Christmas Spirit Comes From The Heart
If one can put aside all cultural, religious and spiritual differences regarding Christmas, the question of what the Christmas Spirit compels one to do can be asked in a more objective philosophical context. For the purposes of this post, the word Christmas is used as no more than a label and a common reference point.
One might be tempted to go for the superficial answer of coming together. However, such togetherness can be said of many holidays. Let’s go deeper than that and be more intentional about defining why Christmas is different from other holidays.
The ego ( false self ) can be quite easily crushed by any number of woes in the year leading up to Christmas which diminish one's ability to feel the Christmas Spirit. However, Christmas is an excellent time to slow down from what may be an otherwise hectic pace of living, be introspective and draw from the indomitable inner wellspring of the heart.
Specific to this holiday is the Christmas spirit. I annually endeavor to grow my ability to spread love, light, hope, joy, peace and forgiveness to everyone around. One can even choose to extend more patience too while driving or doing other public group activities.
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. — Charles Dickens
Notice that these are all intangibles. These and more can be the gifts of Christmas that we can give to strangers without the expectation of reciprocity since they don’t cost a thing.
My favorite Christmas Carol movie remake of this story is Scrooged with Bill Murray. Like in A Christmas Carol, what one feels compelled to do doesn’t just have to be confined to the one day. However, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has another message and been popular enough to get several remakes as well.
Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. — Dr. Seuss
Despite the popularity of these movies, Christmas often is still perceived by children as a conglomeration of materialism, food, snow, presents, trees, ornamentations, Santa, elves, reindeer and caroling. Notice how these are all tangible and material things. These are what most children believe Christmas is about until they grow up and their beliefs change over time. The mind is a sucker for the powerful one-two combo of tradition and nostalgia.
Christmas movies old and new that deliver this combo are often well received by audiences. In A Christmas Story, Ralphie is very attached to the outcome of getting a Official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle. In 8 Bit Christmas, Jake is on a quest to acquire the Nintendo Entertainment System. The well-known movie Christmas Vacation is yet another classic movie that features a well-intentioned Clark Griswold who just wants the perfect Christmas.
By trying to control the outcome of the holiday and those around him, Clark creates the very outcome that he doesn’t want. Clark’s character isn’t very self aware about how his own choices are contributing to the overall holiday experience that spirals out of control.
It’s a funny train wreck to watch that many viewers can relate to. People pleasing behavior has often been conflated with politeness or kindness when it is neither. When you’re authentically filled with the Christmas spirit, you don’t try to control it but rather just let it flow through you.
Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Am I saying that tangibles have no place in Christmas? Of course not. I enjoy drinking a good egg nog. However, I’m saying the intangibles which are more inline with the spirit of Christmas can often get relegated to secondary status by adults.
Christmas is often referred to as the season of giving. Those who are poor in spirit though often find it easier to be generous with material things. When one’s definition of an intangible like the Christmas Spirit becomes rooted in the tangible, it can place a limit on transformative power of the Christmas spirit.
Tangibles are constrained by physical rules and scarcity. Intangibles are free and abundant. Both can do good but the inherent natures of each can make all the difference. For some, the Christmas spirit may be a mostly chemical experience that is limited by the capabilities of their individual brain.
Trying to discover how physical matter ( like that which makes up the human brain ) creates consciousness has eluded scientists for centuries. Quantum mechanics has already upturned the notions of certainty that classical physics put forth. We now know that we live in a universe that is underpinned by uncertainty rather than that of Newtonian certainty.
Humans have had it backwards even before this when the sun was thought to revolve around the Earth. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if something similar to this turned out to be true of the nature of consciousness.
The ego doesn’t feel secure unless it conforms to society. It took many centuries for the new solar system paradigm become accepted. Perhaps it might only take decades for this quantum paradigm shift which then may lead to many new possibilities.
For example, consciousness likely existed before matter and all matter may have potentially been born out of it. That could mean that when physical matter ceases to be or dies, the consciousness that created it initially would continue to live on.
Quantum mechanics may eventually provide the proof that empiricists require before they’ll even consider that consciousness itself, rather than physical matter forms the basis of everything. The consciousness level between the inanimate and animate being one the most striking differences.
Which gets humanity closer to the truth? Consider these two options. The big bang occurred because of the occurrence of an insentient singularity. The big bang was an intentional product of a sentient consciousness. Note that neither option disputes that the big bang happened. However, the limitations of the human brain and the ego may make it more difficult for humans to accept the latter. Science and spirituality aren't mutually exclusive and don't have to be reduced down to an either/or dichotomy unless you consciously choose to do so.