Death and resurrection are events which are always occurring at the very heart of reality. Like sunlight diamonds that disappear into a beautiful alpine lake in order to reappear - in a slightly different position - a split-second later, each moment of our lives dies into the spacious vastness of divine awareness, only to pop back out - miraculously reborn - in the very next moment. The purpose of spirituality is to train us to identify ourselves with that vastness instead of with the momentary flashing of our sunlight- diamond small-self. For the ego must die over and over again if it is to be reborn as something larger.
To use a different image, we can say that the light of spiritual insight can only occur if something within us burns up in an intense fire of transformation. We see this process occur whenever the fire of suffering stimulates us to shift our perspective in order to see life in a whole new way - enlightened. On a practical level, we recall that most new enlightening discoveries occur because of a prior suffering. New pharmaceuticals invented to cure debilitating diseases are prime examples of this principle.
Every artist knows this process of sacrifice and resurrection, of fire and light. For it is the fire of suffering that causes the artistic person to create a work of art which transforms that suffering into something beautiful. We might recall, for example, that many amazing songs arise out of an experience of lost or unrequited love. But the process occurs in reverse fashion as well. As soon as an artistic work is created, doubt and disillusionment about the value of that work almost inevitably occur. The artist often is tempted to think the artwork is despicable or irrelevant, and experiences intense depression as a result. However, transformation can occur when the artist realizes that these afflictive emotions are actually a part of the fire of sacrifice that is necessary if the artwork is to be created and sustained in existence. Amazingly, a part of the artist DIES in order to be REBORN - in the work of art!
Sacrifice and resurrection are motifs that occur throughout all of life. Plants and animals die when we ingest them, that they might be reborn as the substance of our human lives. We have to hike over steep trails to fully appreciate the destination - a peak or lake, for example - at the end. Labor pains are necessary to bring forth a child. A forest fire is necessary to stimulate a fresh bloom of Pasqueflowers the following Spring. In all of these examples, death and resurrection are fully present as archetypal realities that empower the entire process.
Photo: Pasqueflowers in the Hewlett Burn, Poudre Canyon, CO
For Spiritual Direction or Workshops, please visit: http://www.resourcesforspiritualgrowth.com/
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.