Swamiji’s Christmas recipe
Lord Jesus Christ’s life was the perfect example of total renunciation, self-surrender and selfless service. The world needs to ask how it is remembering the birth of this great soul. His birthday is not really a time to spend money uselessly and recklessly on unnecessary presents or behave wildly and get drunk. How shall we celebrate Christmas?
Jesus’ message was one of peace and love on earth. Christmas time is a period that is very conducive to creating a calm and loving atmosphere in your homes and Sri Premananda Centres and filling them with the original Christmas spirit of selfless giving, service to the poor and goodwill to all beings.
How can you create this atmosphere? It is said that if you keep a picture of a great, realized soul on your shrine, in your home or even in your purse or pocket, then the blessings of that soul will always be with you. In my Ashram in Matale I kept Lord Jesus’ picture on the main shrine. Here in the Ashram in India we have hung the pictures of many great souls around the puja hall. Their blessings are with all who worship there. For that reason it is good to keep a picture of Lord Jesus or baby Jesus with his mother or with his mother and father in your shrine or house especially during the season of goodwill and peace on earth. Their powerful blessings will be with you and will help you to reach the silence within.
Peace does not suddenly descend. It gains momentum slowly and majestically. You have all experienced the peace of being alone in nature, the glorious stillness of the mountains and the rolling of the great ocean. Peace is another form of divine energy. Peace in a human being starts with a quiet and loving mind and spreads to others. Endeavour to spread peace during the Christmas season. It does not just take place over one or two days but lasts for at least twelve days. So put the teachings of Jesus into practice during this time.
In most religions people decorate their homes during festivals. When you decorate your house or shrine, it is nice to create a devotional atmosphere. In all the countries even up to several generations ago, devotion was the dominating feature of Christmas celebrations. The ancient practice of setting up a crib depicting the birth of Christ makes everyone think about the beautiful Christmas story and its deep meanings.
Singing Christmas songs from the heart with sincerity is a great spiritual practice. Going to Church at midnight, worshipping the Divine with true feeling and wishing other worshippers a happy Christmas is a very good and socially effective sadhana! You do not need to forget your own traditions because you are interested in spirituality. Use every opportunity to improve yourself and do good to the world. Christmas is normally a jolly time for children when they feel really happy and they receive gifts. It is up to you to teach your children the true meaning of Christmas. Encourage them to give something to charity or to poor children at Christmas. Make sure that they think and pray for all the poor children in the world who will have nothing to eat or wear during this festive season. Create a right environment for them to understand the real message of Christ and the importance of His birth.
Every year we celebrate Christmas very beautifully and traditionally in the Ashram. I always make sure all the hostel children have a Christmas cake. What I have told you this year is a perfect recipe for Christmas cake. I hope you will all make a spiritual cake according to my recipe and share it with others this Christmas!
The symbolic meaning of ‘the blood of Christ’
Many people have asked me questions over the years concerning the life of Lord Jesus Christ. Some have said his crucifixion was a time of severe testing for him concerning his own faith in God, whom he revered as the Divine Father. Some have said his violent death was his karma. However, I feel that we must consider that Lord Jesus Christ was a wonderful mahatma (realized soul) who knew the past, present and future of humankind, like other great saints and sages who are considered as real embodiments of the Divine. Christ was a messenger of God who had reached the highest and most holy stage of absolute surrender. In this high state of being, he had no feeling for anything of this world. He had no material attachment whatsoever. His pure mind saw all as one in God the Father. He was attached neither to his country nor to his body and he was not disturbed emotionally by the dreadful tortures dealt to him by the ignorant, cruel politicians and soldiers.
He was fully aware of what was being done to the body but he was absorbed in samadhi. He witnessed what was happening but he was not involved in it. He was in a very high state of mind and he did not allow the mind to come down. He was in full control of his mind. His mind was immersed in God-consciousness. He was completely in tune with the universal energy and had surrendered himself totally to God’s will and plan. So, with his mind immersed in God, his body endured the torture of men until it seemed to die, but all the while his faith in God the Father and his personal service to mankind did not waver. He offered his holy blood as a sacrifice for the salvation of all the ignorant human beings who had existed and were yet to come. He was aware that he had physically fulfilled his divine mission on earth and that the time had come for him to leave his body and be one with God. He felt it was God’s wish that he should leave his mortal body in this way and so he willingly complied with the wish of his beloved Divine Father.
Therefore, we can understand that the symbolic meaning of the blood of Christ is total negation of the ego-self, absolute surrender to divine will and the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life energy for the sake of humanity. This, finally, is the ideal of renunciation. Christ is the perfect, God-realized soul. He is the true embodiment of the Divine.
It is great to remember Lord Jesus Christ’s self-sacrifice and his qualities of truth and compassion on Christmas Day.
May he bless the world – forever.