Have a blessed Christmas –
From our family to yours…
Love in Him,
Mary & Tim
PS. Peter, in the maroon shirt, is our son…
The Christ Child’s Asleep – song by Swami Kriyananda
Have a blessed Christmas –
From our family to yours…
Love in Him,
Mary & Tim
PS. Peter, in the maroon shirt, is our son…
The Christ Child’s Asleep – song by Swami Kriyananda
This video shows some amazing footage of a fallen baby hummingbird that was rescued. It was nursed to health, and fed by the mother hummingbird while being held by Peter Tommerup, of Saratoga CA, in June 2007
Your children will enjoy this close-up view of one God’s tiniest creatures. The mother hummingbird is very dedicated, and also trusting , to come so close to human hands in order to feed her baby.
As we go deeper into the age of Dwapara Yuga (the age of energy) we will see science advance in many ways. In so doing, mankind may begin to feel “all-powerful.” But, for the perceptive mind, there will always remain the journey of the soul. This will remain essentially the same – though outer circumstances will change – such as technology around birth and death and much more. And the laws of karma always remain, i.e., what you put out – you get back. It may be on time delay – but it will happen.
Anyway – my thoughts ran in this direction after reading this article yesterday:
Human eggs and sperm have been grown in the laboratory in research which could change the face of parenthood.
It paves the way for a cure for infertility and could help those left sterile by cancer treatment to have children who are biologically their own.
I was relieved to know that the author thought there might be ethical concerns. At this point the researchers think they have created preliminary sperm cells and egg cells – which is pretty amazing. My hat is off to them on a purely scientific level, even if I have misgivings about the direction of the whole deal.
The sperm had heads and short tails and are thought to have been mature enough to fertilise an egg.
The eggs were at a much earlier stage but were still much more developed than any created so far by other scientists…
…The American team used stem cells taken from embryos in the first days of life but
hope to repeat the process with slivers of skin…
However, there are many ways that the greed aspect of human nature could exploit this science. At this point, my gut reaction is that some things are better left alone. However, that is unlikely. Science will continue to evolve. What is needed is for “spiritual science” to evolve right along with it, or even more ideally, ahead of it.
In any age – the spiritual truth remains, “Love they neighbor as thyself” and, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This can help in most ethical questions – especially if you also consider the soul nature of all those involved.
In the article “When does the soul enter the body?” I present the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda on the entering at conception.
When the sperm and ovum unite, at the moment of conception, 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…Paramhansa Yogananda
Spiritual Stem Cell Research In his lessons on healing, Yogananda also teaches how a deeply skilled meditator can transform his own stubborn body cells back to the more pliable stem cell state, and then command them to recreate a limb! I have read of a few cases in which this has worked. I offer it here as an example of “spiritual science” being way ahead of the medical science at this point – not in the normal population certainly – but rather in a few extraordinary human beings.
However, from the teachings of Yogananda, an avatar for this age, we can at least take some hints toward medical ethics. For instance, in his above instructions, a person is using his own body cells and spiritually transforming them back to the stem cell state. So, of course – no life is taken in the process. No embryonic cells are needed to create the stems cells. The material plane corollary is the ever-developing science of converting skin cells into stems cells.
And, of course, in his teachings above, regarding life starting at conception, one can infer compassion for the tiny fetus, and even more especially when that soul has been conceived by spiritual parents. Even if society becomes more and more jaded regarding the presence of life and the soul in tiny baby – it doesn’t mean that we should all so become hardened in that way. I mention this because the “norms” of society do have some effect on us, especially to younger people. If something is legal – there is a tendency to think it may also be moral or “okay.”
However, most women do seem to feel, in their heart of hearts, that abortion is wrong – once they have experienced it. They may feel that in the less-than-ideal circumstances it was still their best choice – but they may wish they had done more to avoid the predicament. Sometimes that is easier said than done. But – since this is primarily a blog about family life – you can discuss this with your sons and daughters to not take this subject lightly in their own lives. Again – because something is “legal” – it may feel “okay” – until they are faced with it. So – hopefully they will make good choices that lead to a happy outcome.
