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Larry Chang: Essays

Thoughts on Christmas

Talk given at Temple of Light, Kingston, Jamaica
 

Since the fourth century of this millenium, every year the 25th of December has been celebrated by about half of mankind as what is called Christmas. It marks the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, otherwise known as Jesus Christ. Many still dispute the choice of date for this celebration, the Eastern churches preferring January 6 as the actual date. Others place it even further away in June or August. So the birthdate is shrouded with a lot of disagreement and uncertainty.

But why all this fuss and bother about one man's birthday of which we have differing accounts anyway in the very Gospels? Talk about gospel truth. He is accepted by many to be the long awaited Messiah of the Jews or the Son of God sent to save the world. He is seen as The Christ, God's Chosen One; hence we celebrate Christ-mas and not Jesusmas.

In Truth, we make a distinction between Jesus, the man who was born in Bethlehem - at whichever time of year you subscribe to - and Christ, the spirit or consciousness of God in man, God individualised and expressed. The birth of Christ, therefore, is not really the birth of Jesus in the stable or the cave, but it is the manifestation, the bringing into view of the Godhead. Birth is not a momentary occurence; it is a bringing into the light, a revelation of that which is already there. That which is Absolute, Supreme and Eternal cannot be expressed or experienced just so. It is like unto a vibration which has to be slowed down, an energy or current, which has to be stepped down by using a transformer to make the power utilisable by household appliances. When we express love, wisdom, or peace, we are manifesting the attributes of God through our transformer, our Christ Consciousness. As we upgrade our transformer, our energy output is increased and becomes more like that which emanates from the source. We accept Jesus as being the only one, that we know of, whose transformer produced most fully the power of the Source. He is therefore distinguished as The Christ and the only begotten Son of God. There may well be others, for He came to show the way: Now are you sons of God. The promise is that once you realise Christ in you, your hope of glory, Jesus will become Jesus a Christ, the first among many. We will not have dethroned Christ the King, as much as we will have ascended to Christhood. This is truly the Second Coming.

We also have to bear in mind that the language in which these concepts were couched reflected the monarchical, hierarchical, patriarchal and authoritarian social and political structures of their times. The truth has indeed set us free in today's democracy and egalitarianism, each person equipped with his/her own transformer (not to mention cellular). The goal of Christhood is sure to be attained by all.

While Jesus has been dubbed the Son of God, He Himself answered to the title Son of Man. Again we need to look beyond the sexism and chauvinism of Biblical language to get to the essential meaning. The word and concept of son and sonship are partial, limiting and inadequate attempts, yet understandably human at their level of consciousness, to express the idea of the individualization of the Divine, the stepping down of the full power we spoke of earlier. If a report were to be written today of the Transfiguration, God would be heard to say, "This is is the individualised part of me called Jesus in whom I am well pleased." Neither psychology nor electricity were known to the thinkers and writers of Jesus' time, so they had to use the concepts and ideas they had. For them, power, authority and inheritance were purely male concerns, so the idea of Daughter of God would not have arisen. Females could be handmaidens of the Lord, virgin lamp-bearers or wipers of feet and faces, servile roles for the most part, reflecting the prevailing socially-determined function of women. The Catholic Church has tried to correct this somewhat by making Mary the Mother of God, but the rest of Christendom has yet to accept this.

While the Trinity of orthodox Christianity consists of three Persons, the second of whom is the Son, The Hindu trinity is comprised of three gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. While Brahma is more or less equivalent to God the Father, there is not an exact parallel to the Son. The Hindus did not manage either to include women, reflecting their social mores. The three gods are distinctly, and sometimes embarassingly, male, although Shiva can be ambivalent manifesting as the Goddess Shakti. It is Krishna who fits most closely to the Christ model, though he is less ascetic, charming cow-girl and warrior alike. He is available to all who would merely call his name which, it has been noted, is very similar to that of Christ. Krishna is very definitely bound by his personality, falling that much short of universal appeal and accessibility.

In order to achieve a clearer understanding of the Christ concept, in keeping with our level of consciousness, we need to clear away the encrustation of all the anachronistic semantics. We need contemporary words and ideas to express more fully our expanded awareness of our Christhood. What is needed is not merely a new translation of the Bible changing thees, thous and thines to yous and yours, but a new paradigm version which places each and every person very firmly at the centre of their universe as a Christ, the Issue of God. Perhaps then, men like Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein, who are obsessed with power, will realise that they have been operating at low voltage causing themselves great mechanical fatigue and electronic stress. System failure and black-out from burn-out are inevitable unless the transformer is upgraded and reconnected to the Universal Grid System. To the extent that we prepare our transformers, to that extent will the energy flow to us and through us. It is not I, it is the Power within that does the work. Christedness, as the expression of God in and as man and simultaneously, as the raison d'etre of man's evolution, becomes accessible to all.

Not coincidentally, this idea of the Universal Christhood comes very close to the idea of Buddhahood. Gautama Buddha has never had the kind of personal devotion and worship that have been reserved for Jesus. No wars have been fought in his name as far as I know. Though there are many similarities between the circumstances surrounding the births of Jesus and Prince Siddhartha, the latter has never been called the only begotten Buddha. In fact, he is often referred to as the historic Buddha, the one of whom there are actual records, to differentiate him from the millions of other Buddhas who have since acceded to their places in Nirvana. While the Jews reserve Messianic redemption for their own, and Christians deny salvation to anyone who has not accepted Jesus, the Buddha/Christ nature is universally attainable.

The Taoist approach avoids all this discrimination and messy emotional complication by not giving their way any personality at all. Their Christ/Buddha is simply referred to as Tao, roughly translated as The Way. In their inscrutability, they have gone directly to the Absolute, to the Essence, and tried to outline what it might be within the limitations of human thought and language. It is so abstract that they qualify: The way that can be named is not the way. Like the Absolute Itself, we cannot apprehend it, but when it is expressed, somehow we will know it. God is unknowable except in expression. That expression we may call Christ Consciousness, Buddhahood, or the Way. It is all the same. Christmas, Buddhamas, and The Way should be celebrated every time we recognise God in expression. Christ is born, brought into the light, revealed, every time you share love, light, peace, and prosperity. December 25 should be known as Jesusmas, for unlike the Jamaican proverb, every day is Christmas. Don't be surprised when I send you a birthday card on the 25th and a Christmas card just whenever your light shines.

Have a Merry Jesusmas and Christmas every day.

 

1996

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