Today is Good Friday, the day in which we are to remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. I do not identify as Christian in the traditional sense, but I still hold this day in reverence through spiritual fasting, prayer, and abstinence.
I was raised in the anabaptist tradition. I married a Catholic. I divorced and married a Buddhist in an Episcopalian ceremony. I now attend a Unitarian church, I celebrate the turning of the seasons, but only really identify myself as “spiritual.”
When I explained this to my dad, his response was, “Like Oprah?” After I thought about it for a little while, I said “Yes, like Oprah.” I don’t know if our current culture reveres her as a spiritual leader, but for some, I would imagine that she is. I have no qualms with what she has shared over the years, so, yes, something like Oprah feels like a very good description.
All in all, though, I still have immense respect and gratitude for the teachings of Jesus. There is no doubt that this man existed and created a huge cultural shift for positive change on a global scale. How can you not respect a life lived in that way? I was raised Christian, so I will always hold Christian teachings very near and dear to my heart.
I don’t doubt that God, or Universal energy, exists. Those that are open to it know and feel that there is so much more than what we register in our human brain. Many scientists, physicists and psychologists in particular, believe we can unlock certain parts of our brain to live on an entirely different realm of consciousness. I hope to delve into some of these theories as my understanding grows and matures.
Unfortunately, the human ego put a lot of constraints on the spiritual teachings of all the masters to try and reign in what they couldn’t comprehend, often to their own benefit. This is why I won’t identify myself with one particular religion. The human ego has destroyed the spirituality aspect of religion for me.
Spirituality is not something that “makes sense.” It is not a 1-2-3 step process. We each have our own path, but there really is only one singular rule. You get what you give. Across the board, this is the rule that cannot be disproven. Everyone just has a different way of stating it.
The human ego holds each of us back from so much more of what could be. I see it every day. If I choose to be explicitly honest, I have been guilty of falling into my ego, but with deliberate consciousness, its influence over me has lessened over the years. I’m not fully free yet, but that is my goal.
As is always the case of being human, some days are better than others.
As a social worker and a former therapist I examine this phenomenon closely. When I delve into the idea of treating my body as a temple, the disconnection from my ego continues. When I delve into spirit, I am fully set free. I observe this intricate dance in my fellow man, often willing them to join me outside of that influence. Sometimes they fail. Sometimes I fail. Every day, though, we begin this dance anew, and each stride in the right direction brings us closer to our maximum potential.
This is the gift that Jesus gave us and why we should hold this day in reverence. Jesus transcended his human ego, and despite the immense suffering that his fellow man put him through, he loved them anyway. He loved all of humanity until his death. Who am I to say that his love ended there? According to Christian teachings, his love is infinite, spanning across all of space and time.
Even if you aren’t Christian, you cannot deny that this is how we should all exist in our lives. We should love everyone, despite the suffering that exists, including our own. When you are wrapped up in your own suffering, you are also wrapped up in the web of your own ego.
And so, today and tomorrow, I will practice spiritual fasting, prayer, and abstinence as a showing of gratitude to Jesus and his teachings. On Easter Sunday, I shall celebrate his life and message with my family. If there is anyone in this world that I strive to emulate, Jesus is definitely a top choice.