What has become of Christmas? With the true meaning lost within the busy quest for self-gratification, there is little time to read of study the real meaning of Christmas, yet our very survival on this planet depends on us elevating our hearts and soul to another level, one where ME becomes we….The soul of man today dwells in unrelenting noise that drowns out all contact with that blissful inner harmony that can only be found in inner silence. This inner and mystical silence wherein the purest spiritual state can be achieved is the Silent Night…”
In the Christian story of the “Nativity”, the King of Kings as the Son of God is born in a stable among the beasts of burden. This most noble and glorious of Beings is depicted as being born in the most lowly of abodes. His room is a manger fit for animals, his bed is made of straw, his source of heat is the very breath of the beasts that so very wilfully share their quarters with him. The stable is not a castle or a mansion. The Shepherds are not noblemen and there are no servants waiting on him. Why does this most glorious, exalted and long awaited wonderful event transpire through such humility, modesty and lowliness? Why this event is called the Silent Holy Night?
This image of the divine child is a most beautiful symbol revealing very profound principles and truths. The stable sheltering the beasts represents the material aspect of our beings as that which belongs to the body, form and matter. It is that which belongs to the physical self, which houses the animal appetites and the desires of the senses. It corresponds to that which is the lowest aspects of our being, that which binds us to the earth. Just as the blooming of the beautiful sacred lotus flower on the surface of the waters has its roots below the surface anchored in the mud underneath, so too our highest spiritual understanding is rooted in that which is the lowest in us.
The comforting warmth given off by the breath of the beasts is allegorical of the alchemical fire of the vital force resident within every cell in our body. It is this fire that incubates the divine child within us. The darkness of the Holy Night represents the unconscious mind that has begun to be illuminated by a star which the Magi seek to behold and follow to the manger. If we meditate on this beautiful picture of the kings of the East adoring the Divine Child, we realize a beautiful image. The stable is no longer perceived as something lowly when divinity has found abode within it. The radiance of this infant as the unfolding and birthing of a man-god reveals the consummation of the alchemical wedding of heaven and earth. What a beautiful and sacred temple our lowly stable has become as we realize a most wonderful presence within its simple and humble manger! What a blessed and sacred temple the body of man truly is!
The soul of man today dwells in unrelenting noise that drowns out all contact with that blissful inner harmony that can only be found in inner silence. This inner and mystical silence wherein the purest spiritual state can be achieved is the Silent Night. If we keep vigil, and we receive the higher grace of God, then we will become conscious of that Holy Night, where we will perceive the star of the Magi and follow it to its crib in the manger as the inner depths of our beings, and there behold the new born Divine Infant representing our birth into a new and higher spirituality. In this way we will realize our own divinity as our inner master reveals himself and manifests his light into the world.
Merry Christmas and All Best Wishes to all. ~ Steven Kalec
Today I deactivated my Facebook account. I should have done it a month ago before Thanksgiving or perhaps even earlier, when the USA election was in full swing and while Brexit was turning Facebook blue. The reason for finally closing my Facebook account down today is due to the lead up to “Christmas.”
This year I simply do not have the patience to scroll through hundreds of cute kitties wrapped in shiny Christmas wrapping paper. Nor could I stomach more Christmas recipes for mince pies, toffee tarts or chocolate logs filled with dollops of almond cream.
I cannot no longer “like” people’s family photos that simply holds no meaning for me. “Happy Holidays” is not something that appeals either and although I cannot stop the tinsel, trash and twinkling stars, I can switch it off.
The actual moment I ached to deactivate my Facebook page came when a “friend” posted the Tel. number of a suicide charity, just in case someone felt like they wanted a permanent out. And this was during the last days of November – a full month before Christmas day!
Time to tone down Christmas. Of course businesses are not going to do it. They will continue to flog Christmas in July, then switch to high-gear on “Black Friday” with an extra commercial push on “Cyber Monday.” I mean there is no end to the greed!
