05 December 2015

Putting The Sacred Back into Christmas

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So it’s going to be Christmas soon.

The other day I suddenly got that feeling of ‘ah Christmas is down the road’ And then I got a little nostalgic and started reflecting on how Christmas used to be when I was growing up. And then for a moment I felt a little blue, because I feel that Christmas isn’t what it used to be.

Although religion hasn’t appealed to everybody and perhaps some may feel we’ve moved on from it, what Christmas did do was ask us to reflect upon the importance of virtue and to put us in touch with an idea of something or a sense of something that is sacred. Even if we are not practicing Christians, and in spite of the commercialisation of Christmas, It always felt like a sacred time. A time to stop and take rest and gather with loved ones. Nothing deeply spiritual about it, but in the background something sacred.

It feels as if in our growing intoxication with individuality as we all look for our own personal belief system, and our own sense of personal expression, we lose something of our connectedness. We are all looking to explore our rights to be expressed, to have what we feel entitled to. In a world in which being seen is one of the most important driving forces in our lives, the notion of humility and virtue falls way down the list of principles we govern our lives by. Well it wasn’t so long ago when that would have been taken for granted that we would have been kind, generous, virtuous people. Whatever you think about religion the simple act of humbling yourself enough to kneel and put respect to something that you accept might have a higher understanding than you have, is one of the ways that we connect to the sacred. This connecting to the sacred is such an important part of keeping our heart open.

I have to say, and I know that it is perhaps not such a popular subject, but I feel our use of technology is a big part in that. The commercialisation of Christmas has obviously played a big part in breaking our connection to the sacred feeling of Christmas, but it is also the fact that our use of technology is making us numb, so we can’t feel that deeply spiritual and sacred part of our experience anymore. One of my students runs a retreat centre and was telling me about how many spiritual groups come to his venue to do spiritual workshops and yet they argue, or get angry about the idea that they have to, switch their phones off, and have no wifi on in the house. Their simple excuse for keeping all this technology around them while practicing shamanic energy work and meditation, for example, was because as they said, ‘the greater life/chi field is bigger than the power of the wifi or the mobile phone.’

It may well be that technology isn’t going to kill us, it probably isn’t just yet and it isn’t going to cut the life-force off. But it is going to cut off our connection to that which is really sacred, that highest part of your vibration that makes you more than just flesh and bone.

That which actually makes you a human being is that which we might call spirit. That which means you are so much more than just your ideas in your head and how you express them to people. It is how we feel, and what we feel…deeply, that truly marks us a humans, and that’s the bit through which you connect to each other and that’s the bit that understands what’s sacred and knows intrinsically why virtue and kindness are the real bedrock to meaningful life.

Now, it’s just not good enough to say that the universal chi-field is big enough to handle what we are doing to it. Maybe we will survive everything we are doing to ourselves and our planet, but how conscious will we remain and to what degree will we maintain the noble aspects of what makes us human, remains to be seen?

So, anyway it came up in my mind this morning while I was thinking about Christmas. Whatever else Christmas may be, in years gone by Christmas has always been a gathering and a coming together and a breathing out and a simplifying and a re-connecting. It may be that for quite some time the religious aspect of it has faded, but there was still a sense of something sacred in Christmas when I was growing up, which I haven’t felt for a few years now and I don’t think it’s because I am getting old.

What is missing is the bit that we are losing touch with within ourselves, probably without thinking about it, or noticing it. We are losing that which connects us to the sacred-ness of life. And that is the very essence of what we are. Life is an extraordinary, sacred thing and the expression of it as a human being is the pinnacle of it on this earth.

When you start to neglect the essence of life, the spirit within, and look at the nuts and bolts of it and just ask yourself how you are going to keep it going, you lose quickly what actually makes life truly meaningful.  When you can’t feel the beauty of the morning as the world is stirring from rest, when you just find yourself blankly looking at it, trying to tell yourself that it’s beautiful but you don’t feel it in your heart, then you have started to lose your connection to the sacred. And this is what’s happening to so many of us if we were to be really honest.

