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Religion & Philosophy Discuss Non-Traditional Christmas Stories at the General Discussion; This one is called the Joys of a Buddhist Jewish Christmas The Joys of a Buddhist-Jewish Christmas. | elephant journal...

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Old 12-25-2012, 10:20 AM
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Default Non-Traditional Christmas Stories

This one is called the Joys of a Buddhist Jewish Christmas

The Joys of a Buddhist-Jewish Christmas. | elephant journal
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:23 AM
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Default Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

Maya Angelou
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:26 AM
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Default Re: Non-Traditional Christmas Stories

When my wife and I decided to start having kids one of our first discussions was faith. I had always been into Eastern and New Age philosophies when we were dating. My wife came from a Christian background. Everything I was talking about was very new to her and she had questions, still does.

We didn’t want our kids to be the black sheep of the school yard. We decided that no matter what our beliefs our kids would celebrate Christmas. Not the holiday so much as what came with it, presents, Santa Claus, stockings, Rudolph.

I’ve always believed Christmas is not so much about the religious aspects anymore as being giving, spending time with family and loving each part of the human race. Most of these things come naturally in Buddhism anyway.

When my son sees a picture of Christ, he asks who he is, I tell him. I don’t fill him with a bunch of stuff to make him hate any religion, because that would go against my beliefs.

My son has asked me why people celebrate Christmas. I told him, “A very wise man a long time ago was born on that day. Millions of people around the world celebrate his birth as Christmas. They are called Christians.” He hasn’t asked why we celebrate Christmas. I will give him the same response I’ve given in this post.

“We decided before you and your sister were born that we wouldn’t force religion on you. We would let you decide. By doing that, we decided to celebrate Christmas, because we felt it was the best thing to do.”

I’m not sure what his response will be. We let our kids be who they want to be. If they decide to walk a different spiritual path I have no reservations and will not push them one way or the other. But I will suggest they let their kids be who they want and not restrict them based on their beliefs.

I hope everyone has Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever you may celebrate this time of year. May you enjoy your family and be able to create the memories and traditions that will carry you throughout your life.

You can’t celebrate Christmas, you’re Buddhist | The Bleeding Inkwell
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:30 AM
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Default Re: Non-Traditional Christmas Stories

T'WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,

HE LIVED ALL ALONE,

IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE, MADE OF PLASTER AND STONE.

I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY, WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,

AND TO SEE JUST WHO, IN THIS HOME, DID LIVE.

I LOOKED ALL ABOUT, A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,

NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS, NOT EVEN A TREE.

NO STOCKING BY MANTLE, JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,

ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES, OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.

WITH MEDALS AND BADGES, AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,

A SOBER THOUGHT, CAME THROUGH MY MIND.

FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT, IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,

I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER, ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.

THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING, SILENT, ALONE,

CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR, IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.

THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE, THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,

NOT HOW I PICTURED, AN AUSTRALIAN SOLDIER.

WAS THIS THE HERO, OF WHOM I'D JUST READ?

CURLED UP ON A PONCHO, THE FLOOR FOR A BED?

I REALIZED THE FAMILIES, THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,

OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS,

WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.

SOON ROUND THE WORLD, THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,

AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE, A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.

THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM, EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,

BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS, LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.

I COULDN'T HELP WONDER, HOW MANY LAY ALONE,

ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE, IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.

THE VERY THOUGHT BROUGHT, A TEAR TO MY EYE,

I DROPPED TO MY KNEES, AND STARTED TO CRY.

THE SOLDIER AWAKENED, AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,

"SANTA DON'T CRY, THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;

I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM, I DON'T ASK FOR MORE,

MY LIFE IS MY GOD, MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS."

THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER, AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,

I COULDN'T CONTROL IT, I CONTINUED TO WEEP.

I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS, SO SILENT AND STILL,

AND WE BOTH SHIVERED, FROM THE COLD NIGHT'S CHILL.

I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE, ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,

THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR, SO WILLING TO FIGHT.

THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER, WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,

WHISPERED, "CARRY ON SANTA, IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE."

ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH, AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT."


Written by an anonymous Australian soldier.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:34 AM
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Default Re: Non-Traditional Christmas Stories

Jews on Christmas


There isn’t enough soy sauce in the world to feed
Jews on Christmas
Huddled around steaming plates of dumplings
Discussing cinematography
Angioplasty
Lactaid
Who has lived and who has died
Shocked to hear that the hot new Hollywood star is actually half-Jewish
(and not arguing which half)
I don’t see what all the fuss is about Nathan Englander.
Yes, it’s like The Wire, but different,
Costco is a mixed blessing,
Do you trust Yelp?
On our smartphones we subtract the Chinese year from the Jewish year to see how long the Jews had to wait to try egg drop soup.


