Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WILL YOU LET THE CHRIST CHILD BE BORN IN YOU?

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Is 9:6)


I have written in an earlier post on my understanding of The Nativity Story. To those who have read anything I’ve written over the years on matters spiritual it will come as no surprise that I construe the Bible, along with other pieces of sacred scripture, as writings on psychology and metaphysics.

Now, consistent with the view taken by many progressive scholars and mystics over the years the story of the birth of the Christ Child is much, much more than an account of the birth of Jesus. The birth of the Christ Child is the coming into conscious and full activity within our souls---that is, in our minds, bodies and lives---of the Spirit of God. This birth, or rebirth, can happen anytime, for Christmas, properly interpreted, isn't just one day of the year. You see, we always have an opportunity to bring forth a rebirthing of our awareness of the Christ Child, irrespective of date or season. Indeed, the Christ Child is continually awaiting manifestation in and through our consciousness. Once again, I am not talking about Jesus---no, it is something more universal, but also more personal, than that ... and him. The birth or rebirth of the Christ Child in you is nothing less than the outworking in you of the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 the text of which appears at the very top of this post. (By the way, the word 'prophecy,' in a Biblical context, means 'forth-telling,' not 'fore-telling'---in other words, the Bible is speaking forth or telling forth on some topic or principle which is true right now.)

What do I mean by the ‘Spirit of God,' an expression I used in the paragraph above? Well, call it the Spirit of Life if you prefer. (I do.) I am talking about the very livingness (or Self-livingness) of life itself manifesting itself in us as an all-encompassing and all-providing Presence and Power, bringing with it peace, a tranquil stillness, joy, love, and healing at one or more levels. I am talking about the very ‘seat’ of inner power and causation that is the very ground of your be-ing. I am talking about your very ‘I Am-ness,’ the life that is in you and as you---a life that will survive the dissolution of your form, indeed all forms. It is forever a case of the Spirit of Life moving upon Itself, 'imaging' Itself to be this and that---undifferentiated Consciousness, or formeless awareness, forever taking shape and form.


In truth, each one of us, as a unique individualization of the Spirit of Life, lives in the ‘secret place of the Most High’ (Ps 91:1). Sadly, the majority of people spend most if not all of their lives in ignorance of that fact. Be that as it may, the birth of the Christ Child has everything to do with the coming forth in you, as you, of the ideal person---an inner power and potentiality that the Bible mystically refers to as 'Christ in you, the hope of glory' (Col 1:27). (Please don't confuse the latter with Jesus, at least not in any unique or exclusive sense. In that regard, read on.)

The birth of the Christ Child within us is an experience that we all can enjoy, and please don’t confuse it with the so-called ‘new birth’ (that is, being ‘born again,’ or ‘born from above’) spouted by fundamentalist and evangelical Christians who divide people into the ‘saved’ and the ‘unsaved,’ with the latter category including, in the fundamentalist and conservative evangelical view, many, many Christians who are not of an evangelical persuasion as well as most if not all non-Christians. (In that regard, I once asked the superintendent of the Sunday school of the Baptist church I attended as a youth if, in his opinion, he thought Roman Catholics were 'saved' and would go to heaven. His reply? 'It would be very difficult indeed for that to occur.' See what I mean?) If that be the truth, it would be simply appalling. What sort of God do these people purport to worship? Certainly not a God of love.

Now this is important. You may not even be a Christian. You may not even believe in a traditional God at all. You may not even consider yourself religious in any way. That doesn’t really matter. (At least you have a lot less to unlearn than those who have indoctrinated from an early age to believe this or that religious dogma.) The real ‘good news’ is that the Christ Child can still be born within you. The point is, we are all human beings, and the experience to which I refer is a very human one. It is an experience in which we become more fully human such that we come to embrace and enjoy a newly born awareness of the Presence and Power of life manifesting itself in us and as us.


Here are a few other thoughts of mine on the subject.

First, we read in the Bible that the Angel Gabriel is sent by God to the Virgin Mary to announce the imminent birth of the Christ Child. The Angel Gabriel represents an exalted thought or idea in your consciousness. You see, the birth of the Christ Child generally happens whenever you decide, against all odds, that you want real change in your life and are prepared to go to any length to get it. The birth happens when you face the seemingly impossible and say to yourself, and really believe it, ‘That which is in me is greater than that which is in the world’ (cf 1 Jn 4:4). But first you must come to accept the fact that your mind and body are the bearer of the ‘Divine,’ that is, that all-encompassing and all-providing Presence and Power I referred to above. We need to say ‘yes’ to this Power which is in us, but also not-us. It is a power-not-ourselves, for we are in bondage to self, and that is why we need a power-not-ourselves to overcome our toxic self-centeredness and self-absorption.

The Virgin Mary represents a pure, unadulterated state of consciousness. Bishop C W Leadbeater penned these lovely lines:

For holy Mary’s grace,

her wondrous glowing love,
we thank thee as a pattern set
to lift our thoughts above.

