What is a sin and can we be absolved of sin if committed knowingly / unknowingly?
Seven Deadly Sins mentioned in the Bible are Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth. The Bible covers topics relating to sin, repentance, forgiveness, salvation, and others that help provide biblical guidance for Christians to follow to resist the temptation of sin.
Sin is said to be committed when an act is done which is in violation of the moral code of conduct. Mere intention of doing something unethical or immoral, means a sin has been committed. Sin has a moral connotations used by religions to describe a wide range of actions. For example, seeing lustfully amounts to committing a sin. It is against the commandments of religions because it is against the very relation between humans and God. To sin means commission or failure to remain within the confines of set human behaviour. It may be small or very glaring. Its punishment or retribution is always there. All the religions condemn the perpetration of sin by humans.
A sin is said to be committed under the influence of the following:-
- Indulgence in ego and allurement in commission of sin. When we give too much credibility to self, the idea that everything that happens is due to ‘me’ or “I’ am the doer. In that sort of situation, we are in for trouble on moral or ethical ground. When we are egocentric, we are prone to act irrationally or immorally thus commit sin.
- Anger. Anger robs us of the power to think rationally. An action completed in anger can hardly be a sound one and hence may lead us to committing sinful acts, knowingly or unknowingly.
- Vanity. It has rightly been said pride hath a fall. Some people pride their status and worldly possessions. This amounts to sinning for everything that is bestowed to us is due to the grace of God.
- Lust. It has been clearly been said in Bhagwad Gita that we have to control our mind to kill lust which is our enemy for self realization.
- Greed. Greed for worldly possessions coxes us for getting the same through legitimate or illegitimate means. Following wrong path for collection of wealth through illegal and immoral ways is both a crime and hence sinful.
- Backbiting or speaking ill of others without proof. Backbiting or saying something at the back of somebody, when that person is not there to defend himself/herself is a sinful act. Or speaking ill of others without rhyme or reason is also a transgression and hence reprehensible and hence sinful.
- Jealousy/Envy. Sometimes we are under the spell of a negative feeling of envy for others’ progress in life. This is construed as a bad trait thus sinful.
- Corrupt practices. Resorting to corrupt practices for fructification of personal agendas without any sound reasons or bribing others or gratification for getting things done is sinful. When one wants to get what is legitimately not his/her that is a sinful act.
- Not looking after old and infirm or not looking after the dependent spouse. When we do not look after our old and infirm members in the family or do not take care of our family including wife and children who are dependent on us financially and emotionally. That is a ghastly sin which that particular person commits.This is also against all canons of good behavior.
- When definition of sin and crime gets blurred. Sin deals with moral nuances whereas crime is acting against the law of the land. Then if we commit theft or follow illegal means of amassing wealth by not fulfilling our tax obligations etc these too are corrupt practices – hence crime against the law of land. When somebody takes somebody’s life, it is crime against the legal system. These too fall under the purview of sin because we break the law of land and has got moral perspective too although both are exclusive when taken at its face value.
To commit a sin brazenly (knowingly), with an attitude, ‘I do not care’, is commission of a sin. It is more against the Laws of Karma than the one being committed unknowingly. But a sin is a sin whether committed knowingly or unknowingly. We cannot escape from its consequences. Karma will catch up us sooner if we have even an intention of committing some immoral or unethical acts. Karma is just like gravity, it just happens without any warning.
Now, it is essential to know what are the Laws of Karma: These laws are based on the precept, if one commits sin, then, that person should always be ready for suffering the pangs / result of that sin in one form or the other. It acts just naturally without any warning.
If we want happiness, we have to spread the fragrance of happiness in others too. We must have observed the countries which cultivate the seeds of ill-will and hatred against other countries; those seeds when sprout and become a full fledged tree of ‘sin’ give fruits of violence. These sinful fruits not only act against the ones for whom these are meant but also spread violence and mayhem in the country or origin – hence bad for the cultivators too. Following are the LAWS OF KARMA.
Creation. Creation is due to the participation of different elements of universe. In this, our Creator plays a very significant role.
