What Does it Mean to ‘Take Up Your Cross’?

In one of the many online forums in which I am active, a fellow member posted a thoughtful note about the meaning of the phrase, “take up your cross”. This is a common and very powerful metaphor in Christianity. When I was growing up in the Christian church, it was a strong admonition.

From my new perspective as an interspiritual teacher and student, I offered a somewhat different perspective. My post said:

The symbolism of the cross is meaningful and helpful to many in the West (in particular) when describing suffering but every spiritual tradition pays attention to the dilemma (“If I am a child of God, why do I suffer?”) and hope (“It is only by coming *through* suffering that I find my reunion with God.”) of the *process* of suffering.

One of Buddhism’s core teachings is that we suffer because we see ourselves in lack, wanting something, and we are so tied to the *outcome* of that *having* that we are bound to be disappointed whenever that something eludes our grasp.

The true salvation story — embodied in many important and meaningful mythologies across all spiritual and religious paths and traditions — is the reunification with God that is the ultimate goal of having lived. And it seems from our limited human perspective at least that it is necessary for us to experience, transcend or *go through* suffering to reach that ultimate goal.

In my teachings and faith tradition, we have a saying. “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” Suffering, in our view, is continuing to experience and to dwell in the pain rather than releasing it to God (or Spirit or Divine Mind).

So if I take up my cross today, it is only long enough to hand it to Spirit for Its disposition. Then I can return to the life of bliss and joy and peace and harmony that it is God’s intention that I should enjoy.

Om. Peace. Amen.

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