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Original Sin (The Fall)

  • is a way of describing the human condition
  • is not the result of personal wrongdoing
  • is instilled from earliest childhood and passed on from generation to generation 
  • causes a pervasive feeling of alienation from God, others, and the True Self
  • gives rise to profound insecurity which triggers an urgent need to escape and to compensate for the pain of tormenting desires
  • produces self-serving habits and damages one’s relationships
  • results in weakness of will, illusion, the inability to recognize true happiness, and concupiscence, which is the search for happiness in the wrong places
  • creates the need for redemption, that is, to be purified and transformed 
  • on the social level, manifests as violence, war, and social injustice 

  • OMOH: 127-128
  • HW: 36-37
  • BP: 57
  • CF: 36-37
  • MC: 61-62
  • IG: 73 

The term original sin is a way of describing the human condition, which is the universal experience of being born and coming to full reflective self-consciousness without the certitude of personal union with God. This gives rise to our intimate sense of incompletion, dividedness, isolation, and guilt. It causes us to look for happiness outside of God.

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Reflection

 

Description

In the Christian tradition, original sin is attributed to the fall of Adam and Eve which separate the whole human race from personal union with God. Original sin is not the result of personal wrongdoing on our part. Still, it causes a pervasive feeling of alienation from God, from others, and from our True Self.

The cultural consequences of these alienations are instilled from earliest childhood and are passed on from one generation to the next. The urgent need to escape from this profound insecurity may result in insatiable desires for pleasure, possessions, and power. On the social level, original sin gives rise to violence, war, and institutional injustice.

The particular consequences of original sin include all of the self-serving habits that were woven into our personality since conception: the emotional damage from early environment and upbringing; all of the harm that others have done to us, knowingly or unknowingly, at an age when we could not defend ourselves; and the methods we acquired – many of them now unconscious – to ward off the intolerable pain. The false self is built and grows on these foundations.

According to traditional theology, the first consequence of original sin is illusion. We do not know what true happiness is or where it can be found. The second consequence is concupiscence. Because we are made for boundless happiness, we must find it somewhere. Without knowing where to find it, we look for it in the wrong places. We also suffer from weakness of will and may not be able to act when the path to true happiness is finally recognized. This is why we need redemption, that is, the healing of the false self and the liberation of the True Self.


 

 Reflection: Listening

Original sin is consciousness of self without God. Original sin is not the result of personal wrongdoing. It is either inherited or imparted through our upbringing and cultural conditioning.

Reflection: Reflecting

At times, do you feel divided? Isolated? Incomplete? Where is true happiness to be found?

Reflection: Responding

Be aware of the self without God. Entrust yourself completely to God.

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