Chapter 34: The Resurrection as Symbol

Down the Rabbit HoleThe Resurrection is the pinnacle of Jesus' miracles and has significant implications on several levels, but at its core it is a symbol of rebirth, of new consciousness and of new life. The Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are inflections of the same energy or idea. While the Virgin Birth is the impulse to the birth from spirit, the Resurrection is its full realization or culmination.

Jesus' resurrection is a symbol for the human being's transcendence of the world including conflict, fear and insecurity. The Resurrection is not a result of a fight to overcome or to control but a yielding of sorts, in the form of the Crucifixion. Through a mysterious perception, chaotic and chance events in the world are transformed to reveal something of our inner character. It is stepping out of the world of pairs of opposites such as fate and free will, for example. We know from the Gospels that Jesus had several opportunities to flee from Jerusalem and to live out his days quietly. His life was beyond choice or fate. Despite all of the accidental events and occurrences and natural disasters, despite the seemingly senseless acts of violence and stupidity in the world, despite the "luck" involved in winning the lottery, despite all of these things, we can on the most fundamental level see fate and free will not as opposites but as two sides of the same coin. One can live life as if he had chosen it. A young woman, for example, living in a tradition where marriage is prearranged, can choose to throw off the tradition and marry for love. In so doing, she knows that she will suffer the consequences, and that her family may disown her and that, in extreme cases, she may be put to death; however, she has chosen her fate by surrendering to a love that calls her and that is greater than her. Rather than becoming a slave to her fate, impressed upon her from the outside, namely entering into a prearranged marriage, she chooses her fate from within her, perhaps at the cost of her mortal life. And if she loses her life, if she is put to death, she will have gained her greater life because she will have died affirming her authentic impulse to life and love and to creating her destiny. In Mark 8:35, Jesus says: "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." Clearly, those who remain true to their own sense of living, although they may die to the world, shall live in authenticity; they will have lost their lives to something greater than themselves. In other words, to live willingly under any oppression is to be dead. But once one chooses to live his life in accordance with that internal and authentic impulse within, life as it is lived through time loses its meaning and yields to a greater sense of living, out of one’s greater center.

The Resurrection can also point to Jesus as an incarnation of the gods. The gods awoke from our imagination to become human. Jesus prefigured our own resurrection and showed that all of us have this potential within us, the potential to awaken to our metaphorical godhood. At the time of Jesus, human ideals were represented through imagination, through many mythological gods who were living alongside the Jewish god and sustaining peoples and cultures for centuries. There were Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Persian and other gods who inhabited the greater land, and through Jesus, they were made manifest or revealed through a living human being. In fact there are many strong arguments to suggest that the Jesus story itself is really a blend of various pagan cults and religions. Jesus can be thought of as an incarnation of the god Mithra or the resurrected King of Macedonia Alexander the Great, for example, who was quite popular in the first century, or even the Egyptian god Osiris. In any case, the gods and heroes who were represented in marble and on parchment came to life in the person of Jesus. Jesus is an amalgamation or inflection of several characteristics of gods of his time. There are many examples to illustrate this point. We have already discussed the connection between the Virgin Birth and the Greek goddess Athene. Another example is Demeter, Greek goddess of the bountiful harvest, who enjoyed spending more time with mortals in their humble homes, as we are told, rather than with the gods on Mount Olympus. This is a classic characteristic of Jesus; he spent his time with “sinners” rather than with statesmen, high officials and religious leaders. He was a god among men who could have walked with the high and mighty but chose to be near the innocent in spirit, the downtrodden and the broken. But this is precisely why he is anointed as divine. He spoke of himself in language that evoked ideas of planting and pruning, sowing and reaping, through numerous parables and metaphors in his ministry. There is a specific, subtle and ethereal rhythmic beauty in his story and character that cannot be paralleled, in my opinion, in any other tradition. In Jesus, we see the god rising, resurrecting from parchment, from imagination, and walking the earth. He was carved out by some deep and innocent collective desire that is hidden from us. The Poet's Word became flesh. The marble statue came to life. This is one meaning of the Resurrection and it is intended to arouse wonder, hope, and goodness in our lives through compassion. Who among us walks as a god though he is inconspicuous? More importantly, who can recognize the gods among us or the god within himself? Recall the old adage: "It takes one to know one." We all have the potential to resurrect the gods within us. The story of Jesus could be interpreted as a metaphor for this idea. Jesus is the perfect primordial Man. He resurrected from the dimension of daily consciousness and awareness, which we all experience, and entered into a new dimension. This is comparable to a two-dimensional circle awakening to realize that it is really a three-dimensional sphere. Scientists are now exploring, through String Theory, the possibility that our universe, our reality, may involve perhaps up to twenty-six dimensions. Of course we are only aware of four dimensions, the three spatial dimensions and the dimension of time. This exploration blurs the line between the metaphorical or metaphysical and the physical realms and proposes that the world is but one inflection of imagination and unseen energies. The whole world then becomes one fluid mystery. Again, the kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth and men do not see it.