And – in spite of our best efforts as parents – “life happens.” No matter what challenges you face in your family, lead with love. Consider all that I have written here simply as helpful commentary for discussions that may arise in a home with teens and ‘tweens.
God bless you all.
PS – Click below for a wonderfully fun and inspiring Thanksgiving letter written by Yogananda in 1934.
This is a remarkable story of survival of a tiny infant, just a little over a pound. I’m posting it (below) simply to help keep our hearts open to the humanity of these tiny ones. This size of baby is still legally aborted…because they are considered less than human – and not worthy of life and protection, if the mother deems that to be so.
Thus, the [Judiciary] Committee observes that no significant legal barriers of any kind whatsoever exist today in the United States for a woman to obtain an abortion for any reason during any stage of her pregnancy.1
May our hearts soften in love and compassion, and may women revere the power of life within them. And may we find more options for women who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances.
There is so much polarity these days about abortion, and in the arguments there are intelligent people who argue the baby is not quite human and is not to be legally protected. That is where our society stands right now. Oh dear… but there is a natural goodness in women, when they see the humanity of their babies. I read that when women see a sonogram of their baby before an abortion, over 75% decide not to have the abortion.
So – that means another solution was found, once the reality of the baby was seen. In some ways, the biggest question on this may not really be “legal/illegal” –but rather, are our eyes open or closed? And what about our hearts? For the will of the people flows through their deepest feelings. And right now, the will of the people says this: “If the mother does not want the baby within her, then she is free to kill it. Even if the father should want his child, she is still free to kill it. The woman’s body, and her feelings, are ‘god’ in this matter.”
Some people say they want “god” and religion out of the abortion question – but they have simply substituted this new “god.” In ancient days, the power of woman, for the ability to bring life, was “worshiped.” And even in more recent times, the woman was at least respected and revered, for this same power. But now it appears that feminine power is more worshiped in protecting her right to end that life. In fact, pleas for compassion on the life of unborn babies are often seen as an assault on “feminism.”
I don’t see an easy way out – because if most people feel it is okay to kill unborn babies, simply because the mother wants it – then our hearts are hard indeed. And the more our culture supports it, the harder our hearts must become, of necessity, or else we would be tormented by conscience. There is plenty of evidence of the humanity of unborn babies…but people must blind their eyes, so as not to see it. If our hearts and scientific minds are truly opened, then it begs another answer.
I applaud any move in the direction away from such hardness of hearts. It may come piecemeal. I imagine it will take time. For now, my greatest hope is in helping families pass on this respect of life. The question of abortion has always existed. Why else would Hippocrates have said, in his oath for all physicians,
“…I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art…” Hippocrates
Since the legalization of abortion in many Western countries, the anti-abortion sentence of the Hippocratic oath has sometimes been dropped from the text. That is indeed a pity, for it would suggest we are becoming less civilized, rather than more so. Let us hope it is temporary.
Indeed, the much more recent The Declaration of Geneva (1948) in response to the heavy use of abortion and sterilization by the Nazi regime against eastern peoples, states:
“I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.” The Declaration of Geneva
So, I simply place here my plea for humanity. No more, no less.
“…But Jesus said unto them, For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment…” Mark 10:5
A premature baby declared dead by doctors at a hospital in Paraguay was found to be alive hours later when he was taken home for a funeral wake.
According to medical records, the baby weighed only17.6 oz (500 g). The smallest on record was an American baby who weighed just 10 oz, born at less than 22 weeks.
A doctor who works at the hospital’s maternity unit said staff had tried to revive the baby for an hour before declaring him dead. “His pulse was so low that it was undetectable,” Aida Notario said.
Jose Alvarenga said he had discovered his son was alive after he heard crying from the box in which he was placed. The baby is now back at the same hospital’s intensive care unit and reported to be in a stable condition… “This is a very unusual case,” Ernesto Weber told the AFP news agency, adding that an investigation into the incident would be carried out.
Original BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8191023.stm
James Elgin Gill (born on 20 May 1987 in Ottawa, Canada) was the earliest premature baby in the world. He was 128 days premature (21 weeks and 5 days gestation) and weighed 1 pound 6 ounces (624 g). He survived and is quite healthy.
