Sunday, November 28, 2010


One of the things frequently missed by those who have moved their spiritual search from organized religion to non-dual inquiry are the regular celebrations and holy days. Advent and Christmas may be two of the ones most missed.

Now, of course, many still celebrate Christmas as a "secular" holiday, but the "spiritual" meaning of the birth of Jesus is often lost in the teachings of non-duality. It is OK to have office parties, and enjoy Santa, presents, and all the festivities, but spiritual meaning? Never. Not in an "Abrahamic" religion! Too much duality! But maybe...?

An Advent season does not go by that I do not think of the former Anglican Bishop of Durham, the controversial David Jenkins. Bishop Jenkins was controversial right from the start. He later went on to be very progressive and after retirement, was one of the first Bishops in Britain to bless a Gay marriage, but even before his appointment as Bishop he held controversial views on the resurrection, and to our purpose here; the birth of Jesus.

Bishop Jenkins held the view that the virgin birth was very possibly written after the fact, by those wishing to emphasize the spiritual quality of the event. In one of his most controversial statements he stated: "I wouldn't put it past God to arrange a virgin birth if He wanted, but I very much doubt if He would." This, and other statements by Bishop Jenkins, caused so much dissent when he was appointed Bishop of Durham, that the fire at York Minster three days after his consecration was said, by some, to be God's judgment on the Church of England for appointing him. Looking deeply into the Bishop's writings however, I found one of the most spiritual, even in non-dual terms, descriptions of the "incarnation" I have ever heard.

In the Brompton Lectures of 1966, on the Incarnation, Professor Jenkins, as he was then, presented a clear concept on "how" the incarnation of Christ "came about", and the nature of "Christ" and "God":

"...the actual nature of this Christ confirmed and re-defined the nature, activity and power of this God as being rightly understood primarily as love of a particular and distinctive kind. This love was the self-giving, identifying and involved love demonstrated by Jesus and commended by him through both example and commandment. It was so distinctive in it's total self-identification with the loved that it was necessary to develop a little used word, agape, to refer to this love and so distinguish it from such types of love as those involved in ordinary friendship or ordinary sexual relationships which could be (although they need not be) self-centered."

It is so easy to see that this "agape", this self-indentifying love, "becomes" the Christ, by simply "Loving" and identifying with man. Love "becomes" man in order to Love, and in this particular "story", to "bring" love to man who has forgotten his true nature.

If you understand that Jesus, the man, was filled with "Christ Consciousness", and saw "others" as brothers and sisters, himself neither better or different from them, you understand that "incarnation" is the "story" of us all. When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, he said "Our Father" not my father. The Christ clearly saw that all of us come into "existence" by an "act" of love. Not a physical act of procreation, but a "movement" of "Love" itself, or "God", or the "Absolute". This love; so "totally self-identifying with the loved" becomes you.

Once you understand this, you understand why this "pull" you feel toward "safety", toward "permanence", is a result of identifying as the "loved" or the "lover", rather than the Love itself. This is what creates the feeling of separation. Just as the Absolute, which is everything in One, "allows" itself to be "you" for a short "time", it is absolutely necessary for you to live that out by being "it" eternally. This is the "purpose" of non-duality, if there is one; to live out that "oneness". To live for understanding, and acceptance of lack of understanding. To surrender to what is, accepting that it is Love working, and doing the best with what you are given. Practical advice, not "beautifully spiritual", but this "incarnation" business is nothing, if not practical.

Advent reminds us of the Birth of the Christ. Not a "past" event, but an ongoing universal "incarnation". It is "incarnation" itself. Not just the Baby Jesus, but the Baby "you and I". The birth of Love this day, and all days, celebrated in this "story" of birth, life and death. Jesus' and ours. There is no reason, no matter your religion, belief system, or philosophy, why you can not enjoy the beauty and spirituality of Christmas, and celebrate incarnation, that wonderful, terrifying, exhilarating experience we all share. The Advent season and Christmas are celebrations of the birth of Love. A timeless "event", re-created each "day". This season of joy, is more then just camaraderie, or commercial enterprise, or even brotherhood, it is a time to reflect on our very being. Our "incarnation" of Love. O come, O come, Emmanuel!

1 comment:

  1. I find your interpretation of the Incarnation really interesting, as I have a similar type of understanding with regards to Mary. The Immaculate conception points to what the Incarnation does for all of us, not just for her. She tells us all of our own true nature as God-bearer, Mother of God. This is all of us, not just her.

    A Course in Miracles also talks about "the Sonship", meaning every one of us being the Son of God, being part of the Christ.

    The late great comedian Bill Hicks said something along those lines as well (though far less reverently!) in "Positive LSD Story":