For nearly a century, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) has celebrated the true meaning of Christmas with an eight-hour meditation to commune with the Divine, the Source of all love and peace. Inaugurated in 1931 by SRF’s founder, Paramahansa Yogananda, the custom of holding an all-day meditation takes place in SRF temples and meditation centers throughout the world. For the first time this special event will take place online, and all are welcome to join. Details about the all-day Christmas meditation, which will take place on December 19 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. PST, will be available beginning in December on the SRF website at www.yogananda.org. Wishing you the Peace and Promise of the Season.
The following excerpt is from The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You by Paramahansa Yogananda, now available in an eBook edition. (Reprinted by permission. Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, Calif., yogananda.org).
Each year at Christmastime there are stronger than usual vibrations of Christlove and joy that emanate to earth from the heavenly realms. The ether becomes filled with the Infinite Light that shone on earth when Jesus was born. Those persons who are in tune through devotion and deep meditation feel in a wondrously tangible way the transforming vibrations of the omnipresent consciousness that was in Christ Jesus.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus in solely materialistic ways is a desecration of the meaning of his holy life and of the immortal message of divine love and God-union that he preached. Seeing in the West the shallow, often irreverent, observance given to the birth anniversary of this great avatar, I inaugurated in Self-Realization Fellowship the spiritual celebration of Christmas, before Christmas Day festivities, by devoting a daylong meditation service to the worship of Christ. The ideal is to honor Christ in spirit in meditation from morning till evening, absorbed in feeling in one’s own consciousness the Infinite Christ that was born in Jesus.
That experience is one of profound peace and joy, more than a human heart has ever known—expanding into an all-embracing consciousness. Often has the form of Jesus appeared before me during these services—such love in those eyes! It is my prayer—and my conviction that it will come to pass—that comparable observances of the real meaning of Christmas will become a tradition throughout the world.
The message of the “heavenly host” to the shepherds in the countryside of Bethlehem was “on earth peace, good will toward men.” Peace in the world starts with peace in individual hearts. “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding” [Philippians 4:7] is the peace Jesus came to bring to man; it is the only sure foundation for world amity. It is found in the interiorized state of one’s God-communion in meditation. Then, like an ever-full reservoir, it pours out freely to one’s family, friends, community, nation, and the world. If everyone lived the ideals exemplified in the life of Jesus, having made those qualities a part of their own selves through meditation, a millennium of peace and brotherhood would come on earth.
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), author of the modern spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi and widely regarded as the father of Yoga in the West, contributed in far-reaching ways to a greater awareness and appreciation in the West of the spiritual wisdom of the East. Arriving in America from his native India in 1920, he established his society, Self- Realization Fellowship, that same year. Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda’s life story, was published in 1946 and expanded by him in subsequent editions. Recognized from the beginning as a landmark work in its field, the book has been in print continuously since its initial publication more than fifty years ago. Honored as one of the 100 best spiritual books of the 20th century, it remains one of the most important, and most readable, works on Yoga and