Meaning of Christmas
By Dr. Jacob Mathew, Chief Editor, Holisticonline.com
It is the holiday season. The malls are full of shoppers making last minute purchases for Christmas. Children anxiously wait for the arrival of Santa and the
gifts. The parents chase the latest, hot toys for their children.
No one has time to contemplate the real message of Christmas.
Christmas is about the birth of a savior. It is the birthday of Jesus.
The key teaching of Jesus was that God is love. It was a new commandment. No more an eye for an eye. No more karma - where you are judged solely by what you do. Jesus knew that it is impossible for man to live a perfect, sinless life - only God can do that. What we need to do is to trust in God and accept his unconditional love. What can be simpler?
|A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Greater love has no man this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
"Let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love"
1 John 4:7-8
Aly Wassil was born in a Muslim family and studied all major religions. In his book, "The Wisdom of Christ, " Aly described the central theme of the teaching of Jesus. He said:
"In the midst of his strife and suffering, confusion and chaos, fears and frustrations, man asks desperately, "My God, what shall I do? Tell me what to believe! What is it you have to teach me?"
Christ's answer is simple and clear: "Love God; love all mankind - love sincerely and deeply."
This is Christ's eternal message, his most profound teaching. The essence of all religion-the noblest of man's pursuits-is summed up in this simple formula.
'Having love, you have everything; without love, you are
|"Christ's answer is simple and clear:
'Love God; love all mankind - love sincerely and deeply.'
This is Christ's eternal message, his most profound teaching. The essence of all religion-the noblest of man's pursuits-is summed up in this simple formula. Having love, you have everything; without love, you are nothing."
Aly Wassil, "The Wisdom of Christ"
If we examine the essence of all the major religions in the World, we will find that a common message promulgated by all of them is love.
The Prophet Mohammed, founder of Islam, had this to say about loving your fellow-man:
"Whoever is kind to his creatures, God is kind to him.
Therefore be kind to man on earth, whether he be good or bad.
By showing love to the bad you withhold him from badness.
Thus in heaven you will be treated kindly."
Gautama Buddha had this to say about love:
Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth!"
God's love or divine love exhibits certain distinguishing characteristics, according to Bishop Barnabas of the Indian Orthodox Church. These are:
- God's love is unselfish.
- God's love always aims at the welfare of His creation.
- God's love is ready to suffer anything for the good of others.
- God's love is unconditional.
- God's love expect everyone to do good ; but never forces anyone.
- God's love will continue to work to the end without getting tired or disappointed.
- God's love wants to save even the last and the least.
Sri Chinmoy described the qualities of divine love according to Hindu Philosophy as follows:
"Divine love makes no demand. It is spontaneous and constant. It is unlimited in every way. It is like the sun. The sun is for everybody. Everybody can use the sunlight, but if we keep our doors and windows shut, what can the sun do? It is God's divine Love that has to act in and through human love. But if we do not care for the divine love that is flowing around us or wants to flow in us, then the divine love cannot function in and through us. Human love binds. Divine love illumines. Divine love starts with the awareness of a higher reality. Divine love at every moment illumines us, and in illumination we see total fulfillment.
Everything that comes from God is unconditional. His love He gives unconditionally, but somebody has to receive it. The sunlight is unconditional; everybody can receive it. But if you remain fast asleep, if you do not want to open up the windows and doors, then for you there is no sunlight."
|"Everything that comes from God is unconditional. His love He gives unconditionally, but somebody has to receive it. The sunlight is unconditional; everybody can receive it. But if you remain fast asleep, if you do not want to open up the windows and doors, then for you there is no sunlight."
Differences Between Divine Love and Human Love
There is a big difference between divine love and worldly love.
Worldly love tries to separate and divide, but the divine love from God always adds and multiplies.
We often expect something back from the person to whom our love and affection is directed to. So, it is usually a "conditional" love. The God's love, on the other hand, is unconditional. He accepts us as we are with our imperfections.
When we give our love away to others, we gain. We simultaneously receive what we give. This is the law of love. Thus, when shared, there is an abundance of love. It is unlimited. We are filled with love all the time.
|When we give our love away to others, we gain. We simultaneously receive what we give. This is the law of love. Thus, when shared, there is an abundance of love. It is unlimited. We are filled with love all the time.
