On Tuesday December 23rd, we had our annual all-day Christmas group meditation, where we inwardly celebrate the birth of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. Paramhansa Yogananda started this annual tradition at Mt. Washington, where he held an eight-hour group meditation on December 24th (Spiritual Christmas), and followed the next day by a banquet (Social Christmas).
The inspiration and upliftment I felt that day is indescribable. As I sat in the back of the room and gazing at the crowd during the meditation, I thought how desperately the world needs more of this: people uniting together in brotherhood and harmony, honoring the lives of great saints and self-realized Masters in devotional gatherings. It is easy to get discouraged when reading the ever-flowing news of hatred, economic turmoils and environmental problems in the world. Yet, God created this duality (or dwaita) and it is up to us to recognize that and transcend it. As Yogananda said in the East-West magazine of July 1932:
The Spirit alone is perfect. Everything else in Creation is imperfect. Creation started with the law of duality, with the law of division. The Spirit was perfect.
In all of life there is an urge, consciously or unconsciously felt, for the Oneness which is our true and natural state. This Oneness can be found, not by going to some far-out extreme in which at last the opposite to that extreme (pain, for example, as opposed to pleasure) is left forever behind, but rather by returning to the central point within our selves; to the horizon line that rests forever between all opposites; to the state of rest at the bottom of the pendulum’s swing.
Meditation is the tool to return to that central point within our selves. In the Festival of Light (an inspirational ceremony which presents the core of Yogananda’s teachings through poetry and music), Swami Kriyananda writes:
God, through the Bhagavad Gita, promises: “Even the worst of sinners, by steadfast meditation on Me, speedily comes to Me.” The same Scripture declares also: “Even a little practice of this inward religion will free one from dire fears and colossal sufferings.”
And whereas suffering, in the past, was the coin of man’s redemption, for us now the payment has been exchanged for joy. Thus may we understand that pain is the fruit of self-love, whereas joy is the fruit of love for God.
And the ancient Hindu sage Patanjali defined the state of divine enlightenment as:
Yogas chitta vritti nirodh — yoga (divine union) is the neutralization of the waves (whirlpools) of feeling” (Yoga Sutra 1:2).
It is up to us whether to allow ourselves to be affected by the ever increasing swing of the pendulum, or to take charge of our lives by meditating regularly and thereby neutralizing the whirlpools of feeling.
When I left the temple early evening after the all-day meditation and walked home, I felt as if my feet were lifted off the ground. My joy level was full to overflowing. Such is the magic of our Christmas Meditation.
I leave you with these words of Christmas Meditation by Paramhansa Yogananda. May the Light of Christ shine upon you.
All my thoughts are decorating the Christmas tree of meditation with the rare gifts of devotion, sealed with golden heart prayers that Christ may come and receive my humble gifts.
I will mentally join in the worship in all mosques, churches, and temples, and perceive the birth of the universal Christ Consciousness as peace on the altar of all devotional hearts.
O Christ, may the birth of Thy love be felt in all hearts this Christmas, and every day.
Christ was always born in me. He came and preached through my consciousness to my rowdy and hypocritical thoughts. By the magic wand of meditative intuition, He stopped the storms in the seas of my life, and of many other lives. I was mentally blind, my will was lame, but I was healed by the awakened Christ in me.
Christ walked on the restless waters of my mind, yet the Judas of restlessness and ignorance, deluded by the Satan of sense lures, betrayed the Christ calmness, the Christ joy, in me, and crucified Him on the cross of forgetfulness.
He commanded my dead wisdom to come forth from its sackcloth of delusion, and raised it to life.
At last my will, faith, hope, intuition, purity, meditation, desires, good habits, self-control sense‑ aboveness, devotion, wisdom — all these disciples obeyed the commandments of the Christ who appeared on the high mountain of my meditation.