What is sin and what is repentance?

Question: The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Sir, I want to know what is my sin? And what is the meaning of glory of God?

Acharya Prashant: Concept of sin has a very central place in Christianity. The Bible repeatedly refers to it, and it is supposed to be a pious Christian’s duty to repent for the sins. This repentance is interpreted in several ways; and there are several ways in which it is advised that the atonement can take place. But obviously, any question of repentance is meaningless without first understanding what the sin is. Otherwise, there is the absurd situation of a man trying to correct a mistake without knowing at all what the mistake is.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

“What is my sin?” There is nothing called ‘your’ sin.

The simple fact is that you are the sin!

You are not a sinner; you are the sin itself. You are not mistaken, you are the mistake itself.

The moment this ‘my’ comes into picture is the moment of the beginning of sin. It is the point of beginning of all moments. Without this ‘my’ there is no moment, and no beginning either. All that begin is this ‘my,’ and this ‘my’ itself is the sin.

This has to be understood!

In what sense is it the sin? In the ultimate sense there can be only one sin, which is to be dissociated from God, which is to be separated from the ‘one Truth’.

Now, what do you say . . . the moment you say, “I?” . . . do you say, “I am God?  Have you ever heard anybody saying that? The moment you utter this ‘I,’ you declare yourself to be somebody short of God. You declare yourself to be somebody other than God.

The moment this ‘I’ comes into picture, is the moment of the birth of duality, and duality implies that an alternate reality, other than God, other than Truth exists. You start talking of yourself, and you do not refer to yourself as God. And it is not merely a question of verbal reference; it is the question of your entire feeling. When you refer yourself as ‘I,’ you surely do not refer to the ‘total,’ to the ‘one,’ to the absolute; instead you start referring to a fragment, to the limited.

Now, what are you doing? You are saying that you exist. By uttering ‘I,’ you are saying that you exist. And you are also saying that the world exists, and you also probably do not mean to deny that God or Truth exists. So what have you done? You have created parallel and multiple realities. You are saying, “I exist, the world exist, and God also exists.” Now, is the Truth many? Then how can there be many realities? How can there be these three: you, others and God? To believe in many Gods is sin. To believe in yourself is sin. To have an identity separate from God is sin. This ‘my’ itself is sin.

Do you get this?

It is impossible for you to ‘be’ and not be a sinner. Now, what does this imply? Does this imply that as a human being, you have to live a life mired in the guilt of sinning? And this is what religious men sometimes end up implying and advocating. And Christianity has done a lot of this. They talk of sinning so much that repentance becomes a standalone virtue in itself.

Now repentance is no dissolution of sin. Repentance is just the dual opposite of sin. Repentance always goes along with sin. Repentance arises from a feeling of guilt. You cannot ask somebody to repent without first declaring him guilty. So, what is the implication? Are we to spend this human life in guilt? Feeling bad? Feeling small? “Oh! We have sinned? Just to be born is sin?”

If you be a little attentive, you will see that there is only one way out, which is to not to believe in any identity except the God identity. You acquire any identity and you have sinned. Because acquiring an identity implies, I am repeating, a belief in many truths, and a belief in the separation from the ‘one Truth.’ And both of these are surely sins.

You take on any identity, it is as good or as bad as the previous one.

You believe that you are a sinner, you are believing that you are a sinner. You believe that you are a repenter, and you are just believing that you are the one who is repenting. In either case, you are still maintaining an identity apart from the Truth.

Repentance does not mean that your central sin has been dissolved. It only means that you have moved from one type of sin to another type of sin. To feel guilty is sin, and to repent is sin reinforced. That’s why I said it is the dual opposite and companion of sinning. Repentance is simply the dualistic companion of sinning. It does not absolve you of your sins. It only gives you a new type of sin. If sinning is sin, then repentance is just a new type of sin. I am repeating this because religion has been making this mistake of advocating repentance.

What really then is repentance? There is only one real repentance possible. I have just talked of it. It is to live in the God identity. That is the only real repentance possible. If you say that you are a sinner, then you are only extending and deepening your sin. If you say you are repenting, you are again only extending and deepening your sin. The only way to get rid of sin is to get rid of the sinner itself.

