the passion revisited
In 1994 I had a personal mystical experience which further opened my awareness relative to the Passion of Christ. In a moment of very deep contemplation I suddenly found myself experiencing the crucifixion of Christ. I was hanging on the cross; the Christ having overlaid itself upon my inner experience to help me understand something beyond my conscious experience at that time. I even felt some of his physical pain in my body, mild in comparison to what it really would have been like, but profound nonetheless. The experience of some of the physical pain lent an air of realism to the experience that was necessary in order to expand my consciousness. I felt my consciousness being absorbed by Yeshua's, I was experiencing his thoughts and feelings.
As a result of this experience I was able to embrace several perspectives which were new to me concerning the Passion Story. One of these is that Yeshua (ph. ee-shoo-ah) demonstrated to us that we have the power to change our inner experience of any outer circumstances. He did not attempt to alter what those people were doing to him. He worked strictly on inner levels and changed his inner experience of the outer circumstances. He did not allow the hatred which persecuted him to touch his soul or become a part of him like so often happens to us when we are mis-treated. He therein clearly demonstrated that the one thing we have absolute control over is our inner experience, nobody can take that from us once we understand how to exercise that type of control. We exercise such control through what we choose to perceive, think and feel.
Another of these perspectives I gained has to do with the question: as Yeshua/Jesus hung on the cross, did he suffer? In order to answer this question we need to realize that we tend to project our own fears and limited perceptions onto what Yeshua's experience actually was. We in fact do not know what his experience of the torture he endured was. We can only guess at this. Perhaps we must define suffering more clearly in order to even conduct a decent inner investigation into the matter. If by "suffering" we mean physical pain, then obviously he suffered. However, physical pain is not necessarily the entire cause of what is generally experienced as suffering. Complete suffering would be something that is painful and damaging to the soul, and not just to the body. For example the loss of one's dignity along with their health is often more painful than the physical condition they are experiencing. In like manner, people who are homeless or starving experience a loss of human dignity, and this greatly attenuates any physical suffering they experience and is a type of pain which cuts to the very core of their soul.
Why is it that one individual can go through an abusive childhood and come out of it a loving person regardless, while many others under similar circumstances become abusive and hateful? It is likely because the individual who comes out of the abusive experience as a loving person had the spiritual substance to love in the midst of the abuse and therefore their soul was not damaged by it, even if their body was. Did they suffer? We may need to define two types of suffering to gain the proper understanding. These two types of suffering are 1) physical suffering and 2) the total suffering which encompasses the physical AND the spiritual nature. This will perhaps suffice for our purposes herein.
In this light then, I know from my mystical experience that Yeshua/Jesus suffered physically, but not spiritually in the totality of his being. We all know that we have a different experience of physical pain when we are being loved, nurtured and cared for. This is like when our mothers kissed our injuries and "made them better." Love makes physical pain all that much more tolerable. We usually experience this type of loving comfort at the hands of other human beings. I now know that it is also possible to experience this type of loving comfort in a direct connection to God or Spirit. In order to experience such comfort directly from God or Spirit in the face of such dire physical circumstances as Yeshua/Jesus faced, would require a oneness with God or Spirit that is beyond most of humanity's comprehension. I believe that Yeshua's primary oblation was that he chose to become part of a limited world in which the fullness of divine love was not generally understood or present. His secondary oblation was that he suffered physically at the hands of those who sought to destroy love greater than themselves because of their own fears. This hatred was not able to touch his soul, however, and therefore did not result in a greater cause of suffering within it.
Through my mystical experience I came to know that the more those cruel people attempted to torture this great and loving being, the more his huge stellar heart opened and bled the golden nectar of compassion. With this torrent of love and compassion pouring into and through his being his soul expanded and filled increasingly with Divine Light. Yeshua/Jesus was experiencing one of the most gruesome things a human being could ever experience physically. Yet all he held in his heart, mind and soul were love and compassion for everyone, and especially for those that tormented his physical form. He herein was experiencing an extreme form of duality: terrible physical pain on the one hand, and inner state of nirvana or bliss on the other. In the final moments the nature of his inner state is witnessed in his statement "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." He recognized what these individuals were doing to themselves spiritually and opened his heart so wide he could not possibly hold anything against them. He instead opened himself up fully to the experience of love for his tormentors instead.
