The Christmas Carol Sutra

I have a very old copy of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Each year at about this time I enjoy reading the yellowing pages by the fire.  I must have read that book at least twenty five times. In recent years I have become increasingly aware of the parallels to Buddha’s teachings.  The most obvious perhaps is when Scrooge notices that there are “creatures” under the robe of TheCC Ghost of Christmas Present.  When revealed he sees . . . “a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility.” The ghost says, “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!”  For anyone who’s looked at the four noble truths and the 12 nidanas it would be hard to miss the similarity. Ignorance and craving. I could fill many pages with similar parallels.  Scrooge’s own Karma has led to his own suffering and it’s only when he has a true experience with death, first Marley’s ghost and then the vision of his own mortality (courtesy of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) that he takes up the Bodhisattva ideal and begins putting others first.  Thus achieving his own happiness, an end to his suffering. Scrooge’s early business life was based entirely on fear and craving. He might not have enough money. This fear led to a craving and the rest. . . .. , well you know the rest.

Now why point all this out? It seems to me that when multiple and varied sources, thinkers, writers, philosophers and just plain old folk, arrive independently at the same conclusion, then there is likely to be some truth there. Fear and craving lead to suffering. Generosity and putting others first leads to happiness.

So I’ll leave you with the last few lines of this delightful tale.

He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

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