This begins a series of posts on the Beatitudes of Jesus. It is my hope that after taking in this series, you can better see their real transformative power and depth. The Beatitudes are well known, and are dear to the hearts of many, which in itself has always amazed me.
The English word Beatitude comes from the Latin word “beatus,” which can mean either blessed or happy. But they can seem like such a strange prescription for being blessed or happy.
Here are some of the Beatitudes in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5.
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad…”
Sure! All the things we normally think of when we say, “If only I had those things, then I’d be happy!” Right?
But here’s a Beatitude that I made up, but is true: Blessed are those who know the Aramaic which Jesus spoke in offering these teachings. For they shall see they are immersed in the flow of how life does it’s work on them.
The Beatitudes offer a path to a much deeper joy than the more superficial and shallow kind of happiness the world teaches us to pursue. A happiness that is fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying. A happiness built on the ego the ego getting what it thinks it needs – which is everything going its way. The ego wants something tangible that this world offers and values: money and possessions. Perhaps a title that brings worth, identity, admiration, and respect.
The Beatitudes validate a path that does not lead us around the difficult things of life, but rather through the very heart of them.
Dr. Neil Douglas Klotz, in his book “Blessings of the Cosmos”, points out that the word translated as “blessed” in English, is Tubwaykhon in Aramaic. A word that “comes from the Aramaic and Hebrew root TB, which means that which is suited for its purpose, which is in right timing and in tune with the divine reality. A blessed “ripeness.”
We all know that when a piece of fruit is ripe, it has matured to the point where it has reached its purpose or potential. It is now useful. A green banana has everything within it to one day be eaten and benefit the one who eats it. But if it is green, it hasn’t matured so its purpose cannot be realized. It first has to go through the ripening process.
Similarly, everything already exists within our soul, in order for our soul to reach and live out it’s potential and true purpose. But we first have to go through the ripening process. We first have to mature. How does that happen? We mature through the experiences we have here on earth. That’s why we (as souls) are here. The more experiences we have, the more we can choose to mature. The more we can then provide our potential usefulness to others and the world around us.
In this series on the Beatitudes in Aramaic, we will look at each Beatitude. I will first list the Aramaic, followed by the English version of the Beatitude, which in turn will be followed by a translation of the Aramaic.
For this series, I’m using Dr. Neil Douglas Klotz’s “Blessings of the Cosmos” for word studies and translation, and then sharing my own thoughts to help us better understand and apply the wisdom of the Aramaic to our everyday lives.
The Beatitudes are found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The Beatitudes in these gospels are both similar and different. I’m going to indicate where Matthew and Luke include the same Beatitude, but express it differently. I’ll also be pointing out what Beatitude is unique to each Gospel. Put together, they are an incredible source of wisdom.
Jesus is teaching us that every experience described in the Beatitudes is for our maturation. These experiences are how life works on our soul to help the soul realize its potential.
Life is a ripening process of the soul.
Tubwaykhon meskina dilkhonhi malkuta d’alaha
Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:3 and Luke 6:20).
Ripe are you who feel your personal strength drained away, your real power lies in the reign of Unity. In tune with the cosmos are you who feel completely dissolved, your new form appears by the vision-power of the One. Suited for the divine purpose are you who are exhausted, your power to stand then arises from the First Cause. In the right time and place are you whose sense of self becomes less, to you belongs the integrity of the divine “I Can!”
When I was 40, I began noticing that everything that I enjoyed was giving me less joy. I was increasingly withdrawing into myself, becoming more negative in my outlook, had low energy, and feeling a hopelessness I hadn’t known before.
Everything took more effort. I felt like I was walking in lead boots as I trudged through my day.
These were all the classic signs of depression, which I was diagnosed as having. Fortunately I sought help and got on an antidepressant. I eventually discovered what I had to do to cooperate with my recovery: exercise, better nutrition, and monitoring the thoughts going on in my head.
But before I went to the doctor, and while I went through the process of finding the right antidepressant for me, and later waiting for that to take effect, I was brought to my knees.
I couldn’t pull myself out of it. No matter how hard I tried. There were no proverbial bootstraps to pull myself up. Hell, I couldn’t lift the boots! They were too damn heavy!
I learned the wisdom of the only thing I could do. I just tended to my sadness and weariness, and let them be. I let myself be sad and exhausted. I sat with my sadness with compassion, imagining myself holding them like a mother would hold her wounded child. I did the same with my weariness. “I am here for you.”
As I sat with them it was as if they were telling me, “You’ve neglected us for too long. You’ve been there for everyone else, but not us. We need you.”
This was my ripening process. What matured in me was a newfound realization of a much greater potential for compassion than I had known before. I was a much better pastor, husband, father, and friend. I could just sit with someone else and tend to their wounds with a compassionate, more ‘all in’ presence.
I was open with my congregation about my depression. I ripened into being able to offer the power of powerlessness.. The power of vulnerability.
Soon after I went public, there came the knocks on my office door. Followed by “can we talk?” A “me too.” Or “I don’t know what to do for my spouse or sibling.” Our mutual vulnerability created a much deeper and helpful connection. “Blessed were we.”
You are Love. Often it takes a tough ripening process to realize it.
Pastor Tim Tengblad
timtengblad @comcast.net. As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and story.