For twenty centuries the birth of Christ has been celebrated differently by the different Christian sects. Many have counted the coming of Christmas as a time for exchanging nicely caparisoned, costly gifts. Many children look upon Christmas as the time for Santa Claus to give them new toys. They hang empty stockings around the chimney place. Santa is supposed to slip down the sooty opening of the chimney and fill the stockings with the longed-for articles. Some children remain awake and some dream, waiting for Christmas Morn.
Some hoary gentlemen who have lost interest in life perhaps look upon Christmas as a good time for a special home-cooked hot dinner. Some folks drink themselves into oblivion, expecting thus to celebrate the birth of Christ. American mothers and fathers are very fond of decorating the Christmas tree and loading it with gifts. The churches take Christmas as an occasion for great festivity.
Some religious institutions brace up and decorate their places and invite crowds, expecting big collections to enhance church activities. It is right to use business methods in order to advance the work of Christ in establishing Him in the Souls of men, but it is blasphemous to use Christ merely as a means for increasing business.
Some churches thank God intensely for sending His beloved Child to redeem the sin-laden world. Some serious-minded monks and nuns in the sequestered nooks of their monasteries celebrate Christmas more seriously by meditating on Christ.
What is the right way to celebrate Christmas?
The question is: Is it right to use the birth of Christ for material rejoicings involved in the exchange of gifts, Christmas dinners, and decorations, or is it right to worship the coming of Christ only in spirit?
Most of the superficial celebrators of Christmas turn Christmas into an expensive gift-exchanging, eating, and decorating occasion. What do they get out of Christmas except a few gifts, a few kindnesses and love behind those gifts, and a few passing joys? Very few people celebrate Christmas with the Christ thought. Very few know how to celebrate the coming of Christ by beholding Him born in the cradle of the new awakening of deep meditation.
Birthday celebrations are intended to make the person in question feel that His life should be useful to society. They also focus the attention of people on qualified individuals. Jesus does not need our celebration for His rejoicing or His upliftment, but we certainly need to celebrate the coming of Christ at least once every year in order to remember His exemplary, abiding, uplifting life, so that we may perchance pattern or remold our lives after His life, through all futurity. We need to celebrate the birthday of Christ every Christmas because His life is permanently useful and inspiring to all humanity in all Ages.
Millions of people are expecting to celebrate the coming Christmas purely as a social event. Very few are looking forward to it as the time for spiritually remembering Christ and for exchanging the lasting gifts of Soul and heart qualities.
What about you?
The question before you is: Are you going to use Christmas just as a romanticism of religious festivity, or are you going to celebrate Christmas by beholding the Christ love for all brother races and all living creatures? Are you going to celebrate the coming of Christ by really feeling the universal love, forgiveness, character, renunciation, and devotion of Christ within you? Unless you made the effort to really get acquainted with the ever-living Christ, born as new wisdom, new happiness within you, this coming Christmas season, I am afraid you will let the precious instructive Christmas season pass by without heed.
I am not telling you to omit the physical, social factor in connection with the Christmas celebration. What I want is that you should not, like millions of those who forget God, omit the paramount Spiritual factor in your Christmas celebration. Add to your social celebration of Christmas the celebration of bringing Christ a second time into your meditative consciousness.
Christ is only suggested in social Christmas festivities, but He is seen and felt as an everlasting, ever-joyous Fact in the cradle of Divine Ecstasy. Prepare yourself to celebrate Christmas in the real way, as humbly suggested in the following:
- Prepare your heart so that you may say to those who crucify you daily with unkind actions and words and ingratitudes in exchange for the good you give them: “Father, teach me to love those, my error-stricken brethren, who know not what they do, so that with my love I may persuade them to better ways of living and not make them stronger in evil by driving them to it by unkindness.”
- Make your heart an altar of Christ-love, which is in all races, loving them equally. Love all races as the uniform dwelling place of omnipresent Christ.
- Forgive all your imaginary and real enemies even as Christ forgave His adversaries.
- Make up your mind to love Christ as the joy of deep meditation, and thus celebrate the second coming of Christ, and a Spiritual Christmas, daily within yourself.
- Make the unknown Christ known within yourself by seeing Him born a second time as the ever-new, ever-increasing joy of your daily deep meditation.
- Govern all the actions of your life with the honesty and fearlessness of Jesus Christ.
- Overcome the sorrow-producing temptations of the senses by the self-control of Jesus Christ and by developing a taste for all good things. Forego the temporary pleasures of the senses and pursue the lasting, true happiness of the Soul.
- Behold the omnipresent joy of Christ in all men, in all Saints, in all creatures, in the star-peopled Cosmos, and in the temple of your own thoughts.
- Remember that, although Christ was born once, still He can be born again every Christmas, or at any other time, in your meditation-awakened consciousness.
- Give good for evil, understanding for misunderstanding, kindness for unkindness, peace for disquietude, calmness for restlessness, and lasting Bliss for sense pleasure.
- Behold the omnipresent, ever-living Christ born anew in your devoted attention.
- Do whatever you do with the thought and peace of Christ. This Christmas behold Christ born anew in the beauty of all Nature, in your awakened wisdom, in everything which wears true beauty, and in everybody who saturates himself with the fragrance of Christ-qualities.
- Exchange Spiritual gifts by giving your outstanding good qualities to others who need them and by receiving the ennobling Soul-qualities of those who are great and who love you for your own good
- Exchange gifts with the thought of Christ and the thought of giving Him the gift of your heart and receiving the gift of Himself on the Christmas tree of your calm consciousness, richly decorated and glistening with the Soul-qualities of all those you have met and loved. Through the portal of your meditation, let your imprisoned joy escape to, and rest in, the heart of Christ, which is in everything. Let your joy dance in the farthest planets, over the vastness of the blue, and n the nearest waves of your love. Then you will behold Christ cradled in every manifest thing.
More from Yogananda:
- A Conversation Between Yogananda and “M” on the Cosmic Mother
- Seven Signs of Progress in Meditation
- How to Develop Intuition