However, in order to be able to 'lift our thoughts above,' so that the Christ Child can be born, or born anew, in us, we must be cleansed and give up all limiting thoughts and emotional attitudes. Are we prepared to be a radiating centre of divine love? I hope so. We also need to centre our mind on the reality of the spiritual and psychological truths to which I have referred. In short, we need to say ‘yes’ to life, truth, and love (the triune God).

Where was the Christ Child born? In a stable, not an inn. You need to make room for the Christ Child in your life. You need to open the ‘door’ of your minds, that the Christ Child may be born in them. In order to do that, there must be humility. As the Bible says, you need to seek first the kingdom of God (cf Mt 6:33). That kingdom is within you (cf Lk 17:21), within every person. It is your ‘higher self.’ It is not a ‘place’ as such, but a state of consciousness in which the ‘Divine’ Power and Presence I referred to above rules, that is, is sovereign and supreme in your life.


The Wise Men---by the way, the Bible does not say there were three of them---searched diligently for the Christ Child. Apparently, they followed a Star in the east for many months, and over deserts, mountains and seas ... until that Star came to rest over a certain little town (Bethlehem) in a certain little country (Judea). The 'meaning' of all that? Here's one 'take' on it---real, deep change in our lives is never easy. We need to 'travel far' and work for it---and it may take some time before we see the results of our hard work and self-sacrifice. In particular, we need to release all old thoughts and worn-out beliefs---indeed, everything that holds us in bondage to our ‘lower self’ (that is, all those tendencies in us that are selfish and self-centered in nature). That is, at least in part, what is meant by 'following a star.' If the Wise Men---scholars who represented the intellectuals of the world of that time---could find the Christ Child then there is hope for those well-educated and intellectual people who, I have always find, have the greatest difficulty grasping these spiritual truths. 

It is significant that the Shepherds---those who, traditionally, are led well-educated but who live and work closer to the ground, the working people of the world---are the first who are ‘chosen’ to know of the birth of the Christ Child. In the Bible, shepherds often became great rulers and prophets. They are the really intelligent ones among us.

The word ‘Jesus’ has more than one meaning. In Hebrew it means ‘Joshua,’ and that word denotes salvation, saviour, one who saves or solves, and solution. The word ‘Jesus’ also means your 'I Am-ness,' that is, your consciousness or awareness of your innate Be-ing-ness. Metaphysically, the word ‘Jesus’ refers to the solution to your problems, either generally or particularly, whatever form or forms that may take. (If, for example, you are sick, 'health' is your saviour or the solution to your ill-health; in other words, health is 'Jesus' for you.) Conservative Christians think the word refers uniquely and exclusively to the man Jesus of Nazareth, but they are wrong on that.


Now, what about the conjoint expression ‘Jesus Christ’? Well, those words collectively represent the ideal or perfect human being. (Again, conservative Christians think there has only been one such person, namely, Jesus. They overlook the fact that Jesus never---I repeat, never---claimed anything for himself that he did not also claim for you and me and every other person as well.) Please keep this in mind---‘Christ’ refers to the ideal, Jesus the actual, that is, the fulfillment of the ideal. The birth of the Christ Child is the meeting-place of the ideal and the real (or, in Biblical language, of ‘God and man’). 

Expressed slightly differently, the words ‘Jesus Christ’ mean ‘I am illumined,’ or ‘I am awakened.’ (‘Anointed’ is the more Biblical word, but nothing too much turns on it for present purposes.) No wonder Jesus said, ‘What I say to you [his disciples] I say to all: Stay awake’ (Mk 13:37). Also, when the historical Buddha was asked, ‘Who are you?’ he answered, ‘I am awake.’ It is essentially the same idea. Wake up---and stay awake. When the Christ Child is born, or born anew, in you, you are awakened, you are illumined. You are no longer in bondage to your lower or false self, you have ‘died’ to all false beliefs, prejudices and limitations. Your whole consciousness is illumined. You are … free! You are … unlimited! Remember this---the only chains that bind you are the ones you have shackled yourself with. So often in life we fall asleep to the spiritual truth of our be-ing, that there is within each of us that ‘true light, which lighteth every person that cometh into the world’ (Jn 1:9).


Well, my friends, let the real you come forth. Let the Christ Child be born within you---this Child that comes to you not as a child in swaddling clothes nor as some sort of resurrected Jesus. Whatever be your status in life, whatever be your problem, know this---there is always a way out! Follow that Star. Then, when the Christ Child is born, or born anew, in you, make sure your life bears witness to that fact. You see, the birth of the Christ Child is much, much more than just some inner event that is for your own personal benefit alone. No, far from it. The birth of the Christ Child is, and always has been, about giving, giving, and giving. When the Christ Child is born in you, you will want to give various gifts to others---gifts such as the gifts of peace, light, truth, and love.

Christmas---in the sense in which I have described it in this post---began at the moment of the Big Bang, or perahps even before then. It began when the Spirit of Life first gave of Itself ... to Itself, so to speak ... so as to give birth to more life, and then even more life, and so on. Christmas is, however, only complete when it reaches your heart---and mine. So, 'let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, that the Lord has told us' (Lk 2:15).


'I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world.' -- Rev. Dr Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993), in My Christmas Treasury (1991).



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