Saturday, June 25, 2005

Original Sin


Coming from a tradition that stresses human goodness, it was something of ashock for me to encounter the Western tradition of original sin....It seemsthat this notion of original sin does not just pervade Western religiousideas; it actually seems to run throughout Western thought as well,especially psychological thought. Among patients, theoreticians, andtherapists alike, there seems to be great concern with the idea of someoriginal mistake which causes later suffering -- a kind of punishment forthat mistake. One finds that a sense of guilt or being wounded is quitepervasive. Whether or not such people actually believe in the idea oforiginal sin, or in God for that matter, they seem to feel that they havedone something wrong in the past and are now being punished for it..... The problem with this notion of original sin or mistake is that itacts very much as a hindrance to people. At some point, of course it isnecessary to realize one's shortcomings. But if one goes too far with that,it kills any inspiration and can destroy one's vision as well. So in thatway, it really is not helpful, and in fact it seems unnecessary. As Imentioned, in Buddhism we do not have any comparable ideas of sin andguilt. Obviously there is the idea that one should avoid mistakes. Butthere is not anything comparable to the heaviness and inescapability oforiginal sin.

--Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, From "The Meeting of Buddhist and Western Psychology" in THE SANITY WE ARE BORN WITH: A BUDDHIST APPROACH TO PSYCHOLOGY

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