Endings and Beginnings: Reflecting on Jesus’ Last Words

Endings and Beginnings: Reflecting on Jesus’ Last Words March 23, 2016

A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19: 29-30)

Fra_Angelico_012-medium

What do I think of when I see or hear these words of Jesus? “It is finished.”

Many thoughts and questions flood my mind.

What is finished exactly? The suffering, that lifetime with all of its relationships, the mission?

As I stood at the bedside of my brother George, as he passed from this life on December 28, 1999 from metastatic colon cancer, I knew deep in my gut the meaning of those words. His wasn’t an easy passing. Diagnosed at age 54 and dead at 62, he had for 7 ½ years endured suffering beyond my comprehension. And when he died, I understood deeply the meaning of those three simple words- “It is finished.” His suffering was finished.

And maybe that is one of the things Jesus is talking about – his physical suffering at the hands of the Romans is finished.

But, finishing is different from stopping. Finishing implies completion.

I have often been asked how I know when a painting is finished? This is a tricky question to answer. Some paintings just stop, some barely get off the ground, some wish they’d never been born, some are dead and buried, exhumed, investigated and re-buried. . . . and yes, some fly.

It’s interesting to think of paintings not as something one does, but rather something one helps/allows to come into existence. Paintings have lives of their own, as do we.

So, how do I know when a painting is finished? When I mix a color to add, and some “force” stays my hand. When I reach to add another stroke of the brush, and some “force” stays my hand. When I add a stroke, and then remove it. The painting is in a state of vibration all its own, it sings its own melody. It has guided my hand. It tells me it is complete, it is finished.

When Jesus speaks the words “It is finished”, as always, he is speaking about so many things – on so many levels – his suffering, his mission, that particular incarnation – but beyond this, I believe he is also speaking of his wholeness, his completeness, his fully realized, fully integrated Self. Every last bit of him that may have been out of alignment, has found its harmony within its own divinity.

The day after tomorrow is Good Friday and many of us will attend services during which we will be asked to reflect on the Seven Last Words of Jesus. There are several ways to order and think about the Seven Last Words, but no matter how or where one looks, this phrase “It is finished.” is the 6th phrase, the second to last. If I think of the 7 energy centers of the body, the chakras, I imagine Jesus is speaking from the level of the 6th chakra, the level of the third eye. Now, what might this mean?

At the level of the third eye one relies on one’s own inner vision, one’s own insight, a tapping into the inner wisdom of the larger Self. The ego has found its proper place in relationship to the Self. The ego is no longer “in charge.” It is free of its attachments to that which no longer serves. It is free of the accumulated rules/dictates derived from family, religion, tribal mores, national affiliation, and species identification that promote separateness within creation. Further, the Self is fully integrated; what occurs on the inside and on the outside are now one. The world outside continues to exist, but now it is perceived and experienced with new eyes and new ears, it is seen and heard differently, as part of a great symphony.

Jesus’ thoughts, words and actions are not the result of his mental processes, his thinking and deciding to do anything, but rather – in the same way, that in the Lord’s Prayer “Thy will be done” isn’t about doing God’s will – for doing anything but God’s will is impossible at this stage of evolution.

Rather, it is about understanding that when one is this evolved, one is in harmony with the flow of divine force. This harmony is the song of the individualized and realized soul finding its way back to God. And “Thy will be done” simply acknowledges the greater Reality – it is not a prayer, not a hope, not a wish for some future, more peaceful time. It is Reality now – and the now is eternal.

What is finished? Jesus’ suffering? Yes.

That incarnation? Yes.

His mission?

Well, what was his mission? To heal the sick, to teach, to raise the dead, to spread the good news?

Jesus swims in oneness with the flow of Divine creation. At the 6th chakra, Jesus is fully awake. His awareness does not come and go. Jesus’ awareness is both abiding and not-fixed – abiding in its living within the transcendence of higher Reality and not-fixed for it is a vessel for the continuing emanation/evolution of that Reality. From the cross, Jesus widens his love and concern for all other beings – his love is moving out from his center like ripples in a pond, from the impact of a single stone that has found its home in the still water.

That is good news – for Jesus.

And for all of us.

But, what about us?

What if we don’t see how this same story is about us – what can we do about it?

Adyashanti says that the greatest gift any of us can give to our humanity and our world is our awakening, “to literally leave the state of consciousness that the mass of humanity is in . . . in order to discover the truth of our being, the truth of all beings . . . Our greatest contribution is to heal the illusory divisions within ourselves,”1 and what we perceive as the separateness between us. We begin by healing the illusory divisions within ourselves.

If the pivotal question is – Can I still love, even in this situation? The answer appears to be – I can only really love from a place of wholeness, of completeness. I can only truly love from the true Reality – the Reality that is found within.

The great irony, of course, is that the true Reality is always there – but there are so many ways in which we do not see it – so many thoughts that prevent our seeing it – so many ways we believe and invest in this egoic dream of waking consciousness.

When we peel back the layers of the proverbial onion, all those attachments to things we have taken on in this lifetime, that disguise who we truly are, in order that we may heal the divisions that exist within ourselves, we discover the Christ within. Jesus did this. Jesus – Christos – “the anointed one.” Jesus is the word of God made flesh, as are we.

The point of self-realization, true understanding, the state of being undivided – is the Self putting itself in harmony/vibration/resonance with its Source. But again we fall into the trap of thinking we are doing something. Perhaps it is better stated, as the Self abiding in a state of openness to what is – an emptying. Rather like letting “true Reality” scoop us up – “the fool’s leap,” so to speak.

And then I recognize the truth of the words on both sides of the “enlightenment coin.” “It is finished.” And, “It has just begun.”

And with that, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Image: Angelico, fra, ca. 1400-1455. Crucifixion, detail, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=47682 [retrieved March 18, 2016]. Original source: http://www.yorckproject.de.

Footnotes

1 https://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=productdetail&iprod_id=326

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