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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Five - The Fourth Initiation - The Crucifixion
These thoughts bring us directly to the central problem of sin which is (in the last analysis) the problem of man's essential duality, before he has made the at-one-ment for which Christ stood. When man, before he awakens to his dual nature, does that which is wrong and sinful, we cannot and do not regard him as a sinner - unless we are [202] old-fashioned enough to believe in the doctrine that every man is irretrievably lost unless he is "saved" in the orthodox sense of the term. To St. James, sin is acting against knowledge, and he says "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (St. James, IV, 17.) There we have a real definition of sin. It is to act against light and knowledge, and with deliberation to do that which we know is wrong and undesirable. Where there is no such knowledge there can be no sin; therefore animals are regarded as free from sin, and men acting in equal ignorance should likewise be so regarded. But the moment a man becomes aware that he is two persons in one form, that he is God and man, then responsibility steadily increases, sin becomes possible, and it is here that the mystery aspect of sin enters in. It consists in the relation between the "hidden man of the heart" (I St. Peter, III, 4.) and the outer, tangible man. Each has its own life and its own field of experience. Each therefore remains a mystery to the other. The at-one-ment consists in resolving the relationship between these two, and when the wishes of the "hidden man" are violated, the sin occurs.

When these two aspects of man are united and function together as a unity, and when the spiritual man controls the activities of the carnal man, sin becomes impossible, and man moves on towards greatness.

The word "transgression" signifies the walking across a boundary; it involves the displacing of a landmark, as it is called in Masonry, or the infringement of one of the basic principles of living. There are certain things which are recognized by all as having a controlling relation to man. Such a compilation of principles as the Ten Commandments might be cited as a case in point. They constitute the boundary which ancient custom, ordained right habits, and the social order have imposed upon the race. To step across these boundaries, which man, from experience, has himself instituted, and to which God has accorded divine recognition, [203] is to transgress, and for every transgression there is an inevitable penalty. We pay the price of ignorance every time, and thereby learn not to sin; we are penalized when we do not keep the rules, and in time we learn not to transgress them. Instinctively we keep certain rules; probably because we have often paid the price, and certainly because we care too much about our reputations and public opinion to transgress them now. There are boundaries across which the average right-minded citizen does not step. When he does, he joins the large group of sinners. Controlled action in every department of human life is the ideal, and this action must be based on right motive, be actuated by unselfish purpose, and be carried forward in the strength of the inner spiritual man, the "hidden man of the heart."

"Iniquity" is a word with a seemingly innocuous meaning. It signifies simply an unevenness, an inequality. An iniquitous man is therefore technically an unbalanced man, one who tolerates some unevennesses in his daily life. A definition such as this is broadly inclusive, and even if we do not regard ourselves as sinners and transgressors, we surely come under the category of those whose lives show certain inequalities in conduct. We are not always the same. We are fluid in our expression of living. We are some days one thing and some days another, and because of this lack of balance and of equilibrium, we are iniquitous people in the true sense of the word. These things are good to remember, for they prevent that dire sin, self-satisfaction.

The question of evil is too large to elucidate at length, but it might be defined simply as adherence to that which we should have outgrown, the grasping of that which we should have left behind. Evil is, for the bulk of us, simply and solely an effort to identify ourselves with the form life when we have a capacity for soul consciousness; and righteousness is the steady turning of the thought and life towards the soul, leading to those activities which are spiritual and harmless and helpful. This sense of evil and this reaction to good is again latent in the relationship between the two [204] halves of man's nature - the spiritual and the strictly human. When we turn the light of our awakened consciousness into the lower nature, and then with deliberation do, "in the light," those things which are determined and vitalized from the lower levels of our existence, we are throwing the weight of our knowledge on the side of evil, and are retrogressing. It is not always expedient from the point of view of the "carnal man" to do, or to reject, certain things, and when we choose the lower, and do it, making a specific choice, then the evil which is in us is dominating.

It is gradually dawning on the human consciousness that a separative attitude has in it the elements of sin and of evil. When we are separative in our attitudes or do anything which produces separation, we are transgressing a fundamental law of God. What we are really doing is breaking the Law of Love, which knows no separation, but sees only unity and synthesis, brotherhood and interrelation everywhere. Herein lies our major problem. Our study in connection with sin and evil will, as Dr. Grensted tells us, serve...

"in the main to reveal the fundamental character of our problem as resulting from a failure of faith and a refusal of love. The psychologists do not escape from this view of sin when they deal with it as moral disease, for their one hope of treating such moral disease successfully rests in an attempt to awaken the latent personal resources of the ego, through processes in themselves personal. Where, as in certain of the major psychoses, this appeal cannot be made, there is no human hope of a cure. The key to psychological healing lies in the transference and there is the closest possible parallel between this and the Christian way of forgiveness. Both methods are wholly personal, both depend upon a readjustment of relationships which begins at priest or physician and passes out into every relationship of the social environment." [Italics are mine. A. A. B.]
- Psychology and God, by L. W. Grensted, p. 199.

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