Chapter 17: Make Every Moment a Celebration
The first question:
In the morning you said that one who realizes the Brahman thus destroys sin and is well established in Brahman. In this reference, explain the difference between the concept of sin in the Upanishads and in the Bible. And please also explain the implications in human life.
There is a very basic difference. To the biblical religions - to Jews, Christians, and even Mohammedans - the concept of sin is totally different than it is to the Hindus and Buddhists. The concept of sin in Christianity, in the Bible, is related to your acts - to what you do. What you do may be a sin, or it may not be a sin; it may be a virtue, but it is related to your doing. To the Upanishads, it is not related to the doing at all. What you do is irrelevant; what you are is the point. It is not the doing, but the being itself that is significant.
So what will it mean to call a man a sinner? We mean that he is ignorant, unaware of his own self. Because of this ignorance, his acts become sins. The act can become a sin only because the doer is ignorant, unaware, unconscious, is living in a state of sleep. Ignorance is sin and awareness is virtue. Your acts are irrelevant because they are not central; in the center is your consciousness. If something is wrong with the consciousness, your acts will go wrong. If the consciousness is set right, your acts will follow.
So just to go on changing your acts will not lead you anywhere. You can commit a sin, you can repent a sin, you can replace a sin by a virtue, by a virtuous act - but it will not be of any meaning for the Upanishads if you remain the same. Unless you change, your consciousness changes, unless you attain a new plane of being, a new plenitude, just a change of your acts is useless.
So the Upanishads do not think in terms of acts; they think in terms of your being. Alert, aware, conscious, you are virtuous. Why? - because the more you are alert and conscious and aware, the less is the possibility of committing a sin. The basic requirement for committing a sin is to be unconscious.
For example, you can be angry only if you forget yourself. If you are self-remembering, aware, anger is impossible. It cannot exist with awareness. No coexistence is possible. When you are aware, it is not that you control your anger, restrain your anger, suppress your anger - no. It simply cannot be there. In a fully aware person anger cannot exist, just as in a fully lighted room darkness cannot exist. The coexistence is impossible.