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Dreaming of a Buy-Nothing Christmas
Dreaming of a Buy-Nothing Christmas
By Tim Hjersted /

It’s kind of funny that for several years being an atheist I still  celebrated Christmas because that’s what I’d always done.  The last several years I’ve been gradually winding down my participation. I still love to gather and celebrate with family and friends, but each  year I  buy less. This year I have come the whole way – a total Buy Nothing Christmas. I haven’t bought a thing.

I also decided that, instead, I'm going to start celebrating the Winter Solstice and other sun, earth, and universe related happenings. Instead  of paying homage to a person whose mythological birthday story has its roots based in astrology and the Winter Solstace, why not celebrate the real thing?

Connecting with the natural rhythms of life, the winter for me is a time to  meditate on the fact that food and life doesn't come from the  supermarket. It comes from the sun. The sun is the life-bearing force of  this galaxy. Nothing would exist that we know today without the sun.  The seasons, the crops, the plants, the animals, the evolution of a  brilliant diversity of species of living beings - it's all tied to the near infinitely predictable rising and setting of the sun each day.  Ancient cultures understood the importance of the sun, and they viewed  the sun, the earth, and all life on the planet as sacred, the same way many cultures today believe in invisible angels and gods as sacred.

Coming from a mystic Sufi background, I've studied many religions and  spiritual paths, and have come to see how so many of them share many  beliefs in common. The teachings of Buddha and Jesus run parallel. They often say the same thing, but using different words to speak to different cultures and audiences. The story and mythology of Jesus is heavily based on Pagan beliefs and values, making this new religious paradigm more accessible to the people of the time. This, for me, speaks to the common  truth that can be found in all religions. When you strip away the  anecdotes and parables and koans that give texture to these teachings,  the core principles of how to live a compassionate life are virtually the same. But this also speaks to how philosophical principles are taught and spread amongst cultures of vastly different time periods.

The worshiping of the sun is perhaps one of Homo Sapien's oldest spiritual beliefs and cultural rituals. Over time, these beliefs (often  taught through stories) are reinterpreted and recast for changing times and peoples. Jesus Christ is a perfect example. The whole story of  Christmas and the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus into heaven  can be understood entirely as a parable that personifies the Winter Solstice and the original worshiping of  the Sun.

It seems kind of bewildering how the religions of the last 10,000 years  have come to believe so wholeheartedly in belief systems centered around  invisible godly beings and other dimensions beyond this life, while at  the same time they have become utterly divorced from respect and  appreciation for the natural world. Unlike god, heaven and hell, which  we cannot see and which have no tangible influence on our lives beyond  our imaginations and surrounding culture, the physical world actually exists. The sun, plants, water, and animals of this galaxy actually exist, affect our lives - give us life! But we pay virtually no respect  to this fact. There is no mainstream holiday to mark the occasion.

We fill our time with man made objects, man made cities and houses and cars and TVs and little boxes we shuttle back and forth from in between  work, school, and play. We find value in these anthropocentric artifacts. But nature - the sky, the sea, the wind, the soil, the seeds  that are fertilized each year that miraculously give us life and  sustenance - these things we do not relate to.

We relate to Christ, we relate to heaven and other worlds. We relate to  American Idol. But we see no relation to nature. We do not see ourselves  in the eyes of a bear, or the bees, or a bird, or a dolphin. We simply  do not see the connection.

This is reflected in our economic system. It is reflected in our  entertainment, our movies, our religions, our school and government and  business institutions. It is a paradigm lived and breathed worldwide, a  fundamental worldview so ambient and pervasive it is almost universally  invisible. Nature is not us, it is apart from us. We are it's masters.  And for the new hippy-mystic generation, we are it's stewards.

But we aren't nature itself.

This, this I think, has to change.

A new paradigm is possible. Reinterpreting our relationship to the  universe is the inflection point where it all flips inside out, and a  whole new perspective unfolds.

It's 6am on this quiet winter morning. I suppose I'll have to follow  this train of thought on a future night.

Until then, cheers! and Merry Solstice!


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Dreaming of a Buy-Nothing Christmas