In the past year we have seen slogans like “Never Trump” or “Never Clinton.” Why not add a new slogan, one that will not divide us but might actually be helpful. Why not create a new slogan, something like @SayNoToSanta. I think it’s a great idea! We should broadcast it all over the Western hemisphere, to really get the message across that we want our Holy, Christmas back! No more Happy Holidays with a huge dose of P.C.,together with over consumption and an overdrawn account that takes another year to pay off.
I leave you with a special thought for Christmas – The True Christmas
“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your Christmas lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!” -Henry Van Dyke
The fire of Wisdom has the power to transform anything. Does not a piece of black coal when subjected to fire lose its natural form, and take the form of a piece of burning ember? Similarly, though God’s flames of compassion are cool, once they blend with the flames of bhakti, the heat thereby generated increases. Fire is born from water, which is a medium used to put down fire. The reason is when the water flows incessantly in circular motion, it generates a new power that we call electricity. Similarly when we think of the name of God and repeat it incessantly, power is generated from the friction. This is the essence. To procure that essence, practice is necessary for that practice, God’s name is the basis. ~Baba
Whether one remains in the affairs of the world (samsaara) or renounces it thinking that everything depends on God’s will, and offers everything to God and performs one’s karma, there is nothing one can do beyond this. Just as the quantity of bread depends on the quantity of flour, so is it jnana of the divine realm that one attains, and depends on the devotion (bhakthi) that one has gained. It is an act of insanity to search for jnana in a place where there is no dedication or true worship to God. Undeterred faith is essential for God to reveal himself. Undeterred faith in chanting His name and is essential for the revelation of God. Discriminate between the permanent and the transient. To kill others, one may require swords and spears, but to kill oneself – is not a small needle enough? In order to preach to others, one has to study many scriptures (shastras) in order to attain revelation of God; repetition of a single mantra is enough. ~Baba from the book Sathya Sai Sath Sambhashana
On Communicators: Swami knew everyone gathered close to him. He was aware of every feeling they carried in their hearts. Every sad thought. Every moment we cried or laughed. No matter what our moods joyous or angry, he was fully aware. He knew our doubts and in his own way often addressed them. There was nothing he did not know about us, wherever we sat for darshan. Darshan could not only be felt in the mandir in Puttaparthi but also when we were away in Bangalore, or even thousands of miles away from him, at home. I had my last darshan at home on 24th November, 2010. Swami never needed help in any way from a communicator/medium. How can we even entertain the thought that he would! He used to, when alive, speak directly to people or sometimes he used telepathy when he wanted to convey guidance or help. He is no diffent in that regard, than all the other saints, sages, avatars who have come before.
Following on from my previous post, The Old Mandir – Puttaparthi, here’s several more memorable photos and quotes posted above. The quotations come from the book Sathya Sai Sath Sambhashana. The book was published a few years ago, although its not sold in Puttaparthi as far as I know. The entire took is an authentic translation of Swami’s words written originally in his native Telugu, then translated “precisely” into the English language. Although at first glance, the words and sentences are not easily understood by English speakers, due to the phrasing used at the time the book was translated. But the book is all Swami. From my point of view, the simple and beautiful translation is more meaningful than many other translations of his collective works to date.
Here’s Sai Baba chanting the Gayatri Mantra in his soft beautiful voice. This You Tube is certainly worth watching. I remember being in darhsan many times while Swami or someone else chanted the mantra. I also have to thank Baba for being instrumental in my learning it. I remember one particular time in Brindavan, where all I could do was chant the “Gayatri” quietly to myself. I suspected at some level, Sai was prompting me to learn and recite it. I am so glad he did. Sai Ram
This most wonderful carol of Away In a Manger is well worth a listen for those of you interested in English Christmas music. It doesn’t come much better than this.
