By Dr. Jayadeba Sahoo
The Season of Goodwill: family-and-friends reunion, exchange of gifts, sumptuous meals, the solemn, unifying ‘night mass’,Christmas Tree decorations, ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’…a complete and perfect end to the year, isn’t it? For that day or week, we make a good attempt to let by-gones be by-gones and enjoy ourselves.
The Christmas tree as we know it today started as a tradition in 16thCentury Europe, and is now a universal symbol for this holy time of year. Let’s look at the deeper significance of some of the elements that go to make up the Christmas tree. The much-loved Christmas tree is one of the few things that find its way home even today. This unique symbol of the tree of humanity tells a beautiful tale:
The depiction of a tree as a metaphor for life is one that occurs innumerable times in many cultures, ancient civilizations, mythology, and various faith traditions. As the ‘Tree of Life’ it can represent the ‘family of humanity’ – all the leaves representing the souls of the earth living together as one; as the variety of religions – each ‘branch’ emates from the same seed and trunk; and the eterl flow of life is implicit in the question: Which came first, the seed or the tree?
The Christmas tree is wonderfully decorated with orments of all kinds, reflecting the beauty and uniqueness of each human being in the world.
What brings the whole tree to life are the lights. Each one of us is like a light on the tree, with a potential to shine light to the world, once the soul is lit by the Eterl Flame of Truth. How alive and bright is your light?
At Christmas, an evergreen tree is always used, reminding us that life is not just the here and now, but it is eterl. The seed of any tree is hidden deep below, it does its work silently, unseen, and yet from it springs the whole miraculous creation with its beauty and diversity and its different functions; the roots, branches, twigs, leaves and ultimately, its fruit. Again, the seed is a symbolic reminder of the Supreme Seed, One Almighty who is the Creator of all.
And at the top of the tree we often find a star, the One light that stands over all creation, the One that we will ultimately go back to. It also represents the sign of the tivity, of new life, new hope, when the ‘Light of the World’ brings newness… light into the dark world.
Angels abound at Christmas time. Messengers of God, embodiments of pure conscisousness, they remind us of the highest virtues to which we should all aspire. Angels always have wings to remind us to stay light and keep our thoughts elevated and beyond the earthly plane. An angel’s feet never touch the earth, they are eterlly conscious of who they are, spirits, rather than matter. So too, we should remember our divine ture, and not simply be engrossed in all things physical. Angels are shown as neither male nor female, but an embodiment of all masculine and feminine qualities, such as courage, power and steadfastness; and benevolence, love and loyalty.
We are all acutely aware that we are going through a dark period in the world right now, where corruption, violence and peacelessness are in their most extreme form. Yet the message of Christmas persists: Peace and Love. We live in hope and with certainty.
It’s interesting that, at the most difficult times in our lives the light of the Supreme, if we are mindful of it, seems to us brighter and more attractive than ever. Likewise, at this darkest time of the world, God’s gifts are unlimited and on offer to each of us, if we only have eyes to see, and the heart to grasp the opportunity.
Locked within the soul is a memory of that brilliance that we came from. Perhaps this is how the myth of Santa Claus arose: a memorial of the One who comes to us at our darkest times, laden with treasures: Peace love and happiness to me just a few. Surely this is that time when our consciousness is being enlightened and a new age is dawning.
It’s time … This period when Iron Age or Kaliyuga (Dark Age) is coming to an end and the Golden Age or Satya Yuga is about to commence is the present time, called Confluence Age or Sangamyuga (Transition Period). Jesus says, “When you see a cloud coming up in the west, at once you say, ‘It is going to rain,’ and it does. And when you feel the south wind blowing, you say ‘It is going to get hot,’ and it does. Hypocrites ! You can look at the earth and sky and tell what it means; why, then, don’t you know the meaning of this present time.” Jesus also says, “But I tell you the truth : it is better for you that I go away because if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. And when He comes He will prove to the people of the world that they are wrong about what is right, and about God’s judgment ……… I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. But when theSprit of Truth-GOD comes, He will lead you into all truth.”
On this special festival it is imperative for all to be awakened from that deep slumber of ignorance and be connected constantly with the Supreme Light through meditation. So, let us all irrespective of different religious faith celebrate this ‘Christmas’ to empower our self through process of Supreme Communion (Raja Yoga) with Him to inculcate His Supreme Commands of Universal Values to establish a “Value Based Happy Society of Culture of Peace & Non Violence” - our most cherished desire. The understanding of this eterl truth will usher in religious harmony & world peace. Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University has been engaged in this task for last 78 years since its inception in 1936-37.
The true way of celebrating ‘Christmas’ would be to realize the significance of the present auspicious time ( Sangam Yuga, which is end of Kaliyuga - Iron Age and the beginning of Satyuga - Golden Age) and by pledging to discard all negative traits such as anger, greed, ego and lust and by leading a life filled of universal spiritual love, compassion, respect, humility, cooperation, responsibility, divinity to establish a “Value Based Happy Society of Culture of Peace & Non Violence”. Experience light, feel light, be light, spread light, for you are the Light of the world.
It’s time … at this time of Christmas, no matter what your religion, to see the beauty and joy of the light of each one, the eterl tree of humanity, the abundant spiritual gifts as a reflection of the generosity of the Supreme. Make sure your light is lit, accept the gifts from the Divine and put them into practice. Then ‘Goodwill to all Mankind’ can truly be proclaimed in the world!
On this auspicious occasion of ‘Christmas’, take a moment for deep spiritual introspection and free yourselves from the bondage of greed, the lust for power and a slave of promiscuity and make God your eterl companion for true peace, happiness and prosperity.
Happy greetings on the auspicious festival of “Christmas” To All the Souls of the World.(The writer is a faculty, Brahma Kumaris, RERF & Head, Dept of Education, R.G.U.)