Monthly Message 
Message for Christmas 2002:

YogaBetsy Yoga Center Discourse 5:
The Christmas Flame

Brian Afton

  We did not hold a circle meditation or high lodge session this month for the simple reason that everyone is too busy taking care of Christmas, however each of us can still hold it in our hearts in our own ways and it does not seem proper to let the day pass without explaining how that holiday relates to yoga and the Yoga Center.

   Yoga is an energy management system.  At its simplest it is an activity that we do for ourselves to maintain and expand our personal well being, but that does not mean it is a totally selfish activity which cannot have a higher purpose.

   We cannot take care of anything or anyone else if we do not take care of ourselves first.  But, when we strengthen our bodies and develop our energy system we become more closely attuned with the cosmic.  This leaves us better able to understand the mysteries of life and things become possible for us that were not possible before.  We are more able to contribute to the general welfare of society and to act as individuals dedicated to radiating light and love into the world.

  Those of you who have attended a circle meditation, or a high lodge session will have had the opportunity to witness four seekers lighting the central candle flame.   This flame has a symbolic association with Christmas which was probably not apparent to most of you at the time.

  With all due respect to our Christian friends and members here at the yoga center, people have held celebrations at or around Christmas time well back into prehistory thousands of years before the birth of Christ.

  The reason for those early celebrations at, or about, the time of Christmas was because this time coincides with the winter solstice.  This night was always special to people because it is the longest night of the year.  

  This year, December 2002,  the actual date of the solstice is December 21st.  Physically, from this point on, the hours of daylight will increase each day, ultimately bringing an end to winter.  Symbolically, this day was seized upon by ancient men to celebrate the return of light to a darkened world.

  Actually, no one knows when Jesus was born with any real certainty.  Many different calendars were in use during that period and many have come and gone since. The actual date of Jesusí birthday is generally thought to have been in the year of 4 or 5 B.C. and probably occurred in the spring during March or April.  That does not correspond with the traditional Christmas holiday of December 25,  but it is not surprising that the church adopted this holiday for its own use since the historical purpose of the winter solstice corresponded with the concept of Jesus bringing light into the world.  It was a match that has worked nicely.

  Whatever our religious faith Christmas remains a day that all of us can still honor and keep in our hearts and it is certainly one which will always be kept at the Yoga Center.

  Since some of you have wondered what purpose the central candle served I will explain that now.  The central flame in the circle meditation witnessed by a number of you at the Yoga Center earlier this year is symbolic of that light returning to earth.  It is, by any other name, the Christmas flame.

   This flame is symbolic of light returning to a darkened world and, moreover, it is not a light which is limited to a candle or a single day of the year.  It is a flame which can be kindled in the hearts of each and every one of us at any time we are willing to allow it to be born there.  It is a flame symbolic of the love and understanding of God and also symbolic of the love and understand which we ourselves can radiate into the world.  

  On the day when this happens to us, whenever that day may fall, it is Christmas.

 Copyright 2002  Brian Afton 2822 Grover Rd Olean, NY 14760