25 December 2016, Amritapuri Ashram
– Excerpts from Amma’s 2016 Christmas message
When most people talk about Christmas, they talk about the great time they had with their family, the delicious dishes and sweets they prepared, and the gifts they received. Hardly anyone speaks about the prayers they offered, the spiritual practices they did, or the efforts they put towards bringing Jesus’ teachings into action. In truth, these would comprise the real Christmas celebration. Amma is not saying that the other celebrations are not needed, just that Christmas only gains its true meaning when we use it to reflect on the life and teachings of Christ and to evaluate our spiritual progress. Real love for the Lord occurs when we imbibe these ideals for which he stood, for they help us to realize the Kingdom of Heaven within ourselves and transform our life into an offering of service to humanity.
Be it Sri Krishna, Sri Rama or Jesus Christ, they all had to undergo a lot of challenges in life. However, they boldly faced them without breaking down. Moreover, they converted every obstacle into a stepping stone. This was their greatness. They showed us through their lives that if we are putting sincere effort towards a higher goal, no force in this world can stop us. Even after thousands of years, their lives still inspire us and fill us with strength.
Holidays like Christmas create opportunities for us to practice the ideal of sharing and caring. All the blessings we have received in life are not only due to our own efforts. Our success is also due to the help, prayers and blessings given to us by all those who love us. We are indebted to them. We should always remember this. Christmas is a good opportunity to express our gratitude towards such people. As we progress on the spiritual path, we should occasionally remember with gratitude all those who have helped us along our journey. If there are people who have troubled us, we must develop the ability to forgive and forget. Such an attitude is like fuel that will take us a long way forward.
The Christmas tree is a symbol of the tree of life. Just as the Christmas tree has so many ornaments hung on it, this human life of ours has also been blessed with many gifts—such as the faculty of discrimination, love, compassion and the ability to forgive. It is up to us to make the best use of these gifts. On top of the Christmas tree is a big star. This star represents the goal of human life, which is to realize our oneness with God. Using our God-given faculties, we need to attain this goal.
The seeds of spirituality lying within start sprouting when we water them with the waters of compassion. Children, we should be able to find some space in our hearts for others as well. May my children be able to achieve this.
Amma offers her children to the Paramatma. Amma wishes all her children a very Merry Christmas!
|| om lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu ||