Most know or have at least heard of the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol. In the story Scrooge learned through a night of nightmares, or time travel, and self-reflection that being greedy and miserly only brought him a life of loneliness and misery. When he awoke Christmas morning, he chose to begin living life by being kind, loving, and generous to those in his life and community. We could say that he embraced the meaning of Christmas, and that the main message in the story is one of Christian Love.
Embedded within this story, as with many great novels and literature, are other messages. Hidden under the robe of the ghost of Christmas present is a message that is taught across world religions and philosophies, though probably best known as a Buddhist teaching. Under his giant robe the ghost of Christmas present reveals to Scrooge “the banes of man”: Ignorance and Want. These banes of man, the things which cause and contribute to our suffering, are two of the three roots of disease and suffering in Tibetan Buddhist Medicine.
We can choose to live a life through ignorance: illusion, delusion, and lack of self-awareness and of compassion for others; and through want: desire, clinging, craving, possessing. Or, we can, like Ebenezer Scrooge, choose to awaken today free from the fetters that our own egos have put upon us, open our hearts, and live a life of kindness, love, and compassion. Like the Grinch, when he realized Christmas was not about the superficial decorations and feasting, nor about the shopping and the presents, so too can we expand from the fetters of ignorance and desire (and anger), and let our hearts grow more and more each and every day.