Cardinal sin one - destructive management of fear
The mission of UU A Way Of Life is to improve spiritual health, reduce immoral and sinful behavior, and work across systems for positive societal change. Today we begin a series of articles on reducing immoral and sinful behavior. “Sinful” in the context of the UU A Way Of Life is defined as mistaken. The mission statement could read, “reducing immoral and mistaken behavior” but the mistakes being referred to are ones that cause spiritual injury and so we use the word “sinful.”.
The first component of spiritual health is peace and joy. What deprives us of peace and joy is what is being labeled as immoral and sinful behavior. The primary characteristic of this immoral and sinful behavior is fear. Fear is not our natural state and is induced by many factors; external and internal. Fear is the opposite of love and gives rise to anger, attack, resentment, grievance, and guilt. When anyone is angry at you or you are angry with someone or something else, the underlying shadow fueling the anger is fear. If one is to deal effectively with the anger and destructive behavior it is most helpful to ask, “What are they and/or what am I afraid of?” Managing the fear rather than the anger is the fastest route to peace and joy.
Managing one’s fear to reduce its influence in one’s life requires a lifetime of practice. Fear has survival value for the body, but is deadly for the soul. Learning to recognize, acknowledge, and manage fear requires self awareness. This self awareness arises from feedback, examining one’s own functioning, and intention in managing the fear in a constructive and not a destructive way. The primordial fear is a fear of punishment arising from our guilt of separating ourselves from the non dualistic Oneness and thinking we are the authors of our own lives.
The expectation in a civil society is that a person will mature enough to manage one’s own emotional expression so that they exhibit self control and self discipline. Lacking self control, external controls are exerted by society such as increased supervision, incarceration, and on extreme occasions death.
Often people use chemicals and mood altering behaviors to assuage and repress their fears. These are temporary and superficial emotional management strategies, often unconsciously employed, which become bigger problems and have more destructive consequences than the original fears the person was attempting to quell.
When it comes to the immoral and sinful behaviors generated by fear one has to choose how to manage the fears. Will one employ the tactics the ego provides or the methods of the Spirit? Jesus tells us that we should love our enemies. Enemies usually trigger fear in us, and in what do we put our faith to quell that fear: attack or forgiveness? The choice is always ours to make no matter the circumstances. Attack is what we are labeling as immoral and sinful, and forgiveness is the path of virtue and holiness.