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Volume XIV - The Smiling Forehead

Part II - The Deeper Side of Life

Chapter XXIII
The Mystical Meaning of the Resurrection


WHAT IS exactly meant when the resurrection is spoken of in the Bible?

The resurrection is that moment after death when the soul becomes conscious of all its experience. As the soul is connected with everything in the universe, the individual resurrection is a universal resurrection.

Now I will explain two passages from the Bible. In one of them it is said: 'Now is Christ risen from the dead and gone unto the Father, and is become the first-fruits of them that slept, and whosoever believeth in him should not die but live'. 11a The dead are those who have not realized their immortality; he rises who realizes his immortality. 'He is gone unto the Father', means that he has gone from the personal being, which was meant for his message to be delivered upon earth, to that unlimited existence. 'He hath become the first-fruits of them that slept', means: he has become an example to those who sleep, to those who are unconscious of their divine being.

'Whosoever believeth in him' has been interpreted to mean: who believes in his limited personal being. It means: who has the knowledge of God, of immortality, shall never die, and those whom the world calls dead, but who have the belief in God, which is knowledge, are not dead.

In another passage it is said, 'For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead'. Man alone understands what death is; beasts and birds feel the inactivity, the absence, but they do not realize what death is.

I have seen a bird, when its mate fell dead shot by hunters, settle beside it, feel it with its beak and, when it felt the stillness and lifelessness, before the hunter could approach, it dropped its head and its life was gone. I have also seen a dog die instantly when its companion dog with whom it had spent its life was dead. But still, animals feel only the inactivity, the absence of the friend. They do not realize the true nature of death.

It is only man who has understood the real nature of death in its full extent. Therefore Sufis in the East often make their houses, their cottages in the jungle or else near cemeteries: that by seeing the dead they may realize that now is the time to awaken, to conquer death, to realize their immortality.

And it is again man, as the holy being, who awakens man to the knowledge of his immortality.


If the resurrection merely meant that Christ after his death rose again, it would be a story to be believed or disbelieved. If it were believed as a belief, how long would this last? Its lesson is much greater than that. It means the resurrection from this mortal life to immortality.

Christ said, 'The children of this world marry and are given in marriage, but they who are accounted worthy to obtain the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, neither can they die any more; they are the children of the resurrection, being the children of God.'11b Those who have arisen to that immortal One Being where there is no distinction of husband and wife, brother or sister, father, mother, or child they are the sons of the resurrection.

The story is that, when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb where Christ had been laid, they found the stone that was before the tomb rolled away, and looking in they saw the clothes (i.e. the wrappings and the head-cloth.) lying there, the turban lying by itself. But the body of Christ was not there. The stone is the same stone that is spoken of in the Hindu myth. Krishna is called Giridhar, he who holds the stone, who lifts it up. Under this stone, the stone of the external self, every individual soul in the world is suppressed. When it is lifted up, then man rises to immortality. From what does he rise? He rises from the body and above the mind. The clothes and the head-cloth lying separately, symbolizing the body and the mind, show this.

Great poets, great musicians, great writers often rise above the body. They do not know where they are sitting or standing, they are lost in their imaginations, unconscious of the physical existence, but they do not rise above the mind. When the consciousness rises above the mind, above the thoughts, then it is free, it is active in its own element, and then this consciousness can give of itself to the mind.

The rising to that consciousness in which there is no distinction is the highest degree of resurrection. There are other degrees, just as in the lift one cannot arrive at the seventh floor without passing by the second, third, fourth and all other floors.

There is that resurrection in which there is the exact counterpart of the physical body which walks, sits down, and can do all that the physical body can do. This is called by Sufis alam-i mithal. There are mystics who have mastered this so completely that they can act independently of the physical body; death is nothing to them for they remain alive after death. This is done by amal. Someone who had been studying this wrote to me the other day, 'I have lost all fear of death, because death has tied a turban on me'. There is no death when this is mastered.

If a poet is writing his poetry and his wife, his servant, a hundred people pass before him, he does not see them, he does not know whether anyone has been there. If a little love of poetry can do this, how much more can the love, the absorption in the life within draw the consciousness within!

It is told in the Gospel that Christ after his resurrection was seen by the disciples several times. It is the experience of every person who has practiced concentration, who has meditated, that he sees that which he has held in his consciousness not only inwardly but outwardly before him. This is the first experience that every mystic has. The disciples were lost, absorbed in the thought of Christ – how should they not see him?

Christ's words are, 'Handle me, and see that it is myself, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me having'. And he said unto them, 'Children, have ye anything to eat?' And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and he took it and did eat before them. The word spirit is used in many different meanings. It is used for ghost, or for the soul, but really it means the essence which is the opposite pole to substance.

All that the eye has seen resurrects in the eye. If someone mentions a certain person – though you had forgotten the person altogether – he rises up in your eye: in that house, in that place where you had seen him. It is not in this physical eye, but in that eye which is beyond. The materialist may say, 'it is all in the brain'. How could the brain contain so many thousands and millions of things and beings!

Of course without training a person does not see the spirit, but I will say that in the dream you see yourself, you experience yourself, in different surroundings, in the company of different people. If you say, 'It is a dream', I will answer: When do you call it a dream? You call it a dream when you wake up. When you see the contrast with your surroundings in waking condition, then you say, 'It was a dream. If not, it would have remained with me, but everything is different'. But if, while you are dreaming, someone comes to you and says, 'It is a dream', you will never believe it.

The resurrection is the rising to that real life, that true Friend on whom alone we can lean – upon all other things and beings upon which we think we can lean, we cannot rely that Friend who alone is always unchanged, who has always been with us and will always be with us.

11a - 1 Corinthians 15: 20:  'But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept'.

Hazrat Inayat Khan adds two thoughts which are not part of this Bible verse, but very closely related to it:
    'And gone unto the Father'
    'And whosoever believeth in Him'

11b -  Luke 20: 35:  'But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage, neither can they die anymore: for they are equal to the angels and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection'.

checked 13-Nov-2006