SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM
Twenty thousand and twenty three years ago, an event happened in a lonely stable at an inn in Bethlehem. A great teacher, prophet, healer and shepherd of people was born and greeted by sadgurus from India, acknowledged by a sign in the sky. A Sadguru is a title given to a life of enlightenment and realization of the ultimate truth. The first born son of every family in the city was murdered by Herod, a Roman Jewish client king of the Herodian Kingdom of Judea, to prevent a new king from coming.
Celebrated for one thousand six hundred and eighty eight years, Christmas has brought together civilisations to remember and honour the great occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ, the greatest, most powerful sadguru of the West, known as the Son of God.
Significantly, the birth of Krishna in India, about two thousand years before Christ, held similar circumstances and is celebrated every year as Janmashtami. Paramahansa Yogananda referred to both Krishna and Christ as Christ consciousness.
Snow, winter, log fires, castles, food and rural simplicities with decorated pine trees once sparkled the otherwise long, dark and lonely nights of Christmas.
This year, 2023, the door of Bethlehem seems to be closing with the prominence of false teachings and false understandings leading to disbelief and violence with the greatest disregard of human dignity ever seen. Long have the muted voices of wolves been silent but now their voices are open and ravaging. It is hard to remain in solemn understanding of the message of Christmas, a true collective of peace and spirit, with such a shadow of evil growing. People in previous times have had such challenges but this time it is Bethlehem itself.
Western systems are crumbling with their own confusion, divisions and lack of clarity, taking to emotion without practical understanding and solutions. They are being manipulated on large scales with a total imbalance of right and wrong.
So the story of Bethlehem, always the focus of Christmas and religious music, continues to unfold. Now, a limping beast is knocking on the door. The poets T.S Eliot, (Journey of the Magi and the Hollow Men) and William Butler Yeats, (The Second Coming) have a unique voice on the fields of Judea.
Christ’s teaching and those of Buddha echo each other with the sermon on the mount. Let us continue to ring the bells this Christmas, keeping the faith and through it all, finally cross the bridge to the waiting temple.
The message of Christmas is simple. Peace and goodwill to all people. Keep the eyes forward with a heart of love and merriment, for the days will finally bring the fruits of all that is good.
Peace and Happiness,
Journey of the Magi
“A cold coming we had of it,
just the worst time of the year
for a journey, and such a long journey:
the ways deep and the weather sharp,
the very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted,
the summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
and the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
and the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
and the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
and the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
sleeping in snatches,
with the voices singing in our ears, saying
that this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
with a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
and three trees on the low sky,
and an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
and feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
and arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
and I would do it again, but set down
this set down
this: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
we had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
but had thought they were different; this Birth was
hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
with an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
© T.S Eliot
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
the falcon cannot hear the falconer;
things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
the ceremony of innocence is drowned;
the best lack all conviction, while the worst
are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
when a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
a shape with lion body and the head of a man,
a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
that twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
and what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
© William Butler Yeats
CLANNAD for CHRISTMAS from the Celtic music group Clannad and their Live at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin album excerpt provided by YouTube