25 December 2003, Amritapuri
It was after midnight on the morning of 21 December as seven busloads of Amma’s weary children returned to Amritapuri from the Kozhikode tour. One of the first things to greet everyone as they entered the ashram’s back gate was a humble manger scene near the western canteen. The sight offered our tired bodies fresh spirit. From one celebration to another, life with Amma is a never-ending festival!
During this week’s question and answer satsang, Amma asked Her western children to explain the true significance behind Christmas celebrations. Many beautiful responses came pouring forth. One devotee expressed that she felt that the true essence of Christmas has been lost these days, saying that too much importance is given to external things like spending money on food, clothes and decorations.
“The real essence of Christmas this devotee continued, “has to do with a child born 2,000 years ago named Jesus, who became the Christ, and who took a body like the rest of us except that, like Amma, He was born knowing who He was: the all-knowing and universal Divine Energy. Like a good shepherd, He came looking for all of His lost sheep, and just like Amma, He came to wake us up to the awareness of our true Nature! The teachings of Jesus can guide us from unreality to reality. He was the same divine energy that has now incarnated as Amma.
Another devotee approached Amma very humbly and full of devotion, saying, “The birth of the baby Jesus represents the birth of the divine child within our hearts. Just as Jesus was born in the darkest part of the year, He is also born in the darkest part of our hearts, but He brings us Light. We nourish Him with Amma’s Satsangs and Love, and this Light gives us discrimination, enabling us to rid ourselves of our anger and other negativities.She ended by prayerfully and tearfully saying, “Thank you, Amma, thank you …
One western man came forward and told a story from his childhood. “Once, when I was a boy he said, “I bought a small ceramic choirboy as a Christmas gift for my mother. However as I was returning home, I stopped to join a snowball fight with some other boys. As I put my bag down, the choirboy was shattered. When I got home and realized this, I cried and cried. But my father very patiently helped me to glue the pieces back together and apply fresh paint. When I gave it to my mother, she was so happy!
And he added, “I just received an email from my mother telling me that she had just put the same choirboy onto the mantle. So, Christmas always makes me think of this choirboy. He then began to express how grateful he is to Amma, but became so emotional that he couldn’t continue speaking.
Amma replied that She liked all the answers that Her western children gave, and that this devotee’s story of the choirboy was a good one, showing that what he was really trying to give to his mother was his heart. Amma recollected the words of Jesus, “Love thy neighbor as thyself, and explained that only when you see others as your own true self will real love flow towards the whole of Creation.
Elaborating, Amma said, “All are joined by the thread of love. Love knows no barriers, such as caste, creed, religion or nation. We are all like different beads joined by the thread of love. Love has no boundaries. Love is the essence of all religions. The awareness level is very low in all of us at present, and festivals like Christmas must help us to regain this awareness. Such occasions have to be used to rekindle love within us.
“Awareness is needed for this. We have to wake up. To realize one’s true nature, the Divine within us, we have to transcend the ego, and this comes through surrender towards God. As you become more and more humble, you become more and more receptive to God’s grace. The attitude that ‘I am just a mere instruments in God’s hands’, that it is God’s strength and not my own that does everything, should always be maintained.