1. Away in a manger, no crib for His bed, The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head; The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.2. The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby wakes. But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes. I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky. And stay by the cradle till morning is nigh.3. Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, Close by me forever, and love me, I pray! Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care And take us to heaven, to Live with Thee there.----- Words: Unknown, 1885 (verses 1 & 2) Verse 3: Attributed to John Thomas McFarland, 1887 (1851-1913)
UPDATE ON THE CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES
On my arrival since late November, the vibes in the temple have been wonderful. The darshan could not have been better and there was a peace and a respect that really touched my heart. I could not have been happier… But Christmas time has brought in the crowds big-time with many village people from all over India. There are about 10,000 OR SO I AM TOLD.. This has added a touch of chaos to the ashram, and has rather dampened the spirit of Xmas this year for the few foreign visitors who are here.
It is a pity as we only have two days in the year in which to celebrated the Christian religion and it’s traditions, and this year this has been brought down to the bare bones….. The choir has worked hard and I am sure they will sing their hearts out this afternoon. The decorations around the ashram have been lovingly created to make a festival of lights that is truly breath-taking. The inside decorations are not like those of the old days when Swami was here physically with us but they are nice all the same.
I am posting some of my favourite photos of Swami along with this update. enjoy…..
I wish you all a very Happy Xmas and New Year……
Christmas morning was pretty amazing. The day began with the Vedas, then the students played a selection of classical music on violins and other traditional western instruments which really added a touch of old-time feeling to the festivities. Later, a sweet selection of carols were offered and for a time we were transported to a sort of Christmas Heaven for want of a better word. And even later, a Christmas play presented by the students portrayed the real meaning of Christmas. “No,” as the boy said, “Christmas is not all about yummy food and presents, Christmas is about the birth of a great teacher whose message seems to be somewhat lost in the world today…”
For the activities, I stood outside on the men’s side where a huge video screen was visible for those outside. It probably was the best place to be, for I could see the beautiful white candle, (not real of course) that stood centre stage and brought the feeling of light and sacredness to the overly flowery stage. The last part of this morning’s celebrations was a light-hearted and very Western concert of Christmas songs… then Bhajans ended the morning.
I loved sitting outside where I had the freedom to move around the beautiful ashram… I remained, for the most part of the morning, at the West gate, where I could sit on my own and truly take in the spirit of Christmas.
The decorations inside the ashram this year were arranged by the New Zealanders. The theme being hearts in silver and white on a blue background. The hearts moved on the breeze giving them a ethereal feeling. Also there were blue lights and lanterns hanging from the columns of the Sai Kulwant hall. Must say it was very pretty. The garlands on the wrought-iron gates and in the public areas were white, yellow and red and blue, a unique design that I had not seen before.
Back to my updates for this Christmas
Christmas afternoon: The international children’s choir presented a collection of sweet songs on the Christmas theme and as always they performed very well. The last day, yes – an added day that came as a surprise to us all, saw the South Africans perform a play on the birth of Jesus together with a thoughtful presentation on love to all creatures as taught by Jesus the Christ. They further emphasized the sorry state of the world and how we are destroying it by our lack of love and love of things, (stuff) also included in their programme was love for all other species that we share our world with. This kind gesture from the South African community finished the Christmas holiday presentations for this year.
( Will add Christmas at Prashanti photos soon )
We wanted to share this touching Christian parable by Hans Christian Anderson
The Little Match Girl
So terribly cold it was, and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year. The snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling along at a terrible rate. She could not find one of the slippers, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything from her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.
Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s Eve. In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew one out—“scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.
She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.
She lit another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant’s. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had seen in the show windows, looked down upon it all. The little girl stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.
The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.
She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon day, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.
In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little girl, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall: she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year. The New Year’s sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New Year’s day.
This video was given to my dad, a gift at Prashanti for Christmas time 2010. He was doing seva dal service in the holy Christmas month. Due to his kind work and seva, he received this DVD. It is not in production and only a few people have it. You cannot purchase the DVD from Prashanti or anywhere for that matter . Here, I have uploaded it on you tube for the WORLD to see!!! 😀
The video is twenty-three minutes long. enjoy!!!
