There is a concept in Christianity called original sin. The idea varies depending on what branch of the faith you belong to, but in essence it says that Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, and that sin is passed down to one’s offspring so everyone enters the world already in a state of sin, the original sin.
Original sin was not part of the theology until many years after Christ’s death and the idea can be found in the writings of Paul and Augustine in the early centuries of the first millennium. In the Catholic church and some Protestant sects, this evolved into the idea that one must be baptized into the church to remove this sin. Since there was a concern that a young child might die before the sin was washed away, baptism (or christening) in the Catholic church is now done soon after birth.
For the Catholic church this idea means that we come into this world already in a state of sin, and through baptism we begin the process of washing this sin away. We will, of course, be tempted to other sins throughout our life, so the process of sin and confession and penitence is lifelong, and the result of all of this won’t really be known until we die and meet the Judgment.
A Course in Miracles and The Separation
In A Course in Miracles, we learn there is something similar to this idea, the idea of separation. The world we experience, the ego world of attack, pain, guilt, fear, and all the rest all began with this idea. It is this idea of separation that we inherit, not through our birth into this world, but through our continuing belief in the separation.
Originally there was only the Natural State of Pure Love existing in the Mind of God. Then came ‘the tiny, mad idea’ of the separation. Could a part of the Mind of God separate itself from God? This is impossible, but the illusory belief that this could occur can be explored.
This collection of illusory thoughts of separation we call the separated self. The part of this self that focuses all its energy on maintaining the separation we call the ego. Its important to remember, that though this ego and the personalities this ego creates seem very real, it is all just a collection of illusions.
Original Fear and Original Guilt
Now in order for the ego to maintain this illusion, the experience of the True Loving God has to be denied. One way to do this is to see a new ‘God’ that would be angry that we had separated and would want to punish us in some way. This is a ‘God’ we must fear, and this therefore becomes what we will call the original fear.
In addition, this separated self now experiences the loneliness of this belief in separation, and on top of the fear comes the feelings of guilt for leaving ‘God’ behind. This guilt gives the separated self further reasons to hide from ‘God’ and to reinforce the illusion of separation. This we will call the original guilt.
The Great Split
In order for the separated self to free itself from this original fear and guilt, the great split occurred and the illusion of billions of individual selves all interacting in a projected external world was created. Since this world is a projection of the ego, it contains all the same illusory fear and guilt the ego experiences. We, believing we are individuals living in this external world, inherit the same illusory fear and guilt from the ego.
All of our interactions in this world with all the other individuals we see external to ourselves are just a continuation of the projection by the ego of fear, guilt, attack, pain, and other non-loving thoughts onto these individuals. We are the ego interacting with the ego in a non-loving environment.
Reflections of Fear and Guilt
Since there is only one separated self, which created the illusion of the billions of individual separated selves, anyone we fear is part of that original separated self. Any transgressions we feel guilty about are against that same separated self. What we fear and what we have transgressed against is that ‘God’ we imagined immediately after the separation. Therefore, all fear and all guilt are but reflections of the original fear and guilt.
It is these reflections of the original guilt and original fear that we see in ourselves and in others. The guilt and attack and pain in this world seem to come from myriad individual acts carried out by the myriad personalities we interact with. If we look closely though it is possible to see that every one of these acts is just a slightly hidden version of the original belief in separation.
Forgiveness of Others
The Course teaches us that the path back to the True God begins with forgiveness. This forgiveness is simply the recognition that what we believe happened to us never occurred and was only an illusory belief. By joining with the Holy Spirit within, the part of the separated self that remembers its Home in the Mind of God, we can begin to realize these instances of fear and guilt and pain and attack are all the result of that original illusion – the idea of separation. We begin the return to God by forgiving the small instances of fear and guilt in our everyday lives.
In the blog post below, The Practice of Forgiveness, I provide some practical techniques that will help on this road of forgiveness. There’s a three-step process of connecting with the Holy Spirit, observing a non-loving thought, and releasing the thought to the Holy Spirit for healing. By applying these steps on a consistent basis, you will naturally begin to lead a more peaceful life. Ultimately as the practice becomes constant, you can begin to live a life of continual forgiveness.
Forgiving the Original Fear and Guilt
We begin the process of forgiveness by forgiving all the small non-loving thoughts and experiences in our everyday lives. These can be daily events or events from our distant past. These are all the reflected thoughts of the original thought of separation and the fear and guilt that came with it.
But at some point in this process of forgiveness, we will need to look at that original fear and guilt, at the feelings and beliefs we have about God. This will bring us close to the final step of returning to God, since once we realize with the help of the Holy Spirit that the entire idea of separation and of a ‘God’ we must fear are truly illusions, the whole purpose for this ego-inspired world will go away. At this very moment, God is awaiting our discovery of this truth. When we accept that truth completely, He will welcome us back unconditionally to His Loving Home.