It seems so, even on the cross.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?-Matthew 27:46
Had God actually forsaken Jesus? No, I don’t think so. It seems Jesus only thought he had been “forsaken,” or abandoned by God, in his mind.
There were other times when Jesus was “sorrowful unto death” (Matt. 26:38), and clearly not in any kind of state of bliss or loving joy. That’s when he sought communion and consolation with the “Father.”
There are some traditions which suggest that Judas and Thomas were not actually disciples of Jesus, but rather were aspects of Jesus own being, in his own psyche, which were mythologically woven into the gospel narratives as separate people from “the Christ.” The “doubter” and “betrayer” were perhaps within Jesus’ own self, manifestations of his lower self or ego, in contention or contrast with his higher Self, the Christ consciousness that was at-One in God.
The interesting thing is that even if they were real historical people separate from Jesus, they were still aspects of the One that Jesus knew himself to be which includes all people (“inasmuch as ye do it to the least of these, ye do it to me”). They were just lesser consciousnesses of the One, unconscious beings within the One, having a lack of awareness, a veil of knowledge, of their deeper or more universal Self. Jesus seems to have referred to this unconsciousness from the cross: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
I don’t think Jesus always knew his Oneness in God constantly during his life. I think he perhaps often doubted himself, his mission, his identity, what he was to do. That is maybe why he frequently sought solitude in the mountains or desert, to again commune with the Father, the One, to regularly renew that contemplation. Realizing it once wasn’t enough. I think he contended within himself, battling between his dualistic natures, perhaps not unlike Jacob struggling with an “angel.”
I think God originally revealed to Jesus his Oneness in God at the time of his baptism, which seems to have been a mystical experience (a view which seems to be shared and explored at length by Margaret Barker), but this revelatory insight might have not always stayed with him consciously. It might have waxed and waned, sometimes being more strongly manifest, as on the Mount of Transfiguration, but at other times seemingly absent, as in his lament from the cross.
So it is with us. At times we may have a deep and abiding consciousness of our at-One-ment in God, a vivid awareness of our present nonduality in Ultimate Reality, being One with Nature/Reality, full and overflowing with Love for all beings and creation, knowing it all not as something separate from us, but our own Self in beautiful manifestation. But at other times, it may seem completely absent, and we feel alone, separate, lonely, apart, forsaken from the Whole, a dark night of the soul. I think this is quite normal, and even typical of mystics throughout history.
We perhaps cannot realistically or practically maintain nondual consciousness in everyday life, and it is at these times when we must exercise faith, trusting in those times when Oneness was revealed in vivid display. We encounter life through a dualistic mind, subject to object, and we must often approach activities from that frame of mind, that frame of reference. We have little choice, it seems. It is the nature of being a finite being, our human nature.
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But we can maintain a trust in what we have seen, what we have witnessed and experienced, what we know deep in our heart, deep in consciousness itself. We can trust that is true, even in those times when we are unaware of it directly. This is faith, a hope in things unseen, which are yet true. We have known them to be true, even if we cannot see them right now.
This is likely the reason for needing continual practice, to pray unceasing, even after “realization.” It is easy to forget what one once knew and directly experienced. How quickly can the dualistic ego take over and assert itself, even in one seemingly “enlightened” or “awakened.”
We practice and pray/meditate to recall, to recollect, to remember our true nature, our true identity, our deepest oneness in God or Ultimate Reality. We “practice the Presence,” to remind ourselves of what we have forgotten, to renew our communion and contemplation in nondual unitive consciousness, that we are at-One in God or Nature.
It is ok to doubt it, and to need to exercise faith, even once we know ourselves to be One in God. This is the natural condition of this human life. Inasmuch as we can surrender our egoic mind, and allow Love to be expressed through us, then the duality of life may become transparent again, the veil is rent, and we realize Oneness again, connection, belonging, communion, community, at-One-ment, Love, unity, solidarity, compassion.
What do you think about Jesus’ doubting?
The beautiful painting above is Christ in the Desert, by Ivan Kramskoi, oil on canvas, 1872.