Why Jesus Never Used The Bathroom
By Ronen Divon and Ran Baron
If you ask spiritual seekers about their aspirations, they will likely mention an idealized figure: Buddha, Jesus, a famous Rabbi, a Saint or a Sage, someone usually from past times. Why do we need such figures? Furthermore, why do we elevate them above the human being? Is it really so we will have something to aspire to?
The mind will do everything in its power to focus on anything other than that which frightens it most - itself. As long as we see the Guru, Buddha, Jesus, or the Rabbi sitting up there, on an unattainable throne, we, meaning our minds, are safe and there is no need to change. We need these figures of pseudo-perfection. We want them in our lives as a constant reminder that there is something to aspire to, something unreachable. We will forever have an excuse for our own lack of commitment, and therefore remain in our limited shell indefinitely. Meditation? “I can never sit still as long as Buddha so why bother?” Yoga? ”I will never attain the postures demonstrated by Shivananda or Iyenger.” Such an aspirant may sit to meditate once in a blue moon or visit a yoga class on occasion. They are committed to the practice as an idea, yet what is the point of spending so much time on something their minds keep whispering they will never attain... an ideal demonstrated by their chosen figure of perfection?
In many old drawings, Zen masters are portrayed in the most simplistic day to day activities: washing their clothes, brushing their teeth, even picking their noses. It is not exactly the way we would expect a saint to be portrayed... not the eternally celibate, born to virgins, fasting for months, meditating in the snow, leading a life without any sleep or food... impeccable – in short: absolutely pure; pure and perfect. Our Gods are no less perfect than our sages, being portrayed as all knowing, all present, all powerful. Our Gods and their incarnations can drink all the poisons of hell or carry mountains with their bare hands. They fight using thunder and lightning and control the weather... undoubtedly feats of power and strength we can never aspire to. But if one reads the scriptures and stories carefully, there are so many places in which the scriptures go in great detail describing the divine humanity. The ancient Ramayana for example, repeats over and over again how Ram, although being God incarnated, is unaware of his divine personality. The story begins with a detailed description of Ayodhya, the glorious capital city, being described as majestic, opulent and peaceful. However, when reading the version of the Ramayana by Kambavan, the city of Ayodhya is described quite differently, with piles of garbage, the cries of babies, and poor lonely old women walking the streets. A description of a city we can identify with; not a city that is pure, clean and with golden towers.
But wait a minute! A person who gets angry, who might be jealous, afraid and confused, such a person cannot possibly be Godly, cannot be a saint. Or can he?
Many are familiar with Nietzsche’s statement about the death of God. It was interpreted in many ways, most common of which is the idea that in the light of modern scientific advancements and the increased secularization of Western society, the Judeo-Christian God as we know it, was effectively killed. And without such a God, whose existence served as the basis for meaning and value in the West for over two Millenniums, what purpose remains? Others took Nietzsche’s statement in a different direction altogether, in which the death of God was not of God himself but of his personality. In Biblical times God had human characteristics. He was angry, loving, revengeful and full of mercy. But over the years, especially with the rise of Christianity and its institutions, God was sterilized. Much like his son and the Christian saints – they were all put on remote pedestals – far out of reach of emotions. To that extent its worth mentioning that in Hinduism, quite the contrary happened. Though God is still one, it is believed to have many faces, each reflecting a different personality which allows the individual worshiper to identify with as needed. God can be Ganesha at times of trouble, to be called upon to remove obstacles, or a playful Krishna. God can be a luck-bringing Lakshmi, or Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and the arts. Many faces, one God. Unfortunately this humanistic approach is not always followed by many Hindu ashrams, in which the aspirant, looking for an unattainable ideal, does not see the guru as a human being, but instead views him as God himself, as Perfection, and worships his form, rather than becoming inspired by his teachings to search for truth.
By saying 'Gott ist tot' -- God is dead, Nietzsche was trying to point out that our ideals, our perfect notion of a motionless, unaffected God, our fascination with a perfect image, a flawless Christ, that ideal, that image is dead. That idea has nothing to do with divinity, nothing to do with life, nothing to do with reality.
In its fragmented form, being bound to duality, the mind craves perfection. It craves completion and purity. It is filled with conflicts and disharmony, constantly on the lookout for the Promised Land, for a better tomorrow, for an ease of its ailments…escaping the present moment, escaping the now. Taking for granted that which is right in front of us, that which we already have... Ourselves.
So what are we left with? Oh yes, the key question: as pure as he is portrayed, did Jesus ever visit the bathroom?
He obviously did. He was as human as you and I, and perhaps, in his divine nature, even more so. He was whole, in acceptance of his completeness, of his divine experience of being human. The great sages and souls of our past were not great by the magical feats they could perform; they weren't great by the number of followers they could gather, not even by the sermons and lectures they delivered. Their greatness was in their humanity, in their capacity to love, in their capacity to wholly accept their own true nature... to admit their faults rather than to hide at the top of a pedestal.
And so, next time you “fail” to be human, just go to the bathroom. Jesus and all the other saints will be there to welcome you.
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About the authors: Ran Baron and Ronen Divon are both spiritual seekers of many years. They both teach Hatha Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong and are co-founders of the Paths to Shanti Retreats and Workshops (www.PathsToShanti.com). Additionally, Ran is a public speaker, lecturing about meditation, spirituality and philosophy, and Ronen is the founder and main instructor at Monroe Yoga and Tai Chi (www.MonroeYogaTaiChi.com) located in the Hudson Valley, NY, as well as an author of stories for children and adults.
Special Thanks to Denise Morales for her comments and contributions to this article.
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