The nativity as a dream or teaching story


Joel (from the Center for Sacred Sciences) gave his traditional Christmas talk on the 25th, and I missed it unfortunately. The audio will be available in a few weeks and can be ordered from the center. 

The talk was on the nativity scene as a mandala, or seen as a dream or teaching story, and a friend was kind enough to send me a brief summary as he remembered it. 

Here are a few things based on that summary, with additions on my own. This has already gone through a few filters, so it only reflects my own take on it. Not necessarily what Joel said. 

The virgin birth. The awakening is born of spirit, not of the human. It is what we are awakening to itself. The timeless now awakening as always and already here. It does not come from and cannot be initiated by anything human. It is grace.

The stable. Awakening can happen in ordinary and humble circumstances. It also embraces and is often lived through ordinary and humble circumstances.

The shepherds. Awakening includes the ordinary in our lives. And it is available to ordinary and humble people.

The wise men. (Sometimes kings.) Wisdom is in the service of awakening. The ruling views and habits align with and are in the service of what we are awake to itself. 

Animals. Awakening embraces and is lived through our animal and human nature. 

The star. A guiding star. Also the presence of the celestial. Spirit. That which all experience happens within and as. What we are. 

The angels/messengers. ??? (Maybe the knowing that comes with awakening. The obviousness of Ground awake to itself as the awake no-thing appearing as the myriad forms and experiences.)

The baby. The innocence of awakening. Not knowing. Curiosity. Wonder. 

The gifts. An offering of what we take as most precious. A sacrifice of our most precious stories and identities. 

All of this reflects the fruits of awakening, and are also guides and pointers for the path

And it is all projections of what is here now. It is a projection of a story, and a projection of qualities. The nativity story with all of its elements is a pointer to what is already here now. An invitation for inquiry. 

When I take it as a pointer and find it here now, it is no longer just mental games and entertainment. It can be alive here now, in immediate awareness. 

And that awareness is inherent in the Christian tradition, even if their interpretation of the specifics may be different.

Thus the icon is also a theology, a theology in color, expressing the experience of God with lines and paints rather than with discursive language. The goal of the icon and that of written theology are the same – to lead others to the mystical experience of God. The icon artistically depicts the experience so that others may approach the mystery and be invited to share in it.
– Anton Vrame, The Educating Icon

Here are a few more of the often incredibly beautiful nativity icons. 








Initial outline…

  • talk by joel (missed it, so based on an email from a friend summarizing it, and added a few things on my own)
    • virign
      • not born from the human but the divine (what we are waking up to itself, not from stories or emotions)
    • stable
      • awakening can happen in ordinary and humble circumstances
    • shepherds
      • awakening includes the ordinary in in our lives
      • awakening is available to ordinary and humble people
    • wise men (sometimes kings)
      • wisdom in service of awakening
      • ruling views in service of awakening
    • animals
      • our animal/human nature included 
    • star
      • celestial/spiritual, not touched by form
    • angels/messengers
      • (a knowing inherent in it all, so obvious that the Ground of all is awake to itself)
    • baby
      • innocence of awakening, not knowing, curiosity, wonder
    • gifts
      • most precious offered to awakening (what we take as most precious, our most precious beliefs and identities)
    • fruit + path
      • all reflecting the fruits of awakening
      • and also the path, pointers for the path
    • here now
      • all a projection (a story + qualities/dynamics)
      • can find it here now (so not just entertainment)

2 thoughts to “The nativity as a dream or teaching story”

  1. Excellent stuff, Per. Your post inspires me to get back to a “nativity” post I started but didn’t get very far with when Xmas arrived.

    I recommend to you Joseph Campbell’s Thou Art That and Elaine Pagel’s Beyond Belief. Both touch on symbols of the nativity scene and correlate with what you’ve written here.

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