The laughter of Jews on Christmas
shakes the jade Buddha under the faux waterfall from his
sleepy serenity
And for a moment, the enlightened one opens his eyes,
smiling contently as he joins us to look at pictures of relatives at Harry Potter world.
Now he's Jewish too.
The Moo Shu comes with little tortillas, pancakes, wraps,
whatever you want to call them.
And we wrap up the mush of last year, with all of it’s regrets and tzuris,
And immerse into soy sauce,
a ritual bath,
three times dipped,
and we say – this is not bad.
Our highest compliment.


- Daniel S. Brenner
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:41 AM
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Default Re: Non-Traditional Christmas Stories

The Meaning of Christmas Decorations:

Angels: God's protection and miracles;
Apple: Good health and peace;
Bell: Joy and Peace;
Bird: Happiness and good news;
Candles: Unselfishness and brightness;
Carousel: Endless joy and happiness;
Cat: Money luck and to attract affection;
Champagne: Celebration and party time;
Chimney Sweep: Good luck - sweeping away the bad luck;
Cow: Wishes coming true and a comfortable life;
Deer: Speed, advance;
Dog: Faithful friend and ally;
Dove: Purity and peace through the year;
Fish: Blessings with food all year round;
Flower: Beauty and good fortune;
Frog: Good luck in business; Fruit: Generosity and goodwill;
Grapes: Friendship and abundance;
Heart: True love and romance;
House: Shelter and support;
Owl: Wisdom and intelligence;
Pine Cone: Motherhood and longevity;
Rabbit: Hope and security;
Rose: Beauty, love, Mother Mary;
Pig: Wealth and plenty of good fortune;
Tea or Coffee Pot: Hospitality;
Santa: Goodwill and presents;
Sheep: Devotion and loyalty;
Snowman: Patience and loving energy;
Star: God's guidance;
Stork: Fruitfulness and fertility;
Teddy Bears: Companionship.

CHRISTMAS SYMBOLS
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:49 AM
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Default Re: Non-Traditional Christmas Stories

There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on her very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise. Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around." His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle." His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken." Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to." After the children left she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one her "teacher's pets."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life. Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer-the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference." Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

Our Family's Non-Traditional Christmas Story - MarytheKaytheBlog
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:58 AM
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I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not;
but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take Heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take Peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
Take Joy.

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

--Fra Giovanni, 1513
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:06 AM
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Default Re: Non-Traditional Christmas Stories

Home is the Way – A Christmas message from Thich Nhat Hanh

Christmas time is a time for the family, when family members return to their home. Wherever we may be, we try to find a way home to be with our family. It is like the Tết holiday in the Vietnamese culture. We decorate our house and find ways to make our home warm and cozy. We all yearn to have a home that is warm and loving; where we feel that we do not need to go anywhere, or to do or to pursue anything anymore. It is what we can call our ‘true home’. We all have this yearning, this deep desire to be in our true home.

Searching for our home

Jesus, as soon as he was born, had to be on the run right away and to be a refugee, a runaway without a home. When he grew up and became a young man, it was the same; he was still a wanderer with no real home to return to. In one of his discourses, he protested that even the birds have their nests to return to or the rabbits and squirrels have their burrows; but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head, no place to call home.

Siddhartha, as an adult, found himself in a similar situation. He was born into a royal family that was wealthy and privileged. He could have anything he desired. He had a beautiful wife and a good son. He had a bright future ahead of him; destined to be king and ruler of a great empire. But still, he did not feel comfortable even with all this. He did not feel at home. He was not at peace. Therefore, one day, he decided to leave his family in search of his true home, in search of inner peace.

Both Jesus and Siddhartha were searching for their true home. They wanted to find a warm abode where they would not have to search for anything anymore and where they would feel truly at home and at peace. Western people have a saying, “There is no place like home” that expresses the feeling that there is nothing like coming home after being away. Yet still, some of us do not feel at home, do not feel that we have a home to return to, even in our own families. It is because in our families, there is not enough warmth, not enough love, ease, peace or happiness.

Some of us have a homeland, living in the country where we were born, yet we still want to escape and go somewhere else. We feel like we do not have a homeland. Some Jewish people feel that they still do not have a homeland. They have been wandering and searching for a homeland for thousands of years – for a place, a piece of land to call home. Even to this day they have yet to find their homeland. And we – the French, the Americans, the British, and the Vietnamese – we all have a country to call our homeland, but still, we do not feel contented and some of us want to leave. This is because we have not found our true home in our heart. This season, even if we buy a Christmas tree to decorate our home, this does not necessarily mean that we have found our true home or that we are at ease living in our homeland. For our home to be true, there needs to be love, warmth, and fulfillment.