The core reading of the Resurrection involves of course the birth of a new consciousness or a new vision of the world. This involves an awakening to a mystery, to a synchronicity that is always with us, hidden just below the surface of our daily lives. We read in the Scriptures, specifically in the Gospel of John, that Jesus appears to a certain number of people after his resurrection. He appears to Mary Magdalene and to several disciples; however, he was not visible to everyone as he was before his death. This signifies that only those whose eyes have been opened to the Kingdom of the Father could see him. Only those who are born of the spirit could see Jesus. Jesus began as a thought, as an idea in the mind of God. He was made manifest among people in the flesh and after his death remained as an illuminated idea just below the surface of daily consciousness but living in the hearts of men and women, in those whose eyes had been opened. The purpose of the journey of this idea was to inflame people's hearts and to awaken them to a new world, a new vision of life and way of living. The reported "fact" in the Gospels that no one could find Jesus' body after his death reflects the immortality of this idea of a new consciousness. After Jesus' burial, some women went to his tomb only to find two men, presumably angels, who said to them, as reported in Luke 24:5: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?" That is to say, why do you limit this wonder or mystery to the physical body when it is alive and well and ever-present in the world? This mystery is much greater than anything physical. It is like hearing a beautiful piece of music and knowing that the music is not the manuscript paper upon which it is written or the symbols which represent the notes; rather, the music is that intangible, eternal mystery. It can be played on various instruments but when those instruments wear out or are destroyed, the music remains intact. Likewise, Jesus realized that he was the music and, as such, lives now and always. The Scriptures go through a lot of trouble to express Jesus' resurrection in physical terms, as a symbol for the ability of this otherworldly, divine dimension to penetrate to the physical realm and command it. Many mystics have recorded a change or a luminescence in their physical body and health, as they grew more aware of this pervading Light into their lives. Therefore, living out of the center of the spirit is a life that is more vivid and rich than any life that is lived simply out of the physical center based on the five senses. And this living out of this vivacious, otherworldly center encompasses our entire being: our mind and body. The focus on the physical resurrection demonstrates, to those who are living only out of their physical centers, the richness or fullness of life in every respect that is possible with Christ. Jesus the man became the god or more precisely, Jesus awoke to his godhood. He ascended to heaven, to Mount Olympus, to the place of the gods. We are also to awaken as Jesus had done. He is a symbol of our ever-present and real potential.

Lastly, I would like to offer a subtle but significant meaning to the empty tomb of Jesus, mentioned above, which is a component of the Resurrection. Many mystical traditions, especially in the East, talk about the vacant character of the sage. No storm can disturb him and no flood can drown him because he is not there. He has, as it were, vacated the premises; he is in some sense “blown out” like a candle. His flame cannot be ravished by the winds of the earth. In other words, he cannot be pulled in any direction because he has stepped out, psychologically, of the productions of time. There is no conflict in his consciousness. This image is represented by the sitting Buddha, effortlessly, in contemplation. He is unconditionally accepting of all that is happening around him and is unmoved by fear or desire, because there is nothing there to be moved. He is paradoxically and simultaneously fully present and yet absent. He is awake and aware and yet incorruptible and unbounded. This is not in any way a form of escape. On the contrary, it is a form of meeting oneself and realizing that there is no center. The empty tomb is a symbol of this state of being, which in essence is absolute freedom. Death comes, as a thief in the night, only to those who are there to be ensnared by it. If there is no one present and the house is utterly empty, then death has no power whatsoever. Of course the sage will grow old and die, as all humans do, but he is not dragged psychologically along with all of the fears and preoccupation and delusion that come with impending death. He is like a flower that blossoms, withers away and dies in the most natural, graceful and sublime way. As such, his life is like a beautiful dream or a magnificent poem.

The Scriptures hold countless more clues that are waiting to be discovered and they reveal themselves only through contemplation, and wondrously and specifically, in context to each individual life. Most importantly, these stories and events are symbols for occurrences that take place on a deep, inner dimension within the human being. They paint a picture of the Landscape that lives in the human psyche. The more we explore them and meditate upon them, the more they reveal their richness and endless depths and the more significant or life-altering they become. The more we stare into these Depths, the more They stare back into us.

Comments powered by CComment

Order the Book Now



Order The Forbidden Heights Now