We went to a place known here as the temple of death. It was a very spiritually heavy atmosphere. I am a feeler, and even before the minute I stepped foot inside the bounds of the temple I could feel the darkness in the form of immense tension in my chest. We could smell the smoke from bodies being burned long before we saw the bodies themselves. This temple is a place where hindus believe if they are cremated with all the rituals observed scrupulously, they will enter their next life in a higher position.
In the picture (sorry for the poor quality), the orange objects are bodies wrapped in fabric either ready to start the cremation process or at some stage in it. The smoke in the background is from a few different bodies being burned.
It would take a long time to completely describe this place, but there was one main thing which struck me the most: the heaviness of the many rituals. For a long time I was transfixed by watching the lengthy process preceding the actual cremation, and I didn’t know why. It included washing the feet and face of the body in the river, draping many marigold wreaths over the body and walking the body around the pyre, among other steps. Upon further reflection I understood why I couldn’t take my eyes off of what they were doing. It was because through it I was able to see a metaphor of life under the law, instead of life under the grace of Jesus.
While not necessarily hindu rituals and traditions, I had my own traditions and patterns of behavior which I ran to instead of running to God. They never truly satisfied me and at times left me feeling empty and always searching for more, often to my own destruction. I believe in general, and know definitively for myself, that what we believe is giving us freedom is frequently just adding on chains, when what we are seeking isn’t God.
“But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.”(Romans 7:6)
As I read this verse in Romans today, I was so thankful for the gift of grace that is a new life that is not about what we have to do, and is instead about everything that Jesus did. A life outside of the law and its punishments when we didn’t live up to its perfect standards. This new life looses us from chains we had in our old life, a life in which we would run to our own rituals instead of running to God.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
I thank God there is no more condemnation, and that I had to do nothing to receive it.