Saturday, 21 December 2013
On 21 Dec 2013 at 5.11pm we celebrate the winter solstice. It is our darkest night, the night when Father Christmas originally came down the dirty chimney. We could say the story represents an experience that comes down through the spinal cord, through our head, heart and body. It comes down from the world of ideas and lands, stumbling in the dark all ruffled and rumpled, into this present reality.
If we have been good through the experience, we are given gifts, and if we have not: coal. Coal is the unworked philosopher's stone. My mates in Catalunya, Spain, have the added twist of the danger of receiving a plastic representation of, erm, merda.
The experience of being ruffled up happens to all of us. Life has its ups and downs. The question is - Were we able to keep equanimity during the storms? While going through a torment in Vipassana I wrote:
Even in its strength
Cannot control the waves.
The lighthouse doesn’t freak out. It stays there, quietly, calmly, persistently, accepting the waves, knowing that nothing is forever.
While we have been living life, the question Santa wants to know is, ‘have we been good?’
Did we freak out when someone messed us about? Did we collapse in tears because we were premenstrual? Did we rise into road rage at the knob-head who cut in front of us?
Did we listen and try to understand? Did we…erm…fill in gap…instead of collapsing into hormonal imbalanced tears? (A sooty hazy point for me…advice would be appreciated) Were we driving calmly enough to see the crazy driver and gracefully give him the space he and we needed?
In our experiences if we did ‘good’ we get gifts. Not presents, but gifts. Instantly. They are created by Santa’s helpers, good-hearted spirits, dressed like the original Father Christmas in green, who from their workshops in the trees represent the help of Nature. There are a myriad of gifts we can receive, such as compassion and understanding of others, the ability to see things from increasingly different angles, strengthened patience, or even the gift of feeling good about staying calm and being able to do dude-style surfing on hormonal waves. The list of life enriching gifts goes on and on…
And if we didn’t manage, then we tend to feel a bit of a merda, sat moodily in the coal shed of life.
Through the dark times when we manage to keep it together, we are able to unwrap, to uncover, our gifts, dis-covering that we actually always had them in our nature. By having used the gifts of patience, for example, we realise we have patience. Lao-Tzu said:
Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.
With these gifts recognised, uncovered by ourselves within, the very same gifts enable us to climb a little higher in the tree of life.
Along with the fairy lights our sparks shine out fueled by moments of being good to ourselves and others, the satisfaction of dealing well in a difficult situation, being aware enough to stay open and loving even when all seems so dark around us, etc.
As we go around life, with each new experience, down the chimney and up the tree, we are given the opportunity to learn to use our gifts with ever more loving kindness. As we strengthen in these roots, we ascend the tree of Life. The sparks of consciousness connect more and more lighting up our path until it is so bright we are nothing but a star!
The star at the top of the Christmas tree is our higher selves connecting to a consciousness that is greater than our individual selves - which is where Father Christmas, in all his generous nature, flew down from.