In the darkest place, the light is born. The mind is a busy inn. No room there for the birth of innocence. The weary pilgrim descends into a humbler, quieter place, nearer the fur and the feather. Animals know how to be still. That empty place beneath your breastbone is the womb of the Virgin. Her name is Silence.Three kings kneel there to offer their gifts to the newborn light, who is your own Christ Consciousness. These kings are your three faculties of intellect, will, and memory. They kneel in the hay, baffled out of all thought. What gifts do they bring to you, Child?They bring three talismans of power, talismans that every Child needs for the journey to enlightenment. They are not flaming swords or shields of invisibility, sandals for flight or helmets for seeing the future. Such mythic talismans pale in comparison to what you received at your birth as a human being.You have worn these talismans so near to your body that you forgot their power. You even forgot that they were there, like diamonds in your breast pocket. Yet these are the gifts and graces that make you most human, most divine.Now before you learn what these talismans are, you must promise that you will not take them for granted any longer. They are so subtle, so radiant, so fraught with energy, that they are an open secret: so obvious to those who are awake, yet hidden to those who are asleep. Please cherish and honor them as your birthright.These gifts of the Magi will not simply guide and protect you on your journey: they will magically transport you to the journey's end. Wherever you are, at any step of the way, they make the way pathless!The first talisman is your Breath. One single breath unites heaven and earth in your flesh. Each inhalation fills you with the swirling night of distant stars. Each exhalation offers and blesses the fruits of the infinite past, dissolving all impurity. Just by breathing, your body becomes the stairway of angels. Trillions of celestial beings descend into the world through your in-breath. Trillions of souls are released from purgatory, ascending through your out-breath. Honor the sacrament of breathing.The second talisman is your Heart. Not some metaphysical state or moral abstraction represented by the word heart, but this faithful organ beating night and day at the center of your body: perhaps you thought it was just a muscle, or a pump! No, this blood-gorged cardio-vascular ganglion is a portal to heavenly worlds. But those worlds are all entangled in this one, and the knot at the center of this sacred entanglement is your heart.Simply to rest in your heart is the beginning and end of all spiritual practice. Descending into the heart-space, the mind becomes silent and boundless. Some people think that meditation is an out-of-body experience. But meditation is an ultra-body experience.At harmony with every pulsing atom of your body, you glow. Your glow irradiates the space around you, enfolding cities and forests, cradling the earth, expanding into the stars. Your body has no edges when the mind is in the heart, because the heart is an energy field without circumference.The “soul” is the radiance of your body. It is your ultra-body, and its center is your heart. Touching the heart with pure naked awareness activates the entire field, a field that includes the galaxy.So when you meditate, you don't go anywhere. You are infinitely here. And your hereness begins in the hridaya chakra. Our English word heart is rooted in this Sanskrit word, hridaya. The divine power of utterly being here arises from the heart. Which brings us to the third gift of the Magi...The third gift is so near that you never notice it all all. It is closer than any thought, so transparent that you cannot look for it: you must look from it. In fact, this talisman is the very space of no-thought, where the mirages of memory and desire have vanished. The third talisman is pure Presence.The Present Moment is the only time you will ever be happy, the only wealth you will ever possess, the only place where you will ever encounter the intimate gaze of God. Returning the the Present Moment is the goal of your eternal journey.Breath, Heart, Present Moment: these are the gifts of the three kings offered to the Christ Child, who is born as your own radiance in the darkness of this holy night.
* Painting by Gerard Van Honthorst, 1622