We were all born so beautiful and will continue to be like that, if only we maintain that loving kindness and divinity that God breathed into us, says OSWALD PEREIRA
Many orthodox Christians believe that we men, women and even children are sinners. Common Christian prayers such as Our Father, Hail Mary and The Apostle’s Creed, which are said by devout Christians, have references to humans as sinners ― ‘forgive us our sins’ (Our Father), ‘pray for us sinners’ (Hail Mary), ‘the forgiveness of sins’ (The Apostle’s Creed).
As a Christian lad, I was very scared of my sins, and would often feel guilty of the real and imaginary sins that I had committed. We had the venial sins or lesser sins like lying, which didn’t punish you with Hell for eternity. But it was the mortal sins, the more serious ones which sent you straight to Hell that frightened me no end.
Apart from murder, which as children we could never really imagine, a mortal sin included even self-gratification, such as when a teenager learns to fantasise and discovers the innocent pleasure of self-indulgence.
Luckily, there was the weekly confession to the priest on Saturday. The ‘Father’ sitting in the confessional box, would forgive all my sins so generously and willingly, after I said my act of contrition ― ‘My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.’ Despite the Father’s kindness in forgiving me on behalf of God and a gentle reminder about ‘Hell,’ I would repeat my sins and come back to him the next week.
When I grew up and grew out of the habit of confession, and I entered the real big world of adult life, for quite some time I missed the Saturday confession and even felt guilty that I was committing sins and not confessing them and asking God for forgiveness.
Over time I have realised that confessing my sins when I was a boy had its benefits ― it taught me the value of being good and virtues like humility. But I also began to believe that to stretch the concept of sin too far, may attract more negativity than is good for one’s spiritual growth and self-esteem. As humans, we all have our good and bad deeds to account for. It is important to balance our life in such a manner that we are more good and less bad.
However, our faults and failings as humans do not qualify us for the tag of sinners. Even if some judgmental people do, we should in no case call ourselves sinners. I believe the more we do, the more we are likely to fall into that classification.
The fault lines will show whenever we deviate from God’s creativity. That calls for a course correction, though definitely not the beating of our breast to proclaim ourselves as sinners.
While in the US, Paramhansa Yogananda once attended a revivalist meeting by the famous evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, attended by thousands of people. The evangelist shouted, “You are all sinners! Get down on your knees.” Yogananda was the only one who remained standing, because he wouldn’t accept that he is a sinner.
The great yogi used to tell his disciples, “The worst sin is to call yourself a sinner.” His advice was to say: “Naughty or good, I am a child of God.” Yogananda was often quoted as saying, “A saint is a sinner who never gave up.”
I believe if we focus on the goodness within, we are more likely to develop that very quality in us, which would soon overshadow those little faults and follies that keep creeping into our psyche. Don’t ignore those pests or brush them under the carpet. Treat them to the beauty of your being and they will leave you alone.
Talking of beauty, aren’t we all beautiful people? We are intrinsically good and beautiful people, for that is how the Creator conceived us as humans.
We were all born so beautiful and will continue to be like that, if only we maintain that loving kindness and divinity that God breathed into us.