Forget about what John Lennon would have you believe… Instant Karma probably isn’t going to get you, but Invisible Sin will. And that’s why this week in the BrightLife Yoga Collective we’re exploring this very question: “What is Invisible Sin? And how can it keep us blocked in our relationships, our careers, and yes, even in our spiritual lives?” And, make no mistake, it’s an important question.
That’s because a mature understanding of sin is one of the most critical pieces in the puzzle of your spiritual evolution—and you living you happiest and most empowered life. It’s right up there with healing from past traumas, releasing limiting beliefs, and gaining clarity about your inspired life purpose. Even so, very few of us have a clear vision about how exactly sin works against us.
Let’s start with what sin actually is… From the perspective of yoga (and many other traditions as well), sin is any thought, word, or deed that interferes with your lived experience of a connection to Source (or Spirit or God).
Of course, this simple definition then begs the next question: what exactly is it that interferes with your lived experience of a connection to Source?
And the answer, according to scripture (personally verified in my own life, but, as always, check it out for yourself) is distracting thoughts and emotions. We’re talking about thoughts and emotions like… Anger
And so many more. Each and every one of these pernicious saboteurs stands ready to pollute your pure and perfect I-AM-ness and leave you completely convinced that you are something other than the divine being you truly are.
This is what we call in the business: Spiritual Ignorance.
[and for those reading along who don’t have spiritual aspirations per se, let me point out how those very same thoughts and emotions can just as easily ruin your relationships, derail your career, and spoil your happiness, so please, stay with me]
Thankfully there is a universal solution, one that is used across spiritual traditions, and works just as well in our everyday lives as well.
It’s this: the cultivation of profound and abiding inner peace. You see, inner peace serves as a kind of doorway to our lived experience of the True Self, or just as easily, it can serve to allow you to simply live your best, happiest, and most empowered life.
We see this across spiritual traditions:
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras puts it this way… “When the disturbances of mind are still, the True Self shines forth.” The Bhagavad Gita says…
“The peace of God is with them whose mind is in harmony free from desire and wrath.” In the Bible we see… “Be still and know that I am God.”
And we could continue with other scriptures and traditions as well.
So, before we wade any deeper into the workings of sin, we might want to summarize this process of the awakening to your True Self. And we can do so in four simple words: Stilling Leads to Seeing.
Or, with a little more specificity: Stilling (the disturbances of mind) leads to Seeing (one’s true divine Source).
This means the process of awakening is a fairly straight-forward proposition (create profound inner peace). And the obstructing role played by sin is easily understood (it disturbs that inner peace with mental and emotional disturbances). Therefore, simply stated: Sin is any thought, word, or deed that creates mental and emotional disturbance that pollutes our pure and peaceful I-Am-ness—and cuts us off from the experience of Source.
And it’s here where things get interesting…
Because the fact is, it’s 100% possible to be engaged in a “good deed” and be filling yourself full of anxiety or overwhelm or worse. Which means—and hear this—your “good deed” is a sin. And this is where so many of us get tripped up.
Because while it may be true if I looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it must be a duck. Not so true with sin.
And this is where it might be helpful to introduce two distinct categories of sin: Visible Sin and Invisible Sin. Let’s start with the first. Visible Sin is what most people think of when they think of sinning:
Lying to your mother… Cheating on your partner…
Or knocking over the corner liquor store… Are just three simple examples. The primary feature of Visible Sins is that they are easily recognized because they appear amoral or unethical, and most people have come to equate sin with amoral behavior. But as we’ve already seen, it’s not quite that simple. That’s because, from a yogic perspective, what makes a sin a sin is not its amoral nature; rather, it’s the sin’s propensity to create disturbances in the mind and emotions. The same disturbances that keep us blocked from the experience of our Divine Source, or spiritually ignorant. All of which brings us neatly to the top of the page: Invisble Sin. Invisible Sin, like Visible Sin, refers to thoughts, words, or deeds that create mental and emotional disturbances.
But here’s the key difference… Because Invisible Sins are not thoughts, words, or deeds that most of us would consider unethical or amoral, the go all but unnoticed in our lives. I’m talking about things like…
Mindlessly scrolling Instagram as you watch your anxiety balloon and your self-worth plummet.
Taking on your daughter’s chores at home—even though you’re already staggeringly stressed and overwhelmed.
Skipping yoga class even though you know you’ll feel calmer and more present for your kids after you’re done.
The tricky thing about Invisible Sins is that they can masquerade as positive activities and even “good deeds”…and in fact, even so-called spiritual practices done unskillfully like yoga done while judging yourself mercilessly, or attending church while scrolling through TikTok fall within this category.
Even so, as surreptitious as they may be, when we shine a light on how any of these activities are affecting our own inner state of being, we can clearly see how they are filling us full of things like anxiety or exhaustion or worry or any number of other feelings that disturb our inner peace (and our divine connection). And thus fit the definition of a sin.
So, it is here where the invitation becomes to tread carefully: To be awake and alert for the tendency that so many of us have: to confuse morals with sin.
Because while it’s true there is overlap between the two, ignoring the crucial distinction between actual sin and amoral behavior can lead you to build a life that looks good and worthy and even spiritual from the outside, but find yourself still feeling perpetually separate, anxious, and spiritually dry on the inside—no matter what you do.
And who wants that?
So, if nothing else, please take this simple thought with you: To reduce sin to a simple choice between good and evil is to walk a path that may very well lead you far astray from inner peace, joy, and connection you deserve. And, just in case you have any doubt about that, just ask Adam and Eve what the knowledge of good and evil did for them.
Want to join me for an exploration of Invisible Sin and the First Limb of Yoga? Join me this month on Thursday nights at 6:00pm Pacific at Yoga Pura, in-person or online for BrightLife Yoga. CLICK HERE to learn more
Interested in an ongoing exploration of yoga's most sacred wisdom? CLICK HERE to learn more about the online BrightLife Yoga Collective