The Christmas Mystery
By Swami Kriyananda, from a talk on Christmas Day, 1991
WE HUMAN BEINGS HAVE A TENDENCY to look at the world around us superficially: We don't see beneath surface realities. When it comes to religion, we view it in terms of its outward manifestations - Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam - but overlook its essential message of inward reformation. Worshiping superficially, we blind ourselves to the deep truths on which the truly great religions were founded.
Our essential reality is not our outward humanity: It is the eternal soul. For we are not this body with its trappings of nationality, language, sex, and competitive ambition. Still less can we achieve self-definition through the religions to which we adhere - sometimes with such fanatical loyalty! Our essential reality is beyond every physical and mental limitation.
This one inner reality, although defined variously in Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism, and though appearing outwardly in the garb of male or female, of American, African, or Asian, is forever beyond form. Though we, as human beings, are born into imperfection and limitation, our eternal, indeed our only, mission in life is to learn how, through the lessons of earth life, to unite our souls with the Infinite Source of all life.
When Jesus said in the Bible, "I and my Father are One," he was declaring that he had united his soul with the Infinite Spirit. His words, albeit spoken in truth, might have seemed boastful, had they not been meant as a challenge and an inspiration to us all to "go and do likewise." He was saying that he had accomplished what he had come on earth to help all of us to accomplish: to unite our souls with the endless source of Divine Love.
And that is what all the great religions are about. Theologians have attempted logically to define the eternal truths, but no verbal statement can possibly replace the actual experience of those truths in the soul. The religious spirit is that aspect of human nature which reaches up in longing for eternal realities. And religion is that teaching and code of behavior which inspires and guides mankind toward the fulfillment of this soul-aspiration.
In this deeper sense, a self-styled atheist may be more truly religious than many an avowed religionist, albeit without realizing it. For if he expresses selfless love for others, and serves them with dedication and humility, what, essentially, is missing? Is God petty, that He would reject such a man simply because he doesn't believe in Him with his mind, and embrace all the bigots who worship Him through grandiose prayers while feeling no charity for his other human children in their hearts? Does the human parent, on discovering his human child after years of searching for it, reject the child if it refuses to accept their relationship?
Here is a good question: Do Christians love Love because Jesus loved? Do they not rather love Jesus because he manifested the principle of love so perfectly?
And do Hindus love the great truths propounded in The Bhagavad Gita because it was Krishna who taught them? Do they not rather love Krishna especially because he was such an inspiring manifestation of those eternal realities?
Human beings achieve greatness only insofar as they manifest higher principles. Always, it is principles that count, not the countless forms in which principles have, at various times through the ages, been decked.
Let us then, during this Christmas Season, view the birth of Jesus not only as a particular event in history, but as a particularly sweet expression of a universal truth. Let the birth of Divine Love in that little form two thousand years ago inspire us to conceive and give birth to that Love within ourselves, through the virgin purity of our hearts' devotion.
In this way, Christmas can become a holy season not for Christians alone, but for people everywhere on earth, regardless of any religious affiliation.
The three wise men represented the other world religions in their visit, filled with respect and adoration, to the Christ child. Let us, like them, open our hearts and souls to Universal Love, as it calls out to us from the altars of every religion. Thus, we may solve at last the eternal challenge to our understanding: the Christmas Mystery.
Song: The Christmas Mystery
Long ago there was a little shed.
Who'll tell to me this mystery:
Shepherds came and knelt in wonder there,
Wonderful it was, that Christmas Day,
Could it be that in that little one
Who'll tell to me this mystery:
MP3 of Swami Kriyananda's Song The Christmas Mystery
MP3 Part 1 of Asha Praver 1984 class on Yogananda's Teachings on the Life of Chirst
MP3 Part 2 of Asha Praver 1984 class on Yogananda's Teachings on the Life of Chirst