We have all heard of “Capital Sins” or “Deadly Sins”. For the sake of staying as close as possible to its original Latin name, I will refer to them as “Capital Sins”. For those of you who don’t know what these sins are, I will name them: Pride, envy, gluttony, greed lust, sloth and wrath. Today I would like to shed some light on the history and real meaning behind them.
Psychoanalyst and Alchemist Carl Jung would describe “Capital Sins” as “traps set by our false ego”; which we all need to work within ourselves. Unlike the teachings of the Church, Jung taught that transmuting of such traps require introspection and working of self vs penitence or punishment.
As mentioned before the denomination of “Capital Sins” was created by the church, however the concept is much older than that. Originally the concept made reference to the auto sabotaging behavior we often tend to exhibit in one way or another; however before the church reinvented the concept, the ancients used to teach about these sabotaging behaviors along with their opposite virtues. The ancients focused on the virtues which were to be developed through self work or self development. It was much later that the church decided to rename the self sabotaging behaviors; found within all of us; and used the term “Capital” in order to deliver the message of how serious it was to exhibit such behaviors and how much in need of repentance the person found himself in.
To our mind the term “Capital” alone is subconsciously and consciously understood as something of high importance, add the word “Sin” to it and now you have a fearful population who focuses on dreading consequences rather than the solutions. The terminology alone can be quite overwhelming to anyone, and rather than helping relieve the person of a burden it only adds more weight to it, leaving the individual tired and feeling damaged. More often than not, when a person feels “damaged” or “unworthy” , the individual tends to behave in ways which are detrimental to his soul and psyche; so as to auto fulfill the “prophecy” of being “damaged”. As you can see then, rather than help the situation, “labeling” may often push the individual to behave in more unhealthy ways.
Capital Sins always had their opposite which were later known as “Theological Virtues”, however these (within various religious beliefs) are often forgotten; except in theory. When one tends to focus on the “negative” end of the spectrum and label people as sinners, it matters not how much “penitence” the person is given; the act of penitence itself will only serve to wire the brain to “believe” the individual who is conducting the ritual, doing the penitence or repeating “words of salvation” is damaged and needs to be fixed. Such erroneous belief is where the biggest lie lays, as we all exhibit self sabotaging mechanism due to false conditioning; not because we were born sinners or are damaged.
The masters from the ancient mystery schools understood this and as such understood that in order to better work a negative attitude it is best to focus on its opposite found within the “light” spectrum. For example: If someone was a person who care very little for others but liked to amass material things, then he or she rather than be given countless lectures, rituals, punishment or repeating of “words”, would be helped to focus on assisting others (action) and then “insight” (reviewing of feelings and thoughts during and after the action as well a possible origins for the need of hoarding material things). Continous use of this technique had better results than to “convince” the person he was bound to hell.
The ancients understood that the more you encourage and feed positive traits, the more you “debilitate” the negative patterns your false ego or false self has created in order to survive its surroundings. During my research on “Capital Sins” and the way to overcome them by traditional religious standards vs the ways of Ancient Elusiyan schools, Sacred Schools, Forbidden Teachings and some of the techiques taught by Carl Jung in his alchemical book “The red book”; I was saddened to find most ancient religious teachings (regardless of the religious branch) focused primarily on the convincing of self as less than, damaged or sinner. It is then quite logical and natural to make the assertion “we were not born sinners or unworthy”, we were made/conditioned to see ourseleves as such. Such mentality is what is called the “master & the slave” psychology; how then can we ever believe that the loving power many call God (regardless of whatever specific name you may have for it) has anything to do with the implementation of such horrid and twisted way of looking at things? How can within the “perfect” power of creation be found such horrid mental contradiction? unless of course people who misunderstood or with personal interests silenced the “God within” and use these “Capital Sins” or “Negative Traits” as a way to become the intermediary between God and Human beings.
God never needed an intermediary; for the God force or Life force can be found within and without. If people since little were taught more self introspection and were allowed to make mistakes without fear of hell or segregation, chances are they would find themselves more in touch with the “almighty” than with a movement. I dare to say human beings are inherently good; not perfect, as we are born with what scientists call “The Reptilian Brain”, which helps our survival but it’s a terrible master. I’ve come to the above conclusion of our nature by paying close observation to children from various backgrounds when left to freely express themselves. Children; for the most part; unless taught, conditioned or “modeling parents” tend to be inherently good. Another example I bring to you in support of my conclusion is the “Babemba Tribe” from Africa….
“In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the centre of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual.
Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the centre of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days.
At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe”
Both examples I have just provided, openly exhibit how the only way to transmute a negative trait is by focusing on its oppositive positive. With that said, it is imperitive not to make the mistake of confusing things as many “New Age” believers often do; they teach people to “Focus on the positive only” and all will be well or “Life is about just being positive”. Such mechanisms when used, more often than not end up taking the individual to a worse place than the person who is focusing on his negative traits; as there is a delusion of being all healed, normal and well.
It’s not about just focusing– it’s about approaching your inner work from the “light” spectrum–the key words remain “Inner Work” instead of “fake it till you make”, which is a masquerading of feelings. In order to transmute negative into positive, inner work is needed; anything else is denial and that which is denied cannot be change.
In the beginning Christians did not teach “Seven Capital Sins”, they taught “Eight”; what was the eight Capital Sin?….Sadness. Sadness, a natural human emotion labeled as a Capital or Deadly sin. So in order not to be considered “damaged” or “unworthy” people learned to mask their emotions. This does not sound much different than modern New Age thinkers, where if you are not a “Positive Thinker” and don’t buy the idea of focusing only on rainbows and unicorns; so as not to “lower vibes”; you are considered “Negative”. It is sad centuries have gone by and the ignorance that ruled then still sits on the throne just under a different name/definition.
Within the 7 Capital or Deadly sins, some were considered of a more feminine nature and others of a more masculine nature. The sins of feminine nature were: Sloth, gluttony and envy. Greed was one of the sins which was found significantly equal within both natures. Susceptibility was considered to be the feminine version of “wrath”, which was found to be more a masculine nature.
The original purpose behind teaching about positive and negative traits found within, was to encourage self development and a genuine connection with the divine; within and without. However, by the time the Church decided to implement and rename these concepts, the focus was on “guilt”. Having committed a mistake and being found guilty of hurting self or others was never meant to be a life sentence; being found guilty was never to be equated to “feeling” guilty. Feeling sadness over the mistake committed is entirely different than feeling guilty continuously; guilt strips one of self esteem; on the other hand feeling sad about our less evolve choices leads to change without chains.
One has the right to change, and it is the ones who like to “punish” who need to look in and have the most to work on. More often than not these people believe themselves to be just and magnanimous; however, they really aren’t understanding–they are tolerant–tolerance isn’t understanding or forgiveness, is just a word use to masquerade feelings of anger and hate.
We have all been guilty of something in one way or another– to be non lenient, to preach forgiveness yet quietly hurt others, to be disrespectful and uncaring are signs that a person needs a lot of work. If we were all taught that it is natural to make mistakes, that it is natural to outgrow things, places, people, then hiding behind ignorant dogmas would not work. Such dogmas tend to survive because they are being given room to grow. If we were all taught that you have the right to believe in whatever you want to believe but your rights stop the moment it transgresses on the rights of others, then we would have more understanding and less narcissism. If we were all taught that being kind and forgiving doesn’t mean letting others walk all over you, if we were taught that being nice doesn’t mean to hide whenever standing up is necessary or if we were taught that standing up doesn’t equal revenge or vindictiveness, our world would genuinely be a better world. Unfortunately the meaning of things have been so distorted and we are so afraid to look at ourselves that when confronted with new evidence we disregard it simply because it will shatter our illusions. In our modern society we like to believe we are evolve, forgiving, kind, courageous but without any of the work necessary to achieve that. We are very good at looking out but very blind when it comes to looking in.
Reinventing negative and positive traits as Capital/Deadly sins has only fed the false ego even more and instated a state of delusion, where one sees his or herself as “good” or “evolved” because one belongs to a group and that group provides the label to be implemented on those who don’t believe the same. Are we so blind or ignorant as to not see the mental disconnection when saying we are all equal, we are all God’s children yet still treat others as less than? Are we so blinded by our false ego as to think that because one has a “good” level, it means one has nothing to work on? or better yet has committed no sin?… Let me give you a few examples to analyze; I ask that you detach yourself from your stigmas and look at the examples and why they occur objectively.
1) A person outgrows a place, situation or relationship yet is continuously punished over it because he or she could not pretend and enslave one self in order to please others. What happened? a person changed as we are all meant to and situations changed or evolved. Such person chose self growth over self punishment. Why is it condemned? Because we are seldom taught that in life we are meant to change and not always at the same rate. We are not taught that in life there will be many ends and many beginnings, that some things or people will be part of our lives permanently while others won’t. We are taught self sacrifice over self development or over the pursue of our own happiness. We are taught our freedom has to come at a “price”.
2) A parent is in severe distress or fragile health yet children refuse to come to his aid or even acknowledge his existence because such parent didn’t act exactly as was expected. Why does this happen? because we are not taught that forgiveness isn’t just a concept to read and repeat, or reserved only for those within our circle. It happens because more often than not, one is taught to see themselves as incapable of ever making the same mistake; in others words “I am better than”, or a person hasn’t matured enough or felt tragedy enough to understand what real pain feels like; for when we truly have experienced pain, we can relate to others and do the right thing even when we don’t like specific people.
3) A person devotes lots of time to charity and the “helping of others” but the people being helped have to be like minded or there has to be a popularity and/or economical reward, yet that same person treats his or her own family as inferior and with little if any understanding. Why does this happen? because we are not taught to self accept. People are taught to focus on the outside, to seek approval and forget that kindness and “charity” start at home.
Looking at the above examples, it is easy to see how all 3 cases have broken a specific rule or have committed a deadly sin, yet our immaturity and lack of self development only allows us to see what the other has done while denying our own transgressions. As such in order to develop as a person, it is important to listen to constructive and less than desirable criticism, to accept and own our faults without guilt or punishment so as to transmute them by focusing on its polar opposite “virtue” as a starting point for our inner work. It is also important when accusing others to take a moment to look at our own lives and see just how grounded and developed we are, so as not to fall victim of our false ego or narcissim which in reality is just another mask for lack of self esteem.
Throughout our lives we will all make mistakes, it doesn’t mean we cannot transmute them. I have made colossal ones at times, while at others I have reacted much better than most; all that means is…. I am human!
If I want to grow, then I need to be willing to look at myself. I know I have lots of work left within but I know that that is natural, for as life unfolds, new lessons will arise. I am far from perfect but so is everyone else. There was a time I accepted punishment for my mistakes, I have come to understand that such attitude kept me chained to guilt which only ate at my self esteem. After understanding this, I have chosen to instead of investing so much time on guilt, to use my energy to build my strengths and to learn the lessons from my mistakes. I have more than payed my Karma; often having allowed tyrannical behavior; until by paying close attention to my life and the life of those who were so keen to punish me, I realized once more that no one is perfect. As they say in Sicily “we all have skeletons in our closet” and we all have the right to reinvent ourselves without forgetting who we were at every stage of our lives; the good and the bad. When we learn to accept our mistakes, when we learn to be lenient with our fears, when we learn to feel every emotion without fear of being labeled, then we will be embracing who we are, healing ourselves and as a result healing our world.
“Some of the best lessons we ever learn, we learn from our mistakes and failures. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future”