Thursday, March 12, 2009

ORIGINAL SIN_repost from 2005

Coming from a tradition that stresses human goodness, it was something of a shock for me to encounter the Western tradition of original sin....It seems that this notion of original sin does not just pervade Western religious ideas; it actually seems to run throughout Western thought as well,especially psychological thought. Among patients, theoreticians, and therapists alike, there seems to be great concern with the idea of some original mistake which causes later suffering -- a kind of punishment for that mistake. One finds that a sense of guilt or being wounded is quite pervasive. Whether or not such people actually believe in the idea of original sin, or in God for that matter, they seem to feel that they have done something wrong in the past and are now being punished for it..... The problem with this notion of original sin or mistake is that it acts very much as a hindrance to people. At some point, of course it is necessary 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 that way, it really is not helpful, and in fact it seems unnecessary. As I mentioned, in Buddhism we do not have any comparable ideas of sin and guilt. Obviously there is the idea that one should avoid mistakes. But there is not anything comparable to the heaviness and in escapability of original 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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