The Santa Claus Principle: By Michael Rosker

When I was a small child I was told that there was a big man in a red suit with a white beard who visited all the houses of good children on Dec. 24 to reward their behavior with toys. One year in early December, while playing in the attic I stumbled upon a bunch of wrapped boxes that looked exactly like those I found under the Christmas tree. Now this was a confusing situation for a small boy. I had no choice but to ask my mother about these boxes. As perceptive as most children are, I wasn’t satisfied with the fabrication of my mother’s reply. Needless to say, I continued my investigation, talking to schoolmates and older siblings until the whole story began to unravel. Eventually it led to the ultimate conclusion that there wasn’t really a Santa Claus in the North Pole, diligently working at this very moment with a large group of elves to produce massive amounts of toys for good children.

Now the belief in Santa Claus does have its own reality to both children and adults alike. In fact the only insomnia I was known to suffer was as a child on Christmas Eve in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. The story of Santa Claus is just one of many belief systems that exist in the world today. These conventions are always held as true until investigated. In some cases, even upon this conclusion we can still continue speaking this way, offering it it’s own reality out of habit or training or simply out of compassion for others. We’ll stick a pillow under our shirt and put on a red suit on Christmas Eve. We would even watch movies on television, like Miracle on 34th St., where Santa’s defense attorney even proved the existence of this character based on the unproven assumptions of the Postal Service.

But doesn’t life operate in this way? We give reality to our world based on unproven assumptions and we respond physically and emotionally to our perceptions in a way that seems very real to us. It creates our sense of self and others and then develops relationships and responsibilities. All these belief systems are merely restrictions and limitations, placed upon life. First we push this tiny snowball down the side of a mountain and before long we’ve created a world. This way of living is what the Buddha called Samsara. The absence of this perception, which is still in fact another perception, is what he called Nirvana. This is the normal resting place for the spiritual aspirant. What would you suppose is the absence of both these polarities?

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