After my understanding and commitment to Buddhism, I thought long on the holidays, the Christian meanings I was taught, and the traditions we honored. I think Christmas and Buddhism can co-exsist. Not only because of time to relax around family but reflecting on the meaning of the holiday reminds me of some universal truths that sit well with Buddhist practice. Perhaps Buddhists should see Christmas as a time to reinvent ourselves, recommit ourselves, renew ourselves, and renew our practice. Any excuse to remind me to sit down and practice some meditation in order to be more present sounds like a great holiday to me.
But if getting excited for Christmas doesn’t sound like you (which is legitimate) It is vital to remember that Buddhism honors the beliefs of others that too walk a middle path; the path that is non-extremist, compassionate, and that works to relieve the suffering around them. That includes, importantly, those who have less than us in our community. The best thing to do to get into the Christmas spirit is to give to others who have the least. But, at the very minimum, know that you can do better than ignoring or being adverse to this time of year: On a day like Christmas turn your mind to patience and tolerance, and the day becomes ample fuel for your spiritual fire.
So, I will take this final opportunity to wish everyone who celebrates Christmas to have a really happy one and to enjoy and revel in whatever ways you choose to celebrate. It’s a time to be reborn, leave the ‘old things’ behind and to start anew. It is also a perfect time to practice religious tolerance and sow the seeds of harmony, not division.
Peace and Love, Jim