When we offer our love unconditionally to others (with no expectations of anything in return), the love within us extends, expands and unites. Thus, we can increase our love by giving it away or by sharing it.
In contrast, when we give away worldly love, we experience a loss. Worldly love is limited. Once given, we feel that we don't have it anymore. As a result, we suffer a loss.
A person who only has worldly love is never satisfied. He/she will feel empty. He will attempt to seek
fulfillment by seeking love and peace from wherever they can find it. Unfortunately, nothing will satisfy and fulfill him. He will be constantly searching for happiness and fulfillment; but will not find it. He will feel that his inner well is empty. He will be in need. He will then try to fulfill the imagined needs through other people.
When we depend on others to satisfy our desires, we are vulnerable to experiencing disappointment and rejection. This will lead to distress that can manifest in several forms: frustration, disappointment, anger, depression or illness. The result? We are likely to feel trapped, limited, rejected or attacked.
What should we do when we feel unloved, depressed, and empty inside? Many of us will rush to find someone who we feel will love us. This, unfortunately, is the wrong thing to do. You cannot demand love or "expect love" from someone. Instead, we should learn to love someone unconditionally - total love with no expectations in return. The other person doesn't have to change or give us anything.
|Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.
How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. If the drops of oil run out, the light of the lamp will
My daughters, what are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, punctuality, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. These are the true drops of love ...
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
True love means giving and becoming one with everything, with humanity and divinity. When we experience real love, we experience total oneness with the object we love and with the possessor of love. When we love the body, we bind ourselves; when we love the soul, we free ourselves.
When we raise our consciousness to that higher level when we can see each one of our fellow human beings and living objects in the earth as God's creation and hence worthy of our love, and recognize that we need to share what is in this earth with others, we will start recognizing divine love. We will know that this world belongs to all of us and is not specifically made for a particular person. We should consume what we need and leave the rest for others to enjoy. When we do that, we will experience the joy of loving and we will have paradise in the earth.
Unfortunately, the human tendency is to grab things thus denying access to it by others. Because of our possessiveness, we are afraid that the other person does not want us or need us. This leads to fear or hatred. It ends in frustration, and frustration is followed by destruction. In human love, we end up losing our own sweet feeling of oneness with the other person and we end up losing our divine reality.
| In human love, we end up losing our own sweet feeling of oneness with the other person and we end up losing our divine reality.
Divine love makes no demand. It is spontaneous and constant. It is unlimited in every way. It is like the sun. The sun is for everybody. Everybody can use the sunlight, but if we keep our doors and windows shut, what can the sun do? Divine love is like a fruit tree full of fruit. The tree does not judge who gets the fruit. It does not make any conditions on anyone who eats its fruit. When we possess divine love, we will recognize that the fruits are there for everyone; so we will just pick what we need and share the rest with others. Then we will all have what we need and the world will be a better place.
This is the concept of divine love as advanced by all the major religions of the world. It is the message of Christmas.
|"Jesus said love one another. He didn't say love the world, He said love one another-right here, my brother, my neighbor, my husband, my wife, my child, the old ones."
Modern Research Findings on How Love and Relationship Affects our Health
Two thousand years ago, Jesus told us that we should love everyone unconditionally and harbor no grudge within us. If we do that the kingdom of heaven will be upon us. Recent clinical research verified that love and relationship plays a profound role on our health.
In his book, "Love and survival," Dean Ornish, M.D., the cardiologist who has shown for the first time that heart disease can be reversed, gives powerful arguments in support of his thesis that "our survival depends on the healing power of love, intimacy, and relationships. As individuals. As communities. As a country. As a culture. Perhaps even as a species."
Over quarter of a century of clinical research examining how lifestyle changes affects coronary heart disease has convinced Dr. Ornish that the most powerful and meaningful intervention is love and intimacy and the emotional and spiritual transformation that often results.
Dr. Ornish says that love and intimacy are a root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing.
According to him, "if a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for their patients."
|"If a new drug had the same
impact (as love and intimacy), virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for their patients."
