Peace at Christmas
Jason Chan’s December 2017 Message
The season of Christmas TV ads is well and truly upon us, and most of them, as always, feature families getting together at Christmas and having an absolutely wonderful time. But we all know that real Christmases are rarely like that. In fact, getting together with our family and loved ones over Christmas and New Year can often trigger horrible rows that once experienced, seem never to be forgotten or forgiven. So this month, I thought I would share with you some spiritual, but totally practical, wisdom that may really help you to enjoy a much less stressful, argumentative-free festive season.
First of all, it is extremely helpful to remember that when someone appears to really irritate us, we are actually irritating ourselves! Just think about this for a moment or two – you may believe that your mother-in-law, daughter in law or daughter’s boyfriend is the most annoying, irritating person you have ever had the misfortune to come across, and yet you once introduced them to your best friend who thought they were just delightful! So is it them, or is it you?
Well the bottom line is that no one can ever irritate you unless you have a button somewhere deep within you that gets pushed by certain external stimuli. Our minds are full of programming that contains a lot of fearful, angry ideas or thoughts that can be triggered by someone making just one innocent remark to us. For example, your mother-in-law remarks that the turkey you have cooked for Christmas lunch is rather dry and a whoosh of irritation just shoots up in your mind and body.
Some persistent negative thoughts can even drive us to the brink of madness! The persistent thought that you really do not like your mother-in-law, your daughter in law, or son-in-law for example, can actually start to drive you crazy, unless you decided to stop giving your lower, judgemental mind so much power over you. When you make a judgement about someone, it is a reflection of who you are, not who they are.
Most people will always insist ‘They are making me so angry. They are so mean to do this to me.’ They are not yet aware enough to see that nothing on the outside of us can make us angry or fearful, unless we give away all of our power to the world around us. They cannot see that if they had absolutely no angry or fearful energy deep within them, they simply could not get angry or fearful even in the most extreme of circumstances.
When we allow those around us to dictate whether we are happy or sad, relaxed or angry, peaceful or anxious, we are basically just slaves to circumstances beyond our control. You think that you can somehow stop your mother-in-law saying something ‘insensitive’ to you over the festive season? I don’t think so!
But then the key question becomes, ‘How can you prevent your buttons from being pushed?’ Well, you could always try spending the festive season in an isolated cave in the Himalayas. But I could more or less bet that after a short while, you would start to feel really lonely, anxious or depressed, or that the noise of the rushing water just below your cave would start to really irritate you.
A far more practical solution to becoming stressed by our circumstances is simply to cultivate an awareness that, on some level or other, we always have a choice how we are going to respond to the world around us.
Our mother-in-law tells us our turkey is not properly cooked and we can just pause, take a deep breath, and refuse to allow her remark to ruin our day. We can simply say to ourselves, ‘If she does not like the turkey that is really her problem, not mine.’ I do not have to let her dictate to me how I am feeling as I sit down to a festive lunch with my family.
I am not saying that it is at all easy to do, but once we cultivate some higher awareness, we can definitely keep practising rising above all our disturbing negative thoughts and feelings to dwell in a much higher, clearer, calmer state of consciousness that is more or less problem free.
Even better, if you keep raising your consciousness higher and higher, for example by diligently practising The Infinite Arts, you will eventually connect to your own soul, and then all the worries and problem of your temporary personality-self will begin to fade in significance. Ultimately, if you keep practising for many lifetimes, you can even become a saint who does not hold any grudges or grievances whatsoever, even in the most trying of circumstances. You can become like the Tibetan Buddhist monk who was imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese for many years, but who refused to feel anything but genuine compassion for his tormentors.
Please do not read really inspiring stories such as this one and assume that anyone who can resist the temptation to hate their persecutors must be super-human. No! They are just a normal human being who has been transformed in the raging fires of a genuine awakening and healing process. Rather than being in awe of the spiritual strength of genuine saints and bodhisattvas, know that anything they can do, you can do too – eventually. Then, commit to practising each day with the small stuff. So next time someone or something irritates you just a little, pause and delete any angry or judgemental thoughts that start to pour through your mind. Deliberately replace angry thoughts with loving of compassionate thoughts and then notice how you feel.
I assure you that if you focus on replacing angry, fearful or judgemental thoughts with loving, compassionate thoughts, you will eventually re-train your mind to be more positive and less stressed. Daily life will start to feel less irritating and more joyful, and in the very long run, even a big stressful event such as cooking Christmas lunch for your in-laws will no longer bother you. In fact, you may even welcome the challenge of staying totally peaceful and genuinely loving throughout the festive season.
Wishing you a peaceful Christmas
Light & Blessings,