Our True Home

In the end, Jesus found his true home in his heart. He found the light in his heart. He taught his disciples that they too have their own light and he taught them to bring that light out for others to see. Siddhartha taught that one’s true home can be found in the present moment. He developed practices for his disciples so that they too could find their true home. He taught that we each have an island within that is safe and secure. If we know how to return to this island, we can be in touch with our blood and spiritual ancestors, with the wonders of life, and with our own self. In the island of our true self, we can find peace and fulfillment.

Siddhartha found his true home and wanted everyone to be able to find their true home. When the Buddha was in his 80th year and knew that he would soon pass from this life, he felt a lot of compassion for his disciples and friends because he saw that many of them had not found their true home. He knew that when the time came for their teacher to pass away, they would feel abandoned and at a loss. At that time, he was practicing the Rains Retreat, residing outside of the city of Vaishali, north of the Ganges. He became very sick during that season. The Buddha’s attendant, Venerable Ananda thought his teacher would soon pass away, so he went into the forest behind some trees to weep. But the Buddha used his power of concentration to slow the progress of his illness and to find the strength to live for a few more weeks, so that he could return to his homeland, Kapilavastu, and pass away peacefully.

The Island Within

At the end of that Rains Retreat season, the Buddha went into the city of Vaishali to visit his disciples, the monks and nuns and the lay friends in the Sangha. Wherever he visited, he would give a short talk for about 5-7 minutes – a mini dharma talk. These mini talks were usually centered on the topic of ‘true home’. He felt that after he had passed on, there would be many disciples who would be at a loss. The Buddha taught them that they all had a place of refuge to return to and that they should take refuge only there.

We too, should return and take refuge in that abode and not take refuge in any other person or thing. That abode of refuge is the ‘Island of Self’; it is the Dharma, and there, one can find peace and protection; one can find our ancestors and our roots. This is our true home – our inner island where there is the light of the true Dharma. Returning there, one finds light, one finds peace and safety, and one is protected from the darkness. The ‘Island of Self’ is a safe place of refuge from the turbulent waves that can otherwise sweep us away. Taking refuge in this island within is a very important practice.

We have a song in Plum Village titled, ‘Being an Island unto Oneself’. This song is about the practice of taking refuge in oneself. If we still feel that we have not found our true home, that we do not have a place to call home, that we have not truly come home, that we still want to look for a homeland, or that we still feel lonely and at a loss; then this practice is for us. This song can remind us to return and take refuge in the island within.

Our Refuge of Practice

Around the 4th or 5th century, when these mini talks were translated into Chinese, the monks translated the ‘Island of Self’ as ‘tự châu’ (tự is self and châu is island). “Dear monks, practice being islands unto yourselves, knowing how to take refuge in yourselves.” Those were the words the Buddha uttered just one month before he had passed away. If we consider ourselves to be soul mates of the Buddha, to be real students of the Buddha, we should take his advice and not go looking for our homeland, our true home, in time and space. We should look for this true home right within our own self, within our own heart; where there is everything we are searching for. There, we can touch our ancestors, blood and spiritual, and touch our roots, our heritage. There, we can find peace and stability. There, we can find the light of wisdom. Let us take refuge in our own island – in the island of the Dharma. We do not take refuge in any other person or thing, even Thầy.

The Buddha’s love is immense. He knew that there would be many students who would feel lost after he had gone, so he reminded them that his body was not something permanent and eternal. He taught them that that which was most worthy for them to take refuge in, was their own island of self. We know that it is always there for us. We do not have to take the plane or the bus or the train to go there, but with our mindful breathing and mindful steps, we can be there right away. Our island within is our true refuge. It is our practice of the Dharma.

This Christmas, if you buy and bring home a Christmas tree to decorate, remember that your ‘True Home’ is not found outside yourself, but it is right in your own heart. We do not need to bring home anything for us to feel fulfilled. We have everything we need right in our heart. We do not need to practice for many years or to travel far to arrive at our true home. If we know how to generate the energy of mindfulness and concentration, then with each breath, with each step, we arrive at our true home. Our true home is not a place far removed from us in space and time. It is not something that we can buy. Our true home is present right in the here and now; if only we know how to return and to be truly present to it.

Home in the Present Moment

The other day, Thầy was reflecting on what message to send to his friends and students abroad so that they can practice, so that they can be like Jesus or be like the Buddha. Thầy then wrote this calligraphy: “There is no way home, Home is the way
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:27 AM
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Default Re: Non-Traditional Christmas Stories

The Risk of Birth

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honor and truth were trampled by scorn-
Yet here did the Savior make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn-
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

~Madeleine L’Engle
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