Union with God is to become immortal.
When the five senses are stilled, when the mind is stilled, that is called the highest state of the wise. They say yoga is this complete stillness, in which one enters the unitive state, never to become separate again… There are two selves, the separate ego and the indivisible Atman. When one rises above I and me and mine, the Atman is revealed as one’s real Self. When all desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal become immortal. When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.
Life And Death
By Julianne Victoria, from my book Flying From the Heart,
Life and Death
are they not just misnomers
isn’t everything life
and how much beauty
all that change
without the nourishment
that death provides
there would be no life
life and death
death and life
it is all creation
it is all a beautiful process
of life and death