It's Easter, so I've been wondering about Jesus and the resurrection thing. Some people take it literally. Some people speculate the actual physical possibility for it to occur under bazaar circumstances. Some people think it's plane nuts. I'd like to think of it in metaphorical terms.
It's interesting how we take events in history and assign them specific meaning. After the vail of centuries, the mystery of Christ's death and the lessons of his life are a powerful draw to millions of people to a particular way of life, despite modern science, scandals and other lessons we've learned in more contemporary times.
So, to my Christian friends out there - I admire your perseverance. Perhaps, you won't agree with what i have to share here, but you can pray for me. I too can be saved :)
To go back to the metaphor....
3 days to resurrect the Christ. 40 more days on Earth, appearing to his disciples before he Ascends to Heaven.
Day 1 - Christ is dead and wrapped up in a cloth before sundown, placed in a tomb. Where the tomb is again depends on who you ask but somewhere between a rock and a garden.
Day 2 - he's in a tomb and no one knows what's happening inside. It's locked and guarded.
Day 3 - An angel, or two, or a "youth dressed in white" - depending if you are reading Mathew, Luke or Mark appears and Mary Magdalen is looking at Jesus who's talking to her.
The actual act of Jesus getting up from dead to being alive again is not recorded in canonical scripture. There's just a dead Jesus, then an empty tomb with the door busted and walking and talking Jesus after that, but only for 40 days. Funny enough, Jesus first chose to appear to 2 women....
Incidentally, did you know that after the Buddha reached enlightenment he was hanging out in that state appearing to people and talking to them for several weeks - like 7 in total, according to some accounts, or that's about 56 days or so?
Here's how i see this.
A person is born on this plane, in the body and circumstances, according to karma, or chance if you don't believe in karma. We struggle through a developmental process - from learning that we have a body in the first few weeks or months of our existence, to learning about other people, society, dreams and desires and how to make it all fit together. That's a really hard thing. It appears that there are 7 billion variations of the theme and although some appear more successful than others, no one seems to get it perfectly right.
We chug along on this planet making a mess of our ourselves and the planet while (hopefully) trying to learn from the mess and be better to our selves and to others. Some people make a big splash on the map of humanity - like Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, the Buddha, Mohamed...and many others. Others make an even bigger splash but of a different kind - like Stalin and Hitler. Ultimately, we all are born, live and learn then die.
A lot can happen during this living and learning phase. Like growing. Like enlightenment.
So, i see the 1 day of Jesus as a time the person dies with compassion for others and for the good of all beings, much like a Bodhisattva would do. But also, i see him as transcending his attachment to life. I see Jesus in the time leading to this moment, in a process of growth. Growth which leads him to do what he did and to accept the events as they transpired with humility, faith and love.
I see day 2 of his death as a transformation from regular life to an enlightened life. There's closing down that happens in the process. Not closing down of life itself, but sort of closing the book of living a "normal" life with all the afflictions, drama and struggles it inherently possesses. A time of things settling down in a different way, although staying the same. A time for digestion of the discovery of being awake - as in the Buddha's case, just sitting there contemplating, or basking in it.
Day 3 is the emergence of the new Jesus, different to all others, the awakened Buddha, who now walks on earth with a different quality of being. We don't know what happened to Jesus after the 40 days. We do know what happened to the Buddha after the 7 weeks. And we do know that during this initial period, right after the awakening experience, both of them were ignited with the spark of the experience and drawing interest to themselves by those who came in contact with them. Inspiring wonderment, devotion and motivation in other humans.
So, was it 3 days that Jesus was laid up? Was he dead or alive at the end? Was he stolen from the tomb? Was he even the kind of person described in the multiple accounts of contradicting story tellers..... I don't think it matters. What matters is the pondering these stories provoke, should one choose to explore. What matters is the questions that get raised about who we are, and how we are, and what is important in the life.
So, while you color your eggs this weekend, think of the many colors of your life and personality. While you sit in church, don't think of the suffering of Jesus on the Cross, think of the enormity of his unconditional love, the strength of his faith, and mastery of his life. Connect to that. Become that. You too will break through at the end to an eternal heavenly life....right here on Earth.