Have you noticed the number seven appears a lot in ancient myth and religious scripture? This is not a coincidence. Ancient cultures were enamoured by the ‘divine’ seven and associated the number with the Mother Goddess. The seven is also consistently used in art, literature and city architecture.
Then, of course, there are the seven deadly sins and the lesser-known seven heavenly, or holy virtues. But why seven and what are they?
The religious meaning of the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues has been used against Christan believers for centuries. The purpose of this is to evoke feelings of guilt - one of the most damaging emotions. It appears in the modern age that the meaning of the seven steps have become confused.
Christianity implies that if we are virtuous we join the angels in Heaven, and if we sin we are sent to Hell. All this after we die of course. Because the Church want you to project your attention on the outside, rather than the inside. Yet it is the inside where your true wisdom resides.
Once you understand the esoteric symbolism, the secret messages in ancient scriptures and myths become apparent – you have God-Consciousness and create your own Heaven and Hell on the physical plane.
These are the two sides of our character, a duality we must master and bring into balance. You will probably have seen images of the angel on one shoulder and the Devil on the other in popular culture. I used to think this was ridiculous animation, but now I know differently.
Most of us adopt the seven virtues whether we are aware of them or not, but we also cross over into the sins as well. Therefore we fall somewhere in the middle. Sometimes life is good, other times its bad right? The rollercoaster of life is the one you build for yourself.
You, therefore, have a choice; to listen the Angel or listen to the Devil. Master the sins and carry out the virtues and you will find you spend more time in Heaven on Earth than in the bowels of depression. Give into temptation and your experience on Earth becomes a living Hell. It’s an old lesson few of us follow.
However, there is (thankfully) a saving grace.
Everything that exists has a polar opposite, thus the same is true for attitudes, our good side and our bad side. They can make or break us. For every "sin" there is a virtue that weighs against the vice and brings your energy into equilibrium.
That means you have to be completely righteous like the Catholic Church teaches – doing so unbalances consciousness in which case you swerve off track anyway.
I know, good news right - you can be naughty!
Providing you keep a balance between naughty and nice you will be able to bring more harmony into your life and attract people and events you want and need. So let’s take a look at the yin yang of sins and virtues.
Lust and chastity do not take much explaining. We get horny, it’s natural. In fact, after food, sex is our second most natural instinct. But an excessive desire for sexual satisfaction ultimately becomes a deadly sin thus control is required.
If you always keep balance in mind, this concept becomes blatantly obvious and you eventually develop an inner sense of what you should and shouldn’t do.
To give you some encouragement, Hindu’s say the male sperm is the life force that gives you zest in life. In Italy, they say that when you orgasm your mind goes, so if you need the ability to think straight...
To counterbalance lust, you need to learn self-discipline and become unhindered by sexual desire. But chastity does not mean abstaining from sexual pleasure, it merely means bettering yourself by practising courtly love and romance before engaging in sexual intercourse.
Gluttony is overconsumption, taking more than your fair share and wasting excess. In popular culture, it is typically associated with overeating, but you can apply the same rules to drink and drug addiction of any kind – and yes, that includes coffee and smoking.
As one of the seven deadly sins, gluttony can also apply to demanding too much from a person or always wanting things your own way. Doing so builds up resent and can result in pushing people away. Gluttony is often a course for relationships turning sour.
If this sounds like you, adopt the virtue of Temperance, whereby you restrain yourself from overindulgence and are more mindful of other people’s desires and needs. Self-control is required to delay gratification.
Greed is arguably one of the seven deadly sins that is most rife in today's society. It can often be confused with gluttony, but whereas gluttony relates to taking pleasure in something, greed relates to material wealth and power, themselves closely connected.
Our society is designed to make us want material things. A typical mindset is to work hard and earn more money. We have become obsessed with ownership and bragging rights about what car or mobile phone we have.
We do this because we think we will be more respected by others because we have more possessions and money. Worse still, we typically look up to people with more wealth than us even though having more money does not necessarily make them a better person.
Generosity plays a part in charity, but the act should not be confused with the giving of money to charity, although if you have honest intentions that will score you brownie points as well.
Charity as a virtue is giving because you want to out of loving-kindness, and not just because you have enough money and want to show other people you are charitable. That is vanity, a sin rather than a virtue.
The vice of a sloth is laziness and lack of desire to work, both physically and spiritually. The worse type of sinner in this category is people who get others to do their work for them and barely do any work themselves. That is not to say you should not delegate work if you are overburdened.
Sloth also relates to spiritual or moral laziness. This includes neglecting spiritual wisdom or neglecting to do something even if you know it is the right thing to do.
But diligence also relates to core beliefs and carrying out your convictions at all times, even when nobody is around to witness your saintliness. A person with the virtue of diligence will strive to accomplish their goals and will not give in until they succeed.
Wrath or anger is a desire to harm, either physically or emotionally. If you have violent tendencies, fight and argue a lot, you may have fallen prey to one of the seven deadly sins. It depends what you get so angry about. Do you have a reason?
Wrath can also be stimulated by an over-appreciation for violent films. If you like action films, or graphic computer games, they are having a negative effect on your subconscious. This can be unhealthy for children and adolescents.
To counterbalance wrath you need to learn patience, the ability to forgive and find peace within yourself. Whenever you become angry towards other people, the Truth is that really, you are angry with yourself.
Forgiveness means to forget about seeking revenge and accept that others have faults and “know not what they do.” Rather than resorting to violence and antagonism, seek to resolve conflicts peacefully.
Envy is essentially a desire for another person’s belongings, relationships or lifestyles. But its extended version is jealousy, the fear of losing what you already have, and taking pleasure in the pain or misfortune of others. Envy is typical among sports fans.
The opposite of envy is acts of kindness, not just generosity, but the well wishes of others. If kindness is a trait you need to adopt learn to be empathetic and compassionate of others, and offer unselfish acts because you want to, and not because you have to.
Pride is considered to be the mother of all the seven deadly sins, the source from which all other sins manifest. It is that craving for recognition, seeking attention, narcissistic and selfish me, me, me attitude.
Those who suffer from pride find it difficult to compliment and congratulate others without feeling a trace or bout of envy. Rather they talk louder than anyone else, always have a one-up attitude and fish for compliments.
But pride is a double-edged sword and there is a fine line between the sin and the virtue. Having self-respect and taking pride in your appearance, for example, us a virtue, just don’t obsess over it.
To balance your sense of pride you need to adopt humility whereby you accept compliments with poise and have a modest opinion about yourself. Humility is arguably the most difficult quality to develop as it comes from an inner-knowing, having confidence and trust in yourself without having to prove anything to others.
To bring more order into your life, start by balancing the deadly sins and heavenly virtues. You have to live and it is natural to have urges, and committing a “sin” does not make it a deadly sin unless it is taken to one extreme without being balanced by its opposite virtue.
But likewise, if you are a goody-two-shoes and refrain from committing any of the seven sins, you could also be missing out in your spiritual growth, because you do not have balance and order in your life. So live a little, because you can be a sinner and a saint!