The yoga viewpoint is different from the viewpoint that most people have. The yoga viewpoint comes from the Vedic scriptures. Yoga is very popular today. But mostly when people think of yoga, it’s hatha yoga – the physical exercises; certainly, very beneficial, but there’s much more to yoga than that. The Vedic scriptures go very, very deep into the philosophy of life. So we’ll be speaking a little bit about Christmas from that viewpoint.
Christmas is a very special time but it’s special to different people for different reasons. But more and more it’s becoming a materialistic holiday, and less and less it’s about the real reason.
I remember some years ago, probably still now, although I haven’t seen them recently, there used to be a lot of bumper stickers in America – «Jesus is the reason for the season.» And actually the word Christmas denotes that. Christ – Christmas, the time of thinking about the appearance of the great personality, Lord Jesus Christ. So because it disturbs people often times to hear this word as it reminds them of things they don’t want to be reminded of, now that slogan «Merry Christmas» is becoming «Happy Holidays.» So this is not a good thing. People may think it’s a good thing, but it’s actually a very bad thing.
Why? Because we need spirituality in our life. We cannot have a successful life without having a spiritual life, and the reason is because we are spirit souls. We identify in the material world with our material body, so whatever our body is, that becomes our identity, be it male, female, black, white, old, young, big, little. Whatever our nationality is: I am Canadian, I am American, I am German, I am Russian; whatever our profession is, that’s another part of our identity: I’m a doctor, I’m a lawyer, you know, a bum, whatever.
So we miss the whole point of life. Our life is really our spiritual identity. But this idea or truth is not promoted in the world today. It takes a great, great thing away from us and that is – the fullness, the happiness, the satisfaction of spiritual love.
Lord Jesus Christ appeared on this planet approximately 2000 years ago. And he brought one specific message – the message of love.
Love is not an unknown word. We talk about it all the time. But it’s not the love that the soul needs. The love of the world today is actually that veiled love, or that perverted love, that is all about getting something. It’s not about giving. So in the Vedic scriptures this is not described as love but as lust. Lust means I want something. Love means I want to give something. So that’s why even in relationships which we say are loving relationships I’m still wanting to get something from my loved one. And when I don’t get that, I’m disappointed. I get angry. I get frustrated. Conflict arises. Why don’t you give me what I want? Whereas when there is real love, you don’t want anything. Your happiness, your satisfaction, your pleasure is in giving. We’ve all heard the saying, «It’s more blessed to give than to receive.» And it’s true.
When Lord Jesus Christ appeared, He came from a very humble beginning. He didn’t come as some regal king with great paraphernalia surrounding His birth, and when it came time for Mary to give birth, they couldn’t even get a room. So one of the innkeepers gave them access to his shed where the animals were, and at that place Lord Jesus was born.
But it was known. It was a big event because it was so special that the star guided the wise men from a distant country to exactly that place. They had an understanding, a vision that a great king was being born. So they followed the star and it brought them to the birthplace of Lord Jesus Christ. And when they came, they came to see a great personality. So what did they do? They brought gifts – incense, frankincense, and myrrh. And this is in keeping with the Vedic teaching: when you go to see an exalted personality, you must bring a gift. This is spiritual etiquette. And this is where the whole gift thing comes from. But it’s been changed around: give nothing to Jesus and everything to us. Not good. So it’s been perverted.
Jesus grew and began to teach at a very early age, twelve years old according to the biblical account. He was speaking with the spiritual teachers, masters, authorities at that time. He was in deep spiritual discourse at twelve years old. Then there’s a period in his life where we don’t have an account of what he did. From the age of twelve until he was thirty, there is no account of where he was. Then there is accounts of his preaching around the Sea of Galilea. But there are indications, and quite authentic indications, that he spent that time in India. Now some people would strongly disagree with this, and everyone has the freedom to accept or reject it. But according to ancient historical records in India, Jesus spent a lot of time there. He wasn’t known as Jesus of Nazareth. He was known as Issar. He also had other names that he was known as. He spent time in Jagannath Puri and different places. He spent some time with the Jains, with the Buddhists in discourse teaching and hearing their teachings. So this was a special period of time.
