Shahriar Shahriari

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Message of the Month

August, 2002

Original Sin

About two weeks ago, I had the privilege of experiencing the birth of my son. When he was born, as the nurses took him to the side of the room to clean him up, I went over with them. In the meantime, I was letting him grab my finger with his tiny hand.

While the nurses were doing their thing, I took a few moments to bond with him. And one of the most incredible experiences that I ever had was when I was gazing directly into his eyes.

It is true that the eyes are the windows to the soul. As I was peeking through the windows into this young soul, I saw a clarity I had never experienced before. It was not the clarity of some spiritually advanced being, but the purity of innocence. It was as if I was looking into an untainted deep well. A vision that was not touched by thought, emotion or meaning.

A few days later, as I was recalling the experience, I thought about the concept of the "Original Sin". And at the risk of alienating some, let me say that at first I got angry. How could anybody even think of the idea of us being born as sinners? How can we come to this world, with such purity and innocence, and be labeled sinners… before we even have the chance to make our first choice?

Yes… I know that some theologians and philosophers have tried to reform the concept by calling it the "Original Blessing", but as far as I was concerned, the experience was neither of sin, nor blessing. The experience was that of innocence and purity…. A blank slate on which one could write anything… write blessings or sins… but a blank slate to begin with. The innocence transcended both sin and blessing.

I was convinced that whoever came up with the idea of the "Original Sin" either never gazed into the eyes of a newborn, or had some ulterior motive, perhaps an intention to manipulate others by creating guilt.

When I returned to a cooler head, I was still pondering this concept, until this morning it hit me…

It is not that we are born sinners. We are definitely born innocent and blank. But the clarity that a newborn offers is not unlike a perfect mirror that reflects whatever gazes into it.

The innocence of the baby is such that when we look into his eyes, we are either inspired by what is possible for us, and what was once ourselves… or …

Or we are confronted with an untainted reflection of our own fears, guilt, temptations, and so forth. Yet we have no way of condemning the baby for our imperfections. And still, we do not wish to confront our own impurities. So we find comfort in passing the buck and labeling the baby – this symbol of purity – as the embodiment of the original sin.

The sad part is that our imperfections and impurities are not our original sin either. They are merely the result of the choices that we have made throughout our lives. Our true original sin is our refusal to take responsibility for the unwanted aspects of our character and the undesirable choices we have made.

The newborn is a pure mirror – much like the rest of the world – or perhaps an amplified version of the rest of the world. Our insistence on blaming the mirror for the reflection is our Original Sin.

© Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
August 2002

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