We have to talk about Easter. It is the high holy day of Christian Mysticism. It is, you might say, what Christianity, true Christianity is all about. And while the purpose of the spiritual path is to bring one into a perpetual state of light, life, and love, there is a gate toll, and this is typified in the story of the death and crucifixion of Jesus.
Let us put aside for the moment whether Jesus actually died on the cross and went through all that suffering. This is a discussion about Christian Mysticism, so we have to be real about the meaning of Jesus’ life and the events of it. And the first principle is this: Jesus is you. The whole story is about what you will go through on your way toward enlightenment. And while this is not the whole story, unless you get this part of it, all the rest will be of no use to you whatsoever.
Mystical teachings are timeless and place-less, which is to say that they happen here and now. The problem with conventional Christianity is that it is all about the there and then, with an added emphasis on what will happen later. This is unfortunate. Mystics see themselves in the story, and they recognize that the entire cast of characters – Jesus, Judas, Galilee, Rome, Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, the Apostles, et al – are aspects of themselves. What happens in the story is what happens within the individual who embarks upon the Way (all of this will happen to those who do not embark upon the Way, too – it will just take a lot longer).
Mourning is about death. And central to the teachings of every spiritual path is the death of the ego. “He who loses his life will find it.” In this context, physical death is absolutely meaningless – dying does not make you more spiritual. But dying whilst caught in the thrall of physical concerns can be, shall we say, hell, though not the literal place of fire and brimstone. Let’s just say that entering the afterlife with unresolved issues can be overly rigorous. Rather, the death we are talking about here is the letting go of our mistakes – not just forgetting about them but pulling them up by their roots.
While “blessed are the poor in spirit” addresses our pride, “blessed are those who mourn” addresses our negative pride – our shame. These are the first two teachings Jesus gives in his Sermon on the Mount, and it is not without reason that they are at the top of the chart. For just as surely as pride will keep us locked away in the tomb of materiality, so will shame convict us in the court of our own opinion and block our way to enlightenment. They are two sides of the same coin. Egotism is the attachment to beliefs about oneself, whether those beliefs are good or bad.
“Hey, just let go of it!” doesn’t work. That is an attempt to sidestep an important part of the process. At this point, the path is straight and narrow – there is no sidestep. The sentence we have handed down to ourselves must be faced squarely and nakedly. We must render unto the world that which belongs to the world – we have to acknowledge our humanness and the suffering it inevitably incurs. And while part of us will abhor and jeer at our weakness, another part will lovingly and mercifully walk with us in our travail, until every last assessment has been laid to rest.
But while our true nature is spiritual, which leads us to let go of the things of the world, our true nature is also physical. We cannot simply float to heaven. What we have put into our life must be excised out, and this by our own hand, though we are helped along the way. And how can we let go of a thing unless we truly appreciate it for what it is? When we admit to our mistakes, knowing fully and deeply the damage they have caused, how can we not feel sorrow? The stain of sin, as some would say, can only be washed out with tears. We mourn the most that which is closest to us – our wretched self-assessments!