You will have to very clearly live in the deep faith that because Truth is one, hence, you cannot be separate from God. After all, this too is just a belief that you are separate, the world is separate. If you can be misled into cultivating and nourishing this belief, then with a clear mind, you can also clear away this belief. This belief is not innate, not really natural. It has been given to you by circumstances, by body, by society, by books. If it has been given to you, it can also be cleared away.

This clearing away of this ‘I’ belief, this clearing away of this ‘I’ identity, is the only real repentance.

That is the only way to get rid of both the sin and the sinner.

I am repeating this: there is no way to get rid of your sins, except by coming very, very close to God. You have to come so close to God that you are left with no individual identity of your own. That is the reason why the Upanishadic Mahavakya, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am Brahma) is the heart of all spirituality. Without that utterance there is no redemption possible for man. You may say a thousand things about yourself, about Truth, and about God, and about the world, yet nothing will absolve you, nothing will give you peace. There is only one declaration, one article of faith which will bring you to rest, and that is, ‘I am That and That am I’. Everything else is sin.

You may say you are a ‘Son of God,’ it is a statement of sin, because the son after all, is separate from the father. He may be quite close to the father, yet he is not the father himself. So, even to say that you are a son of God is sin. And obviously, it is a great sin to say, “I am a creation of God,” unless you also say that the creator himself is the creation. Then it is alright. If you say that you are a creation of God, you will have to simultaneously say, that the creator himself is the creation. Only then is this a proper statement. But if you say that the creator is somebody else, and his creation is separate from him, and you are a part of that creation, then it is a statement of sin.

Are you getting it?

Kindly see that all your suffering, and sorrow, and misery, arises from your fragmented identities. Sin is something that leads to sorrow. See, where your sorrow comes from. It comes from your identities. It comes from your belief in your individuality. Till the time you keep believing that you are ‘you,’ a bundle of identities, your sorrow will continue. Dissolution of your identities is just the same – it is a return to the identityless identity, and that is the God identity.

To not to have any identities is to have the ‘ultimate identity’; and that is the God identity.

Are you getting this?

This is not merely a concept. This is what we all are living daily. See that not even one of your problems is there without you being attached to some or the other identity. See that you cannot suffer without a belief in your limitations. You will have to be attached to some sense of limited being for you to suffer.

What does it mean to say, “I am God”? It is not to declare that I am grand and big. On the contrary, to declare that I am not separate from God, is just to declare that I am not going to be attached with anything that is petty, limited, small and trivial. It does not mean that there is something big called God, and I can declare myself to be that. No, because whatever you will declare to be big, will actually be very small. The biggest that you can think of, will just be as big as your mind is, and that is very small.

How big can your mind think of? The biggest that you can think of is nothing compared to the immensity of infinity. And your mind cannot conceptualize infinity. So, even your biggest identity is shallow and petty.

So, to have God identity, is not to have a big identity. It is to have no identity. Many people are apprehensive of this statement, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. They say that if man declares himself to be God, it is just ego. They say it is a proof of your arrogance, if you say, “I am God.” They are mistaken. And mistaken are those who utter ‘I am God’ in the wrong sense. If you have a concept of God, and then you say you are God, then surely you are committing a heresy. If you have a concept of God, and then you say, “I am God,” then this is surely blasphemy. Because then to say, “I am God,” would be similar to saying, “I am a husband, I am a Hindu or I am a Christian.” All concepts!

You had ten conceptual identities, now you have an eleventh conceptual identity also. What is that eleventh conceptual identity? Of God.

No! It is not really a statement of ego, because the man who honestly says, “I am God,” is actually saying, “I am nothing.” It is a statement, hence, of great humility. Only a greatly humble man can say, “I am God.” It is not at all a work of ego. So, there is no need to be apprehensive of the man who honestly declares himself to be God. Because this man is actually saying, “I am nobody.”

