The story of Christmas is the story of a birth that occurred in the middle of a dark and silent night, and promised to bring peace and joy to the world. In that story I see a powerful metaphor for the spiritual journey. In this short essay I’d like to tell you why.
Let’s start with a description of how I teach meditation. When I teach I ask people to sit still and relax, and then gently allow whatever thoughts and feelings arise to simply come and go. In meditation we have the chance to discover deep inner peace.
If our attention is fixated on the physical world, we assume that peace can only be found when the world around us becomes peaceful and quiet. When we seek peace in the world we quickly realize that we cannot quieten the world.
In meditation we allow our attention to fall inward. Since we cannot find peace in the world, we decide we must find peace in our minds.
If our attention is fixated on our minds, we assume that peace can only be found when our mind become peaceful. We soon realize that our minds are always busy with thoughts and feelings and we will never find peace there.
It is perfectly reasonable in a world as troubled as ours to want to change it. It is perfectly reasonable when we experience a turbulent mind to want it to be quiet. But it will never be possible to find lasting peace in those ways because we are not in control of the world and we are not in control of our minds either.
The miracle of meditation is the realization that the source of everlasting peace already exists inside us.
Meditation can take us beyond the mind. We can relax and allow our attention to fall inward away from the external world and into the mind. If we relax even more deeply we eventually come to rest in the awareness that has always been aware of the content of your mind.
From the perspective of the mind, the world is outside of us. From the perspective of meditation our minds and all of the thoughts and feelings are outside of us. At this depth we realize that we are not our minds. We are the awareness that is aware of our minds, and awareness at this depth is always already peaceful.
In the depths of our being we have always been aware of the content of our minds and the world beyond it, but we were never affected by any of it. In that place our experience has always been unbroken and everlasting peace.
Millions of people around the world are celebrating Christmas today. As I see it, the Christmas story is about the innocence and love that is born out of the mystery of everlasting peace and that can bring greater joy to the world.
It is a story that takes place in the silence of night. I see that night as a metaphor for the unknowable Oneness that we find at the spiritual center of our being.
Out of that eternal emptiness, love and innocence are continually born. When we sink into ourselves and taste that innermost source, we discover a primordial source of innocence and love. Nothing is ever sullied there. Everything is bright and new and pure of heart. There is no cynicism. No hurt has ever been endured. There are no wounds that could distort our love.
When we taste that compassionate innocence in ourselves, we want to bring it back with us into the world. Yet as much as we try, we can't. That purity cannot endure this world in its untouched form – yet some part of it can.
When we open ourselves to the sacred source of our being and allow innocence and love to guide us here on earth, the world transforms. A little bit at a time that purity changes things and gradually the world is able to hold more of it.
In the story of Christmas I find a metaphor for the world-transforming journey to our innermost source.
We dedicate ourselves to the discovery of the mysterious source of everlasting peace and then to bringing innocence and love back into our lives.
During this holiday season I invite you to celebrate your own commitment to the spiritual upliftment of the world. It is a task we can never fully achieve and yet we find ourselves utterly unable to ignore.
So when you meditate, allow yourself to fall away from the world beyond the mind, into the source of everlasting peace. Rest there and have your spirit renewed.
Then return to the world with your heart full of love and eyes innocent enough to believe in miracles.
Have a wonderful day.