I have experienced Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism and the world of the mystical. I have been a mystic since I was a teenager and first looked up at the night sky in the middle of winter on a full moon evening, sitting in 3 feet of snow in a deep forest. This is a part of a longer story for another time however.
I experienced catholicism growing up and going to school in a catholic environment. I gave it up when I was in my early 20’s and never looked back, at least until I ran into yoga and the hindu tantric traditions. When I discovered yoga, I found a new set of friends, many of whom were Jewish. I have witnessed jewish masses and rituals at temples, read from the scriptures, celebrated Hanukkah, Passover, etc., and chanted the prayers at these various religious celebrations. As many of you know, I have also immersed myself into the tantric path of yogic mysticism and for many years now have studied with my teacher, Anirud Jaidev.
Seeing and experiencing these various paths in the light of the traditions of Christmas has really helped me to understand this holiday season in a deeper way. I have discovered that this is season is much more than the Festival of Lights or the birth of Jesus. To me in is something much more potent. It is something which transcends the absolute and rigorous traditions of a specific holiday and religious path.
The vibration of winter solstice is at the heart of all of these various traditions. If we are able to slow down and become still, as this astrological event takes place, we can feel what happens.
Why do we naturally feel more jovial & festive at this time of year? Why do we open our hearts to those around and why we do feel the desire to give more freely to our fellow human beings? Well, you know the answer and you’ve probably heard it in just about every yoga class you have ever taken. It is standard dialogue for yoga teachers. “Because it is your true nature”!!
Now for sure there are those of us that internally are saying “Bhah Humbug” but we still give gifts and act more peaceful and kind because it is something that we feel we have to do. That is just programming. However, if you allow yourself to slow down into the naturalness of the deep winter season….as you do this, you begin to shed all of your worries, fears and you release a little of that root chakra survival instinct that says “you need to stock up on toilet paper”. And you will more readily have a feeling of wanting to buy toilet paper for other!
So, my friends, I say whether you are Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, Hindu or whatever, be open minded and embrace this season of the year. We can call it Christmas or The Winter Solstice or Hanukah or whatever you’d like.
I read this passage from Charles Dickens “Sketches by Boz” every year at this time of Christmas:
“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused—in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened—by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes—of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world who cannot call up such thoughts any day of the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire—fill the glass and send round the song—and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it offhand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse.”
I first came across this passage in a book which was a gift from a family member. It has resided on my bookshelf wherever I have lived and it has become a bit of a personal Christmas tradition to read passages from various writers about this festive season of the year.
Now go out there and experience the joy of the winter solstice and feel the love that flow freely this month!
David Shiva Das