scheduled for a Christmas Day debut, granddaughter Keaton arrived in
the wee hours of Monday morning, in plenty of time to avoid head to
head competition with Baby Jesus.
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 Nana Betsy's face to mine following the sound of our voices later that day, I could feel her Presence. It was 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" didn't resonate with what I was experiencing. The prevailing narrative proclaiming this to be a special time to celebrate the God of Love didn't ring true. Fermented spirits seemed more prevalent than the spiritual. The mirth and merriment felt hollow.
At the time, 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. It's not just me. As scientific materialism and its begotten son, capitalism, steamrolled their way through the past several centuries, they threw the Christ child out with the bathwater.
The stories of the birth of Jesus, like the stories of the birth of Buddha, are woven with the golden strands of myth and miracle. Preceded by dreams and visions, accompanied by choruses of angels, celestial beings, spectacular stars, showers of perfumed blossoms cascading from the sky, their births were seen as sacred incarnations, the transcendent becoming immanent. In their own way, speaking within their own religious and cultural contexts, both Jesus and Buddha declared that there was an essential spiritual reality that was the source and fulfillment of human life. Each proclaimed that love and compassion and wisdom were gateways to that reality.
Both Buddha and Jesus (and countless other Spiritual Teachers) also taught that greed, our attempts to grasp at possessions, power, status, and the other mundane pursuits were "false gods." Promising fulfillment and happiness, they would never deliver the Goods. They would always lead to 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. At Christmas time, the irony of piles of
new toys laying in the midst of piles of torn wrapping paper as millions of people face starvation never escapes me. Neither does the incongruity of exchanging war toys and violent video games in the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.
Yet, I digress...
What Child Is This?
As I held the newborn Keaton, I could feel the Ultimate Preciousness of Life in my arms. With my heart wide open and aching, I was also aware of Death -- both in it's final form and in its everyday form. There is the death that lies at the endpoint of our human life. There is also a death that is, perhaps, even more tragic. It occurs each day as we fail to recognize and honor the ever-present Sacred Miracle of Life. I'm grateful to Keaton Izzy for making that impossible that day.
I felt the One Love that is the source and fulfillment of life's journey alive and well in that room as parents and grandparents basked in the glory of the newborn. The Adoration of the Magi had nothing on this scene. It wasn't a manger, but this, too, was a Sacred
The Bottom Line
Love is central to both the Teachings of Jesus and of 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 our True Nature, to one another, and to the One Love that exists within and beyond all that is.
It is, after all, as simple as that.
But, of course, simple doesn't mean easy. Love is not just a "many splendored thing." It's much more than a desirous aching, or even an emotional warmth. Love is a quality of consciousness that embraces Life with great caring and understanding.
No mean feat, cultivating True Love in our lives is an
exacting discipline. It takes commitment, time and effort. You have to
be willing and able to break your heart -- over and over again. It
I'm going to Sit now. What are you up to?
Originally Published December 19, 2013