And then he came back to his homeland, so to speak. His real mission, which was why he came, was to spread the teaching of love of God to the people who would listen to him. He spoke continuously and very dynamically about love for God because this is the whole essence of spiritual teaching. He performed some wonderful miracles. He healed people of various things:. Lame men, he made it so they could walk, blind men could see, cured leprosy – different things like this. Because he did these things, he became very popular, very well known. Being perfectly connected with the Supreme Lord, he had the power to do these things.
It really wasn’t so much his message of love that people were attracted to, unfortunately. They were more attracted to his miracles, so when he spoke to the multitudes, this is what they wanted. But unfortunately after he healed the people, they didn’t surrender to him, give their life to him, follow his teachings of spiritual love, and surrender to God. No, they got cured of their disease and they went out and enjoyed the world. Nobody stayed and said, «Jesus, I give my life to you. I want to help you to spread your mission of love of God.» There were twelve people, according to the biblical accounts, that really did this. Not twelve, eleven. Twelve became his disciples but one of those betrayed him. So we can’t really count Judas, can we? So eleven people, plus a few others who dedicated their life to Jesus, listened to him and followed him. They did everything they could to help him. But when he spoke to the multitudes, they heard him and then they went their own way. And this is the way of the material world.
Lord Jesus Christ was the perfect, pure representative of God. He said, «I am doing the work of my Father. If you know me, you know my Father. Why? Because I am the pure medium.» He didn’t say, «I am the Father.» But he said, «If you know me, you know my Father. What I do is what He does. What I think is what He thinks. Why? Our wills are dovetailed. Our wills are one. We’re united.» This is yoga. The pure meaning of yoga is the uniting of wills between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. This is a perfect yogi. So Lord Jesus Christ was a perfect yogi. He was also a perfect bhakti yogi. «Bhakti» means «devotion.» Jesus was united with the Supreme Lord in a pure loving relationship of devotion. He taught and lived bhakti yoga. He said, «My first and foremost commandment is: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy mind, thy entire being. This is what you should do with your life.»
Second commandment, «Love thy neighbor as thyself.» He was also indicating that until you actually have love for God, you can’t really love your neighbor, because pure love comes from God. So when you’re connected with God in love, automatically you’re tapped into the reservoir and the love flows into you. And where does it flow to? The heart. Because the soul is located in the heart and therefore the heart becomes filled with love. And then from your heart, which is full of love, it flows out to all others. This is how you can love everyone. You see no enemies. You only see those who you love. When you love someone, they aren’t your enemy. So that’s what he said, «Love your enemy.» So Jesus had the formula for pure peace. He was known as the peace messenger – the lamb of peace.
A lot of people think Jesus’ message was a message of salvation. «Believe in Jesus and – Hallelujah! You’re saved!» But really this is incorrect. Salvation is still a self-centered desire. I want to be saved. I don’t want to suffer. I want to be free of my sins, so I won’t have to pay the price. So it’s still about me. This is not love and it doesn’t satisfy the heart because the heart is only satisfied when it is loving the Supreme Lord and all others simultaneously. So according to the Vedic viewpoint, or the Vedic look, if you will, at Jesus and Christmas – we don’t see it like that. We see: here is a perfect example of one who has given his life completely to loving service to God and as a result changed the whole world.
But this is even too much. Even the salvation idea is too much for the world today, so we want to get rid of all semblance of Jesus. Anything that has to do with Jesus and spirituality kind of puts a damper on the «Christmas spirit,» so to speak, – the parties, and the alcohol, and the drugs, and all the crazy stuff, and the materialism in the form of buying, and the merchants making more money…
So we’ve replaced all of that with Santa Claus. Santa Claus has become the new symbol. But it doesn’t do anything for the heart. We are the person in the heart. We need to have that feeling of love. Now, it’s wonderful when we get together as family and friends and share gifts because I really want to give you something. This is a good thing. But if we leave Jesus out of the picture, we still haven’t got the right picture. So Jesus is the reason for the season. It’s a special time because it can remind us of that great personality.
