Jesus As My Teacher – A Jesus Christ Series – Part 7
In what ways was Jesus a teacher? As the Pathwork Guide says, he taught much that was valuable in his sermons, parables, and interactions with people of every type – from religious leaders to prostitutes and sinners to the lepers that were ostracized from society. Perhaps his greatest teaching, however, was not in his words but in his life and death among us fellow human beings.
What did Jesus teach by his life and death on earth? Jesus taught us by example in living and dying how to fully dismantle the ego and overcome its attempt to find identity and meaning in a separate existence of dualistic consciousness. What identities and sources of meaning did Jesus sacrifice? In the end, he sacrificed every identity and source of meaning.
At the age of twelve he in effect left his family with the words, “Don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” At the age of twelve we find him in the temple conversing with the scribes and religious scholars, and yet he did not find his identity as a member of the religious structure. Rather, the religious structure was the very structure that would have him crucified 21 years later. His words to the religious were his strongest words and were words of warning and concern with what they were doing with their religious identities and sources of meaning.
Did Jesus find security, identity, and meaning in wealth? He did not have a stash of money it seems and no property, no place to lay his head down as home. He died penniless and naked on the cross. What did the political authorities think of him? He was a troublemaker to the Romans who carried out his final execution outside the city – outside the walls of everything meaningful in that society, totally separate from political power and social identity. What about among his disciples? Judas betrayed him and Peter, denied him three times. And what about the people, the ones who seemed to throng to him for his words and healings? They shouted out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
Did he find solace and pleasure in a quiet life alone and could he count on that? No, rather he died in agony on the cross. His very body was ripped apart in torturous agony of whipping and a crown of thorns pounded into his skull. In the end his body was nailed to a cross where his breath eventually left him after hours of torturous pain and suffering.
And did he find strength in his relationship to God? Surely there he would find meaning and identity. Even here we are told that he lost his felt sense of his relationship with the God, we hear Jesus’ words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Peter Rollins points out (in The Idolatry of God) that these words were spoken in Aramaic, Jesus’ native language, not in Hebrew, the words of Psalm 22 that he would have spoken had he intended to refer to that Psalm in some way. No, Jesus died even feeling the full brunt of being separate from the God “out there.”
And, as Pathwork Lecture 82 The Conquest of Duality Symbolized in the Life and Death of Jesus states, this is the last thing his followers would have wanted him to say. (open this quote) They would have wanted him to go out victorious, visibly honoring and remaining faithful the God “out there” rather than letting go of even this most central of his ego’s identity: God. Yes, Jesus conquered duality, that level of consciousness in which the ego strives to find a separate existence in material life on planet earth, even with a God “out there.”
And Jesus says to me, “Take up your cross and follow me.” What would this mean other than the death of my own separate ego, the falling away of all structures, dogmas and wisdom (even the wisdom of the bible and Pathwork), roles, titles, structures, friends, family, money, health, and any other of my security blankets my ego would grasp onto for meaning and an identity separate from the Source.
So by his life and death Jesus teaches me what this “take up your cross and follow me” means. He endured his dark night of the soul. And after this the resurrection. But that is another lesson for me, and will be an experiential lesson that can not be taught in words as a concept in which I can take refuge, a hope in my own dark nights of the soul wherever they may show up. No, my resurrection, whatever that means, will be experienced after my ego experiences its death.
Pathwork Lecture 19 Jesus Christ, however, does say (in ¶19) that Jesus Christ “is indeed the best friend you could ever have and he is your strongest helper.” Jesus Christ has been through it all! He was fully incarnated as a human being, just like me. So from my own dark nights of the soul, whenever they show up, I can perhaps become aware of experiencing his love as he accompanies my soul in its every step into whatever pain this dying of my ego and its many “identity structures” and “sources of meaning” involves.
Shared in love, Gary