Friday, 4 August 2017

Jesus Wept

I have often written about what I regard as the spiritual superiority of theistic Christianity over a non-theistic religion of enlightenment and realisation in which the emptiness or unreality of the self is perceived and the pure consciousness of the absolute attained.  Not that I deny or belittle this state in any way.  I have the greatest respect for the achievement of the Buddha as I do for the profound psychological teachings of Buddhism, but I think there is something more. Something that is encapsulated in those two words, Jesus wept.

Let us recall the situation that prompted these tears. Lazarus had died and when his grieving sisters took Jesus to see the body four days later he wept. Jesus had human emotions! I remember reading this ages ago and being taken aback. Why did Jesus weep? Wasn't he a superhuman sage, above all that kind of thing? And didn't he know he could bring Lazarus back to life? To be honest I'm still slightly puzzled about this but what I take from it now, and wish to highlight here, is that Jesus loved.  He was not so detached that he had no humanity. He felt, and he felt deeply. He valued the individual. He loved the person.

And if that is the case it means that the person is real, not just an illusionary state to be transcended and seen through when wisdom dawns, but real, eternally real. Why would Jesus weep for what didn't exist? And, even if he knew he could restore Lazarus to life, he could still shed tears for present suffering, individual suffering. Non-dualistic religion has this similarity to materialism or any ideology in which God is not completely central. Ultimately, when you strip everything down to the bone, the person as a real entity does not exist. Personhood can only exist for us if it exists for God. And if it does not exist for God then nor does it for us, and so, while there may be enlightenment and blissfulness and peace and such like, there is no love (or, for that matter, beauty since beauty depends on the dual reality of the one and the many, and the fact of the hierarchy of existence).

But there is love and it goes right to the very heart of existence for God does have personhood and so do we since he created us in his image and gave us individuated parts of himself as our very being

And that is why Jesus wept.


Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I would say that Jesus had faith that Lazarus could be restored to life by his Father - but he had to ask this miracle, and it had to be granted; and there was always the possibility that it would not be expedient to restore Lazarus to life for reasons that the Father knew but the Son did not. So at the time Jesus wept from sorrow, Lazarus was indeed dead, and perhaps would remain so.

(My understanding of this episode is modified by the fact I believe that John the beloved disciple was Lazarus resurrected (and renamed) - not just brought back to life but resurrected; which is why John is still alive today - according to one interpretation of the enigmatic end of John's gospel, and a 2000 year old legend of John's continued covert ministry. Also it fits that the Book of Revelations was probably written - or rather dictated - when John was more than 100, although that age is of course biologically possible.)

William Wildblood said...

Yes, it could well be that Jesus did not immediately know that Lazarus could be restored to life. However I don't think that alters my point that in Buddhism and similar spiritual approaches an enlightened person would not weep because he has transcended attachment to individuals and rests in non-dual awareness. He has a universal compassion but not a true love for individuals because for him, ultimately, individuals are part of the phenomenal world which he has gone beyond. But Jesus wept because he loved and that fact, it seems to me, proves the enduring reality of the individual person, not accepted in Buddhism etc.