The meaning of Christmas
Dr. Harbhajan Singh, 25th December 1992, St. Gilgen

Dear brothers and sisters,

First of all my heartiest congratulation to all of you for the Christmas celebration. Everybody loves to celebrate this occasion. Each year we remember Him by celebrating His birthday. What is meant by celebration? To remember someone who is very lovable to you. We celebrate the birthday of Masters, and we celebrate the birthday of all who are lovable to us.

Celebration means remembrance, to remember somebody out of love. So Masters tell us, “Remember your purpose of human life – that is a celebration, that is the real celebration.” Because when Masters came into the world, they brought all undertaking for us. They became responsible for all human beings. If their purpose is fulfilled, they are very happy. If their purpose is not fulfilled, they are not happy.

So we have to please those Masters and we can only please them, if we ‘celebrate’ our purpose, if we remember our purpose every moment. He who fails to do that cannot celebrate His birthday.

Yesterday night I was telling you that one is the inner and one is the outer (Christmas celebration). And the outer one cannot be without the real one. So there is a fast connection between the two – between the inner and the outer. From the outer we have to start the real celebration that is from the core of our heart. So they have a very fast connection and we cannot separate the two. By celebrating outside we can celebrate it also within. As for example, when we sit together, when we gather in His name, it is also to remember Him, it is also to celebrate the birthday.

So what is there? A new person who comes to the Satsang (gathering) – first, he is ignorant, he is not knowing about the truth. He says, “Let us go there and see what is there.” He comes only to examine those things. When he sits in the Satsang, his ignorance is removed. He says, “Yes, there is something.” And he feels that it is an addition to his knowledge. Sometimes he gets some radiation while sitting in the Satsang. This is another radiation onto his knowledge, rather it is an additional knowledge to his awareness. So then he feels happy.

But then there is a veil of another curtain – that is a curtain of otherness. He says, “Yes, all who are sitting there are separate from me. I am another one, I am the stranger.” That is also another curtain. So what the (inner) Master does? He removes this curtain in a lovable way. He helps him to sit beside, He befriends him. Because He is the Father, He loves the child from the core of the heart. So sooner or later this otherness is removed also. This is another veil.

Then there is another curtain, a very heavy curtain, that is a curtain of ego: “This much I knew beforehand, it is not a new thing, it is written in the Holy Scriptures, this I learn from other people also. It is no problem (to go there or not), I have so many duties in the world I must do beforehand. It is my responsibility, I cannot forget it. If I forget, I am not a human being, I am not of any use to my family and my kids and kins.” So there are a lot of things which he has acquired through the ego. There are thousands of offshoots of the ego. Even if his curtain of ignorance is removed, his curtain of duality is removed, the curtain of ego is still there – he cannot get rid of it. He says, “Whatever I know, no other one can know, I know it best.” That is also the curtain of ego: “I already know this thing, I learnt it from others, this is the simplest way, better I should go through this way.” This is a mind-made problem, this is also the offshoot of the ego.

There are some things which help us to celebrate our remembrance, our purpose of human life every day. If we celebrate it every day, then it will lead us somewhere. If we forget it, we delay. Because we cannot recall the time which is past. It is gone, it has brought us nearer to the end of our life. So celebrating Christmas or the birthday of our Master is very unique, if we remember it (our aim of life). Masters tell us the best way, the very beautiful way to overcome all these problems. So let us count what are all those things by attaining which we are nearer to the goal:

This ego has separated the soul, the consciousness from its origin. It has concealed its activity, but ego itself is wide spreading outside. If we know our difficulties, if we know our problems – the source of which is within, not outside – we can overcome them.

The thinking of every person is separate, one sees everything with his own angle of vision. But if one knows how to differentiate, then all the diseases and difficulties are removed. Because if one becomes true to himself even for a moment, he wants to get rid (of this way of) life. He says, “No, it is a dirty life, it is not a good life, I must not remain in it.” Because the very pure life that is within, that is over-brimming with all consciousness, that is separated (from our self), because our soul is now in a cage, a cage of ego. It is very strong, it is an irony cage. Even if the soul wants to come out of it, it cannot come out. Masters tell us, “It is a very irony cage – the consciousness, or the spirit, the soul within is fully concealed in it, it cannot come out of it.”  It is the ego, it is the cage of ego.  

