By a religious man or woman, sin would be defined as any act which is hateful in the
eyes of his or her gods. But who can pretend to understand the workings
of the divine mind? It would seem that we are required to live in strict accord with rules
that are never explained to us.
This paradox is one that we have been wrestling with for aeons. In the end, though we
in turn seek the wisdom of the old, the young, the sacred, and the profane, we finally come
to rely on that inscrutable and unquestionable measure of good and evil, our conscience.
In the Halls of Judgement, deep within the many-gated Tuat, or underworld, we find ourselves
standing before the throne of Asar, judge of the dead. We see ibis-headed Djewhty, bearing
the Book of Life in his hands and waiting to make the final entry under our name.
Anpu is there to oversee the weighing of our heart against the feather of Maat, as the
fierce Amemet looks on, ready to devour our soul should it prove to be burdened by sin.
With a clear voice and clear conscience, incapable of untruth in so holy a place, we recite
the so-called Negative Confessions:
"I have committed no evil against mankind.
I have caused no misery to those around me.
I have committed no wrongs against the Throne of Truth.
I have befriended no evil men.
I have committed no evil deeds.
I have demanded no undo praise for my name.
I have deprived no humble man of his property.
I have done nothing that is hateful in the eyes of the gods.
I have inflicted no pain.
I have made no one hungry by means of my greed.
I have made no one weep with sorrow.
I have committed no murder.
I have driven no man to murder another.
I have inflicted no suffering.
I have stolen no offerings from the altars of the gods.
I have committed no unclean acts in the sanctuaries of the gods.
I have taken no milk from the mouths of children.
I have driven no man's cattle from his land.
I have caught no fish with bait of their bodies.
I have held back no water in its season.
I have extinguished no fire in its season.
I have turned away from no god in fear or shame.
I am pure."
But are we in fact so pure? Could we say in honesty that we have never caused another
sorrow or pain? That we were always humble and meek? That our every deed was worthy in
the eyes of the gods?
Certainly not. Humans are not, by definition, perfect creatures. What then makes the
scales show our heart to be free of the burden of sin? Rather, what is the burden of sin?
If we have committed a wrong, but knew not at the time the consequences, we have no doubt
come to remember the event as an unfortunate mistake. If we have done what we thought best,
and caused another grief in the process, we think of this as having done what was necessary.
We judge ourselves in our hearts every day, and we know the depths of our own souls. No man
may judge another, and it seems that no god can judge us, either: for in the weighing of
the heart, the verdict only shows our own opinion of the sum of our lives.