Part 7: The Power of Abandonment
Original Sin and Drama of the Gifted Child
Having grown up in a non-religious environment, here is my outsider's take on original sin within the context of the Miller book: I think both traditionally religious people and atheists get it partially wrong in different ways.
The Bible is extraordinary in identifying original sin and how it affects us such that we can see how others act out but we can't see how we ourselves act out unconsciously. The theory is that Hitler rose to power because an entire country raised in an authoritarian manner was blind to its effects. But per Alice Miller we are innocent as unconscious victims since that gets projected onto us as children (and there may be a genetic component as well), such that we act out our wounds as adults until we get to the root cause and transition to being conscious survivors (if we're lucky).
Having gone through this process I now realize I can't just snap my fingers and the feelings will go away, I can't change my history and I’ve been learning how to build heathy boundaries and practice self-compassion. But that's why I found the Miller book extraordinary; we don't need to take on guilt for what happened when we were unconscious survivors, whereas many religious people take on that burden because they don’t know about the Miller book.
We will have to continue to live with the consequences of those earlier decisions and that is hard enough as is. The burden of undeserved guilt is a huge disservice because people worry about things they shouldn't worry about, when we all need to work to become conscious survivors so we can start on the lifelong path we need to embark on to break the cycle. I think much of what is happening in the world today is due to this growing collective anger at feeling guilt over the wrong thing - this idea that we are guilty of original sin - when there is enough work to do to take responsibility for the fallout of those earlier acted out decisions.
I find these core affirmations helpful from the Prince Charming book:
- I am good. I am innocent. I am lovable just the way I am.
- I forgive myself for thinking I was a bad person.
There is so much guilt around sex and emotional intimacy, and that guilt doesn't allow us to reflect the perfection of the universe. I find healthier attitudes to sex and emotional intimacy in those who think more in terms of an all-inclusive universe rather than an external God. Granted, we have our issues too but we're able to work through them without unnecessary guilt on top of that and that's tough enough as is.
If we are the universe's creations, how can we turn our backs on those gifts? That's turning our backs on the universe. And I suspect suppressing those gifts leads to acting out and medicating to mask the pain. Or “helping” others by doing charitable works, to distract from our own pain and the work we need to do to heal ourselves.
So why do I think the atheists get it partially wrong? Because if you mention original sin they will likely say “I refuse to take responsibility for something I didn’t do.” There is an element of truth to that, except that per the Miller book, we do act out what gets projected on us when we are unconscious victims. So again, it’s about getting to the root cause of our emptiness and transitioning from being an unconscious victim to a conscious survivor. That’s when the real work begins, in terms of learning how to consciously live and be; learning to practice self-compassion and build healthy boundaries; learning to love ourselves and others without guilt; learning that there is security and safety in principles that are consistent and make sense.