My sense is that at the very least Jesus was an exemplar to what it is to live in truth, to live in complete loyalty to the dictates of one’s conscience and an embodiment of radical, universal love. But his story also showed in the people around him what the egoic mind would do to hide from that possibility, that rather than look inside and accept the calling to a higher standard, a better way, it would rather ‘kill the messenger’.
I get it, universal love is hard, it’s not all happy-clappy, touchy-feely. It requires personal sacrifice. And not just ‘stuff’, but cherished things like rightness, grievance, partiality. To those attached to the law he showed that love fulfilled the law, but also that love goes further than the law, it’s less about what have to DO, and more it’s about what we must BECOME. Our very way of being must transform.
It’s that metanoia again, which I’d argue is poorly translated as ‘repentance’. But that change of heart is the awakening of conscience that transcends mere compliance with moral rules under compulsion. The law can make us behave but it can’t make us love.
Like this, we’re always being directed back to ourselves, to dig deeper, to uncover more, to deal with the beam in our own eye before we condemn the splinter in our brother’s. The work of love is ours, and it’s hard in many ways, but only because we’re so tightly grasping to that which we need to let go of. And we’re invited to this path of self-emptying, this kenosis because the violence and rancour and fear that characterises life as an ego-mind is such a great burden.
The spiritual path, by any name, is the path or process of uncovering what’s already true about our nature. And so we find that we’re called to give up, or sacrifice, the things that only serve to obscure that truth.
Meister Eckhart describes this process –
“God is not found in the soul by adding anything, but by a process of subtraction.”
And just to be sure we understand our essential indivisibility with the Divine, he goes on to say –
“God’s ground and the soul’s ground are one ground.”
If the truth of spiritual revelation were the same old “be good or be punished” then we might as well stick with the old law. But that’s not the revelation, it’s that we are love itself, we’re one with the Divine beyond any possibility of separation. But our attachment to our petty temporal concerns obscures our own self-recognition, the noise of our infernal internal squabbling drowns out the presence of the God within.
But when we first glimpse that presence in us, the squabbling mind loses its attraction. And that glimpse of the ‘Kingdom Within’ becomes the mustard seed that when planted grows abundantly. The presence ‘grows’, filling all that we are, all that we know, all that is, with love. It dissolves any notion that anything is other than that. The kenosis empties one’s being of egoic residue and the Divine fills the vacuum, this presence we perceived as IN us reveals itself to BE us. Thus the Mystic Union is fulfilled.