The season of the winter solstice is celebrated as Christmas; some believe as the continuation of pre-Christian traditions in Europe and the Middle East of celebrating the sun’s return to the Northern hemisphere, ushering in new life and renewal. Organised religions have often done more harm than good for humanity and the history of Christianity has its share of allegations of manipulations and distortions by the greedy and powerful. Unfortunately, Jesus Christ’s message of universal love has often been pushed to the background as suspicion and greed have pushed people to create more divisions and silos than to ‘love thy neighbours as thyself’.
Christ was a yogi who had realised the Truth and his message is the same as that of other realised souls that merged themselves with the Divine. We may call ourselves Christians, Hindus, Muslims, etc. but what difference is there between the Christ Love, the Krishna Consciousness, the Siva Being and the all-pervading Allah? There are not many Gods, but the same God worshipped in many ways. As AdiYogi Shiva is believed to have said, there are as many ways to reach the Ultimate as there are atoms in the cosmos (if one is not rooted to the body). The dance of diversity is the beauty of life – how boring would it be if all of humanity looked, dressed, thought, spoke and prayed alike?
A spiritual master can only give as much as the disciples have the capacity to receive and since Jesus was guiding a largely illiterate and ignorant population in the Middle East, his message was often not properly understood or realised in its profundity. Despite that, so powerful was/is the presence and light of this enlightened soul that merely by walking the path of pure devotion (bhakti), there have been those, over the centuries, who have entered into direct communion with the Christ consciousness. In more recent times, saints like Yogananda Parmahansa helped to unlock the profundity of Christ’s teachings (see for instance, ‘Hidden Truths in the Gospels’ by Yogananda Parmahansa).
The following are some of Christ’s utterances that I personally find to be very beautiful and inspiring reminders of the Truth. These utterances repeat the Truth expressed in the Upanishads which date back about 5,000 years and are the utterances of every enlightened being that has walked on Earth. At the risk of getting hate mail from any Christian fanatics, I would humbly say that they beautifully express something of the Yoga of Christ.
The meek shall inherit the Earth.
‘Meek’, not merely in terms of humility but in terms of becoming less of oneself, devoid of ego or identity. One that can dissolve his arrogance and sense of separate individual identity and personality, inherits the highest kingdom on this Earth – the kingdom of the Supreme spirit or being.
To thine own Self, be true.
At a worldly level, the import is to act with honesty, in sensitivity to one’s conscience. However, the higher meaning is to abide constantly in the Self, to fix one’s mind in Brahman (the Absolute). This may be considered to refer to the stage of Sattvapatti according to the ‘Seven Bhumikas’ (stages of Jnana Yoga) in Vedanta. This is the fourth stage in the realisation of the Self in which the mind becomes purified (attains sattva) and abides in the Atman. It means not trapping ourselves in our own psychological dramas that keep our light from shining brightly but instead to constantly be true to the Universal Self.
Trust in God. Trust also in me…for I have overcome the world.
As Advaita master Mooji explains in his talks, Jesus probably never left Palestine (there are accounts that Jesus travelled and lived in India, but still, he did not do any world tours) so what could he have meant by ‘I have overcome the world’? He meant that he overcame the world in his mind or in other words, transcended his mind (that projects the entire world). In yoga philosophy, the state of having transcended the mind is referred to as samadhi. Only one who has overcome his own mind and individuality can guide others to the experience of God.
Before Abraham was, I AM.
Jesus identifies himself with the I AM principle i.e. the higher state of consciousness that is beyond the personal. The experience of the ‘I AM’ is a stage in the path of Jnana Yoga – realising oneself as the eternal existential principle. It is this realisation that all the sages have told us is part of the highest purpose of every human being.
Perhaps the most important message of Jesus was the universal love and compassion he embodied and emphasised. That language of the heart could be most easily understood by the largely simple folk he wandered amidst and to this day, it is through the path of bhakti yoga (love/devotion) that his followers come closest to realising him.
I’ll leave you with these words of Swami Sivananda that I feel are very apt to remember in the context of Christmas:
“The message of Christmas is the message of universal love. It is the message of ineffable divine glory and splendour. The message of Christmas is the message of peace and goodwill among all nations.
Christmas is more than a day of rejoicing and festivity. It is a day for realizing the Christ-consciousness or cosmic consciousness. It is a day for remembering the noble deeds of Lord Jesus and his sacred life of pristine purity. Christmas comes and Christmas goes, but let the spirit of Christmas be ever with you all.
Merry-making is not Christmas at all. Christmas does not consist in ringing bells and singing songs, exchanging mutual gifts and sending Christmas cards, and in enjoying rich repasts and heavy dinners and eating cakes.
Christmas is a state of spiritual awakening. To realize the Kingdom of Heaven within yourself, to hold communion with the Lord in the chambers of your heart, to regain your lost divinity, to attain Christ-consciousness or cosmic consciousness, to love all, to include all in the warm embrace of your love is real Christmas.
Realize the spirit of Christ. Walk in the footprints of Christ. Dive deep into the heart of Jesus. Ever seek to express, in your daily life, love, joy and peace. Imbibe Christ’s message of love and sacrifice. Manifest the latent Christ within you. Follow the Sermon on the Mount. Attain God-consciousness. Live in the spirit of Christ’s teachings. Annihilate this little self-arrogating personality and melt yourself in Christ or the Universal Soul. This is real Christmas.
All wish to enter the Kingdom of God. But how many of you possess the real spirit of Christ ? How many of you are real Christians ? How many of you follow the teachings, precepts and doctrines of Christ ? How many of you love your neighbours as your own self ? Those who are endowed with purity of heart, humility, universal love, generosity and nobility – they only can attain the Kingdom of God or supreme peace and immortality.
The spirit or heart of Christ is seriously lacking in the vast majority of persons. The love of Christ is badly wanted. What is Christmas without love, mercy and purity ? Everybody wants to exploit his neighbour. One nation wants to destroy another nation. Is this Christmas ? Is this the teaching of Christ ?
Real Christmas never comes and goes. It is eternal. Feel the spirit of Christmas not only on one day, but throughout the year. Every day is a Christmas day for a real follower of Christ, for a thirsting aspirant. May you all walk the path that Jesus laid out! May you all be living embodiments of the Sermon on the Mount! May you realize the Kingdom of God within you here and now!”
For more of Swami Sivananda’s writings on Jesus Christ, see the free book: Life and Teachings of Lord Jesus
Read also: 4 Paths of Yoga
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