Triduum: Jesus Models Essence and Service
In ancient Sanskrit, there are two kinds of action. The first is Karma, which means action that stems from our conditioning. It is essentially action that results from living out of the False Self or the ego personality. This kind of action entangles us ever deeper in the knots of our own unawareness.
The other kind of action is Kriya, which is spiritual action. It is a way of taking action that converts even the most mundane aspects of our daily experience into a ritual of liberation. Kriya is living out of the True Self or Essence. In the Christian tradition, this is called the Christ self.
Through the Triduum and Easter, Jesus provides a roadmap for the spiritual path of transformation. His actions model how we might live more deeply from our souls in ways that lead to service. He shows us a path from living out of the karmic self of the ego into the Kriya action of Essence.
At his last supper and in washing his disciple’s feet, Jesus provides a vision of what living out Essence looks like. This day is a celebration of the Servant Leader as a model of living and acting from our Essence. It is a model of being simple and humble, without self-promotion and defensiveness. It is a model of service coming from a place of Truth and Essence. The remaining days of the Triduum continue that path.
In Jesus’ suffering and death we find the day of detachment, of letting go and dissolving all the obstacles that keep us from living out of our Essence. It is a path of awareness, of tapping into our Inner Witness to observe the ego personality and all the ways in which our conditioned and defensive patterns are creating knots. These kinds of action create entanglements and suffering in our lives and in the lives of others. So, Good Friday is the day of dying, of being willing to let go of ego patterns that have become obstacles to living from Essence. We summon the courage to let go of what we know to enter the unknown, to enter the empty tomb.
The Easter Vigil is the day of waiting patiently in the silence and stillness of the void. We must simply wait, without trying to escape the darkness, honoring the stillness long enough to allow for the emergence of the Presence of Essence. It is the day of abiding in the sustaining energy of the Source of our Being. Here in the void, we do not immediately take any action, but simply try to remain present to the Radiant Presence. This waiting is the spiritual practice of attuning our center to the Divine Presence which is the wellspring of all right action in our life.
Then comes Easter, the day of resurrection and rebirth. This is the day of Life itself. It is a celebration of returning to our daily lives. Having put down our sack of obligations on Good Friday, we pick them back up again and resume our journey through life. But now, as we meet our daily obligations and whatever challenges arise each day, we see them with a new eye – the eye of Christ Consciousness. This is the eye of Essence. Seeing with the eyes of resurrection and rebirth, we need not live out of the false self. We become conduits for Essence, the Christ that flows through us and Is us. Christ is our true identity.
The Invitation Beyond Easter
The invitation of Triduum is to carry the three-day ritual into our lives of service. Through prayer and meditation we practice this cycle even daily – letting go of our ego attachments, resting in the Presence of Essence, and returning to our daily lives as the embodiment of that Presence. The path doesn’t end there. Any meditative “sit” is just a laboratory for the real path – practicing the transformation Jesus models moment-to-moment, over and over each day. We strive to cultivate an awareness in real time, so we can “catch ourselves in the act” of the ego personality creating obstacles, replacing them with actions that better flow from Essence.
This too is the path of Benedict, who invites us to make a daily commitment to integrate prayer and work (ora et labora). The Benedictine path is the integration of our physical work, whether it be in the field, kitchen, healthcare, or office, with the often more difficult inner work of the soul. As we work externally we also work internally, cultivating awareness enough to catch ourselves when we become consumed by daily personal agendas or tempted to put up walls of resistance when faced with strangers at the door. These strangers can be any person, event or thing that our ego personalities do not expect or want. As Jesus models through the Triduum, our response can be transformed through humility, letting go, waiting, and being renewed. This is both the goal and path to Essence.
Holy Saturday, 2020
Learn more about core Benedictine values.