Can an ‘Easter moment’ cure loneliness and fear?
How would you survive the loss if your best friend, mentor or shrink were crucified? You’d have to awaken your own inner guru.
DAVID RICKEY — His career was short and ended with his crucifixion. It looked like failure. What had Jesus accomplished? At most a few miracles, healings and teachings. That was it. Or was it?
Like a CEO who doesn’t feel ready to retire, Jesus could at least take comfort in the succession planning of his time — his passing of the baton to a dozen floundering but well-meaning and capable followers.
According to the Gospels, Jesus’ ministry began with a baptism in which he discovered his divine calling. Immediately following this, he went into the desert for 40 days to fast and meditate on what it all meant. We are told that he experienced temptations, which came from his Ego as he confronted his divine nature. Each temptation was a pull to use his divine gifts for personal gain (that’s what the Ego does best). Having survived that series of trials, he was ready to venture forth and follow his divine purpose.
For three years he gathered a small band of disciples whom he taught about what it meant to live from a divine center. He proclaimed a kingdom — a community, really — of love, compassion and justice. And he taught his disciples about the perils of living from Ego, as they puzzled over his sayings and strived to out-do each other and gain his approval.
Then as a result of Jesus’ final act of defiance against the status-quo, the raid on the Temple money changers, Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified. End of story for him. But after the resurrection, his disciples began to experience visionary experiences of Jesus’ “risen body” which ultimately empowered them to take up his ministry and attempt to follow his teachings.
The parallel comes in the 40 days the disciples had these experiences before the “Ascension.” During those days, the disciples wrestled with fears and doubts. It was difficult for them to feel confident enough to venture forth themselves and follow their divine calling. The Gospels of Thomas and Mary describe their own bickering about who had the correct teachings and authority.
But after those 40 days of doubt and fear, the disciples’ visions stopped. When Jesus ascended into heaven they suddenly saw clearly. That Easter experience was the moment when the disciples learned to stand on their own, being weaned from dependance on their Master and ultimately claiming their own, unmediated experience of divine presence.
There is a further parallel for each of us. Here at Soul’s Code our motto is “Everyone’s a Guru” but most of us begin by learning from others. For many, the Guru-Disciple relationship become a kind of addiction and then a distortion. Carl Jung is reported to have said, “I am Carl Jung, and I thank God I am not a Jungian.”
The real direction of any spiritual path is to have a direct, unmediated experience of the sacred and become aware of and own the divine truth within us. As with the disciples, it’s a long journey to that “Easter Moment” where we awaken to our true nature. But there will come a moment when we start to realize we are not so much learning as remembering. The best “gurus” will tell you: “I can’t teach you anything but only remind you of what you have forgotten.” May this Easter remind those of us who call ourselves “Christian” of what we have forgotten.
David Rickey is an Episcopal priest, Soul’s Code co-founder and counselor in San Francisco who does a weekly ministry at a residence for the elderly in northern California. Follow David on Twitter.