Paramhansa Yogananda, From East-West Magazine, December 1932
This excerpt from an article by Paramhansa Yogananda, titled How Christ Consciousness Descends into Human Consciousness, could well be called "How to Celebrate Christmas." May the power of this message inspire you to an ever-deepening attunement with God and Christ within.
When Christmas comes, people usually think of buying gifts for their loved ones. A few think of the beauties of Christmas music and church services. Most people revel in the festivity of the Christmas tree, with its glimmering tinsel and the gifts around it. It is good to celebrate the birth of Christ with songs, dinners, and the exchange of gifts; but if material festivity becomes the only purpose of all the Christmas celebration, it is a pity, and nothing is gained.
Let us learn how to make our celebration of Christmas a real commemoration of the holy life of Christ, to make it a spiritual and uplifting experience. I saw a shotgun adorning a Christmas tree, and I remarked to the owner, "Madam, that shotgun for a present is an insult to the Christ within man. Thou shalt not kill. A gun means death, murder, revenge, brother fighting brother. For that reason it is out of place in the celebration of the birthday of the 'Prince of Peace.'" The lady took the gun away, and placed there a child's Bible instead. We must remember that on Christmas Day we should exchange not only useful gifts, but God-reminding gifts.
The original meaning of most religious symbols and holy days is usually forgotten. Most people think of Christmas as an ordinary festivity and forget Christ, the master of ceremonies. Christmas and Christ are used for festivity, and the great spiritual significance of Christmas is lost sight of. As in a picture show, the principal attention of the audience is on the story of the picture, and not on the music; so in Christmas entertainment, the principal attention is on the material celebration-and Christ, though a most necessary part, is pushed into the background.
We should rejoice that such a holy Being as Christ was given to serve as an ideal of perfection for deluded mankind to follow. Indifferent, unconscious honor shown to Him will not do any good. Christmas should be so used that it may materially, mentally, and spiritually give us at least a new impetus to start in the Christ Path of Truth with the beginning of the new year.
With the coming of Christmas, do not let your consciousness sink into the well of turkey dinners, exchange of gifts, dances, festivities, and cocktail parties. A well of material thoughts is not a fit place in which to celebrate Christ's birthday. Instead, take your consciousness from the pitfalls of material festivities and enter the secret door of silence with closed eyes to behold the vast altar of peace spread eternally above, beneath, to the left and to the right, in front and behind, within and without.
If you go deeper, you will meet Christ coming to you in His burning robes of bliss, like the rising aurora, and your joy will dance in every atom of space. Then open your eyes, behold your little body and say, "The Christ-Bliss is descending on the altar of my thought, feeling, and devotion." Meditate upon the statement: "Christ-Peace is descending into every tissue and cell of my body as health."
Place Christ on the altar of your business and possessions. Say, "I possess these things in Christ." Then meditate on the statement, "My Christ-Peace has descended upon every member of my family, upon my country, and upon my world." Behold Christ-Peace descending upon your body, upon your possessions, and extending to your neighbors, to all countries, and onto the united altar of all hearts and all creatures. Let Christ-Bliss extend from your body to all lands-to America, Asia, South America, Europe, Australia, to the solar system, to the island universes, and to all beings. Meditate upon the following: "My Christ-Peace is descending upon every living thing, upon every living star, upon every speck of matter and space."
Celebrate Christmas upon the altar of the vast inner silence, and upon the sanctuary of every desire, every living thing in the world, and the Cosmos. Then will you know Christ as the Divine King ruling in the heart of all finite Creation.