Happy Easter 2018
On the night the Buddha was to attain enlightenment, he sat under a tree. While there, he was attacked by the forces of Mara (evil, temptation, desire). As the story goes, they shot arrows and threw swords at him. But as the weapons approached, they turned into flowers.
About 550 years later, Jesus of Nazareth was alone in the wilderness and was attacked there by the forces of evil, temptation, and desire. He was offered to have his appetites fulfilled. He was offered fame. He was offered power. He didn't run from any of these offerings. He didn't hide from the experience, either. He sat with it for 40 days and let it pass. When he walked out of the wilderness, the arrows and swords had become flowers.
What would Jesus' life and ministry have been like without this experience in the wilderness? It seems to me that the flowers he took with him from the wilderness became his best friends--his compass, his identity. They sustained him, an innocent man, when he was mocked, tried, and condemned to die on a cruel cross of human "justice." They gave him the courage to face life and death with love, forgiveness, and compassion--fully alive, fully human, completely awake.
Pema Chödrön writes in When Things Fall Apart, "To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that's life."
Jesus understood that living a full life is challenging. It's fraught with attacks by the forces of Mara. If it weren't, we'd be dead. He also understood that to be resurrected to a new life, we first have to die to our old life. See John 3:1-16.