Sri Aurobindo once said, “To hate the sinner is the worst sin, for it is hating God; yet he who commits it glories in his superior virtue”. Mahatma Gandhi is known to have said “hate the sin; love the sinner”. This post discusses the psycho-spiritual reasons why one may not want to hate the sinner.
There are two reasons why one must NOT hate the sinner:
- While criticizing others, we function under the illusion that we have strong fixed personality which is incapable of any error, but the reality is that each one of us is as vulnerable to succumbing to the same weaknesses that we criticize in others. We are composed of a chaotic mixture of thoughts and impulses held together by a nominal ego, and the depraved tendencies which are held in check automatically surface when the mind becomes weakened, as can be seen in states of intoxication or during dreams.
- To exist in a state of hatred is itself a weakness. When we criticize others, we are creating an opening for adverse turbulent forces to enter into our settled consciousness. This makes us vulnerable to falling into the same weaknesses that we hate in others.
What follows is a more expansive answer by the Mother Mirra Alfassa as to why one must not hate the sinner.
Question: When you enter into a certain state of consciousness, you see that you are capable of everything and that in the end there is not a single “sin” that is not our sin, potentially. Is this impression correct? And yet you revolt against certain things and you have repulsions: there is always a spot somewhere which you do not admit ? Why ? What is the true attitude, the attitude effective against Evil?
Mother Mirra Alfassa: There is not a single sin that is not our sin… You have this experience when for some reason or other – depending on the case – you come into contact with the universal state of consciousness – not in its limitless essence, but on any level of Matter. There is an atomic consciousness; there is a purely material consciousness; and there is, even more, a general psychological consciousness. When by going within, by a kind of withdrawal from the ego, you come into contact with this zone of consciousness, let us say, a terrestrial or collective human psychological zone– there is a difference, collective human is restrictive, whereas terrestrial includes many animal movements, even plant movements; but as in the present case the moral notion of guilt, sin, evil belongs exclusively to the human consciousness, we will say simply the collective human psychological consciousness – when you come into contact with that through this identification, naturally you feel or see or know that you are capable of any human movement anywhere. It is to some extent a truth-consciousness – this egoistic sense of what belongs and does not belong to you, of what you can do and cannot do, disappears at that time; you become aware that the fundamental structure of the human consciousness is such that any human being is capable of doing anything at all. And since you are in a truth-consciousness, at the same time you have the feeling that judgments or aversions, or rejection, are absurd. Everything is potentially there. And if certain currents of force – which you usually cannot trace; you see them come and go, but as a rule their origin and direction are unknown – if any one of these currents enters into you, it can make you do anything.
If you could always remain in this state of consciousness, after some time – provided you maintained within you the flame of Agni, the flame of purification and progress – you would be able not only to prevent these movements from taking an active form in you and expressing themselves materially, but also to act on the very nature of the movement and transform it. But, of course, unless you have attained a very high degree of realisation, it will be practically impossible to maintain this state of consciousness for long. Almost immediately you fall back into the egoistic consciousness of the separate self. And then all the difficulties come back: the disgust, the revolt against certain things, the horror they arouse in you, etc.
It is probable – it is even certain – that until you are yourself completely transformed, these movements of disgust and revolt are needed so that you can do in yourself what has to be done to shut the door. For after all, the problem is not to allow them to manifest themselves.
In another aphorism Sri Aurobindo says – I no longer remember his exact words – that sin is merely some thing which is not in its right place. In this perpetual Becoming, nothing ever repeats itself and there are things that disappear, so to speak, into the past; and when their disappearance becomes necessary these things become, for our very limited consciousness, bad and repulsive. And we revolt against them because their time is over. But if we had the overall view, if we could contain within ourselves the past, the present and the future all at once – as it is somewhere above – we would see the relativity of these things and that it is above all the progressive Force of evolution that gives us the will to reject; and that wherever they are in their right place, they are quite acceptable. Only, it is practically impossible to have this experience unless you have the total vision, that is to say, the vision that belongs to the Supreme alone! Therefore you must first of all identify yourself with the Supreme; then, afterwards, with this identification, you can return to a sufficiently exteriorised consciousness and see things as they are. But that is the principle, and to the extent that you are capable of realising it, you reach a state of consciousness where you can look at everything with a smile of total certitude that everything is as it should be.
Naturally, people who do not think deeply enough will say, “Ah, but if we saw that everything is as it should be, nothing would move!” No, you cannot prevent things from moving! Even for a fraction of a second they do not stop moving. It is a continuous, total transformation, a movement that never ceases. And because it is difficult for us to feel like this, it is possible for us to imagine that if we were to enter into certain states of consciousness, things would not change. But even if we were to enter into an apparently total inertia, things would continue to change and so would we!
Basically, disgust, revolt, anger, all these movements of violence are necessarily movements of ignorance and limitation, with all the weakness – that limitation represents. Revolt is a weakness is the feeling of an impotent will. You will – or you think you will – you feel, you see that things are not as they should be and you revolt against whatever does not agree with what you see. But if you were all-powerful, if your will and your vision were all-powerful, there would be no occasion for you to revolt, you would always see that all things are as they should be. If we go to the highest level and unite with the consciousness of the supreme Will, we see, at every second, at every moment of the universe, that all is exactly as it should be, exactly as the Supreme wills it. That is omnipotence. And all movements of violence become not only unnecessary but utterly ridiculous.
Therefore there is only one solution: to unite ourselves by aspiration, concentration, interiorisation and identification with the supreme Will. And that is both omnipotence and perfect freedom at the same time. And that is the only omnipotence and the only freedom; everything else is an approximation. You may be on the way, but it is not the entire thing. So if you experience this, you realise that with this supreme freedom and supreme power there is also a total peace and a serenity that never fails. Therefore, if you feel something which is not that, a revolt, a disgust, something which you cannot accept, it means that in you there is a part which has not been touched by the transformation, something which has kept the old consciousness, something which is still on the path – that is all.
The Mother, On Thoughts and Aphorisms: Aphorism – 50
- Why bad things happen to good people?
- Are earthquakes due to Divine retribution?
- Karma can be changed. Your destiny is in your hands
- Gita Chapter 18, Verse 60-61: The illusion of free-will
- How to rise above the ordinary life?
- Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Astrology
- The occult spirits which influence our actions
- How to make the right choice when faced with a serious decision
- Jnana Yoga : the ego blocks that have to be dissolved
- Is fear and awe of God necessary?
- The Aurobindonian model of Karma
- Mental formations: powers and perils