Holidays are filled with family memories and traditions, interwoven into the fabric of who we are. This month’s contemplation article, “Celebrating Light,” by Swamiji and Rukmini made me contemplate the most meaningful for me: the Christmas Eve lighting of the candles.
Around midnight the church deacons dim all the lights and the angelic voices of the choir begin singing “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Then, from one end of the pew to the other, each person lights another’s candle. As the sanctuary slowly fills with light, our voices join together in tender melody. From the time I was a little girl, the magic of this moment filled my heart. To this day, it still does, yet there’s a difference.
As a yogi, I expect every day to be filled with the light of that newborn babe: Consciousness born, over and over again, in every moment, in every heart, no matter what is happening on the outside.
This does not describe religion. This is mysticism: the ability to see the Divine in All; to experience the hidden mystery of your own inner Self. With this understanding, a yogi can love and respect all religions.
Sutra 8 of the Pratyabhijinahrdayam explains: “Consciousness becomes many different traditions to meet the needs of so many different people.”
We are all unique expressions of the one Divine Reality. Knowing this makes every day a holy day.
When you are not feeling the sacred in your everyday, you’ve lost the Self. You feel “empty, needy and incomplete.” Then, when the holiday hoopla kicks in, you’re more easily seduced by the excesses and false promises of the season. But yoga gives you independent bliss — an ever-arising fountain of joy that overflows into your life and into every relationship. Now you can give from a place of fullness, needing nothing in return. Such is the freedom of the Self! In this way, you could see celebrations as a Marker Pose, to see how far you’re coming along in your inner and outer journey.
Christmas Eve is one of those sacred moments when my Christian roots merge with my mystical life as a yogi. The passing of the candle flame has an even deeper significance for me as well. Verse 109 of the Guru Gita describes the gift of the Guru:
Nityam brahma nirakarm nirgunam bodhayet param
Just as one lamp lights another lamp, the Guru imparts the knowledge that everything is Brahman (God). — rendered by Swami Nirmalananda
Where can you go that God is not? Without the Guru lighting my inner lamp with her Cosmic Light, I would still be stumbling around in the shadows of my small “s” self. I’d still be looking for others to fill me up. But Swamiji has given me my Self, revealing a rich dimensionality to whatever I am experiencing. The carol “Silent Night” describes this inner state perfectly: “All is calm, all is bright.” Being attuned to my innermost essence, while being open to everything around me, makes every moment, in every day, a holy day.
Om svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah
To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.