Dean Ornish, MD
This is one reason why alternative medicine is growing so rapidly. The desire for connection and caring is so compelling that many people will pay out of their own pocket in order to have these needs met. What almost all integrative medicine practices have in common is that the practitioners spend time with their patients, they listen to them, and they often touch and help them feel nurtured and nourished.
Dean Ornish believes that what we call the most soft factors within
us (such factors as love, intimacy, and meaning) are the most powerful and the most important in affecting our health and well-being. We do not understand
the mechanism in which they work; but we know the end result for sure.
There is a deep spiritual and emotional hunger in this world. In
spite of all our achievements both in science and in accumulating
wealth, most find something lacking. And that is love. Mother Teresa once
| "People today are hungry for love. That is why we are able to go to countries like England and America and Australia where there is no hunger for bread. But, there
people are suffering from terrible loneliness, terrible despair, terrible hatred, feeling unwanted, feeling helpless and feeling hopeless. True love hurts. It always has to hurt. It must be painful to love someone. You might have to die for them. When people marry they have to give up everything to love each other."
Dr. Ornish agrees. The real epidemic in our culture is what he calls emotional and spiritual heart disease, the profound sense of loneliness, isolation, alienation, and depression that are so prevalent today as the social structures that used to provide us with a sense of connection and community break down.
According to Dr. Ornish, the loneliness and isolation affect our health in several ways:
They increase the likelihood that we may engage in behaviors like smoking and overeating that adversely affect our health.
They decrease the likelihood that we will make lifestyle choices that are life-enhancing rather than self-destructive.
They increase the likelihood of disease and premature death from all causes by 200 to 500 percent or more, independent of behaviors, through different mechanisms, many of which are not fully understood.
They keep us from fully experiencing the joy of everyday life.
Thus, anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering. Anything that promotes a sense of love and intimacy,
joy, sharing, connection and community, is healing.
The absence of love is characterized by lack of joy. We feel sad. The
profound sadness that one may feel, if not taken care of, may manifest as depression. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 depression will be second only to heart disease as the leading cause of disability worldwide. So, this is a serious problem in our world.
"Depression is really the only systemic disease that affects-and complicates-almost all other diseases," says Philip Gold of the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression can affect, complicate, and trigger disorders like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even osteoporosis.
A 1993 study showed that when patients are depressed and have a heart attack or congestive heart failure, their outcomes tend to be poor compared with people who are not depressed. Depression appears to be an independent risk factor for the development of heart disease.
There is a close tie between depression and diabetes. Studies have shown that if you are depressed you have twice the likelihood of being diabetic, and if you are diabetic you have twice the likelihood of being depressed. Diabetes is more likely to rage uncontrolled when it's accompanied by depression.
Several studies have demonstrated that an earlier history of depression was associated with marked osteoporosis.
There is a significant association between reduced bone mineral density and depression.
Depression affects 23 to 60 percent of cancer patients. Of course, part of the reason
may be the reaction to getting the life-threatening disease. However,
studies have shown that depression can alter the Immune system. So, having depression can promote our getting cancer.
Thus having love, joy and happiness are very important for our health
and not having them do not bode well for our long life. So Jesus was
right on the money when He stressed the importance of love for the attainment of the
The role of joy, love, and grace is best illustrated in a poem written by Edna
Let joy enhance our morning,
Let Love fulfill our day;
Let grace and sweet humility
Be ours along the way.
In Mind we find our wisdom
In Soul we find our peace;
God, Love, forever guides us
To joys that never cease.
Helen Steiner Rice has expressed beautifully in her poem what happens when we are blessed with divine love:
Where There Is Love
By Helen Steiner Rice
Where there is love the heart is light,
Where there is love the day is bright,
Where there is love there is a song
To help when things are going wrong ...
Where there is love there is a smile
To make all things seem more worthwhile,
Where there is love there's quiet peace,
A tranquil place where turmoils cease -
Love changes darkness into light
And makes the heart take "wingless flight"
Oh, blest are they who walk in love,
They also walk with God above.
And when man walks with God again,
There shall be Peace On Earth for men
May we all have
The Spirit of Christmas which is PEACE
The Gladness of Christmas which is HOPE, and
The Heart of Christmas which is LOVE.
From all of us at Holisticonline.com, we wish you all a Merry
Christmas and a Happy New Year.