Father Thomas Keating defines Original Sin as “a way of explaining the universal experience of coming to full reflective self-consciousness without the inner conviction or experience of union with God.”[i] For Keating, this is another way of naming the human condition. Simply put, sin refers to the separate self, the sense of being disconnected from our true nature, our image of God. In a talk that Father Keating gave in San Francisco on November 3, 2007, he explained further that the Adam and Eve story and the tasting of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge refers to this separate sense of self. The temptation is to want to become God on our own terms, and this is depicted as Adam and Eve take the fruit even though they are already in paradise. This Genesis story reveals the human capacity for sin and unwholesome desire. We are meant to become one with God, as Christ, St. Athanasius, and St. Thomas Aquinas affirm, but on God’s terms and through surrender (more on this in later chapters). Thus, the spiritual journey is a return to Eden, a return to wholeness, a return to our center.
[i] Keating, Thomas. Open Mind, Open Heart (New York: Continuum, 2006) 189.