If you are one of the dedicated and growing number of followers to our weekly blog, then you probably know that this is Holy Week. For Christians around the world, Holy Week starts with the Palm Sunday celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem together with his followers. Holy Week continues through the culmination of the Passion of Jesus with his trial, crucifixion and physical death on Good Friday, and concludes on Easter Sunday with Jesus’ triumphant victory over death through his resurrection and the revelation of life-everlasting.
Towards A New View Of Life And Death
From a New Thought perspective, we metaphysically examine and explore this trilogy of Holy Week events to reveal a symbolic message for each of us. This “revelation” provides valuable spiritual insights into the process of self-renewal. Stated another way, it is the process of dying to the old self, and being reborn into a new self. Holy Week is a powerful metaphor that helps us re-examine where we are in our life, which then provides us an opportunity to decide, or choose, how we will evolve.
From my perspective, this understanding is the crux of why many New Thought students choose to view differently how we live this physical life, and indeed how we prepare for our physical death. One thing for certain, one day we each will lay down this “earth suit,” and we will then cross through the veil into the next life experience. Although the “next life” may seem a mystery, for now, our choice is how do we live this life. How do we live each and every moment in a consciousness of gratitude, surrender, peace, joy and love?
As I was preparing this blog, a daily devotional from Fr. Richard Rohr popped into my mailbox. It is a reminder of how to consider living. Both Frank Ostaseski and Angeles Arrien pose some recommendations about living with the prospect of death.
The Five Invitations
In his book, The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, Buddhist monk and author, Frank Ostaseski writes:
“Suppose we stopped compartmentalizing death, cutting it off from life. Imagine if we regarded dying as a final stage of growth that held an unprecedented opportunity for transformation. Could we turn toward death like a master teacher and ask, ‘How, then, shall I live?‘”
Below, I reprise the “five invitations” for your consideration. For me, they have served as reliable guides for coping with death. And, as it turns out, they are also equally relevant guides to living a life of integrity.
- Don’t wait. [Step fully into life. Be present.]
- Welcome everything, push away nothing. [Turn toward your suffering.]
- Bring your whole self to the experience.
- Find a place of rest in the middle of things. [For example, focus on your breath.]
- Cultivate don’t know mind. [Practice a beginner’s openness, curiosity, and humility.]
These “five invitations” can also be applied just as aptly to people dealing with all sorts of transitions and crises, for anything from a move to a new city, to the forming or releasing of an intimate relationship, or even to getting used to living without your children at home.
Living A Life In Gratitude
Likewise, in the book, Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, cultural anthropologist and author, Angeles Arrien suggests some very tangible practices to help us live more intentionally with the prospect of death in clear view. She wrote:
“What legacy will you leave for future generations? How will you be remembered? How do you want to be remembered? Write a draft of your desired obituary. Prepare your own memorial. As you do these practices, what is revealed to you about what is meaningful for you in your life and how you want to be remembered?“
In other words, use your own death as a teacher, a companion who is always with you, who reminds you to live your life fully every day, for it may be your last. This in itself is a rigorous practice, although you know you are going to die at some unknown hour or day, you do not believe it.
The Three Layers Of Release From Attachment
What attachments do you find in your personal life? Professional life? Spiritual life? Consider Mary Reuter’s three layers of release from attachment: from material gain, from self-importance, and from the urge to control or dominate others. Which of these will you practice releasing this year? Create a Book of Revelations: include your favorite memories, turning points, epiphanies, peak experiences, synchronicities, prayers, spiritual practices, significant moments, and important dreams.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you live—that is to have succeeded.”
In this year’s Easter Season, I invite you to embrace your Holy Week experience, set an intention to move through it with an energy of personal renewal. We don’t have to wait for the “everlasting life” to experience renewal and rebirth. We can experience that right now.