Friday, December 18, 2015

MAY YOU HAVE A VERY MINDFUL CHRISTMAS

Once again, Christmas is almost upon us. (OMG, I hear some of you say.)

The Nativity Story is so much more than a supposedly literal (ugh) account of the birth of Jesus -- Jesus, the man who was born of a surrogate mother, and of a Middle Eastern refugee family. (Does the latter sound familiar?) The story of the birth of the Christ child is a myth in the truest and most sublime sense of that word. It speaks of the reality of a spiritual -- that is, non-physical -- 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). Now, when I use those two words ‘Christ child’ I am not referring to the man known as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, as represented in the Gospel accounts in the New Testament, is portrayed as the prototypical human being living fully, powerfully and ... mindfully! He was fully alive from one moment to the next, always focused on what he was doing and on what was happening around him. That, my friends, is what living mindfully is all about.

Oh, yes, there’s one more thing---a very important thing. The Jesus of the Gospels was very much concerned about the needs of the sick, the marginalised, the dispossessed, and the disadvantaged in the society of his day. It seems that he went about doing good, wherever he went. That, my friends, is another sort of mindfulness that is of supreme value, namely, attention to the needs of others, in particular, suffering humanity. 

You know, Jesus never asked people to worship him. Never! He spoke of what has been called the ‘Anonymous Christ’? In Matthew 25:34-40 Jesus made it clear that everyone we meet, everyone we serve, is a personification of the divine. He told us that the kingdom of God was within each of us (cf Lk 17:21). The difference between Jesus, at least as portrayed in the Gospels, and us is simply one of degree and not kind. Like Dr Martin Luther King, Jr [pictured right], Dr Leslie D WeatherheadDr Samuel Angus and many other ministers and theologians whom I admire, I dismiss the notion of there having been any inherent divinity in Jesus. His so-called divinity---fully revealed in the grandeur of his humanity---was achieved and not bestowed.

In Biblical terms, Jesus’ incarnation continues all the time, in us and in other people. We read about the Anonymous Christ in the context of the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

How many so-called Christians serve the Anonymous Christ? Not the majority, that’s for sure.


Now, the Christ child of which I speak is our ‘real [true] self’ in contradistinction to that illusory ‘false self’—actually, false selves (the hundreds of I’s and me’s in our mind)---which we mistakenly think is us. One’s real self is the same ‘Self’---capitalised to emphasise its paramount importance---in all persons and things. That Self is not a thing of time or circumstance. It is the only presence and power active in the universe and in our lives now. It is the omnipresence of life itself---the very livingness, be-ing-ness, and Self-expression of life---manifesting itself everywhere as ... the eternal now.

Expressed slightly differently, the Christ child is the potentiality that exists within each of us to be the very best person we can be. In the language of mindfulness, the Christ child is the person who has come to sees things-as-they-really-are and who knows how to live mindfully from one moment to the next. The birth of the Christ child refers to the awakening within us of the conscious but choiceless awareness of the indwelling presence within us of life, truth and love. 

In short, the Christ child is born when you or I ... wake up! Each one of us 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---may be ‘born’ in our psyche. And remember this -- the Christ child is born in a stable, and not an inn, that is, in abject humility and no-thing-ness.

The bad news? Well, despite what some would have you believe, only you can wake up and be born anew. No one---not Jesus, not Buddha, not Muhammad, not Krishna, nor anyone else for that matter---can wake you up or otherwise effect this new birth of which I write. Way-showers, world teachers and so-called saviours can but point the way.

May we all wake up this Christmas---and may you have the spirit of Christmas which is peace, the gladness of Christmas which is hope, and the heart of Christmas which is love



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