WHAT IS VIRTUE? WHAT IS SIN?
Papa is sin. Punya is virtue. Remember the motto always: "Do unto others as you wish others do unto you". This is the Kasoti or test for virtue and sin. You do not wish to be hurt by others. So do not hurt another person. You wish to be helped by others. So help others. You do not wish to be robbed by others. So do not rob others' property. When you enter the compartment in a train, you wish that others should give you a seat. They should not drive you to another compartment. So, when anyone enters your compartment, give him a seat. Do not drive him away. Hurting another is sin; non-hurting is virtue. Selfishness is sin; helping others is virtue. Robbing others' property is sin; doing charity is virtue. Driving a man from the compartment is sin; giving a seat to a man in your compartment is virtue.
That which elevates you is virtue; that which pulls you down is vice or sin. That which takes you to the Goal is virtue; that which makes you a worldly man is sin. That which helps you attain God-head is virtue; that which hurls you down in the dark abyss of ignorance is sin. That which gives you illumination is virtue; that which causes intoxication is sin. That which purifies your heart is virtue; that which taints your heart is sin. That which gives you peace, joy, satisfaction, exhilaration, expansion of heart, is virtue; that which brings restlessness, dissatisfaction, depression, and contraction of heart, is vice.
Service of humanity and Guru is virtue; mischief-mongering is sin. Faith in God, in the scriptures, in the words of the spiritual preceptor, is virtue; doubting is sin. Loving all is virtue; hating others is sin. Unity is virtue; separation is sin. Independence is virtue; dependence is sin. Brahmacharya is virtue; lust is sin. Truthfulness is virtue; falsehood is sin. Generosity is virtue; miserliness is sin. Oneness is virtue; duality is sin. Knowledge is virtue; ignorance is sin. Strength is virtue; weakness is sin. Courage is virtue; cowardice is sin. To behold the One Immortal Self everywhere is virtue; to see diversity is sin.
That which you are ashamed to do in public is a sin. That which you dare not admit before your Guru is a sin.
Learn to discriminate between virtue and sin, and become wise. The Antaryamin will guide you rightly; hear Him.
SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA
NEXT : ATONEMENT-