Perhaps it is time to write a few words about Christmas, and whatever meaning arises from this date for someone who is fairly enmeshed in the non-dual perspective. Could we be unconsciously celebrating our True Nature at Christmas?
As I was raised a Catholic, Christmas had a sacred and magical feeling for me as a young child. I remember staring at the reflections in the globes on the Christmas tree and feeling entranced by the reflections of light. I remember setting up the crèche and feeling very fond of the story it portrayed. I remember sitting in the living room opening gifts, and my grandmother being with us, and excitedly giving her a stocking with little gifts I had chosen for her. I remember a few gifts I received. So many of the memories that stick to us after childhood are heavy and burdensome, but for most of us there are some Christmas treasures in our memory box that are brought to the surface when we repeat the rituals as adults. And yet for many this is also a time of sadness, remembering difficult pieces of our history or missing those who are no longer here to share with us. It can also be stressful as we try to recreate the magic for ourselves and our loved ones.
Some personality types become joyful during the seasons, and others become depressed. Like everything that is part of the human experience there are multiple variations in how it is perceived and interpreted. It may bring out the child within, or the shadows we might wish to keep hidden. However, even if we have outgrown the Christmas magic, perhaps we can find a deeper meaning to brighten and enliven us during this season, a Truth that is about our own true nature.
I have come in recent years to think of the word Christ as a symbol, not a man. This symbol is a recognition of that within each of us that is unconditionally connected to what is primal, sacred and eternal. It represents our consciousness which is a reflection of the One universal awareness shining through all of life. Christ is awareness sparkling through a myriad of expressions, creating forms and moments of experience within the vastness of space. Jesus was called Christ because he demonstrated this Oneness, this connection to the source of all that is sacred. Whether he too was a symbol I cannot say, but the story of his birth and life seems to be a story of bringing together the high and the low, the kings and the shepherds, the blessed and the so-called sinners, even raising those who are dead into life. Perhaps his healing miracles represent the power of trust and love to remove the blindness and deadness within so many humans who need to be revived into a full life.
This simple life of Jesus bringing together the disparate parts of humanity, and offering them messages about returning to life through faith, or trusting that the kingdom of god is within, is a story of unconditional love entering the world. As far as I know images of gods and goddesses before this time never represented love of all, loving one another, loving our neighbor as our self. But if Jesus was Christ – then he was awake to the knowledge that there is only One, and if this is so then the only solution to suffering is love. It is true he demonstrated anger as well, particular to the Pharisees and the moneychangers in the temple (paradoxically, not toward the soldiers or to Caesar who allowed his crucifixion). What are we to think of this?
From a non-dual perspective each being has a role in this dream, but those who misrepresent the nature of Truth, of Love, of our essential connection with one another, are “missing the mark” – a phrase that represents the original meaning of sin. Hypocrisy and exploitation of others misses the mark, particularly in those who engage in a spiritual role.
What this story represents to me is the entering into the species the possibility of loving impersonally – loving just because one can love or one is love, and not for the purpose of gaining anything . (What did Jesus gain from love? He just couldn’t stop himself from helping others.) This unconditional acceptance and love was a radical concept at that time and place – and in fact, few in our modern societies are even open to it today. It was so radical that he was crucified by those who felt threatened by it. He was not offering a Truth that most people were ready to understand.
But because it was Truth the story has endured for over 2000 years, and become a story about remembering those we love, about giving, about drawing family and friends around to praise a birth that happened centuries past (if at all).
This story tells of a life entering the world with a new message about what we are and how we can be. We can be “saved” by remembering who and what we are, and letting go of the suffering caused by limiting beliefs. We are One with Christ, the dynamic presence/love/Truth deep with us. We can use this day to remember Him, but also to remember our profound connection with the One source, to see it in our children, our elders, our families and friends. Men both wise and simple recognized this birth (in the story), people who came to follow these teachings transformed their lives. Along whatever else it represents, it is about being awake in the human world and living aligned with that Truth. It is about seeing through the foibles and limitations of conditioned life and recognizing, on one day a year, that underneath it all is One life beating, One love expressing.