For students of Paramhansa Yogananda all over the world, the focal point of the Christmas celebration is the annual eight-hour Christmas meditation. Yoganandaji started this tradition in 1936 as an opportunity for all seekers to experience deep communion with Christ in the cradle of their meditation-stilled hearts.
Paramhansa Yogananda invited his students to aim high during the Christmas meditation. He would often lead the Christmas meditations, drunk in Samadhi and remind them that extraordinary grace permeated this sacred occasion wherein deep spiritual experiences could be obtained with relative ease. At one such meditation he led, he exhorted his students with this promise: “Begin now, with all your might, forgetting time and space and forgetting all delusions of the world. And even one day this day, if you pray with all your heart, unceasingly, some of you shall have the vision of Christ, and all of you will feel the presence of the formless Christ.”
I meditated on this thrilling possibility and pondered the steps I could take to ensure that I reap this rich reward. I had a wonderful inspiration.
The Christmas Meditation as the Day of Marriage
I realized that the day of Christmas meditation is actually the day of “spiritual marriage” between the devotee and Christ. Yogananda promised that on this day, the soul’s longing for an intimate personal experience of Christ could be consummated. I decided with this in mind, to look more closely at the phenomenon of human marriage to learn about some of the principles I might apply to make my “spiritual marriage” a success.
This study turned out to be a wonderful exercise. The first fact I gleaned was that the day of marriage is not the beginning but rather the culmination of a long process of ever-deepening attunement between two individuals. Long before the day of marriage, the two would-be-married souls have already spent a lot of time together, have come to know one another intimately, have developed a deep sense of mutual harmony, and have already established the commitment that would make their marriage a blessed experience. The marriage ceremony itself then, is only a celebration and attestation of a state that has already been worked towards and achieved.
The implications in this thought astounded me! I realized that if the Christmas meditation is the day of my “spiritual marriage,” I needed to ensure that it was the culmination and not the beginning of my deep relationship with Christ. This would mean (in light of the above analogy) spending a lot of time with Christ, getting to know him intimately in a deeply personal relationship, and feeling harmony and attunement with his consciousness. I needed to establish all of this long before the day of the Christmas meditation!
What a revelation! I realized that heretofore, I had inadvertently been busy with my routines of work and service right up to the day of the Christmas meditation, and had shown up at the meditation still hoping for the consummation that Yoganandaji promised. Now, this seemed to me analogous to two strangers (or mere acquaintances) showing up on the day of marriage hoping to form a deep relationship within the interval of the ceremony! This would be an unlikely possibility at the very least and would create a situation that needed remediation as quickly as possible!
I have a feeling many sincere devotees will resonate with the situation I found myself in, because the world has a way of keeping us busy until the very last moment. That is why this post appearing shortly after Thanksgiving with no attention-diverting festivities between now and the Christmas Meditation (the day of our “spiritual marriage”) is a wonderful time to invest our efforts in developing an intimate relationship with Christ. On the marriage day, then, we can reap the rich harvest that Yoganandaji promised: the consummation of our heart’s desire for a deep inner experience of Christ.
Preparing for Christmas
Here are some suggestions on how we can begin preparing right away for the deep spiritual promises of Christmas meditation:
- Have a special photo of Christ on the meditation altar
- Offer all meditations especially to Christ, praying to him and calling on him
- Keep a loving conversation with Christ going throughout the day
- Offer every activity we do to Christ, as Byasa did to Krishna (remember Yogananda’s favorite story about Byasa, the cottage cheese, and the river Jamuna?)
- Read the Bible, even a little every day. The Book of John is beautiful and inspiring. John, Yoganandaji said, was Christ’s most advanced disciple.
- Listen to some of Paramhansa Yogananda’s talks where he speaks of Christ with soul-stirring devotion
- Read inspiring sections from Revelations of Christ, Yogananda’s commentaries on the Bible
- Watch the movie, Padre Pio: Miracle Man – a wonderful depiction of the padre’s relationship with Christ
- Read from Saints That Moved the World, a beautiful book about the lives of four great saints including Saint Francis and Teresa of Avila.
- Have more suggestions? Share as a comment!
Will Christ come?
Now, while we of course, do all this all in the spirit of “action without desire for the fruits of action,” the lover cannot but wish to know how the beloved will respond. Will this labor of love coax Christ to be born in the cradle of our hearts? The Bhagavad Gita answers with a beautiful personal promise:
“He who watches me always, I watch him always. He never loses sight of me, nor do I lose sight of him.” — Bhagavad Gita 6:30
In his commentary to this verse, Swami Kriyananda movingly writes:
“My Guru very often quoted this last stanza. His tone of voice and his expression as he did so were blissful. He was reminding us that God is ever near. What seems to hold the Lord at a distance is only our indifference. If we will do the work needed to calm our thoughts and feelings (above all), we will find Him, waiting for us.” (The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, by Swami Kriyananda)
And Jesus Christ himself makes a similarly touching promise:
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” —Revelation 3:20
We do not have to pray that will Christ come — he knocks on the door of our hearts already! If we open the door, he will not just come in, bless us and depart; but “sup with us, and we with him.” Can we wonder why Paramhansa Yogananda called the Divine Romance the sweetest and most intimate romance of all?
Buoyed by these assurances, and by Paramhansa Yogananda’s own promise, let us begin TODAY oiling the hinges of our hearts’ doors, removing rust from the bolts, and dusting and decorating the entrances, ensuring the heart chambers are spick and span, in readiness for the birth of Christ at the Christmas meditation.
If you live near a meditation center, make sure to attend at least a little of this meditation for the rewards on this day far exceed the efforts. If you are “inconveniently located,” consider joining our Virtual Community, which will offer a variety of uplifting programs (see info below!) in preparation for Christmas including the Christmas meditation itself.
This Christmas season, may Christ be born anew in the cradle of our consciousness!
Celebrate the holiday season with your Ananda family online as we dive deeply into the inspiration of Christ and our own higher Self. Experience the power of community as we come together for some of the most inspiring events of the year. Broadcasting live from Ananda Village, a Virtual Community subscription reserves for you a front row seat to the following holiday events:
- Special holiday satsang with Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi: Christ Consciousness As a Living Reality
- An evening of Celebrating Divine Mother
- Awakening the Inner Light satsang with Dhyan and Arati
- Christmas Concert
- Paramhansa Yogananda’s all-day Christmas 8-hour meditation on December 15th
- World Brotherhood Day celebration with Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi
- Weekly guided meditations, healing prayers, and daily inspiration
Join the Virtual Community for a 14-Day Free Trial and attend these events as one of the many benefits included in community membership.