By Paul Hourihan (edited by Anna Hourihan)

Easter presents the great message of Christ’s life: Sacrifice is the way to resurrection. Nature must be crucified on the cross of our self‑immolation, the willing sacrifice of our ego‑life. Then will come the resurrection of the Soul out of the tomb of the now conquered body consciousness. In this context, one apprehends the profound symbolism of Christ’s life, and its eternal message for humanity.

Buddha gives us one vital, ever‑relevant principle to apply to lives seeking salvation—namely, forbearance, tranquility, calm compassion toward all living creatures. We see in his life, too, the continuing note of unselfishness: for who indeed was more unselfish than he? Christ dramatizes still more the theme of sacrifice as the one indispensable way to self‑overcoming, to terminating, at last, our endless circuit of lives upon lives on the vast wheel of karma and reincarnation. 

The Wheel of Karma

We read about the wheel of karma in the Swetasvatara Upanishad:

This vast universe is a wheel. Upon it are all creatures that are subject to birth, death, and rebirth. Round and round it turns, and never stops. It is the wheel of Brahman. As long as the individual self thinks it is separate from Brahman, it revolves upon the wheel in bondage to the laws of birth, death, and rebirth.*

* The Upanishads, Breath of the Eternal, trans. Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester, (Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1975), SwetasvataraUpanishad, 188

We have reincarnated because we have not sacrificed. We have held our ego‑life close to our breast and refused to part with it, even though the happiness and the very lives of others–not to speak of our own–depend on our surrender of this identification with the mortal body so that we may realize our oneness with the immortal Divine.  

Sacrifice is the Way

In other words, we have reincarnated because of ignorance, delusion, self-centeredness, and a failure to sacrifice. Sacrifice is knowledge, is truth, is enlightenment. There is nothing higher than sacrifice–it is resurrection

But, we must do it over and over. It often happens that, in the sudden insight that comes to us at last about the vital role of sacrifice in our evolution, we are eager to make a single supreme sacrifice of some sort–in one stroke undo what we have taken so long to do! And thus escape the long agony and anguish of rectifying a past sown in ignorance … escaping, in brief, the fruits of our mistakes. That would be the easy way. Instead, we must be prepared to face the necessity of sacrificing ourselves repeatedly, day by day, even hour by hour, until the rationale and reality of sacrifice become the reality of our lives and we become living vessels of sacrifice itself. 

Remember, it is Good Friday that precedes Easter. Firstly, the agony and the crucifixion, then the resurrection. There is no other way. The irritations, the restlessness, the self-division, the anxieties, the depressions we so often feel at critical junctures are the labor pains that precede birth–our birth: from winter to spring. From reincarnation to resurrection. 

“You must be born again,” says Christ. Rebirth–spiritual rebirth–is Resurrection. It can take place now. We do not have to wait.  


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