Sporting all ten fingers and toes, sparkling with Buddhanature, her birth, like all births, is another obvious Affirmation of the Miraculous. As she peered from one face to another, following the sound of our voices, I could feel her Presence as the Incarnation of pure, unadulterated Life Force.
Touched by the Great Mystery once again, I felt a deep joy -- and a deep sadness.
Even as a child, the Christmas season always brought with it a certain sadness. Something seemed more than slightly askew. The messages of "peace on earth" and "goodwill to all", the prevailing story line proclaiming this to be a special time of mirth and merriment, didn't resonate with what I what I saw around me. I imagined it was just the chaos and uncertainty of my own childhood that left me feeling somehow "out of the loop".
As the years have rolled by, I have thought that less and less. Sadness is an integral part of the human condition.
The stories of the birth of Jesus, like the stories of the birth of Buddha, are woven with strands of the myth and miracles. Preceded by dreams and visions, accompanied by choruses of angels and showers of perfumed blossoms cascading from the sky, both of these special beings brought into the world teachings which stressed the primary role of love and compassion in our lives.
Each of these Teachers spoke of an essential spiritual reality that lay within and beyond each of us. Each repeatedly pointed out that worldly rewards of wealth, status, power, etc. were "false gods" and that grasping onto such things would always lead to human suffering.
And yet, here we are, about 6% of the earth's people, living in the richest nation on earth, chewing up about 50% of the earth's resources and spitting out about 50% of it's pollution and garbage each day. Every day that we spend our time doing "business as usual," the possibility that we are heading toward a climatic armageddon increases. At Christmas time, the irony of piles of new toys laying in the midst of piles of torn wrapping paper as a celebration of the birth of Jesus never escapes me.
As I held the newborn Keaton Izzy, those thoughts dissolved. Sitting there, I could feel the Ultimate Preciousness of Life cradled in my arms. I was deeply aware that hers, too, was a Sacred Birth. The Adoration on the Magi had nothing on this scene. With parents and grandparents gathered around, bringing the gift of their Presence, the Sacred was affirmed.
The Truth was self-evident. This precious child was an Incarnation of the One Love that flows beyond our notions of space and time.
With my heart open and aching, I was also aware of Death -- both in it's final form and in its everyday form. I was with my father when he passed away years before in a hospital room not unlike the one I was sitting in. With two stents in my heart as a result of the same disease that took his life and his father's life, I am acutely aware of my own mortality. I've made peace with the inevitability of my final demise.
Yet, there is a death that is more insidious, and much more common.
There is the death that emerges when we fail to recognize the ever-present, and very ordinary, Sacred Miracle that is alive in each moment. This death emerges when we mindlessly scurry ahead as individuals, and as a species, failing to acknowledge each of us is a strand in an interconnected web of life here on this precious planet. This death emerges when we fail to realize that this moment and eternity are inseparable.
With my heart wide open, I felt it all. As I held Keaton cradled in my arms, Life and Death danced in the arms of the One Love.
The bottom line?
Love is central to both the Teachings of Jesus and of the Buddha. Jesus proclaimed Love as the basic "Commandment". Buddha said Love's power to heal was the only Eternal Law. It's just like the Beatles sang, "Love is all you really need." Love connects us to one another and to the One which is Love. It is as simple as that.
Yet, of course, simple doesn't mean easy.
No mean feat, cultivating True Love in our lives is an exacting discipline. It takes commitment, time, and effort. It takes finding that place within fear that is beyond fear. It takes finding that place within sadness that is joy. It takes having the courage to be Real.
To Love, you have to be willing to look at yourself with complete honesty and compassion, and to reach out to connect with others, even when it's not easy. You have to be willing to break your heart -- over and over and over again.
It takes Practice.
As I sit here with sunlight spraying diamonds in the snow outside the window, I pray that Keaton will know that she, too, is the Christ Child, Saraswati, Kwan Yin, the Buddha. I pray that she will know True Love, know that she emerges from Boundless Love, and that in her essence she is Boundless Love. Lastly, I pray that I can be one small piece of that Knowing.
I'm going to Sit now. What are you up to?
Originally Published December 19, 2013