It is statement of great humility, along with great boldness. “I am nobody.” And if somehow, you dislike to say that you are God . . . it happens, in some religions, for example, it is prohibited, and you cannot say that you are God . . . then no issue, simply say, “I am nobody.” No religion prohibits this statement. There are religions which prohibit man to declare identity with God. They say that you cannot say, “I am God,” but no religion prohibits man to utter “I am nobody.” So, there is no need for unnecessary confrontation. Simply say, “I am nobody.” That is just the same as saying, “I am God.” Because when you are nobody, then you are the closest to God, actually one with God.

Just say, “I am nobody.”

Your humility, your deep humility is identical to saying ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ and ‘Naham’ (I am not) are the same statements. Aham Brahmasmi says, “I am the Truth, I am God, I am Brahm,” and ‘Naham’ says, “I am not.”

And both of these are same. Just say “Naham, I am not!” Both these statements are one, and both of them absolve you of your sin.

You are the sin. Get rid of yourself and you have fully repented. This is the only repentance possible.

 

IMG_2716

Question: The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Sir, I want to know what is my sin? And what is the meaning of glory of God?

Acharya Prashant: Concept of sin has a very central place in Christianity. The Bible repeatedly refers to it, and it is supposed to be a pious Christian’s duty to repent for the sins. This repentance is interpreted in several ways; and there are several ways in which it is advised that the atonement can take place. But obviously, any question of repentance is meaningless without first understanding what the sin is. Otherwise, there is the absurd situation of a man trying to correct a mistake without knowing at all what the mistake is.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

“What is my sin?” There is nothing called ‘your’ sin.

The simple fact is that you are the sin!

You are not a sinner; you are the sin itself. You are not mistaken, you are the mistake itself.

Sin

The moment this ‘my’ comes into picture is the moment of the beginning of sin. It is the point of beginning of all moments. Without this ‘my’ there is no moment, and no beginning either. All that begin is this ‘my,’ and this ‘my’ itself is the sin.

This has to be understood!

In what sense is it the sin? In the ultimate sense there can be only one sin, which is to be dissociated from God, which is to be separated from the ‘one Truth’.

Now, what do you say . . . the moment you say, “I?” . . . do you say, “I am God?  Have you ever heard anybody saying that? The moment you utter this ‘I,’ you declare yourself to be somebody short of God. You declare yourself to be somebody other than God.

The moment this ‘I’ comes into picture, is the moment of the birth of duality, and duality implies that an alternate reality, other than God, other than Truth exists. You start talking of yourself, and you do not refer to yourself as God. And it is not merely a question of verbal reference; it is the question of your entire feeling. When you refer yourself as ‘I,’ you surely do not refer to the ‘total,’ to the ‘one,’ to the absolute; instead you start referring to a fragment, to the limited.

Now, what are you doing? You are saying that you exist. By uttering ‘I,’ you are saying that you exist. And you are also saying that the world exists, and you also probably do not mean to deny that God or Truth exists. So what have you done? You have created parallel and multiple realities. You are saying, “I exist, the world exist, and God also exists.” Now, is the Truth many? Then how can there be many realities? How can there be these three: you, others and God? To believe in many Gods is sin. To believe in yourself is sin. To have an identity separate from God is sin. This ‘my’ itself is sin.

Do you get this?

It is impossible for you to ‘be’ and not be a sinner. Now, what does this imply? Does this imply that as a human being, you have to live a life mired in the guilt of sinning? And this is what religious men sometimes end up implying and advocating. And Christianity has done a lot of this. They talk of sinning so much that repentance becomes a standalone virtue in itself.

Now repentance is no dissolution of sin. Repentance is just the dual opposite of sin. Repentance always goes along with sin. Repentance arises from a feeling of guilt. You cannot ask somebody to repent without first declaring him guilty. So, what is the implication? Are we to spend this human life in guilt? Feeling bad? Feeling small? “Oh! We have sinned? Just to be born is sin?”

If you be a little attentive, you will see that there is only one way out, which is to not to believe in any identity except the God identity. You acquire any identity and you have sinned. Because acquiring an identity implies, I am repeating, a belief in many truths, and a belief in the separation from the ‘one Truth.’ And both of these are surely sins.

You take on any identity, it is as good or as bad as the previous one.

