Jesus Christ lived and symbolised divine consciousness. He was the very personification of divinity. He was born at a time when ignorance, superstition, greed, hatred and hypocrisy prevailed upon India, as elsewhere. The rulers were arrogant and unrighteous. The people were avaricious, indolent and heedless. Purity was forgotten. Morality was neglected. They were more intent upon worshiping mammon than adoring God. There was no idealism.
In the midst of these conditions, Christ was born and he worked a transformation in the lives of the people, though not quite successfully in his life time but through the following centuries by the means of his teachings. He gave a new spiritual turn to the lives of his fellow-men. Thus a new era dawned upon this world, and the teaching of Jesus spread far and wide.
Before discrimination and spiritual awakening dawn within the seeker, he has bigoted outlook, selfish tendencies and no thought for God or the higher divine life. He is then immersed in the pursuit of material interests. He is a slave of his senses. He has no spiritual ideal in life. He is desire-ridden. Arrogance, avarice and sensuality characterise his personality. He lives a life of lust, anger, greed, deluded attachment, pride, egoism and jealousy.
If this state of things must cease and the seeker must enter into a new life of spiritual aspiration, purity and devotion, then the Christ spirit must take its birth within one’s heart. That will be the real adoration of Jesus Christ. That will be the true following of Christianity. When the divine element that is dormant within us begins to express itself, then indeed we open ourselves to the grace of the Christ. From then onward light begins to shine where darkness was before. Ignorance gives place to the beginning of wisdom. Impurity is replaced by purity. Hatred ceases and love begins to blossom forth.
In his innermost core, man is essentially divine. But through the medium of the human personality two forces keep acting. They are the forces of good and evil, light and darkness. The divine and the undivine both operate in the human consciousness. To completely overcome and eradicate the undivine elements and to fully manifest the supreme divine Consciousness in all its radiant light and glory is to be achieved through the living of the Christ-life in the utmost faithful detail. That is spiritual life. That is Yoga. That is Sadhana. That is the path of Self-realisation.
If the Christ-life is to be lived, first of all the child Christ has to be born in our heart. Only then does the real spiritual life commence for the aspirant. The first manifestation of the divine urge to progress in the path of goodness and virtue and to cherish noble ideals and eradicate vicious, negative tendencies signifies the birth of the infant Jesus in our consciousness. From hence starts the living of the Christ-life in all its details of sublime purity, faith in divinity, mercy, compassion, love, selflessness, desirelessness, egolessness, forgiveness, prayerfulness and so on. Hence starts the life of earnest Yoga, of self-restraint and simplicity, of unbroken serenity and peace, tolerance, balance of mind in pleasure and pain, unflinching courage and determination, and perfect dedication to the worship of God through the service of humanity. This is the spiritual implication of all the celebrations connected with Jesus Christ. This is also the message of the Easter.
With the advent of this Christ-spirit within the heart of a truly earnest seeker, all mundane desires come to an end. There is a cessation of all vicious tendencies in him. He begins to influence others around him. The spirit of Jesus Christ emanates from him. Many are made aware of that spirit and a great deal of good is brought into their lives. Thus, if every individual begins to live a new life of divine aspiration, fellow-feeling and social service, spirituality will gradually overcome materialism. There will be more of goodwill, more of harmony and more of peace in this world. The tendency to help each other, to understand each other and to decrease avariciousness, selfishness and egoism will grow gradually in every sphere, which would mean greater happiness in every hearth and home.
Spiritual life is neither exclusively meant for the poor and the lowly, nor is it beyond the reach of the wealthy. To pursue the spiritual path one need not seek the undisturbed assurity of food and shelter. But there is a significant point in the birth of Jesus. He was born in a simple, lowly place, a corner of a stable. Also he was born in darkness, in the obscure hour of midnight, when no one even knew about it, except a few blessed souls. The significance here is that spiritual awakening comes to the seeker who is humble and meek and simple. The light of divine consciousness dawns only when the delusive glitters of material glamour and the corruptive influence of wealth are absent.
The quality of true humility is one of the indispensable fundamentals. Only when there are simplicity, holiness and renunciation of all earthly desires and the pride of learning, goodness and merit, the divine light manifests within. Even as Christ was born unknown to the world and in the obscurity of darkness, so also the advent of the Christ spirit takes place in the inwardness of the soul when there is total self-effacement and self-abnegation. Where the urge of aggrandizement and vanity abides, there divinity cannot unfold itself, for these expressions of egotism are permanent hindrances to any kind of spiritual growth. You can be sure, a man of vanity is far from God. A man of selfishness knows nothing of God. A man of intolerance has thoroughly misunderstood God. ‘Empty thyself and I shall fill thee’, is the advice of Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is surely for the humble in spirit.
It was this secret that centuries ago Jesus explained to Nicodemus. The good man did not quite understand what precisely Jesus meant. ‘How can it be? How can I be born again if I am to attain the Kingdom of God?’ Asked Nicodemus. Then Christ explained that this birth was an inward transformation, not of the body, but of the spirit. Such inner spiritual birth is essential if one truly wishes to know Jesus Christ.
May the true implication of the Christ-life dawn within every heart. Realise fully that so long as thirst of power and arrogance of wealth infect the nature of man, until then the spirit of Christ is out of reach. As with the individual, even so with the community and the nation. It is only when real spiritual transformation occurs in the hearts of the individuals that its effects can be felt in the nations of the world. Let every soul understand the duty of the human life. Let everyone cultivate a sense of brotherhood, tolerance, charity, humility, mutual understanding, love and compassion. Let everyone aspire for greater knowledge, greater enlightenment and greater goodwill. Let the sense of evolution and perfection be eternally progressive.
Note: This message is one from "Christmas Messages of Sri Swami Sivananda," delivered in 1954.