I'm fascinated by human behavior and today's news is replete with examples of human behavior at its worst. Whether we're being disgusted by a Mother's murder of her daughter, a politician's selling of political office, homicide bombings or monumental financial fraud and abuse—we are forever exposed to the dark side of human activity.
From a metaphysical perspective–what does this tell us about the nature of reality and the nature of man ? Are we inherently corrupt sinners whose nature compels us to continuously create chaos , despair and suffering for ourselves and our fellow human beings ? The doctrine of Original Sin arising from certain religious dogmas would lead us to believe just that.
If we are born with the taint of Adam and Eve's original sin–what hope is there ? Can we choose to behave morally, ethically and compassionately with each other or do we need to follow a particular religious path in order to be 'saved' ?
If I understand this correctly [and please inform me if I have it wrong] Christian doctrine states that the stain of Original Sin can only be erased through belief in Christ. Actions are not sufficient to accomplish this goal. In fact, nonbelievers, regardless of their actions are doomed to eternal damnation for their lack of belief.
The Kabbalistic perspective on Original Sin is quite different and personally more appealing. It is a more mystical interpretation of the Garden of Eden story. In this understanding, humanity [Adam and Eve] chose to disobey God and eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
In doing so, humanity elected to live by the game plan of free choice over predestination. Prior to this act of defiance, mankind existed in a heavenly, simplistic and child-like state of being. In choosing free will over immortality [The Tree of Life] man evolved into a more complex being who could progress or regress spiritually on the basis of free will choice.
The Kabbalsitic interpretation strongly implies that God expected Adam and Eve to make that choice in order to become fully human. It is the choice that we have inherited from Adam and Eve, not the sin. Original Sin, in Kabbalistic terms, results in the chaotic and often painful world in which we live. This existence, however, is not seen so much as punishment as opportunity for spiritual evolution through choice.
Free will is a powerful tool but an onerous burden as well. Our choices become our fate. We may have plenty of excuses for what we do. Many of our negative actions may not have begun with the intention of harming others or causing evil. But the fact of our choices cannot be disputed.
In a spiritual sense I believe that there are differences between intentionally doing harm and unintentionall doing so. Human behavior is complex. Many individuals act out of selfishness, greed, egomania, fear etc. Some acts begin along a positive path and become altered and corrupted as a consequence of these factors. We need to evaluate each case on its own merits.
We also need to take responsibility for our actions. Kabbalistic teaching states that we are not inherently evil beings. How could we since we carry a spark of divinity within? Yet we are free to choose the right or the wrong path in any situation. Our choices stay with us and have profouond consequences–in this life and in lives to come.
Spiritual evolution is our goal and bad behavior inhibits that process. But for most of us there is always hope that our next choice will be better than the last.
I would like to regard Original Sin as the beginning of personal responsibility, a concept which seems to be in woefully short supply these days. Being capable of making choices can be seen as a gift–one that has powerful implications for our individual metaphysical journey.