Saturday, December 20, 2014
MAY WE ALL WAKE UP THIS CHRISTMAS
Once again, Christmas is almost upon us. (Egad, I hear some of you say.) But what are we to make of the story of the birth of the Christ child?
As I’ve tried to say elsewhere, the Nativity Story is so much more than a supposedly literal (ugh) account of the birth of Jesus. The story is a myth in the truest and most sublime sense of that word. It speaks of the reality of a spiritual event that we all can experience, Christian and non-Christian alike.
What event? Well, it’s this---the birth of the Christ child within our ‘hearts’ (that is, minds). You see, we all need to wake up, surrender, and be born anew. The message of the Buddha, in two English words, is this---wake up. The message of the prophet Muhammad, in one English word, is this---surrender. The message of Jesus, in five English words, is this---you must be born anew. The message of Humanism is that we can and must give shape and meaning to our own lives. As I see it, it’s all essentially the same thing. We must change in a very radical way, and the change referred to must go beyond what is ordinarily understood as self-improvement. Yes, each one of us must undergo a Copernican revolution---a deep, inner psychological revolution, transformation, and mutation---in the way we think, act, and live. We must surrender, let go, and die to self, indeed die to the very idea that there is a separate, independent, permanent self at the core of our being, in order that a new sense of being---metaphorically and symbolically, a new-born baby, at least at first---may be born in our psyche.
Now, most of what I’ve said above is rank heresy to fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. That does not worry me at all. Indeed, I draw great comfort and pleasure from the fact. You see, I am proud to be a heretic. A heretic is one who chooses, and who chooses to think differently and be different. We need more heretics in the world---more people who are prepared to think and live differently. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that only a heretic can change our damaged, troubled and threatened world. And only a heretic, who is prepared to surrender and throw out of the window all their past thinking and conditioning on matters religious and non-religious, can wake up and change the world for the better.
May we all wake up this Christmas. It is said that Christmas is a time of giving and thinking of others. That’s a damn good way of surrendering and giving up our illusory sense of self as well as all our tired, worn-out beliefs and conditioning. Yes, it's a damn good way of---waking up!