“Look out into the
universe and contemplate the
glory of God.
Observe the stars,
millions of them,
twinkling in the night sky,
all with a message of unity,
part of the very nature of God.
I thought the video posted above might be an enjoyable addition to the blog, as a much valued memory of the last Christmas with Sai Baba, before his passing. This video is probably most suited to Sai devotees, due to the theme being solely created around Him and his work… Lovely and sentimental for those who are devotees. Thanks.
****.♥ಌڿڰۣ N░A░M░A░S T░E’♥ ॐ♥”*****
I am posting lots at the moment as I will be away in India for two months from middle of Feb.
The story begins about eight years after the tragic story of the heroic bell ringer of the grand cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. It is a short tale about how one girl was enchanted by the mysterious bell ringer and how he inspires her dreams, indeed, her entire childhood and life. Sad this story may be, if you read it, you may agree that it is mainly about dreams and hope.
The bells rang out in the dead of night; they brought character to the city of Paris. Even though the city was asleep; the voices of the bells did not go unnoticed, for in one house, just an ordinary insignificant house; someone heard their song. Lying in her bed was a girl aged about sixteen by the name of Marie listening intently to the symphony of the bells of Notre Dame. A tear trickled down her cheek when she heard them; they were dead.
As a child Marie had always heard the chime of the bells, from the first time she heard their delightful sound she was in love. When she was very small she thought that the bells were enchanted and rung on their own accord, but when she got older she heard people talking about a mysterious bell ringer. When she heard this she pondered over it; everyday she thought about the mysterious bell ringer and came to the conclusion that he must be and angel. Through out her childhood she had an obsession with angels as well as church bells; she would dream about the bell tower looked inside. She knew that she was blessed to be named after one of the bells in the tower. To her the bell tower of Notre Dame was a magical kingdom ruled over by a kind angel and emperor in one. Every night she dreamed about the bells and listened to their chorus as she drifted off to sleep.
However, all this ended when she was seven; her parents announced that they had decided to move out of Paris for nine years. When Marie heard this news, she was devastated; it was as if her entire world was falling apart before her very eyes. She would never forget the day the carriage began taking her away from where she had lived her entire life. The bells that rung out on that day sounded even more beautiful than usually, as if her angel, the bell ringer was saying farewell and this was how Marie always remembered the bells of Notre Dame.
In her years away from Paris Marie grew up; the transformation was so gradual that she did not realized until she returned to Paris. In The years she had been away her beliefs regarding the bell ringer had changed; at the age of twelve, she had stopped believing that he was an angel, she decided that he was a person. However she concluded that he was a person better than most, more interesting, strong and braver. He was her hero, her knight in shining amour and he was real. One her thirteenth birthday she promised herself that when she got to Paris she would go to Notre Dame and meet the bell ringer.
A few days after her sixteenth birthday, with high spirits she set off to Paris, to meet the man who had inspired her childhood. So many thoughts, memories and feelings penetrated the soul of Marie and uplifted her soul. So many hopes, indeed, her dreams were to be found in Paris. She entered the gate with the excitement and knowledge that the bells would be ringing any moment now. Suddenly came a sound; it was the bells!
However Maris’s joy ended as aptly as it had begun. They were not the heavenly sounds that she had heard nine years before, something was missing.
We shall end in the same place as we begun; Marie sat up remembering what she had heard that day about the fate of the tragic bell ringer of Notre Dame. The truth was plain and simple: he had disappeared without a trace for several years until they had found what was assumed to be the skeleton of him. The person whom she had spend her entire life seeking, who she had aspired to meet was now dead, gone forever. Although she did not know him properly, or even met him, there was a void in her heart.
Getting up from her bed, she threw open the window and gazed out to Notre Dame and whispered the magic word of her childhood and her entire life: “Quasimodo.”
Notre Dame on Christmas Eve. A family light a candle in front of the Nativity of the baby Jesus
Christ was born in the first century, yet he belongs to all centuries. He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries.