During this time of year, when folks find out I’m a buddhist, one of the first questions they ask is, “do you celebrate Christmas?” And my reply is a resounding “Of course!”
Like most western buddhists I was not born or raised in the buddhist traditions and teachings. I was raised in a christian home which was over the top, all about Christmas. So the sights and sounds of Christmas are very dear to me.
Christmas time is a season of love, kindness & generosity — these are Buddhist virtues as well as Christian. I love this time of year. People seem a little friendlier & a little kinder. There seems to be joy in the air. Who wouldn’t celebrate, “Peace on earth, goodwill to all”?
Many Buddhists believe Jesus was a “Bodhisattva”, which is one who forgoes their own benefit to help others and has compassion, kindness, and love for all beings. Jesus showed the world immense compassion, kindness and love. He taught people how to incorporate love and kindness into their lives. Many Buddhists, including me, see Jesus as a blessing to the earth and all beings and have no problems celebrating the birth of such a being.
In the spirit of the season, here are some things a buddhist might do to celebrate.
Give small thoughtful gifts. So many of us are fed up with the commercialization of Christmas. But when you listen to a person and understand what they truly want, a small gift is very appropriate. Do you have a friend who is struggling this time of year? A great gift to them might be just giving them some of your time & undivided attention. Do you have a friend who is a deeply religious Christian? A small gift acknowledging and honoring their faith would be very meaningful to them.
Helping people in need. My friends & family used to give me a hard time when I would give money to people begging in the streets. I have several thoughts on this....”but for the grace of God, there go I” or “thank God I don’t have to make money by begging to feed my family” or “Who am I to judge?” or “I’m so grateful I am able to spare a few bucks to help this person.”
To me, giving a helping hand in whatever way you can is the spirit of Christmas
Simple acts of kindness. And in that same light, doing simple acts of kindness are a great way to be in the spirit of the season. Holding the door open for someone, smiling at people, saying please & thank you, helping someone carry their groceries, or helping them load their groceries into their car.... the list of acts of kindness is endless
So, as you can see, celebrating Christmas as a buddhist is easy. I just hope some of us will continue celebrating the love & compassion of Christmas throughout the new year.
Thanks for stopping by.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year