Friday, April 27, 2012

The Resurrection as Samadhi

Studying to become an interfaith minister while attending and working for a Lutheran church is opening up some interesting Pandora's boxes for me.  I need to write this down today for the sake of my sanity. 

I have been obsessed with the Resurrection lately.  I am trying to make sense of the Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and his promised Second Coming, which will bring about the Resurrection of the faithful and usher in the era of the New Creation.  For the past year, while attending my church, I have been hearing a lot about the need for an "embodied" Christianity.  I have also been reading quite a bit about "embodied" spiritual practice in the contexts of Buddhism and Yoga.  I am beginning to hate the word "embodied," a real buzz word for religion geeks, apparently. 

I love Jesus.  I also love Buddhist philosophy and practice, and Yoga is my primary spiritual path.  In each of these belief systems, there is an emphasis on how we confront matter (our bodies and the physical world).  Each of them teach profound respect and reverence for the Earth and for our bodies.  Buddhism and Yogic teachings focus less on the transformation of the Earth and the body, and more on the concept of impermanence.  In Christianity, mourners are comforted by being told that the actual body of the person they lost will be resurrected, and that even the Earth and all its inherent suffering will be transformed.  Christians believe that one day, in the future, we will live again on the Earth with no suffering, in newly transformed physical bodies.  A key component to this belief is the reason that is given for our current vulnerability to suffering and death: sin.  Basically, we are currently living in an imperfect, flawed world, with bodies that are flawed due to the sinful condition of humans and their world. 

Buddhists and Yogis do not look at the human condition in this way.  In these Eastern traditions that came out of a very different cultural and historical context, the reason given for our current vulnerability to suffering and death is impermanence.  We are living in physical bodies that decay, in a physical world where nothing is permanent.  However, there is an eternal aspect to existence which is not subject to impermanence.  This eternal aspect is the Source of all, and we each carry it within ourselves.  We can thus transcend the suffering and impermanence of the physical world by connecting with the fullness of pure being, the bliss of the Infinite.  According to both Buddhist and Yogic teachings, we can do this through dismantling the boundaries of the finite Self, reaching a place of complete and total freedom and release: Enlightenment.  Enlightenment happens simultaneously with the continued impermanence and suffering inherent in the physical world.  In other words, we do not need new bodies or a new creation in order to experience Paradise.  We can touch Paradise right now, and not even death can ruin it.  Moreover, there is nothing wrong with the continual turning over of the physical realm through death and rebirth.  We see constant rebirth and renewal on our Earth, right now. Death is a part of this renewal.  There is no need to look to a future time where everything will be permanently renewed.  There is no such thing as physical permanence, nor is there a need for such a thing. 

I still believe in Jesus as the incarnation of the Divine, who came to the Earth to show us the Way, which I believe is similar to Buddha's Middle Way, and even to the Way of the Tao.  I do believe in Jesus' Resurrection, but I do not believe in a future Resurrection of all physical bodies, nor do I believe in a future New Creation which will dispense with death and impermanence.  My belief in the Resurrection is more along the lines of the Buddhist and Yogic emphasis on letting go of the finite self to embrace the Infinite.  For me, the Resurrection is a symbol and actual embodiment of Enlightenment.  Jesus' life, death and resurrection from death show us the Way to die to or let go of our limited selves so that we may unite with the Divine; through following Jesus' Way, we let go of ego, fear and the constraints of living "in the world," so that we may experience rebirth in a new kind of a world, or an enlightened state of existence; Samadhi, the height of Divine consciousness. 

Now I will breathe a major sigh of relief and this quandary will no longer disturb my peace! Blogging is good for making sense of this stuff.  Thank God for freedom of conscience and religion, because I'm pretty sure I'm a heretic in at least five faith traditions right now. 

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