Today is the anniversary of the crucifixion of Jesus, one of the three central events in Christianity. Anyone who grew up as a Christian is intimately familiar with the image of Christ dying on the cross. Easter, of course, represents the resurrection and the triumph of life over death, of spirit over body.
There are many aspects to these events, but I want to talk about one in particular that is essential to spiritual progress: the deep surrender of the individual will (ego) to the divine will. Amidst the drama of the arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, it is easy to overlook this timeless teaching, but true spiritual progress is impossible without self-offering.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was betrayed by his disciple, Judas. Jesus, being omniscient, knew what was coming. He prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” When the soldiers came to arrest him, Jesus said, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?”
There is a deep lesson here for all of us. No matter what comes to us, good or bad, we should willingly offer ourselves into God’s will. In the case of Jesus, this surrender allowed him to alleviate the karma of the entire world, and especially of his close disciples. Our lives may be less dramatic and earthshaking, but surrender to God’s will is the best way to neutralize the karma that keeps us bound in delusion. Acceptance of God’s will is demonstrated by all great masters. Here are two fascinating examples.
One time Lahiri Mahasaya, walking back from a bath in the Ganges with a disciple, asked him to tear off a strip of cloth from his dhoti. The confused disciple didn’t heed his master’s request. A block or so later a brick fell from a roof and struck Lahiri on the foot, causing a gash which bled profusely. Lahiri calmly tore a piece of cloth from his own robe and bandaged his foot. The astonished devotee asked, “If you knew that was going to happen, why didn’t you simply avoid it?” Lahiri responded, “The karma needed to take place, and if I had avoided this, it would have had to come back later in an even stronger form.” A wise teaching for us when we are thrashing around trying to escape a karmic lesson.
Paramhansa Yogananda had many organizational responsibilities even though he yearned to spend more time in complete communion with God. One time he prayed to Divine Mother to be relieved of all those onerous tasks. Her response is both humorous and instructive. He heard Her voice saying, “I have to take care of the whole universe. Can’t you look after one little corner of it for Me?” What else could he do but roll up his sleeves and get back to work?
So in order to find ultimate fulfillment, we all must attune our individual will with God’s will. If Jesus had tried to avoid the cross, he might have had a happier ending to his personal story, but there would have been no crucifixion, no resurrection, and very probably, no Christianity.
In surrender to His will,
Here is a recording of two songs that are deeply expressive of the theme of this blog, and also of today (Good Friday). They are taken from the very first performance, in 1984, of Swami Kriyananda’s oratorio Christ Lives, and sung by the composer himself:
And you’re invited to join us for the annual performance of that full oratorio, available beginning at 7 p.m. PDT this evening via YouTube.
Listen to the weekly commentary for this blog, with special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (3:57):
Download the audio recording of this week’s blog by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (4:49):