Sometimes people ask me, «What do you think of Jesus,» and it’s usually in a challenging way. Because here I am teaching about meditation or reincarnation or something like this or some yoga subject matter, and they say: «Oh, what do you think about Jesus Christ?» But really what we think about Jesus Christ is we accept him as one of our spiritual masters.
Another question, «Are you a Christian?» Well, depends on what you mean by that. Are we trying to follow the example that Jesus set and develop love for God? Yes, we’re trying to do that. This is a real yoga viewpoint of Jesus. He wasn’t a Christian, if you understand, really, Jesus wasn’t a Christian, was he? There was no such thing as Christianity at that time. Jesus, according to the social customs and the religions of the day, was Jewish. But he didn’t identify with that either. He said, «I’m here to do the will of my Father.»
So when we come to that period of the year when it’s known as Christmas, we should focus more on the reality of what this means. This is when Jesus was born. This is when the Supreme Lord actually sent this wonderful personality who was His son. We’re all sons, of course. But this was His son whom He sent specifically on this mission to enlighten these people, «That if you love Me, your life will be perfect.» So we can think like that and then try to do, at least at this period of the year, those things which we know would be pleasing to Jesus, and that is – to praise his Father. And in so doing, we praise him. So we have our Christmas parties. We can center them around these activities that are pleasing to God and Jesus.
So we are chanting the names of God. This is very pleasing to Jesus. He said, «Our Father, Who art in heaven…» Our Father – not my Father, but our Father, meaning our common Father, «…Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.» The name of God is hallowed, sacred, holy. In various places in the Bible it says: «Praise the Lord by His name. Praise the name of the Lord. He, who calls on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.» So in this holiday season, if you will, when we have time off from work and time off from school, why not get together and chant these wonderful transcendental sound vibrations? And in this way we can connect. The transcendental sound connects us with Jesus and it connects us with his Father, and therefore we can experience love for God in our heart.
New Year is a few days away. So at New Year’s Eve making our New Year’s resolution, why don’t we make it a spiritual beginning for the new year and not material, «I’m going on a diet and lose weight.» Why not say, «This year I’m focusing more and more on spiritual life. I’m going to try to understand who I really am. I am spirit soul, part and parcel of God, the Supreme Soul. My position is actually always subordinate and my function is to render loving service to God.» Why not this kind of New Year’s resolution? I’ll do it! I’ll try to do more and more those things with my life that bring about a change in my heart.
And every heart that changes, changes the world. So we can make a big impact on the world, simply by changing our heart from that of a materialist wanting to somehow get more, enjoy more to one who actually does the opposite. My help is in the Name of the Lord. My help and shelter is in the Supreme Lord. My function is to actually connect my will with the Supreme Will. And if it’s only one day a week – ok, I’m busy all these other days of the week – but one day a week I’ll set aside time to do something that is what Jesus said to do. That – is a good resolution. And if you do that for your whole year, the next New Year, the next Christmas will be different. I can guarantee you. And the next New Year you’ll make another resolution that will be even more pure.
So this is the Vedic viewpoint about Christmas, about Jesus, about our connection. You see, it’s not just a historical event. We’re not thinking, «Oh, that happened 2000 years ago,» just a time event in history. No, it’s a current thing. Love of God never goes out of fashion. And this can carry us through many, many of life’s difficulties and give us a reason to live. This is the perfect Christmas gift. So Jesus gave us the perfect Christmas gift. If we take this gift, we can also give it to someone else. This is the idea. You receive it and you give it away. This – is the perfect Christmas.