OF KARMA – BONDAGE

BY:  SADHU SUNDAR SINGH

Excerpted from Wisdom of the Sadhu

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, you say that it is our sinfulness that has broken our spiritual oneness with God. Why did God allow such evil to enter the world?

Sadhu: Apart from God nothing can be created, for God is the author of all that is. God is good and has created nothing harmful or detrimental, for that would be against his nature. Evil does not create, but only corrupts and perverts what God has created. Sin is not a part of God’s creation. It has no independent existence. Sin is the delusive and destructive state of those who abandon truth and who, in irreverence, seek to satisfy their own selfish desires. We may think that we can obtain happiness by abandoning God’s will and following our own whims and passions, but the result is not true happiness.

Think of light and darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. It is the same with sin: sin is the absence of what is good and true. Evil is terrible because people drive themselves to utter destruction – shipwrecked on the rocks for lack of a guiding light. For this reason, the Master who is light became God Incarnate. All who see his guiding light and follow the way it leads will safely pass through to the blessed haven where darkness is no more.

Seeker: But if God is almighty, why did he not create human beings so that they could not fall into the dark state of sin?

Sadhu: Sin arises because people deliberately violate God’s order. Of course, God could prevent this by creating human beings differently. But then we would be like obedient puppets or machines, incapable of experiencing the bliss that can only be reached by freely choosing the good. Adam and Eve lived in sinless bliss, but they were free to choose God’s will and direction or to follow their own appetites. Even Lucifer knew nothing of pride, a state that had never existed before he held himself to be God’s equal. So through the choice of angels and human beings, sin arose. But God is almighty and can even transform evil into an opening for new and glorious ends. Firstly, God became incarnate to release us from the cycle of sin and death, thus revealing God’s boundless, self-giving love in a way that would otherwise have remained unknown. Secondly, since we have tasted the bitterness and inevitable consequences of sin, we delight all the more in our release from its clutches – just as the sweetness of honey gives greater pleasure after the taste of bitterness. In unending unity with God, we are free to serve him with reverence and obedience.

Seeker: Modern philosophy, however, teaches that moral values are relative. They are products of history and culture. How then can one say that people are sinful?

Sadhu: It is said that a person suffering from jaundice sees everything with a yellow tint. People whose lives are colored by sin or guided only by the understanding of their minds also see reality colored by their own infirmity. When we shape and fashion spiritual truths according to our own ideas, it is not surprising if, in the end, we reject not only moral values, but also the reality of God. But the Master’s work is to release seeking hearts from sin and death. He continues this work in the hearts of those who seek his help without regard to the opinion of others.

The blindness that sin brings about can be illustrated in many ways. Leprosy makes one’s limbs numb and insensitive to pain and injury. People affected with this disease unwittingly receive wounds and allow the injuries to fester until the body is no longer able to survive. In the same way, sin deadens the heart and clouds the mind until people no longer have any sense of shame or disgust. Eventually, however, their eyes will be opened and they will see how sin has damaged and ravaged their souls; then there will be great sorrow and pain.

Many people are immersed in sin and don’t even notice its great weight – just like a diver may be covered by tons of water without feeling its load. But if when the diver emerges from the water he tries to carry even a small bucket full, he will feel how heavy it is. The Master came to seek and save those who struggle with the burden of sin. He freely gives us rest and release from sin, but first we must feel the weight of it and turn to him for help.

People may not even be aware of their mortal danger. They are like the hunter who caught sight of a honeycomb on the branch of a tree overhanging a river. Catching sight of the honey, he forgot everything else and quickly climbed up. The honey was sweet and he was so enchanted by its flavor that he did not notice the alligators waiting in the stream below. Nor did he see that around the foot of the tree, wolves had gathered. Worst of all, he didn’t notice that the tree itself was infested with termites and was not strong enough to bear his weight. While he was still enjoying the honey, the tree fell and the hunter fell prey to the alligators. So too, the human spirit enjoys for a time the pleasant but fleeting delights of the senses, forgetting that the world is like a jungle fraught with dangers of every kind. Sin gnaws at the very foundation of our lives, threatening to fling us to our spiritual deaths.

The evil of this world lures us with clever words and beguiling enticements like certain snakes that fascinate small birds with their glittering eyes until they can devour them. Or think of the moth that gives no thought to the burning, destructive power of the fire. Fascinated by the flashing brilliance of the flame, it rushes to its own death. Likewise we often see only the allurements of the material world, seeking quick gratification of our own urges, and so rush headlong into spiritual death.

Once in the depth of winter, a bird of prey was busy feasting on a corpse that was floating toward a waterfall. When the bird came near the falls he wanted to leave the corpse and escape. But his claws were frozen to it and he could not fly away. He fell into the roaring waters and died a miserable death. Likewise, if we allow sin to numb our consciences, we become powerless to escape death and danger ahead, no matter how we struggle to escape.

By turning to the Master, however, and building our lives on him, we are saved from certain death and granted spiritual life that no one can take away. The Master frees us completely from the life-destroying seductions of this world. He sets our souls free from every bondage. Overcoming the attractions of the world, we mount on wings of prayer into the spiritual realms where our souls find peace in God’s unfailing love.

Seeker: Has not Confucius said that those who respect the main principles of human conduct need not worry about their faults and lapses in smaller issues? They are excused. Why then do you say that all sin is dangerous, even dangerous enough to destroy our souls?

Sadhu: Not every organ in the body fails before the body dies. If the heart or brain fails, then life ends even if the other organs are healthy and strong. In the same way, the poisonous effect of one sin may destroy the spiritual life not only of a single soul, but also of a whole family or nation, even of the whole human race. Such was the sin of Adam. But remember, just as one word from the Master was enough to call the dead back to life, so one word is enough to restore spiritual life to those who have lost it.

If a wild animal or bird is tamed and then returns to the wild, its own kind may reject or even kill it, rather than accepting it as one of their own. They sense that long association with humans has affected its habits and manners. In the same way, the holy ones of the spiritual world cannot tolerate those who associate with evil and who have thereby corrupted their spiritual nature. Such people are alien intruders in the spiritual realm and they will not be at home there. Even in this world, sinful people despise and avoid the company of spiritual people. How then will they find joy in the eternal world of spirit? For them, heavenly bliss will be a living hell.

In this world, a traitor against king and country may escape punishment by seeking refuge in another country. But where shall we flee if we rebel against God? Wherever we go – in the physical or in the spiritual world – God is ever present. Our only refuge is to seek forgiveness and release from God.

Seeker: So is it true that, if we do not plead for mercy, God will send us to hell and punish us eternally for our sins? How is this perfect love?

Sadhu: Do not suppose that God casts sinners into hell. God is love and has no desire for anyone to suffer spiritual torment. But our own corrupt and sinful life deprives us of spiritual bliss. Heaven or hell is established in our souls and by our own choosing, long before our lives in this world come to an end. Sin is not an illusion or a fantasy. It is a real spiritual state. In this state, the human will separates itself from the divine and thus introduces the seeds of its own destruction.

God condemns no one to hell. No, it is we sinners who do the condemning. We condemn ourselves. Too many hearts are in a condition that they can only feel at home in hell – that is, outside the peace of the Master. God allows everyone to come to his kingdom. Indeed, he invites everyone most earnestly to come in, but if we prefer a life of sin, it is torture for us to stay there.

Pain and disease are not products of the imagination. They are all too real and we see how some diseases, like smallpox, can in a short time destroy the beauty of human skin, turning it into repulsive ugliness. Whoever longs to escape spiritual torment and death should therefore turn to the Master. He offers us release from sin and its consequences. His presence in our hearts and the influence of his Spirit rescue us from hell and lead us to eternal bliss as God’s spiritual children.

 

OF KARMA – BONDAGE [Sadhu Sundar Singh]          1

 

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