Some of us identify as followers of the Buddha’s teachings; some don’t. Regardless, in the holiday season, we can acknowledge our own traditions and the traditions of others. If we are part of a family or group that includes people of different faiths, we can make an effort to acknowledge, to understand and respect those faiths. So, if Christmas has meaning for us, we participate in rituals that affirm that meaning. If Christmas has no particular meaning for us, we can still participate in some rituals if it will express our care for people we love.
The abbot of our local monastery gave a short talk about Santa Claus today. Santa is depicted as always smiling; he’s joyful, laughing even. Why? Because his primary activity is giving, unrestrained giving. The connection between giving and joy is universal.
The picture above says to me that we try to be a Buddha (awake) every day, and this day happens to be Christmas. As we do every day, we make an effort to see each other with eyes of compassion, we practice mindfulness of our words and actions, and we curb any aggressive or harmful impulses that arise. We can make a special effort to contact people who might feel lonely or neglected. The simple gift of showing up is the most powerful of all.
In our local newspaper when people on the street were asked “What is your favorite part of Christmas?”, two-thirds replied that it was having time with family and friends. The warmth of the connections between hearts can overrule any objections we have to each others’ habits and views.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama said: “Be kind as much as possible; it is always possible.” Isn’t this the spirit of Christmas?