Our Neighbours are those we encounter in our day-to-day life

24 Dec 2021, – Christmas Celebrations, Amritapuri

As is the tradition in Amritapuri, Christmas was celebrated in grand style on Friday, After Amma’s evening bhajan program concluded, Amma came down in the hall to sit among the devotees to enjoy the annual Christmas program.

First Amma shared her Christmas message, in which she said, “In order to awaken and raise the awareness level of human beings, Mahatmas lived their lives as models for people to emulate. The fact that our world is surviving even to the extent it is, testifies to the brilliance of the light they imparted. The solution for all the misery and troubles encountered by humankind—in the past, present and future—can be summed up in just two words – “Practice dharma.” Amma must say that this is the solution to all our problems.

When we build a house, we first have a blueprint. Then we construct the house based on that. When we follow this method, there is no need for fear. It is the same when we follow dharma. Every person has a dharma, every situation has its own dharma, and every role we play has its dharma as well. Many facets of dharma are based on circumstance, time, place and culture.

Mahatmas have always engaged in action. There were kings who were self-realised, who executed all their duties. Sri Rama and Sri Krishna not only engaged in action themselves, they also inspired others to perform actions as well.

Sri Krishna was born in the most challenging environment—a dungeon. Evil forces tried as hard as they could to stop him from incarnating. But who can obstruct God’s power? The prayers of his parents, Vasudeva and Devakī, were ultimately heard. This teaches us that no matter how many hurdles a spiritual aspirant may face, he should never lose faith.

Children, as you all know, even though the movie plays on the screen in a movie theatre, the screen is never affected by the changing scenes. In the same way, Mahatmas are able to stand back and watch as a witness as the different scenes in their lives come and go. They accept the good and bad that life brings equally. They are able to maintain their internal smile in all situations.

Fully knowing that Judas would one day betray him, Christ nonetheless accepted Judas as his disciple on equal footing with all his other disciples. Love does not differentiate between the two. The water of the Ganga is considered by some as holy, while others merely use it for usage in the toilets. Does the Ganga treat them differently? Similarly, Mahatmas know only to love. They know the human mind is always changing. Even when they know that a person may swerve from the path of virtue in the future, they will continue to shower their love. They give everyone the opportunity to rise to virtue. However long one may live with a mahātmā, if one’s heart doesn’t open, one will not change.

Each individual is responsible for his own wrongdoings. The wrongdoer should sincerely repent for his mistakes, and a complete surrender should take place within him. Just as a full pot cannot take any more water, a mind filled with arrogance will not be able to receive anything. In the same way, an upside-down pot will not be able to gather even a drop of water. Also, water gathered in a pot with mud in it, will also become muddy. So, unless the person repents for his wrong deed, it will be difficult for him to change. If he lacks internal surrender, it will be difficult for him to change.

The company of a Mahatma is an opportunity they offer to others. If others do not use that opportunity appropriately, they alone are the losers. This is what happened in the case of Judas. Even if someone tries their best to harm a mahātmā, they will never be able to disturb the mahātmā’s internal peace and bliss. The mahātmā knows that ultimately only the truth will triumph.

The spirit behind Christmas is that of loving each other, giving and sharing. The holiday urges us to relinquish our hatred and enmity, and to forgive and forget.

When we are prepared to hear the sorrows of the distressed, when we are ready to speak words of comfort to them, when we show the inclination to offer help to those who are going through a difficult time, in reality we are uplifting ourselves. “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” as Christ said. Being a good neighbour is a quality we should have in every circumstance and at every moment in life. Our neighbours are those we encounter in our day-to-day life. If we can be good neighbours to those we deal with closely, we will not have to go searching for peace anywhere else. Then peace has already become ours.

On Christmas, we are filled with enthusiasm, excitement and happiness. We forget everything, dress in new clothes, string lights and exchange gifts. May our celebration not be limited to formal traditions, but also enable us to listen to the voice of the soul and act accordingly. May all such festival days be opportunities for this.

With all our mind, with all our heart, with all our strength, with complete devotion and faith, the attitude of surrender has to take birth in us and make us fitting receptacles of God’s grace. May grace bless my children.”

After sharing her message, Amma’s children from all over the world took to the stage and shared a message of joy and celebration expressed through various performances. There were several dances, traditional songs from Mexico, as well as a short play about the value of making space for others in our hearts.

The Christmas festivities concluded with Amma leading the entire assembled crowd in two bhajans (Every Nation, All Creation…All Around the World, Joy Embraces All, in English and Tannane Tanna Tanna ) and a group prayer for world peace with the chanting Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. Finally Amma personally blessed tray after tray of a chocolate Christmas cake – enough for each person at the festivities to get a piece, and ending the holiday with a tangible sweetness that had imbued each moment of the day.