We are punished by our sins, not for them. ~Elbert Hubbard.
Spirituality, especially organized Religion, often gets a bad rap as being nothing but “Thou Shalt Nots”. And, to be honest, in many houses of worship, it IS nothing but a collection of “Thou Shalt Nots”!
But, the Power that placed us here on Earth gave us all the tools we need to create our own salvation or destruction; to create our own Heaven or Hell right here, right now. As I said before
, no one KNOWS what happens to us after we die; but I can tell you for certain focusing on living the best life you can is the smartest move you can make. That’s because one of two things is most likely going to happen: 1. you’re going to be held accountable for what you did or did not do, or 2. you’re going to cease to exist.
One way or another, NOW is the time of power.
In many of the world’s Spiritual Traditions, quite a lot of emphasis is put on ‘sin’, usually as some huge transgression that will cost you tremendously in this life or the next. Basically sin is portrayed as a slight against God; but did you know the original Hebrew word for sin Het, which simply means “to miss the mark”, like an archer missing a target.
That’s a lot different from it being a soul shattering offense, isn’t it?
It’s not our purpose to get too deeply into the concept of sin, or how it applies in day to day life. So rather than give you a big guilt trip, I want to show you how you can beat the “Seven Deadly Sins”. Traditionally they are listed as:
“Lust”, “Gluttony”, “Greed”, “Sloth”, “Wrath”, “Envy”, and “Pride”.
For our purposes, they are the negative emotions that pull you down, but that can be defeated by turning them into useful allies.
One thing I want to make clear: I called them negative emotions, not BAD emotions. There are no such thing as bad emotions, they all serve their purpose; the only problems arise when they are taken too far, or repressed to the point they manifest as sickness or countless other problems.
“Lust’s passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes.”
-Marquis De Sade
Lust is usually defined in terms of excessive sexual desire, but Aristotle defined it as “an excessive love of others”. In this day and age, people can lust after most anything, physical or otherwise. You can overcome this by taking the time to figure out what is it that attracts you to this thing? If you have an excessive sexual need, is it because you’re trying to fill an emotional void? If so, where did it come from? If you find you have some unresolved issue from your past (where all unresolved issues live), what can you do about putting it to rest?
A feeling of lust is not so much an indicator of what you find attractive, but what is actually missing in your life.
“It is the just doom of laziness and gluttony to be inactive without ease and drowsy without tranquility”
You’ll notice, Fear
isn’t on this list, and that’s because fear is really behind all of these emotions. Gluttony is a prime example, since it is really a fear of lack. You’re driven to consume for the same reason a wild animal is: you want to eat it before it’s taken away. There is another variation on this though: the emotional eater, who turns to food as comfort and gains weight as a defense mechanism. The irony is though, that most people who go this route become increasingly unhappy with their life and appearance and end up become MORE depressed, and cycle continues. In many ways, Gluttony and Lust are really the same thing, one is an excessive consumption of Human affection, one is an excessive consumption of food and drink. But the core need is the same, what is it that is lacking, and how can you go about replacing it? If you’re gaining weight to hide, what are you hiding from, and why?
“Hell has three gates: lust, anger, and greed”
Greed is the excessive accumulation of things, and is the other primarily fear-of-lack based emotion. It’s impossible to truly believe there is enough to go around, and be greedy. Any type of over-emphasis on possessions is a form of greed. Do you know any guys who define themselves by the car they drive? Greed. Do you know any women who define men * by * the car they drive? Believe it or not, that’s still greed: attraction based on people’s financial status is totally self-serving.
Why is it you place such value on certain physical objects? Why is money so important? Don’t get me wrong, money IS important, but not more important than Human beings; it’s all too easy to get hung up in the rat race and turn around with kids who hate you and a spouse who is a stranger.
“Diligence overcomes difficulties, sloth makes them.”
Ah, laziness. Laziness is the most insidious of all of these, since it’s not always easy to spot! It’s more than laying on the couch all day, it’s not making the most of the time you have, which most all of us are guilty of.
Did you know the amount of time you spend in your car in a year is equal to an entire semester of college? How many new things could you learn if you listened to audio books and programs during that time? I can tell you from personal experience: a LOT. There are few things in this world that match the feeling of a job well done, but Sir Issac Newton was right: an object at rest tends to stay at rest. So get moving! Like I said in my article on Love
, most people won’t take the actions they need to get what they want, and this is why. Resolve to do better; realize what you want, wants you and get after it!
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
When I sat down to write this article, I intended for the whole thing to be about Anger, and I may still have to write a follow up!
Let me say that Anger is the antidote to Sloth; it’s primary healthy function is to move people into action; when you get mad, DO something to improve the situation, don’t just hold on to it, because that’s when things get bad.
Just like Fear
only exists in the future, and Guilt only lives in the past, Anger is always in the present. Seething, throbbing, nasty anger. How many lives have been ruined, how many heart attacks suffered, by people who couldn’t let go of their anger? I have friends who are still punishing men in their lives right now, for things other men did to them years ago. I also know people who are aggressive and stand-offish because they were picked on in High School. My question to them is:
What has that got to do with today?
In my martial arts training, I learned early that it’s easy to use someone’s force against them, and that relaxation was the key to victory; it’s the same with anger. Try it: the next time someone gets upset with you, stay totally calm; no matter what they do, don’t get upset and watch what happens. They will probably get MORE upset! But then they’ll either calm down or be forced to leave you alone; you can’t fight someone who won’t fight back.
Look and see if there is something you’ve been carrying a grudge about, and let it go. Forgive that person, truly forgive them; in most cases, they didn’t do intentionally to hurt you; and even if they did, it’s done. Continuing to carry around anger in your heart is allowing them to injure you again, day after day, after day.
Don’t give that type of power over you to anyone, or anything.
“Envy consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations. If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon, but Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed.”
Envy can also be a great motivator, if you turn that desire into action. If you see a nice car that you want, set about getting it for yourself. The key is, there is a BIG difference between wanting what someone else has, and wanting them * not * to have it. Why should it bother you if someone else has been blessed with something nice? When I ask, people tend to tell me “because she doesn’t deserve it”, to which I reply: who are you to judge that?
The worst byproduct of Envy is it has a negative impact on your Subconscious Mind. Your subconscious is like a child, it makes everything about you. The subconscious is the root of all your unresolved issues from the past, but that will have to wait for another day. Suffice it to say now, if you look at that nice car, or nice purse, or nice house, and think how your neighbor shouldn’t have it, your mind will interpret that as * I * shouldn’t have it. And guess what? You never will!
When you feel that green eyed monster rear up, choose to be happy for that person instead. The Universe has given them something nice, and that’s a good thing. The more you feel genuine gratitude for someone else’s good fortune, the more you are telling the Universe, and your own mind, that you want those type of things to happen for you, too.
“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.”
Greed and Pride have a relationship in that they both are based in the need to define yourself externally, which is ultimately the fear of not being enough.
The difference between confidence and Pride is a simple one: Pride requires you to put people down in order to look better.
Genuine confidence is self-sustaining, and is not threatened by what other people say or do; Pride however is terrified of being exposed as a fake.
Here is a good test to determine if a person is confident or arrogant: see how they treat people who can’t offer them anything, like children or the homeless; and see how they treat service workers, like waiters and secretaries. That one works 10 out of 10 times!
So, if you find yourself stepping on other people, why is that? What is it that you’re hiding, or compensating for? Recognize nobody is perfect, and everyone likes to be made to feel special. Become the person who recognizes and emphasizes people’s strengths instead of their flaws, and you’ll quickly have the type of respect and admiration you were trying to force the entire time.
In closing, with all this talk about changing yourself, I want to say something important: you are perfect.
Right now, as you are, you are whole, complete, and absolutely perfect. You are a miracle of nature, a wonder of the universe, God in Human form.
So when I talk about change, I am not talking about changing who You Are, only what you are doing, and are going to do in the future. You can’t control where you’ve been, and you can only partially control where you’re going; you can only control your behavior, what you DO.
Take responsibility for your life, because in responsibility is power. If you don’t take control of the direction of your life, I guarantee you someone else will, or already has; and they probably don’t have your best interests at heart, either.