Sunday, August 30, 2020

Raga or Attachment to Jesus the Man

Matthew 16:21-29

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Word Definitions:

Kleshas – Afflictions or Causes of Suffering

Raga – Attachment (one of the Kleshas)

In this Gospel we find the disciples in an epic battle between attachment and detachment.  Jesus has just told them what lies ahead: Suffering, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection.  But the disciples, particularly and predictably Peter, feel great love for Jesus as a man, as a member of the human race.  They cannot see beyond his death to the divine, they only see the loss of a friend and guru. They feel this love of Jesus, earth-side, as a great attachment or Raga, an affliction or Klesha. They don’t yet understand that Jesus is divine too, and that detaching from his earthly existence will bring them into a greater community than they could have ever hoped for. 

The idea of detachment, no Raga, is to live your life knowing nothing is forever.  It is not to be detached from giving to the world. But it is to understand that life is fluid and constantly changing.  Do not allow the change to “be a stumbling block” as Jesus says. Accept that change will come, life will change, life will go on. Too much attachment to anything will only lead to suffering or affliction (Klesha).

Jesus encourages his disciples to detach from their earthly lives, to let go of the Raga. To look beyond this attachment to the divine. To pick up their crosses and follow Jesus the divine. To let go of Jesus the man. And in the letting go of the earthly life they will be saved.

This seems like a tremendous thing to do.  Yet I see it all around me right now during this 2020 year of so much change.  To hold on too tightly to anything, or anyone, is often the cause of great suffering.  Start every day new, give to those that are in need, follow the divine Jesus, let go of this earthly life, and ride the wave to the divine kingdom.


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