Nine years ago yesterday, Keaton Izzy was born. It seems like her Incarnation into this dimension was only yesterday -- AND that she has been here forever. As
miraculous today as she was then, she is a on-going reminder of the sacred nature of life on earth. As Christmas 2023 approaches, I thought that I would again
share the post I wrote the week of her birth.
scheduled for a Christmas Day debut, my grandaughter, Keaton Izzy, arrived in
the wee hours of Monday morning -- in plenty of time to avoid a head to
head competition with the celebration of the Jesus's birth.
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.
As a child, the Christmas season always brought with it a certain sadness. Something seemed more than slightly askew. The idea that the holidays were a special time of mirth and merriment didn't jive with the reality of my life. Often separated from one -- or both -- of my parents, living in poverty, all those tidings of comfort and joy didn't land well for me. As the years rolled by, I imagined it was just the chaos and uncertainty of my own childhood that left me feeling sad. I thought I was just "out of the loop."
As the years have rolled by, I have thought that less and less. Even when the conditions of my life had improved, what I saw in the world around me, the scurry and stress of Christmas shopping, the drunken revelers, the television news full of the violence and warfare, made "peace on earth" and "goodwill toward men"seem like ancient and empty promises.
Yet, in my heart of hearts, something still whispers to me.
The stories of the birth of Jesus, like the stories of the birth of Buddha, are woven from strands of myth, miracle, and magic. In the ancient writings and legends, the births of these two holy men were preceded by dreams and visions. Arriving amidst choruses of angels and showers of perfumed blossoms cascading from the sky, these special beings brought into the world teachings which have influenced countless people over the course of thousands of years.
As best I understand it, both Jesus and Buddha taught that there is a spiritual dimension of life that exists within and beyond each of us. It is accessible to those who seek it. They also shared some tips on what can aid us in that search. One of the major pieces of advice flies in the face of what has emerged as the dominant theme in today's world.
Jesus and Buddha each pointed out that the worldly idols of wealth, status, power, etc. were "false gods" and that grasping onto such things would always lead to human suffering. Speaking in the words and images of their own time and culture, they pointed toward the nature of Reality. They both said that "business as usual" didn't cut it. In doing so, they each counseled us to, as Jesus worded it, "put the kingdom of God first." Following their example, we were to turn our backs on "Mammon", "take no anxious thought for the 'morrow", etc. Above all, we were called to love.
And yet, here we are. Living in the United States, the richest nation on earth, we are about 6% of the earth's people, gobbling up over 50% of the earth's resources and spitting out over 50% of it's pollution and garbage each and every day. So, at Christmas time, the irony of piles and piles of brand new toys laying in the midst of piles and piles of torn wrapping paper in a celebration of the birth of Yogi Jesus never escapes me. It's clear as a bell. Every day that we spend our time doing "business as usual," lost in the materialistic rituals of a capitalism run amuck, we continue our race toward a climatic armageddon.
That is terribly sad.
Sitting here at this moment, I'm grateful that I stumbled into a meditation practice as a young man. Over the course of the years, Practice has deepened. Again and again, I've seen that allowing myself to feel the sadness of the human condition has allowed me to open to deeper joy. In opening to life as it is -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- I open to Love.
As I held the newborn Keaton Izzy in my arms three days ago, my heart and mind opened to the ultimate preciousness of life cradled in my arms. In the eternity that flowed through each moment, I was deeply aware that, like the births of Jesus and Buddha, Keaton's birth was a sacred incarnation. With parents and grandparents gathered around bringing the gifts of their Presence, this was like the adoration of the magi. It was a holy event.
With my heart wide open, I felt it all. As I held Keaton cradled in my arms, eternity danced in each moment. I felt the Presence of the One Love that flows within and beyond all that is.
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 our true self, to one another and to the One Love which exists within and beyond all that is, has ever been, and ever could possibly be. It is as simple as that.
Yet, of course, simple doesn't mean easy.
The good news: Love can be cultivated.
The not-so-good news: Love is a exacting discipline. It takes having the courage to be Real. 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. True Love takes commitment, time, effort, and patience -- lots and lots of patience -- with yourself and others. 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 that she emerges from boundless love, and that in her essence she is boundless love. I pray that she will engage her life with curiosity, kindness, caring, compassion, and courage. I pray that she will know True Love. Lastly, I pray that I can get my act together well enough to be one small piece of that Knowing.
I'm going to Sit now. What are you up to?
Originally Published December 19, 2013. Revised.