It seems to me that there are at least four types of resurrection, or at least four stages of the process of being resurrected, or events that could be considered resurrection. But first, this is according to the understanding of resurrection that I have outlined in previous posts, so if you aren’t familiar with those please take a look. In short, the resurrection is not something that happens to us after biological death, rejoining our dead physical body back to our ego “spirit,” as most of Christianity has come to believe, but rather it is a falling away of the ego psychological “self” and an awakening to the true Self or true Life within us and all things.
What do I mean by four “types” or “stages”? I think the resurrection can be viewed in several different ways, and there are several different aspects or qualities to it that we might be able to discern. They are these:
- Moment-to-moment resurrection
- Awakening to Life after ego death
- The Rebirth of the ego
- The eternal re-emergence of Life throughout Creation
I’ll discuss each one.
Moment-to-moment resurrection is referring to the fact that we are alive even now, and now, and NOW. The Life that is within us is a gift of every moment of every day. In each moment the Life energy within us is raising us up and animating our bodies and minds, giving us consciousness, and a living, moving, breathing body. This energy could be said to be the “Light of Christ.” Everyone has it. Everyone experiences it. As Paul said, in God “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). That being is sustained in every moment by that Life energy. It takes the otherwise lifeless cells, molecules, material, matter of our bodies, and puts into it the “breath of Life” so that we become a living thing, a living organism. And this happens continually throughout our lives, otherwise we would not be living. Our bodies continually cycle through elements being input into our bodies (food, air, water), which become part of our bodies, giving them Life, and other elements are made waste and expelled from the body. In every moment we are being resurrected to Life.
Awakening to Life after ego death is the kind of resurrection I’ve discussed most on this blog recently. It is the process through which we let go of our ego-self, our psychological “self,” our self-identity, the “self” that we think we are in our minds. We surrender our “self” and allow it to “pass away” or “die.” This can happen through traditional contemplative practices such as meditation, or contemplative prayer, or a number of other means that cause a significant shift in consciousness in our brains, such as like near-death experiences, and the constructed sense of “self” in consciousness goes offline.
But just because our conscious sense of “self” is no longer being constructed by our brains does not mean that consciousness is wholly no longer present. We can still be conscious without a sense of “self,” without any typical sense of “I” or “me” in that field of consciousness. This is sometimes called cosmic consciousness, or pure consciousness, or Christ consciousness. What we perceive then is our true Self, the true Life that is sustaining this particular body and the whole of all Creation. Since there is no subject/object dualism anymore, we perceive all things as Self, as what we are, and there is no separation or distinction between all things and all beings. It is all One, infinitely interconnected and saturated by Love, or pure Union.
We realize that our Life is more than the our meaty body, and more than our particular clothes (Luke 12:23). We worry no more about our life (ego) (Luke 12:22). Worries, concerns, faults, sins, errors, weaknesses, defects, these are all aspects of our ego-self, maintained and believed by our ego-self. But when that falls away, there is a sense of complete forgiveness and redemption, salvation, and liberation. There is no more ego-self to have all of those psychologically constructed imperfections, and so what we then see is the Perfection of the One, of Life, of Creation, the Wholeness of all things, the Holiness and Sacred nature of Reality, and we are That. We are the Christ, having taken upon ourselves that egoless consciousness. We have become One in Christ, and also realized our Oneness in God (John 17). This is the Kingdom of God, and Heaven. This might be described as the “first resurrection,” or perhaps the “morning of the first resurrection.”
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The Rebirth of the ego happens directly following the previous experience in consciousness. We cannot maintain complete egolessness consciousness in ordinary day-to-day life, but that absolutely pure consciousness is usually a temporary experience that passes. It passes when the brain’s construction of the ego-self comes back online. The neuronal activity that constructs our sense of a bodily and mindful “self,” perhaps in the Default Mode Network, returns to our brain, and we “find ourselves” again. This is what I think many scriptures are referring to by being “born again.” We do not return again to our mother’s womb, as Nicodemus questioned Jesus, to be born when her “water” breaks. Rather, this is a birth that takes place entirely within “Spirit,” or within our subjective conscious experience. What “we” normally think as our “self” returns to consciousness, and to our conscious awareness. We are “reborn.” We died in consciousness, laying down our “life” according to the “flesh” (or ego), and we took it up again in the Spirit, or consciousness (2 Nephi 2:8).
Note, it was not really “us” (or ego) that did this, since the ego cannot sacrifice itself, and it cannot of its own accord bring itself back to Life. It was not a work that we did as an ego, but it was an unearned grace from our true Self in the God. Life itself does this, Reality does this, in us. From the ego’s dualistic point of view, it (ego) is not doing this, but Life is doing it. However, from the nondualistic point of view of Life itself, we did do it, our true Self, or Christ, did it, and does it in all who experience it, because there is no ego differentiation in that consciousness. There is only one type of consciousness in Christ, and that is the pure love of Christ “Himself.” (This consciousness may be known in other spiritual traditions as Buddha-nature, nirvana, or Atman is Brahman.)
