Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Rebirth

Yesterday, my wife says to me, "Tomorrow is Easter" and my response is something like, "And...?", as if that is supposed to mean something to me. (Generally, I like to get a new bonnet, but don't let anyone know.) The truth is, I wasn't born Christian, I never practiced Christianity, and of course, neither do most of the people that enjoy Easter. Easter really has very little to do with Christianity - it's about Rebirth, and Rebirth is something that all of us are continuously experiencing.

Our Easter, much as we know it, is said to be stolen from the elusive group called the Pagans, as if they were some kind of specific group that weren't there, then were, and now aren't again. Most think that that the word Pagan relates to those anti-Christian types, but many believe that originally the word, coming from the Latin Paganus, actually just meant a forest or country dweller, a hick, a 'country bumpkin' so to speak, rather than a civilized type. But in any case, the idea of Easter, Christian or otherwise, is really about death and rebirth.

Death and rebirth is all around us. We are death and rebirth. We live on a planet that is continuously dying and being reborn - our days, our seasons, the plants. Everything is in this ongoing cycle of dying and being reborn. Many believe that we, too, die and are reborn through reincarnation. But, this is not about that right now. Right now, I want to simply talk about this life.

In the Christian perspective, Easter is about Christ dying on the cross and rising, reborn, on Easter, when he is spotted by some of the disciples, and later shows up for them in a locked room. It is about the Arisen Christ. Each of us, has the opportunity, in EVERY moment, to be Reborn, to expand our Arising Christ-ness. However, for that to happen, we also MUST DIE.

Being reborn is dependent on dying. You can't have the one without the other, and therein lies the rub. No one wants to die. Everyone wants to hold on to the old AND have the new. It is what is traditionally called, "having the cake and eating it too", which again, I will point out if people said it the other way around (i.e. eating the cake and still having it too). Christ's death and rebirth was said to be on a physical level - the body died on the cross and was miraculously reborn in the sepulchre. And our bodies (cells, etc.) die and are reborn constantly. More importantly than this, however, is the death and rebirth of our mind, intellect, our beliefs, our faith.

Right now, for instance, I feel and believe, as do many others, that our entire planet is going through a death and rebirth process, which is why it feels so strange. Dying isn't necessarily pleasant or unpleasant, but is generally seen as such if we feel a need to hang on to the old. If people try to continue their old ways and lifestyles, it's gonna hurt. That's resistance to what is. However, if we all simply let go of the old and allow for the new, it's relatively painless.

Nearly every tradition has some sort of initiatiatory process - a Christian baptism, the Vedic diksha, the Jewish Bar Mitzvah, the Native American vision quest. Some are more symbolic, and others are much more experiential. Truly, we are going through a death and rebirth process every time we actually have a very deep insight or real-ization into the way things are. Myself, I can count many rebirths through this life, two of the most prominent being when I was ordained as a monk and Priest in the Vedic tradition, and far more so, when I REAL-ized the Self or awoke to pure consciousness in 1990. But that is/was not the end. There are ever more and more awakenings and rebirths, and although we like to focus on what was 'gained' we have to recognize that nearly always, something was 'lost' or rather given up or, perhaps, even better, outgrown.

If you want to cross the lake on a boat, you have to leave the one shore to get to the other. You can't expect to hold onto the old ways of thinking and being and expect to make much progress. This is much like Einstein's quote, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." We have to give up the old thoughts and ideas. Intiations, in many traditions often include a name change (I became Aja - the Unborn One). Very often, I see people taking a new name, and then going back to the old one. Perhaps better would be to take a new NEW name - moving forward instead of backwards. But I digress.

Our opportunity is contiuous dying and rebirthing - an unfoldment into a deeper and more expansive Presence. But concomitant with that is the dying. We mustn't forget that. So recognize what you are holding onto now and willingly and lovingly give it up to expand into a greater place. Be willing to 'die daily' and be 'reborn' as a new you. And then you can be...

In your Easter Bonnet
With all the frills upon it
You'll be the grandest lady
In the Easter Parade

So...Happy Easter....
Happy Dying
Happy Rebirthing!