God or Spirit works in mysterious ways. One truly great soul 2,000 years ago who fully knew the love of God or Spirit and shared that unconditionally with others left quite a lasting impression on the world. Many have attempted to understand how to love as fully as did Yeshua/Jesus as a result. If there is such a thing as one soul giving of themself to help others in resolving their own limitations (or sins), then this is one way in which it might occur. In other words, by setting such a profound example, Yeshua/Jesus showed us how to find that same level of connection to God or Spirit, the Supreme Love and Source of All That Is. Learning this type of love is our path to God or Spirit. In this sense we might say that Yeshua/Jesus offered himself into the realm of our own limitations to assist us in reaching our fullest potential. Thus, he experienced physical pain or suffering, but the victory of his soul in the eternal Light far outweighed that. The victory of our souls in the eternal Light gives further honor and reverence to Yeshua's ultimate act of love for humanity.
Yeshua/Jesus thus stands as a powerful example of what the potential of love truly is. All of his teachings were designed to help us understand how to love in the fullest manner possible. In this light then, I believe he died for our limitations (sins), but not in the same way that many people who love him perceive this to be true. I firmly believe that he went through the ordeal that he did out of his great love for us and to show us the "Way of Love and Compassion." I do not believe that the death of Yeshua/Jesus on the cross alleviated any of our personal responsibilities for our own spiritual evolution. Nor do I believe his death granted us any salvation through adherence to any dogmatic beliefs in the facts of his birth, life, death and Resurrection.
The salvation he brought to humanity comes from his message which is about learning to love as he did, following his teachings and embodying the essence of what he was. His message was and is love and compassion; not suffering, nor the pre-existence of sin, nor anything that fuels blame, condemnation and hatred, nor the need to adhere to a moral system of belief or regular practice of any rites or rituals. These rites and rituals are the creation of humankind as tools to help us live by Yeshua's teaching and example. It is true he used some rituals which had already been in use for many centuries in order to "be fully with us." I do not, however, personally believe that he meant them to be the way to spiritually accomplishing what he taught. Is there channels of spiritual power in these rituals? Yes, there is, but I believe that this is true simply because God meets us on our ground, and these rituals represent our "own ground" in this case.
Yeshua/Jesus left us a great power of assistance which is accessible through focusing on the positive spiritual aspects of his experience and the spiritual principles that he embodied. This power is a measure of Divine Grace. The power of his unconditional love for us was/is so great, that when we consciously recognize and embrace the work of spiritual transformation which lies before us, this power will meet us on our own ground and gracefully help us achieve that transformation. This Divine Power that Yeshua/Jesus more fully anchored in the human experience therefore assists our process of self-actualized evolution and does not replace it.
Where then does the balance lie between taking responsibility for our own spiritual evolution or self-realization, and opening to Divine Grace? On one side of the line we may attempt to affect our evolution strictly through use of our own personal will and then label it exceptional "spiritual responsibility." On the other side of the line we may avert some of our personal spiritual responsibility thinking that all we have to do is adhere to a set of beliefs and a moral code and call it "salvation." The balance lies in taking the responsibility for becoming aware of what needs to be transformed within ourselves, acting in total accord with that awareness, and then opening to the greater power of God or Spirit to facilitate the necessary change healing and transformation. It is ultimately our own consciousness which must invite and accept this divine assistance. It is ultimately our own consciousness which must expand into a greater awareness to even know what to invite the action of divine assistance to act upon. It is in this conscious act that we meet God face to face within ourselves and have the potential to transcend all human limitations. This is the most important message I have gleaned from the Passion of Christ as a result of my mystical experience.