Bethlehem and Brindavan

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“The birthday of Christ is when He is born in each person’s heart. It is only on that day that a person is entitled to celebrate Christmas,” says Sathya Sai Baba.

Centuries ago, the apostle Paul spoke of the supreme importance of “when Christ is formed in you,” because until that moment, we remain asleep in the manger of the five senses, submitting endlessly to the demands of the lower self. But when the true nature of the Christ is perceived, an immaculate conception occurs as the higher and lower selves unite, and we know a moment of exceeding glory. Spiritual illumination is ours. At last, we un-derstand that the growth of the higher must always be at the expense of the lower. We begin to comprehend the nature of consciousness and its laws of gradual un-foldment, but we know that never again must we lose sight of the truth that “the keys of the kingdom” are found within a pure and compassionate heart.

Wherever we may be as the spirit of Christmas approaches, we stir anew to its mystery. Spiritually, it is a time of renewal, as the archangels draw near to earth, pouring their radiance and love upon the planet.

For those far from home, Christmas 1976 was a day of unique delight when, bridging the years between Bethlehem and Brindavan, Sai Baba spoke of the beloved Jesus, His purpose and His life: “He came to propagate the omnipresence of God and His might and glory.” He said, “Mary is the symbolic representative of the heart of man. Christ is the joy principle that arises in the heart. That is why the idea of the Immaculate Conception was laid down and why Mary is pictured with the child Jesus in her lap.”

At this point, Sai Baba, to the wonder and delight of His listeners, materialized a medal with Mary and Jesus on the obverse and Joseph on the reverse to be passed around and touched with reverence by the assembled company, who remembered, no doubt, the gospel stories of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold, it is said, symbolizes the spiritual self. Frankincense, which activates the head centers, pertains to the mental world. And myrrh relates to the essence of the refined soul after many incarnations offered in the love of the Christ—a truth demonstrated by certain adepts whose bodies emit fragrance. Thus the gifts of the Magi represent spirit, mind, and body relinquished by the ego to the newborn Christ. The Divine mother embodies the gentler aspect of human nature, the compassion much needed on earth.

The ideal human society that Baba, like Jesus, would have us fashion on this earth is built on the fatherhood of God and the brother-hood of man. Baba teaches today what the sages taught 5,000 years ago in India—the changeless eternal values of discipline, service, and love. These qualities are lasting; all else is transient.

Baba said, “Today we must strive neither for a new religion nor a new society nor a new code of morality. They are already here in each race and country. The basic plans for spiritual training are also laid down in most religions. But we need persons who have attained purity in all levels of consciousness. Man can reach perfect bliss only if his heart becomes free from envy, egoism, greed, and other evil traits. We need people who can recognize, and relish the recognition of, the kinship and even the identity of man and man as well as of society and society.”

“We have to move beyond the bounds of the limited ‘I’ and break loose from the entang-lements of the senses. From the narrow vision of individual need, man must voyage out into the broad vision of the universal.” In parable, Baba reminded us that when a drop of water falls into the ocean, it loses its narrow individuality, its name and form, and assumes the form, name, and taste of the ocean. If it seeks to remain separate as a drop, it will soon evaporate and be reduced to nonexistence.

Baba said, “To acquire awareness of God, there is no need to journey to any special region. It is enough to turn the eye inward, since that inner reality is splendorous like a billion suns. Man, alas, remains unaware of this glorious heritage of immortality, and blind to this truth; his life is lived out in sorrow and anxiety. Every man is a messenger to other men, entrusted with the task of spreading knowledge of the joy being missed. If he fritters away his years, he misses his mission. The more highly educated he is, the more the shame.” Referring to Jesus, He said, “He who announced Himself as a messenger developed, through the blossoming of the divinity in Him and the expression of compassion and service activities, to a stage where He declared that He was the Son of God. Then He rose to the status of ‘I and my Father are one.’”

“When man declares that he is the Son of God, he becomes entitled to the paternal majesty and power. These he can claim only when he grows in himself the qualities that his father has and appreciates. Jesus sacrificed His life, poured out His blood to instill love and compassion in the heart of man so that each one could learn to be happy when another was happy and sad when others were sad. Therefore, it is not by festivity and fun that you should celebrate Christmas. Learn, rather, to celebrate it by resolving to put into practice at least one of the ideals Jesus enunciated or by endeavoring to reach at least one of the goals He placed before man.”

Baba, surrounded by the human family at Brindavan, saw to it that both joy and brotherhood prevailed among the many overseas devotees who had gathered there for the festival. Song filled the air in early morning on that day. Devotees walked, singing through the streets, and as the familiar strains of “Silent Night” flowed out, its harmony renewed again the wonder and peace of Christmas. Dinner, a festive time, was set around a Christmas tree, but it was the message and blessings that inspired all to a deeper dedication to practice spiritual disciplines in the year ahead.

Brindavan, December 25, 1976, was a day when the true spirit of Christmas prevailed—a day to remember, a blessing received. This priceless grace was conferred upon the one family to remind us once more, “There is only one religion, the religion of love … one caste, the caste of humanity.”

Heralds of the New Age, Nov. 1977, N. Z.
Source: Sanathana Sarathi, Dec. 1977