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Venerable friends and families,

I convey my heartiest wishes and earnest blessings to you during the year-end holidays. May your holidays be instilled with a prayerful and careful attitude. May you embrace unrushed thoughtful decision-making parsing out the confusion while forbearing the tribulation. May your hearts be overfilled with gratitude and kindness.

Year-end is the time for reflection and rumination. How to make these holidays meaningful and uplifting is within the reach of your own affirmations. Change is the nature of the world and it is constantly slipping away from us. Often at the end of an era or a yuga like this, change is accelerated, bringing in a clash of ethos and bipolar ideologies. There is no other option but to face such times with moral strength and practical sense. These situations prompt us to look deeper within and harness the value of dispassion.

Holidays are meant to be holy days of self-reflection and prayer. They are not meant for simply exchanging packages of material objects that please us. Pleasure gathered from the world makes us indebted to the world, and hence there is the remembrance of worldliness. When we retire at night, we must ruminate on the higher goal of human excellence and not be flooded with memories of worldly engagements while mentally unpacking the material gifts that are laced with likes and dislikes.

One is truly peaceful if one is free from fearful living even in the face of a serious crisis of sustainable livelihood. Giving in to the fears and somewhat manifesting the worries is a much lesser way. We are born free and never meant to be wrapped in fear of the unknown or struggle with a daily dose of general dread. Holidays are meant for regaining our confidence and deepen our conviction through faith in God.

Kindness and charity are both exemplary virtues rooted in compassion. This holiday might beckon you toward gifts of kindness wherein your charitable sharing is meaningful and value-added for both the giver and the recipient. We must remember who the real giver is, and that He made sure there is plenitude waiting to be cultivated in some way or other, despite the imbalance from hoarding and greed.

The current age is such that negativity spreads faster and grips harder, but these times will change in the foreseeable future. Times are forthcoming in a few years that will embrace our fortitude toward the current challenges of civilizational crises. Our efforts become value-added through our faith in God, otherwise they are of limited effectiveness. Love is the best gift that honours our innate compassion for humanity.

Our illusory bondage to materialism cannot last long. Challenges from uninvited situations come our way due to the very urge that initiated this life. Thus it is best to not give sway to either depression or elation. The ramparts that hold us captive due to the karmic shackles get shattered faster when we invoke godliness, thereby freeing the soul from the worldly drama. Otherwise freedom is not attained before the full quota of contingent satisfactions from the momentum of karma get exhausted, which may take lifetimes of striving and adhering misery.

Whether embroiled or relatively free, once encumbered, the tentacles of duties cannot be avoided. Therefore it is best to discharge the duties of life as a spiritual penance. Do your best and leave the rest, to God – who will protect you from the imbalance of adversity and prosperity. Only if we are able to submerge in the spiritual refuge unto the supreme personality of Godhead, by following the wise words of wisdom from realized beings who have seen God, there is then the citadel of solace with rock solid fortification.

With the holy blessings of God and Guru,
Swami Vidyadhishananda

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