I just learned that an early version of this chapter was used in a student Congressional Workshop on “Personhood Defined as Beginning at Conception?” – only 21 documents were used. Nice to know that Paramhansa Yogananda was represented. His insights on the matter are so clear.
(scribd.com document – very nice format – easy to print and forward.)
Paramhansa Yogananda addressed the point of when the soul enters the body in numerous writings. Most of them go way beyond what you need to tell to child, no matter what the age. Those deeper writings are for married couples desiring to pray in a special way at the point of conception, in order to invite a spiritual child to their family. (Of course, the love, goodness, and spiritual devotion of a couple also serve as a divine magnet, helping to draw a more spiritually receptive child.) The story below carries the essence of this deep truth, and frames it in a simple manner that can be broken down and used appropriately, depending on the age of the child.
Swami Kriyananda was often present when Paramhansa Yogananda spoke privately with disciples, received visitors, or discussed his writings. These conversations are recorded in a wonderful book, Conversations with Yogananda. This basic question of life is addressed in entry #177:
It is a common belief these days that until a child is actually born, it is not yet a consciously developing human being. This belief is fallacious.
“When does the soul enter the body?” someone asked the Master.
“At the moment of conception,” he replied. “When the sperm and ovum unite, there is a flash of light in the astral world. Souls there that are ready to be reborn, if their vibration matches that of the flash of light, rush to get in. Sometimes two or more get in at the same time, and the woman has twins, triplets, or even – well!
“It is important, therefore, to come together physically with an uplifted consciousness. That flash generated in the astral world reflects the couple’s state of consciousness, especially as they felt during the moment of physical union.”
Some sensitive, intuitive parents report feeling the soul being born to their family in that moment; and that the soul feels like a fully conscious, mature presence that then becomes the baby. Some parents say they can sense something of the soul’s strengths and challenges, and how to best guide that soul, once he or she is born, and ready for the School of Life. It is by no means every devotee parent who feels these things – but it does happen, and it helps shine some light on this topic.
Interestingly, in his teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita, Paramhansa Yogananda said that the moment the sperm and ovum unite is when soul is “born” to this plane, and, therefore that is the ideal moment from which to draw an astrological chart. However, since that is highly impractical, using the moment of the baby’s first breath is the second best option, and is considered only to be approximate. (For this reason, and others, he said only a true God realized Master can do an astrological chart with complete accuracy.)
Some of these things can be given to a child in small doses whenever the “birds and the bees” questions come up. They appreciate this image of a flash of light that calls the child’s soul to the parents. You know your child, and you will know if and when to share any of these things. It is comforting for the child to know that we are always the soul – but sometimes we have a physical body, and sometimes (such as after death, and before life) we have an astral body, made of energy and light. I have seen these ideas help many children, young and old.
Paramhansa Yogananda also taught that when the flash occurs, from the sperm and ovum uniting, the new body starts to create the medulla oblongata, the seat of the “ego” in the body. He sometimes referred to the ego as the “soul identified with the body.” Interestingly, I first heard about some of the metaphysical aspects of the medulla in a pre-med Anatomy and Physiology class at University of New Hampshire, in the 1970’s. The professor, in front of 500 students, said the medulla is the most metaphysical point in the body, and that it is also called the “mouth of God,” and it is where life force enters the body. I later heard these same things when I came on this spiritual path less than a year later, and I have since wondered if he had read Yogananda’s teachings!…
Read more at scribd article, above