Because I am working on a writing project I have become obsessed with a small factoid that is completely unrelated to the subject of my writing. Specifically where does the term “Christ Consciousness” come from? I kind of assumed it came from Theosophy. And it might, although a search of pdfs of Madam Blavatsky’s two major works does not show it. A friend found a chapter heading in a book by Sumner Ellis, a Universalist minster published in 1887 that used it.
In the moment I can’t find an earlier usage. I’m beginning to suspect an earlier term, “Christ’s consciousness,” which is concerned with the mind of Jesus as Christ and is used in academic writings, for instance Fredrich Schleiermacher, slid into metaphysical hands and became Christ Consciousness, as a cosmic awareness.
And, then I stumbled on a letter or homily or a bit of both from Paramahansa Yogananda.
Swami Yogananda was an early Hindu missionary to the West. He adopted the then current New Age language to present his fairly mainstream Hinduism. He also was fascinated with Christianity, particularly as he encountered it in the New Age community.
It’s unlikely he coined the term Christ Consciousness, and more likely he picked it up from the metaphysical community. Although I’m really not sure. In 1935 he visited the Holy Land. And shortly after returning wrote this. I share partially because of his use of Christ Consciousness, but mostly because it offers a different angle on Christmas. And felt right to share in the moment…
From Jerusalem and India, reinforced by the perception of the Great Ones, I bring unto you a new message of Spirit. Blessed is my soul to be thus an instrument of the Divine.
The pen of thought writes on the dark page of ether and makes the Spirit-Truth invisibly visible, and my fountain pen makes the unseen thoughts visible. So on this page I am painting God — with ink, thoughts, and Self-realization — that all may behold His glory.
As Truth peeps through the window of thoughts and words, so God manifests through Christ Intelligence and vibratory creation. When the beads of nations are not held together by the thread of universal perception of Christ Consciousness, of Christ Peace, they fall apart, knocking and scattering on the rocks of selfishness. The Christ of Christmas must be celebrated in the hearts’ love of all races for one another.
I pray Christ be born in the cradle of a new international understanding; that out of the dark night of war, the star of Christ Love may illumine a new United World. I pray Christ be born in all nations as love of unity, in all men as spiritual ambition, in true friends as the Divine Friend, in students of this path as Self-realization, and in all deep devotees as eternal, ever new Joy and perpetual Wisdom.
Earth-bound possessions and glory all fade away, but God-bound possessions hold through eternity, serving with supreme usefulness. Why worship material comfort on the altar of change? Learn to adore spiritual comfort in the temple of indestructibility. The best way to convert earthly accumulations into imperishable heavenly treasure is to use them for spiritual service. Christ must be lived to be known. In all good actions, in every material and spiritual service, and in the manger of meditation, the immortal Cosmic Christ is born anew.
None can know about that Christ by reading books on theology; one must feel his presence in the bower of deep meditation. In the cradle of meditation-tuned thoughts, woven with tender twigs of devotion, behold the newborn Christ, lulled by the cooing dove of inner peace.
In these twenty centuries Christmas has been celebrated 1,935 times — yet how few have realized the true significance of the birth of Jesus! Every year, God and the angels recognize this occasion with celestial celebrations for the good of all. So let each one of you, by prior weeks of deep meditation, prepare his consciousness to celebrate this coming Christmas. The arrival of the newborn Christ Consciousness in the hamlet of your meditation will be indescribably fascinating, uplifting, and expanding to your soul. Prepare for Christ by decorating the spinal Christmas tree* of your meditating consciousness with many new perceptions of the divine Christ, with ever-twinkling stars of wisdom and lotus blossoms of divine love. At the foot of this inner Christmas tree lay all your material desires, to be presented once and forever to the Christ Joy within you.
Then, on awakening Christmas morn, Christ will draw near the many-branched Christmas tree of your consciousness to receive your presents, and to give unto you his imperishable gifts of Omnipresence, Omniscience, Divine Love, Cosmic Light, Ever-Wakefulness, and Ever New Joy, bound with golden strings of eternity.