So how can we open it? Yes, there is a way: With right understanding we can get rid of it. Some Masters tell us, with humility we can open it. Humility is the key to open that cage and set the soul free. When the soul is set free, it starts to fly into the high heaven. It has no problem.

So those things: otherness, duality, ignorance are the offshoots (of the mind), and sometimes man does not understand, even if given a lot of examples. He says, “No, it is not a new thing for me.” But he doesn’t take those words to his heart. He says, “No, I know it.” He knows it from outside (from his brain), but he does not know it from within. To know it from within differs a lot from knowing it from outside. It is a big difference. If really one knows the very mystery, the very remembrance from within, he cannot remain separated from the one whom he loves. This is the difference.  

But we can live in the world without the one whom we love, on what ground? There are so many grounds. Because it is something outwardly. But what is inwardly, what is within, that is a very separate thing. He who lives the life within, he shall have no rival, he shall have no difficulty, he shall have no disease of the mind, and he shall have no barrier within. His consciousness at once will flow out of this body, it will never like to live in it. It will always try to go out (to rise above the body consciousness).

So our problems are within and not outside. Those problems which we think to be clutching us from outside – they are not clutching us from outside, no, we have tied them very tightly within. We do not want to let them go. We think that if these things will go away, we will be bankrupt, we will lose everything, we will get no respect in the world. So lots of things are there that arise out of our feelings and emotions. These are only feelings and emotions and nothing beyond that.

Ultimately we will see that there is something to change us, (which helps that) we can change ourselves. If really we know our subject, everyone wants to have it. This is a beautiful life, because only by remembrance we are taken back by the one whom we remember, it is a link.   

Even meditation itself is to remember God, to remember Him breath by breath, to remember His commandments word by word, so that He is embedded in us and we are also embedded therein.  Our purpose is to create everlasting contact with Him.  

So when Christ came, He also said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” What are those commandments? All those commandments make us human beings. We feel our ignorance that we must rise above the otherness and duality and that we should shatter the veil of ego. All that we have to do. These are His commandments: that man must become a (real) man. He should not simply look like a man, but he must appear like a human in the world. That was his purpose. So if we knew our purpose and stick to it, then definitely we would have the right understanding.  

When we differentiate, when we discriminate, we do not haphazardly mix up the things together. After all, there is only one answer to one question, why do we create a second one? The one who is awakened will only give you one preference, the main preference. He will only give you one answer and not a second answer.

In this connection we have one story : One time Guru Nanak went to Mekka, the pilgrimage place for the Mohammedans. (Lying down), He stretched His legs towards the Kaaba. So one Muslim came there and said, “No, you are doing not right, you are doing wrong. You should not have stretched your legs towards the Kaaba.” Guru Nanak said, “For me this whole world is a temple of God. It does not make any difference to me. So if you can find any difference, you can move my legs to any direction you want.” He did so, and thereafter he saw that the Kaaba itself was rotating. “What a mysterious man he is,” he said, “It has rotated even the Kaaba!” So Guru Nanak told, “Well, gentleman, understand me: My religion is understanding, right understanding, and that is very universal. I have come over here for a special purpose – to give you that right understanding and universal teaching. I am not a sticky person,my purpose is very different.”

Masters come into the world, their purpose is to awake us from the slumber, the slumber of otherness, the slumber of duality -and we are slumbering on the level of our senses and the mind.

It is the disciple who has to discriminate, not the Master. (So-called) “masters” are everywhere in the world, but they do not discriminate, they have no power to discriminate. There is only One who has already risen above the discriminating power, He is one with God, I tell you. It is our purpose to discriminate. A lot of people are only misguided and misled because they do not discriminate. They say, “No, (my) master is very humble.” How have they thought over if he is humble? Only from outward expression. From inward they never knew, because they themselves didn’t go within. We even never cared to go within, we didn’t know how to rise above these problems of the ego.

So celebration means to awake into our self. It is entirely a (question of) man making: that right from today we start to live for our (higher) self, to awake into our self. That is a real celebration.