You believe that you are a sinner, you are believing that you are a sinner. You believe that you are a repenter, and you are just believing that you are the one who is repenting. In either case, you are still maintaining an identity apart from the Truth.

Repentance does not mean that your central sin has been dissolved. It only means that you have moved from one type of sin to another type of sin. To feel guilty is sin, and to repent is sin reinforced. That’s why I said it is the dual opposite and companion of sinning. Repentance is simply the dualistic companion of sinning. It does not absolve you of your sins. It only gives you a new type of sin. If sinning is sin, then repentance is just a new type of sin. I am repeating this because religion has been making this mistake of advocating repentance.

What really then is repentance? There is only one real repentance possible. I have just talked of it. It is to live in the God identity. That is the only real repentance possible. If you say that you are a sinner, then you are only extending and deepening your sin. If you say you are repenting, you are again only extending and deepening your sin. The only way to get rid of sin is to get rid of the sinner itself.

You will have to very clearly live in the deep faith that because Truth is one, hence, you cannot be separate from God. After all, this too is just a belief that you are separate, the world is separate. If you can be misled into cultivating and nourishing this belief, then with a clear mind, you can also clear away this belief. This belief is not innate, not really natural. It has been given to you by circumstances, by body, by society, by books. If it has been given to you, it can also be cleared away.

This clearing away of this ‘I’ belief, this clearing away of this ‘I’ identity, is the only real repentance.

That is the only way to get rid of both the sin and the sinner.

I am repeating this: there is no way to get rid of your sins, except by coming very, very close to God. You have to come so close to God that you are left with no individual identity of your own. That is the reason why the Upanishadic Mahavakya, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am Brahma) is the heart of all spirituality. Without that utterance there is no redemption possible for man. You may say a thousand things about yourself, about Truth, and about God, and about the world, yet nothing will absolve you, nothing will give you peace. There is only one declaration, one article of faith which will bring you to rest, and that is, ‘I am That and That am I’. Everything else is sin.

You may say you are a ‘Son of God,’ it is a statement of sin, because the son after all, is separate from the father. He may be quite close to the father, yet he is not the father himself. So, even to say that you are a son of God is sin. And obviously, it is a great sin to say, “I am a creation of God,” unless you also say that the creator himself is the creation. Then it is alright. If you say that you are a creation of God, you will have to simultaneously say, that the creator himself is the creation. Only then is this a proper statement. But if you say that the creator is somebody else, and his creation is separate from him, and you are a part of that creation, then it is a statement of sin.

Are you getting it?

Kindly see that all your suffering, and sorrow, and misery, arises from your fragmented identities. Sin is something that leads to sorrow. See, where your sorrow comes from. It comes from your identities. It comes from your belief in your individuality. Till the time you keep believing that you are ‘you,’ a bundle of identities, your sorrow will continue. Dissolution of your identities is just the same – it is a return to the identityless identity, and that is the God identity.

To not to have any identities is to have the ‘ultimate identity’; and that is the God identity.

Are you getting this?

This is not merely a concept. This is what we all are living daily. See that not even one of your problems is there without you being attached to some or the other identity. See that you cannot suffer without a belief in your limitations. You will have to be attached to some sense of limited being for you to suffer.

What does it mean to say, “I am God”? It is not to declare that I am grand and big. On the contrary, to declare that I am not separate from God, is just to declare that I am not going to be attached with anything that is petty, limited, small and trivial. It does not mean that there is something big called God, and I can declare myself to be that. No, because whatever you will declare to be big, will actually be very small. The biggest that you can think of, will just be as big as your mind is, and that is very small.

How big can your mind think of? The biggest that you can think of is nothing compared to the immensity of infinity. And your mind cannot conceptualize infinity. So, even your biggest identity is shallow and petty.

So, to have God identity, is not to have a big identity. It is to have no identity. Many people are apprehensive of this statement, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. They say that if man declares himself to be God, it is just ego. They say it is a proof of your arrogance, if you say, “I am God.” They are mistaken. And mistaken are those who utter ‘I am God’ in the wrong sense. If you have a concept of God, and then you say you are God, then surely you are committing a heresy. If you have a concept of God, and then you say, “I am God,” then this is surely blasphemy. Because then to say, “I am God,” would be similar to saying, “I am a husband, I am a Hindu or I am a Christian.” All concepts!

