Sitting without power in a northern Vermont/New York town, a few of us huddle against the hotel’s fireplace and embrace the radiant heat. And thus, another Christmas Eve stands firm at my door. Here in the woods, there is no Santa, no ghost of Christmas past and even Marley has been placed upon the back shelf of many a mind.
Still, if I had to explain what Christmas is all about, I would summarize by using the word “love” or “compassion.” Certainly, we can see Christ’s compassion. He had many faces; some fierce; some wrathful; some tender; some wise. Dalai Lama once said, “Love and compassion are necessities. Thus, without them, humanity cannot survive.“
Without becoming religious, I have been lucky to see Christ everywhere. There are so many whose hands and eyes have touched me. And in an unceasingly unending river of love, they continue to embrace my soul today. They touched me when I was partially paralyzed after a military accident some 30 years ago. And because of my caregiver’s strength, her strength became the kind of mudra and imprimatur that now guides my life. She could clearly see into the nature of my suffering. And she stood strong, recognized that I’m wasn’t separate from her and transformed my suffering.
But Christ’s compassion has another component: the seeds of compassion require watering. Several weeks ago, I attended a healthcare fair in East St. Louis, Illinois. Anyone traveling through East St. Louis would say that this is the land God forgot. The seeds of their own compassion had rarely been watered. But the conditions for compassion must be activated, they have to be aroused. Each us can activate an amazing abundant amount of compassion throughout our life, but we choose otherwise. Why?
Sometimes we hinder love through our own self-pity, our higher-than-thou moral outrage, or simple fear. We look unto the world and see a world paralyzed by fear. And in that paralysis, our capacity for compassion also becomes paralyzed. Instead, we harbor a “scarcity mentality” and shrivel in the face of trial. Thus, compassion drains us.
But I promise you the type of love and compassion Christ delivered can be truly enlivening. We can open the world and have an undefended heart. The archetype of this in Buddhism is Avalokiteshvara, Kuan-Yin, she who perceives the cries of suffering in the world. We can stand with 1,000,000 others, hand-in-hand, and embrace the powerful instrument of love.
This Christmas, I ask you to come out of the cave. Be compassionate, remove one another’s problems and transform yourself into the Buddha of love, into the Christ of compassion.
We can be powerful partners of life – we can be compassionate fathers, with sons who are loved, with daughters who are honored, with mothers who are proud. We can embrace the plumber, the road builder, the caregivers, the doctors, the lawyers, the president (faults and all), and with all beings.
This Christmas, sit in the lotus sea of love and actualize the potential for all mankind. That’s what Christ accomplished. And we can as well.
Have a wonderful and blessed holiday.