I put “Himself” in quotes, because Christ is not a male, but rather the nondualistic union of male and female principles, all genders, all dualities, all separate things, in One Unitive Consciousness (Galatians 3:28). And women may clearly experience this Christ consciousness in them just as well as men, and at times far more powerfully than men. They are not experiencing a male being when this happens, but the Pure, Undefiled, Whole and Holy, Loving, Living, Perfect Being of their own true Self, which is Christ, in all beings, male and female.
When we are “reborn” in this way, back into ego consciousness, we realize the ego for what it is, as a separate distinct personality of this particular localized body and mind, but it is not fundamental to our Being. We existed even when our ego-self did not! And we existed as all beings, all selves, all bodies, all people, all humans, all of Life, all things, all Light and Energy in and throughout the entire Cosmos (Matthew 5:14). That was what we were, and we come to awaken to this deeper truer identity of our Self. We are not merely the small localized flesh-encapsulated body and “natural man” mind that we thought we were, but we are One in God. That is our true essential nature, and we can more clearly distinguish between these two identities (see Moses 1). Even more, we can choose to allow our ego to reflect or become a mirror of our greater and truer identity which we have directly witnessed as the all-encompassing Self of the Cosmos, which knows the Perfection in all Beings, which Loves all Beings, which is in and throughout all Beings, and is in and throughout all Things.
All of this can happen during our life. We don’t have to physically or biologically die in order to experience these resurrections (although they can feel very physical and biological, even losing a sense of having a body). We can experience them right now. In the Present. That is where this realization happened for all awakened prophets, mystics, sages, gurus, nuns, saints, and adepts throughout history. They “died” a death in their consciousness, a death of “self,” and returned back to life to tell others about it. That is how we know about it, and why we have so many texts from them that they wrote. But they each described their experience in their own way, according to their own culture, according to their own understanding. This is why many different religions tend to emerge from spiritual awakenings, in my view.
It’s not that they are each awakening to wholly different realities, but their subsequent interpretations of those experiences in the ego state of consciousness vary widely, because their each life experience varies widely. Some interpretations are closer to their original experiences than others, and we might call these holy texts, spiritual texts, or scriptures. Some may even be dictated directly from a state of consciousness that has almost entirely transcended the ego-self, as I think the Book of Mormon, A Course in Miracles, and other such “automatic writings” were. But in order to put experience into writing, to shape them into symbols, imagery, mythology, language, something of the analytical, differentiating, meaning-making, distinguishing, language-producing part of the brain must still be online and active. The adepts that wrote these texts were gifted indeed!
The eternal re-emergence of Life throughout Creation is what happens after we die. When the Life-force and energy that brings us breath and animates our bodies, that brings Life to the otherwise non-alive matter in our bodies, leaves our bodies, and our bodies decay and decompose in the soil of the ground, their elements return back to Nature where they came from (and which they come from and return to continually throughout our lives as well; “Adam” came from the “dust of the earth,” the Hebrew name literally meaning “ground” or “earth”). That very same Life and energy will be taken up again in new Life. Those same elements that were a part of our body will be taken up again in new Life forms, new organisms, and this may be where the traditional ideas of resurrection and reincarnation came from. It is not that a personal ego identity from a prior lifetime has been drifting through a spiritual realm that gets to re-inhabit a physical body again, it is that Life itself gets to re-emerge in a physical body, a physical form, again. That Life that we realized we fundamentally are during prior resurrections is what comes alive once again in all life forms throughout the whole of Creation, in all kinds of animals, plants, bacteria, and even new humans that are born. The Christ Child is born again in each and every new Life that is born.
However, if we wait for this resurrection, if we wait thinking it only comes after biological death, if we wait until after our life has ended, when our body has deteriorated and expired, then we will not have the opportunity to experience the joy of knowing Life during Life, throughout Life. To have Eternal Life, in the sense of being able to do something with it while we Live, we must know God and Christ during our Life and not after it. It’s not something that comes later, but something that should come now, in the Present. God is Presence. We can experience this “first resurrection” even while we live. With Paul we can say that I (my ego) has been crucified, and I (ego) no longer live, but it is Christ that lives in me; and the life I now live in this body is by my witness of Christ in me, who loves me and gives himself for me (Galatians 2:20). Otherwise, this other “next resurrection,” or “last resurrection,” is not as bright for our Lives now. For knowing it now enables us to share our Lives in that Pure Love, in Oneness, in Giving, in Kindness, in Mercy, in Justice, in Gentleness, in Peace, in Joy, and Gratitude in all that we do and are throughout our Lives.
Here is a passage from the Book of Mormon that I think speaks about this:
31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.
32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
36 And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb.
37 And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ;
38 That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you. (Alma 34:31-38)