You had ten conceptual identities, now you have an eleventh conceptual identity also. What is that eleventh conceptual identity? Of God.

No! It is not really a statement of ego, because the man who honestly says, “I am God,” is actually saying, “I am nothing.” It is a statement, hence, of great humility. Only a greatly humble man can say, “I am God.” It is not at all a work of ego. So, there is no need to be apprehensive of the man who honestly declares himself to be God. Because this man is actually saying, “I am nobody.”

It is statement of great humility, along with great boldness. “I am nobody.” And if somehow, you dislike to say that you are God . . . it happens, in some religions, for example, it is prohibited, and you cannot say that you are God . . . then no issue, simply say, “I am nobody.” No religion prohibits this statement. There are religions which prohibit man to declare identity with God. They say that you cannot say, “I am God,” but no religion prohibits man to utter “I am nobody.” So, there is no need for unnecessary confrontation. Simply say, “I am nobody.” That is just the same as saying, “I am God.” Because when you are nobody, then you are the closest to God, actually one with God.

Just say, “I am nobody.”

Your humility, your deep humility is identical to saying ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ and ‘Naham’ (I am not) are the same statements. Aham Brahmasmi says, “I am the Truth, I am God, I am Brahm,” and ‘Naham’ says, “I am not.”

And both of these are same. Just say “Naham, I am not!” Both these statements are one, and both of them absolve you of your sin.

You are the sin. Get rid of yourself and you have fully repented. This is the only repentance possible.


~ Excerpts from a Clarity session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the Session at: Acharya Prashant on Jesus: What is sin and what is repentance?

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1                       Article 2                       Article 3

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3 thoughts on “What is sin and what is repentance?

    • There are various opportunities to connect to and meet Acharya Prashant. These are:

      1. Meet the Master:

      Meet the Master program is rare opportunity to meet Acharya Prashant personally, either physically or online. To meet the Master, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917.

      2. Advait Learning Camps:

      Advait Learning Camps are monthly retreats organized under Acharya Prashant’s guidance. These camps are about spending four days and three nights in the lap of nature, while reading, reflecting, learning and evolving. So far, scores of ALCs have been organised in places like Rishikesh, Mukteshwar, Jim Corbett National Park, Chopta, KainchiDham, etc.
      Additionally, we organize dedicated bonding camps for kids and parents. To participate in the camp, write an e-mail to requests@prashantadvait.com, or call: Sh. Anshu Sharma at +91-8376055661.

      3. Course in Realization:

      Course in Realization, a classroom-based learning program led by Acharya Prashant, is an initiative towards disseminating clarity and intelligence in the world. In this course, a rigorous study of a scripture or a saint is undertaken each month.
      To join in, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Sh. Apaar: +91-9818591240

      4. Month of Awakening:

      For those who cannot attend sessions physically, the foundation does online streaming of few selected sessions via Skype or Webinar. Known as Month of Awakening, this facility offers live streaming of sessions and helps seekers listen to Acharya-Ji while being where they are.
      To receive the blessing, send your application to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917

      5. Blessings from Beyond:

      Weekends with Acharya Prashant brings you the unique opportunity for a 2 day 2 night stay with the Master every month at Advait Ashram, Greater Noida. The getaway involves two mystical days of dynamic activities, explorations of the self, sports, meditative reading, deep reflections, midnight walks and more.
      To get a taste of the beyond, register yourself at requests@prashantadvait.com or contact Ms. Anu Batra:+91-9555554772

      6. Triyog:

      Daily morning 2 hour Yog feast for your total well-being. Comprising of
      Hatha Yog, Bhakti Yog and Gyan Yog.

      Send your application, write to: requests@prashantadvait.com Or to register: Contact: Shri Kundan Singh: +91-9999102998
      Venue: Advait Bodhsthal, Greater Noida, India.

      This reply comes to you from volunteers of PrashantAdvait Foundation who maintain this channel.

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