Humility. With humbleness we grow with arrogance we go down. Humility is considered as an intrinsic prerequisite for humans – to respect others as we want respect for ourselves. Why we fail to arrest sins or why we resort to sinning depends on how we conduct ourselves with our fellow beings. An arrogant person attracts nobody. There is a feeling of repulsion while that person is there. Humility is an attractive conduit of people. Humble person could be adjusting in nature and take corrective actions if he/she falls prey to sin sometimes. Sin does not touch him/her at all.
Growth. If we desire to change, we can. It all depends on us. That desire for growth should sprout from within us. Here the growth is all round growth, body, mind etc. Here our mind plays a predominant role. If we rein the mind, then all our sensory thinking would work for our benefit. Here too sin will not have any place.
Responsibility/Duty. When something wrong happens to me, it means there is something wrong in me. Nothing goes amiss without I participating in that act. It includes sin or sinning, minor or major one. Everything around and in us is mirrored. We, therefore, take responsibility in what we have to do and should also think where our freedom starts and ends and where our responsibility begins. Controlling ourselves just counts.
Connection. It should never be forgotten that everything in the universe is inter connected. Nothing happens without any cause and effect. All the past, present and even future happenings have connections. Hence our unethical action cannot go unanswered.
Concentration. To get something tangible, we have to concentrate. If we are doing something and our mind is on something else – not focused, then result will also be negative. More we focus more the results. This also helps us to take right decisions at the right time with good results besides avoiding those Karmas which have got negative fallout.
Giving. It has been proved with experience that what you give comes back to us in equal measure or even more. Giving is a sign of showing empathy for others thus avoidance of negativity.
Here and Now. If I commit some sin just unknowingly, it is here and now that realization should dawn on me and rectify the fault-line otherwise it would be too late. Now is the time which is my wealth. What has gone cannot be retrieved nor what I shall get after sometimes is in my hand. Now is the time to change for better.
Change. If we fail to adapt as per the need of the hour, then, we are in for trouble and against the norms of the laws of karma. If we’ve sinned unknowingly, we can recant and resolve not to repeat.
Patience. In Bhagwad Gita it has been ardently mentioned that Yogi’s responsibility is to do Karma (to be Karma Yogi) without much worry about fruits about that Karma. The results would be in our favour if our act or karma is in sync with the laws set by the society or ethical norms. We’ve to be patient in that. Impatient people spoil their own chances of adjustment with society and continue committing one sin.
Inspiration. Inspiration is like a sweet pill after our efforts are rewarded with success. The true value of our endeavour is in direct proportion to the effort combined with intent to excel. Inspiration brings positivity in our efforts.
While performing our day to day routine tasks or interacting with others, we may sometimes deviate from the chartered path. This deviation may be a minor one but if course correction is not done within shortest span of time, this minor deviation may spin out of control and become a major deviation; we can consider this deviation a minor aberration bordering on sin. The minor sin could also turn to major sin or mortal sin, if not controlled. Then it is sin to not to help a needy, greedily misappropriate the funds you are holding as a custodian, keep somebody under your thumb unreasonably, sensual pleasures, backbiting, anger, delusion,
Our action (Karma) is the result of our desire or intention; which Is done with body and mind. The result of this intention depends on the wisdom or otherwise in our intention. If our intentions are impure we cannot get pure results. Impure intentions are therefore sinful and bring with it sinful consequences. Our effort should be to purify our desires for a karma. This is cleansing of inner and outer self. Removing ill-conceived traits and imbibing good traits should be our ultimate effort.
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear. Bhagwad Gita
Now while we know that we’ve committed a sin just unknowingly and want to return to righteous path. We can just surrender to our Creator with all the sincerity at our command and see the difference. Rishi Valmiki did the same thing. He totally surrendered to RAM NAAMA and got himself immortalized by penning down epic Ramayana.
Being humans, means being with imperfections and contradictions, we commit one sin or the other but our LORD is very benevolent, He forgives our faults if we ask for His forgiveness but that ought to be in utmost honesty and sincerity at our command. He loves us with all our faults. Let’s therefore surrender onto Him, LOCK STOCK AND BARREL.