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Another Perspective


What is Sin?

The etymology of sin is “to miss the mark.” That is, a person misses the mark when that person is not the individual God made him/her to be. When our ego leads us to try to be more, or less, or something different than the person God made us to be, then we are living in sin. That means the ethical imperative of life is to discover, acknowledge, accept and be the person God created us to be.

The writer Alan Cohen is credited with telling the following story that illustrates this reality well.* One of my clients sent it to me in an e-mail in August, 2002.

“When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it aloud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.

When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child’s song to him or her. Later, when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child’s song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song. Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person’s bed, just as they did at their birth, and sing the person to the next life.

In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around the person. Then they sing their song to them.

The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment, it is love and the remembrance of identity. A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. Just keep singing and you’ll find your way home.”

What is your take on this?

* I only wish he’d given more specificity to his tale, like which tribe in which country, etc. It makes it almost impossible to check the truth of this tale, but I will accept that it is true until proven otherwise. Cohen is the author of more than a dozen books.
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