All I Want for Christmas... A Prayer for Mindfulness
The holidays are once again upon us. Christmas cards spread messages of joy, peace on earth, and goodwill. New Year’s hopes and resolutions abound. At the same time, our world is on fire. Increasing mass murders and other acts of terrorism, religious extremism and intolerance, and racial and social injustices continue to abound on the nightly news, at your local corner market, or maybe even your own holiday dinner table.
As we continue to be bombarded with images and talk of a world that is going up in flames – with no relief in sight — can any of us feel real happiness and fulfillment when we trim Christmas trees, or when we witness the pure holiday excitement of children through their sparkling eyes? What emotions will stir when we kiss our loved one at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? Will we continue to obsess about how the world is going up in flames – with no relief in sight? Or do we push such painful thoughts away? How will we experience this Christmas season, this New Year, with all the terrible things going on near and far?
America is a country founded – and deeply influenced — by Judeo-Christian principles. Jesus’ teachings are ever- present, and are ingrained in our “spiritual DNA” – no matter what the “anti-Christian,” secular, or “spiritual but not religious” folks are up to these days.
Simon Peter said “There is so much wrong in the world; how can the world be made pure?
Jesus said, “Purify your own hearts and the world will become pure.”
Can Jesus’ words to Simon be applicable in our corner of the world today? What does it really mean to purify your heart?
What would actually happen if we began to acknowledge the good intentions, and possibilities comprised within the opinions held by all our fellow country men and women …perspectives that they believe are the answers to America’s problems? Suppose we would not express anger or belittle or insult those who hold differing worldviews from our own? Instead, we would begin to dialogue and even try to learn from each other?
Increasingly, the term “Oneness” is being mentioned as a way to make life better. Perhaps it is a modern-day word for what Jesus spoke about two thousand years ago. Simply, when we experience Oneness, we feel in our heart that we are part of something beyond ourselves, that there is harmony and meaning in life, and that every human being and every aspect of existence is uniquely valuable. This power of Oneness is illustrated through the possibilities born from genuine cooperation, the creative power of dialogue, and generosity. The opposite of Oneness is duality, in which one group or individual is prioritized over another. Dualistic thinking support labels like “right” or “wrong” or “better than” or “less than,” or “politically correct” or “politically incorrect,” all of which undermine collaboration.
This newly conceptualized consciousness of Oneness has been referred to as the answer to world peace and harmony. The question must be asked, however, if we cannot fully acknowledge and accept ourselves, as well as the differences among us within our own country first, how will we possibly be able to authentically accept other cultures, peoples, and ways of life?
While global unity and Oneness is an agreed upon aspiration by todays philosophers and thinkers, before we can even hope to achieve global unity, let alone, live it, we must first come together in our own country, align with our own identity and values, and with our own people. The Dali Lama said “study your own tradition, much better, much safer.” And research data also shows us that when people and nations identify with their own spiritual roots and culture, they become stronger. We need this strength more than ever now.
Wise sages from around the world, throughout time, inform us that we are part of a vast, transcendent reality. And this reality can creatively hold and integrate differing perspectives, points of view, and ideologies.
As long as I can look at you, and you can look at me, and through our eyes, we can see each other’s soul and common humanity; there is hope for unified world.
There are growing numbers of individuals who do not want this kind of world. They are unable to recognize the common humanity in all people. They kill those they perceive as different from themselves.
What can we in the West do now, in this Christmas season, in this New Year? It is time for a spiritual homecoming. Such a homecoming means to re-discover the real spiritual essence that is alive in our souls. It’s never really gone away. Some call it Christ Consciousness. Others call it a consciousness of Oneness.
It is time to heal the Western soul. This means to overcome the artificial divisions, right here at home. The only authentic way to contribute and become part of a new consciousness of Oneness, is first, to fully understand, acknowledge, and respect ourselves and our differences, and to realize that we are all sons and daughters of the same God, and are connected and one with that same transcendent reality.
T.S. Eliot said, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end, is to make a beginning.”
Wishing us all peace, love, and hope in the Christmas season, the New Year, and beyond.
1 Toynbee, Arnold J. and Urban GR, Toynbee on Toynbee, NY: Oxford University Press, 1974.