“All time, past, present and future, is contained in the now." I heard the philosopher J. Krishnamurti say these words in Bombay in 1985. They were to be among his last words. Soon after, he was dead.
If we acknowledge that time is circular rather than linear, we can allow Tolstoy's wise hermit from The Three Questions (1903) to explain Krishnamurti’s beautiful, enigmatic words thus: "Remember then: there is only one time that is important - Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power."
Gandhi expressed the same idea as “means are the ends.” In other words, the why is contained in the how.
In answering the how we automatically answer the why.
However, pursuing the why, as we have in the West for the last two hundred and fifty years, makes us lose sight of the how. When Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western Civilization he replied that it would be a good idea.
In Dickens’ great story, the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future take Ebenezer Scrooge on journeys through time and space. These journeys are journeys into Scrooge’s own life, past, present, and future. A journey into consciousness.
When Scrooge’s travels are over, it is Christmas day.
I spent the last four Christmases in the Philippines, a deeply religious traditional society. After Krista died I threw myself into community-building activities at Pink House out on our island. Each Christmas in the Philippines reminded me that all I knew was how, and that if I followed the how the why would be contained in it.
How we celebrate Christmas (or any religious holiday) is far more important than why we do so. Christmas (or any religious holiday) Is recognized by our consciousness as home.
Wishing all my friends near and far a happy and enlightening Christmas. May you all make it home.