Sunday, April 4, 2021

Death and Resurrection

The Buddha sat in deep meditation under the Bo Tree for 49 days. Then one morning as the sun rose, he awakened to his true nature, flooded with an inner light, an enlightenment, the death of a small self and the birth of the deep self wholly connected to the entire universe. 

St. George is killed by the sword dancers in the Winter solstice ritual mummer’s play and brought back to life by the Fool. And so the light will return.

Trees shed leaves, soil turns hard in the winter’s cold and then the blossoms appear, as they have here in San Francisco—tulips, daffodils, wildflowers, cherry/ plum/ apple/ almond tree blossoms. 

Whether in the cornerstone story of Buddhism, a folk tale and ritual theater or the natural cycle of winter and spring, death and resurrection is the fundamental truth of this life on earth. It proceeds in all sorts of cycles, as small as the constantly re-occurring death of each exhale, renewed life of each inhale, a bit larger in the daily sleep of death’s second self and awakening each morning, larger yet as we witness the death of our innocent childhood and birth of our teenage sexuality, the death of our professional life and the birth of our retired one and if we’re lucky enough to pay attention and disciplined enough to do the work, the death of our small ego-bound self and the birth of our large self intimately tied to the Soul of the World. In all its many manifestations, it is the central story.

And so the Christ story of death and resurrection, the annual Easter pageant weirdly—and yet understandably— tied to eggs and rabbits, is just one of the many. We’re conditioned to take it literally, to believe or suffer the consequences of disbelief, to insist that it happened and use it as proof that our guy was the one true one and all the other infidels be damned. But why not lean toward the metaphor and consider that the real invitation is to be present at our own death and resurrection, our disentanglement with the politics of Caesar and our revelation of the God nature we all equally share. The renewal of that commitment is a good Easter vow—after the egg hunt with the kiddies, of course. 

As for me, I believe I’ll celebrate my listening to Tony Bennet sing and Bill Evans accompany on piano the Michel Legrand’s song You Must Believe in Spring, that modern-day hymn to the reliability of Spring’s rebirth. And you can too.

When lonely feelings chill the meadows of your mind
Just think if winter comes, can spring be far behind?
Beneath the deepest snows the secret of a rose,
Is merely that it knows, you must believe in spring.

Just as a tree is sure its leaves will reappear
It knows its emptiness is just a time of year.
The frozen mountains dreams of April's melting streams,
How crystal clear it seems, you must believe in spring.

You must believe in love and trust it's on its way,
Just as a sleeping rose awaits the kiss of May.
So in a world of snow of things that come and go,
Where what you think you know, you can't be certain of.
You must believe in spring and love.

You must believe in love and trust it's on its way,
Just as a sleeping rose awaits the kiss of May.
So in a world of snow, of things that come and go.
Where what you think you know you can't be certain of,

You must believe in spring and love. 

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