Each year the two-week period between December 23 and January 5 is rich with opportunities for spiritual growth. There’s 1) the eight-hour meditation on December 23; 2) the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25; 3) the start of a new year on January 1; and 4) Paramhansa Yogananda’s birthday on January 5.
How can we draw the most from these four events to deepen our spiritual life throughout 2021?
First, let’s consider “Spiritual Christmas,” as Master called the all-day meditation on Christ on Dec. 23. His devotees around the world have continued this tradition, and in 2020 thousands joined together singly, in small groups, or on live-streaming platforms to honor this practice.
If you were able to participate, remember the stillness and depth you felt from your prolonged effort. Try to infuse your daily meditations with that same focus and self-offering. Set aside time weekly for a longer meditation to keep alight the divine flame you kindled at this time.
Master said to the devotees present in 1939 at the all-day meditation: “Dear friends, don’t wait 365 days to meditate deeply again as you have today. For during those 365 days some of you will leave this earth. Make every night as blessed by meditating until you are full of the divine consciousness you have felt today.”
Then there is Christmas Day itself. It can be so much more than social gatherings, presents, and perhaps an obligatory visit to a church. Master called his mission “the Second Coming of Christ,” for he came to awaken all souls, whatever their religion, to the Christ consciousness within us. The birth of the baby Jesus inspires us to seek that consciousness within ourselves and to be an eternal flame of universal love to all.
Master offered this Christmas prayer: “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 on all other days.”
January 1: the start of a new year and a time for resolutions for self-improvement. How often have you set far-reaching goals for yourself only to watch them fall away as your determination waned over time?
There is another approach that might prove more helpful. One of my favorite songs during Christmas is “Little Drummer Boy.” It tells the story of when the Three Wise Men brought great gifts to lay before the newborn Christ. The little drummer boy watched sadly, because he had nothing of value to offer. Then, as the song goes, the little drummer said:
“Little Baby, I am a poor boy, too. I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give a king. Shall I play for you on my drum? Mary nodded. I played my drum for him. I played my best for him. Then he smiled at me, me and my drum.”
If every day we can give the best we have within us and offer it at God’s feet, we will receive His smile in our heart. It may not be as grand as what others have to offer, but God watches the heart. Our humble gifts given wholeheartedly to God are perhaps the most precious to Him.
Master said, “O Lord, I don’t want position or honor. All that I do, I do to please You. I shall labor in ditches if You want me to, but You must promise that You will be always with me.”
Finally, the last lamp we can light during this sacred season is on Master’s birthday on January 5. By deepening the guru-disciple bond through continually offering our love at our Guru’s feet, we draw the grace to strengthen the light of the other lamps about which we’ve talked.
These beautiful words are part of the Discipleship Vow written by Swami Kriyananda:
With loving faith now I seek Thee
Through the ray of Thy light that Thou hast offered me.
I will ascend to Thee not by my power alone, but by the power of Thy infinite love.
It is this love that’s at the heart of the guru-disciple relationship. Our efforts to meditate more deeply, to live in attunement with the Christ consciousness, and to offer to God the best that is in us—success in all these is possible due to the grace we draw from our Guru.
May these divine lamps illuminate the new year before us, so that God’s light shines more brightly throughout the world.
This week we are launching a new commentary with each blog, included in the Touch of Light podcast. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (15:12):
You might enjoy joining Jyotish and Devi for a free virtual event in celebration of Paramhansa Yogananda’s birthday, January 5 from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. PST.
In addition, here is a special video message from Jyotish and Devi in honor of Master’s birthday.