It’s no good to kid ourselves that its ok to do to ourselves what we are doing. That subtle part of us is so deeply violated by the way we expose ourselves to technology and electromagnetism. Our life itself is an electromagnetic field, and the integrity of it is an expression of the coherence of that subtle field that consciousness produces within us. I am sure that one way or another we will continue to muddle through at the pace that we are currently living our lives and we’ll evolve one way or another into the next version of ourselves, because that’s what consciousness does, that’s what Life does, it adapts.

But ask yourself quietly, what are things that really, when you are being honest with yourself, are truly meaningful and make your life meaningful and more than just drudgery? The things that make it worth the hardship of coming into being and knowing that you are going to die at the end of it and leave behind everything that is dear to you.  Ask yourself, what makes all that worthwhile? I bet almost all of you, in simply asking that question from a deeper place in your heart will start to recognise that there is something sacred missing in our lives.

So don’t worry if people think that your effort to re-connect to the sacred in your life is some kind of vanity or self-indulgence or a cop out because, it is not. It will take so much courage to fight to hang on to the deepest part of what you are and to insist on hanging on to it and to not surrender it.  So if you stand upon that conviction and say to yourself, “I am not going to lose sight of what is really meaningful in my life”, then you are a courageous person and you should not feel bad about it.  Don’t bore everyone around you like you’re doing something special, because you are not;  you’re just insisting on being fully alive and living consciously, which really is what all of us should try to do.  When you recognise that it’s important to you then never give it up, because there’s no greater sense of despair than the despair that appears in the mind of one who realises that they have lost connection to themselves and no longer know what they are doing with their lives. Your life is sacred and it IS special and it is right for each of us to honour it as such.

When you find that connection to the heart essence of what you are, then the idea of the loss of your life will not terrify you anymore. It’s going to happen to all of us; it is a part of life.  So this connecting to the sacred in life and finding space for it is what makes us human so don’t compromise it, and value convenience more highly than that .

It doesn’t mean that you can’t lead the life that you are already living if you do it consciously. It may mean making some concessions if you feel that the life that you are leading does not have the space in it for what is sacred to you.  So when you get your values in order and you put them at the forefront of your life, it will never be to the detriment of anybody else when you’ve done it and it won’t be to your detriment.  It will be to everybody’s benefit and to your benefit.

We are all going to have to make intelligent decisions for ourselves.

I am only writing this because I can see clearly what we are giving up by not looking after our consciousness. I realise that this is not the time of Jesus or the time of the Buddha, we are still full of the desire to experience Life. Well if you want to really experience what it is to be alive do it consciously and recognise what’s sacred in it, because actually your greatest desire of all, the one that comes up from the deepest part of your heart when you do feel connected, is to experience the sacred for yourself. We just might have forgotten that, so perhaps make a commitment to yourself to start to reclaim the consciousness that we are in many ways allowing to drift away from us. I can feel the shrinking of our connection to spirit as humanity over the last ten years and it will take great effort keep that light in each of us shining brightly.

When I left Asia to come back to England to teach, I came back to explore what is the balance that means we can maintain that profound connection and be totally engaged in life and I’ve investigated it now for the best part of fifteen years.

Of course things have changed a lot in those fifteen years. We are alive now in an age where big decisions have to be made. In a hundred years from now the choices we make will be a testimony to where the world and humanity ends up.  So it quite something to be alive right now. Quite something to turn up for and have in our hands. So think open heartedly about it and courageously because that calling that might have started calling to you even quite a long time ago, let it call loud and clear.

So this Christmas reflect on gratitude, the gratitude that comes to you when your heart connects back to something that you know is a part of you. Being able to honour life as sacred forms the basis for our feeling of gratitude. It’s like a homecoming when you recognise and honour the call of the heart, and the more that you go into it the more you realise you’re touching something much deeper than we might yet fully understand, that’s worth honouring yes?

It’s Christmas soon and Christmas might start feeling like it’s used to again when we start putting that sense of the sacred back into it again. Create some space to honour a deeper part of you this Christmas and start breathing out again, start breathing out, we’ve all been breathing in for far too long. The world has been breathing in and expanding for far too long. It’s time to give it a rest, time for all of us to catch our breath and take stock of where we are.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas, may you all be happy, May all Beings be Happy.

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