The world’s smallest premature boy to survive was born in June 2004 at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey. Tyler Martin was born at 23 weeks with weight of 320 grams (11 ounces).
Historical figures who were born prematurely include Johannes Kepler (born in 1571 at 7 months gestation), Isaac Newton (born in 1643, small enough to fit into a quart mug, according to his mother), Winston Churchill (born in 1874 at 7 months gestation), and Anna Pavlova (born in 1885 at 7 months gestation).
I’ve received some great comments after I posted my article on When Does the Soul Enter the Body? in which I mention:
Some sensitive, intuitive parents do report feeling the soul being born to their family in that moment, and that it feels like a fully conscious 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.
I love hearing soul affirming wisdom straight from the lips of women who knew from the first moment that new life was within them…I received this note from a friend after she read my original article.* Her daughter is now grown and has children of her own.
This is so beautiful. Thank you so much. When my dear daughter came to me, I felt her fully formed, not by any biology, but by her own nature. I saw her personality fully present. She was smart and observant. She thought way before she could speak. It was such a joy to have her with me.
Joy to you, Mary,
And it is really great to hear from the dads, too! This one is from a devotee in Canada. He and his wife live surrounded by forest, and I feel that this natural peace, plus meditation of course, has deepened their intuition to a high degree.
One of his stories, below, gives testimony to the truth of Yogananda’s words: “At the moment of conception…when the sperm and ovum unite, there is a flash of light in the astral world….”
“I would like to briefly share my own private experience with you:
“At the point of my son’s conception, my wife and I had a mystical experience that will stay with us for our lives. Both of us heard a pronounced, almost electrical PING” sound, and simultaneously saw a subtle inner flash, as we rested in the midst of our loving embrace. We both exclaimed – “Did you hear that?!”—and yes, we both did hear it, and also both saw an almost electrical energy like charge take place in a subtler realm, distant yet somehow very close to us. We knew at that moment that our pure expression of love had opened the way for a wonderful soul to come to us. My son, 26 years old now, remains a source of great joy in our family.
We have also been blessed with other experiences such as an unwavering inner knowledge, not provable to others, but without a doubt for us, that our daughter is my dear grandmother, who previously loved my wife and I so much. To see a soul you knew very well in one life, and who sang lullaby’s to me as a child, come into this world a clean slate in their own new conscious mind, and travel a new journey with you in a new form as your daughter, is an amazing gift that deepens ones spiritual ardor. To this day, my daughter (she’s 22 now) carries many of her strong willed and goodness tendencies from her past life, but remembers nothing of her past in this incarnation.
We usually avoid speaking of these things as they have been greeted with rolling eyes and unspoken skepticism, but my experiences have proved to me, truly, souls do congregate and are attracted to each other, coming into this Matrix of a physical world.”
These stories give testimony to experiences these parents had well before ever reading Yogananda’s teachings on the topic. Soul teachings are eternal, and we discover them for ourselves when we live more and more in the Divine Light.
Swami Kriyananda was often present when Paramhansa Yogananda spoke privately with disciples, received visitors, or discussed his writings. These conversations are recorded in his book, Conversations with Yogananda. This 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.”
*Read the full article in an easy to forward format:
When Does the Soul Enter the Body? by Mary Kretzmann
By Mary Kretzmann, excerpted from: Finding God in Your Family
Director of Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry
Tim and I were wedded twice. We had a family wedding, and then packed up and moved, sight unseen, to Ananda Village as our honeymoon. It was Spiritual Renewal Week, (1978) a special week of classes all taught by Swami Kriyananda, direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. At the end of that week, on Saturday night, we took Kriya Yoga initiation for the first time, with Swamiji. The next morning, at Sunday Service, also with Swamiji, we were married using the marriage vows written by Paramhansa Yogananda, which includes the words: “To bring souls on earth to worship God as newborn souls.”
It was a very special time for us, for we were newly married, newly initiated into Kriya yoga, and we knew we wanted to have a family. During the one of the classes at Spiritual Renewal Week, Swamiji told the following story from Yogananda, which he later put into his book, Conversations with Yogananda.
“A couple expressed to me their desire for a spiritual child. I prayed for them, then showed them a photograph. This soul, I told them, would be suitable for them, and was also, I felt, ready to be reborn on earth.
“‘Meditate on this soul,’ I said. ‘Concentrate especially on the eyes. Invite him to come dwell in your home. In addition, have no sexual contact for six months; abstinence will increase your magnetism.
“‘When, at the end of that time, you come together physically, think of that person, and think also of God. If you follow my advice in all these respects, that soul will be born to you.’
“They followed what I’d told them, and, some time later, that was the very soul which was drawn into their home.”
Conversations with Yogananda: Entry # 175
RECORDED, WITH REFLECTIONS, BY HIS DISCIPLE SWAMI KRIYANANDA (J. DONALD WALTERS)
Since it was our very first week at Ananda, I assumed that Swamiji taught this often. However, it was another 20 years before I heard him mention it again! I can see why; it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. I was ready for this information because I loved children, and we knew we wanted a family. I was also very motivated to do what I could to draw in spiritual souls, as I mentioned in When Does the Soul Enter the Body?
Though newly married, we had already lived together for some time; we even owned a cute little home in Arkansas. But, as we came on to this spiritual path, we realized we wanted to align our lives with Yogananda’s spiritual ideals. We no longer wanted to live in accordance with the norms of our generation, but rather with the precepts of our guru. Once we had that realization, we entered a period of celibacy, to pray for guidance. The question was not whether or not we loved each other, for we were happy together. But how do you know when to take a solemn vow?
I’ll address that process more deeply in a chapter on marriage vows. Suffice it to say, even though I’d had a deep intuition right before I met my husband that I was about to meet “the one,” I still needed a prayerful process to know that it was truly time to trust that inner voice and “jump off the dock,” so to speak, and make it real with a vow.
Also, as we were coming onto the spiritual path, I was surprised to find that I was feeling called to be a nun in catholic convent, even though I’d barely been to church since I had left home! When I was a girl, I wanted to be a nun, as a form of dedication to God, and Jesus and Mary. That seemed a long while ago, but that feeling came back at this time. It was not overwhelming, but it was strong enough to get my notice. We were new at meditating, but there were several times that I felt Divine Mother’s loving guidance in this prayerful time. One day, I felt Her grace enter the stillness of my heart with these words, “In this life, to learn unconditional love, be a mother.”
My heart was at peace. I knew my path.
So – by the time we heard Swamiji’s class, we had already been prepared in many ways. We knew about the power of having times of celibacy because of that prayerful time. And, we had found, in general, there was a special spiritual power in waiting, perhaps for a month or more, between those special times of coming together as a couple. The mind enters a more sublime state. The practice of meditation, plus a vegetarian diet, gives the body a sense of calmness that makes this more readily attainable. (Fruit is especially calming and uplifting.) We were young and in love, and still very romantic. We would laugh, hug, and kiss, and generally enjoyed being with one another, but we also had this other goal, and so we wanted to save the energy, and we knew that it was worth it.
I mention this because each couple has to find their own way with this process, but I couldn’t relate to being a cold fish about it all. There was a still natural sense of joy and affection in those times, yet with a sense of restraint. Sexual freedom and connection is almost worshipped these days (especially in the media) so I feel a bit strange mentioning that your life as a couple, and as a devoted soul, can be enhanced with periods of celibacy, or “moderation,” define it as you will.
I also address this topic in my healing visualization, Psalm 23 in the Chakras:
“He leadeth me beside the still waters”
…The physical expression of love is an important, tender connection for many couples. It is often best, then, to focus on bringing in greater love, and lessening any sense of lust in the act, rather than to become radical and “renounce” it all prematurely, in the name of spiritual zeal. As a married couple learns the balance between sexual expression and inner stillness, great love can deepen between them, if they are mindful also to find other ways to express their purified love for each other, lest they become too austere. Be deeply kind to one another, always. Seeing the Divine Beloved enshrined in one another’s forms, the couple can both give and receive deeper love. In this way, love can, over time, be transmuted from the second chakra up to the heart center. This process must proceed with self-honesty, and compassionate consideration toward the needs of the beloved and of oneself…
So, we were ready in our own way to ask the blessings of God, Christ, Guru in our marriage, and in our desire for spiritual children. There was a deep blessing, and a powerful opening at my spiritual eye, that accompanied the time of our daughter’s conception. I felt the grace of our Guru perfecting the process, helping to uplift our consciousness, because we were still such neophytes on the spiritual path. A special grace, power and upliftment accompanied the conceptions of our other children as well. In addition, I sensed their basic soul essence, and needs for growth in this lifetime. This has helped me as a parent.
It is a noble goal even to attempt this process of inviting a spiritual soul to your family. God grace answers such prayers, and sincere intention and efforts, in this direction. Your prayers and your intention are a magnet in and of themselves. This is an important point, and it must be a large part of the reason that Paramhansa Yogananda put that line is his marriage vows, “To bring souls on earth to worship God as newborn souls.”
That registers as a prayer in the ether, and helps those couples, I believe, even if they aren’t able to practice the 6-month celibate period as stated, above. The principle of conserving your sexual energy, to build spiritual magnetism for this prayer, however is very important. Do whatever seems kind and reasonable for your marriage. Stretch yourselves, but not to the breaking point. Over the years, I have counseled some couples on this matter, and that is why I stress this directional, rather than absolute, approach.
I have seen that it can be helpful to some couples, and more attainable, to have a 6-month period of intentional “moderation,” rather than complete celibacy. This may be more reasonable for some couples, and can still help build spiritual magnetism for your meditations, and for your prayers to invite a spiritual soul to your family. Some traditions suggest only coming together physically once a month. This will help the process. Again, think about it, and pray about it; ask to be guided on what would be right for you now.
Some very saintly couples are naturally inclined to be celibate, living mostly as “brother and sister” except when coming together solely for the purpose of having children. The parents of Paramhansa Yogananda were such a couple, as were the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux. So, if your marriage is also in this category, you are in very august company, and you should able to apply Yogananda’s instructions rather naturally.
The parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, Louis and Zelie Martin, prayed for saintly children, and all 5 of their children were deeply dedicated to God. This is from her sister, Celine:
“…Not only my father when he was young, but my mother also, had desired to enter the Religious Life. With the disappointment of their hopes, they both turned towards the married state, but aimed at realizing in it the maximum of Christian Spirit…After having lived for many months as brother and sister, they then wished to have many children in order to offer them to God…
…Between our parents there was a perfect agreement of heart and mind. My father often spoke to us of our “saintly mother,” as he called her. On her part she wrote to her brother: “What a holy man my husband is! I wish every woman in the world could have his equal.” The Father of the Little Flower: Louis Martin (1823-1894) By: Celine Martin (St. Therese’s Sister)
Saintly Parents of Yogananda
Paramhansa Yogananda’s mother confided to his sister that only once a year did they unite together as husband and wife, for the purpose of having children. Otherwise, they each had a private bedroom, which suited their deeply spiritual and meditative natures. He wrote of his parents in Chapter 1: My Parents and Early Life:
…Father and Mother were Bengalis… Both were blessed with saintly nature. Their mutual love, tranquil and dignified, never expressed itself frivolously. A perfect parental harmony was the calm center for the revolving tumult of eight young lives…
Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda
So, my purpose is only to inspire you in your next step. I certainly don’t mean to intimidate you with these wonderfully noble examples. If nothing else simply get a holy picture or statue that reminds you of God’s love, and every time you see it, ask God to bless your family with spiritually inclined children. Even that will help, because it gets your energy going in that direction. And then, add in whatever else of what I have said here that you feel able to do, while being loving toward your spouse, and yourself.
Some couples go through the heartache of miscarriages or infertility, and simultaneously also want to pray for a spiritually receptive child. This requires special prayers suited to this situation. The couple may be reluctant to practice long periods of celibacy in order to build magnetism to draw a high soul. They don’t want to create an obstacle toward conception. Several needs coexist at once:
1) The desire for a child, in general
2) The need for the body to be healed in order to conceive
3) The hope for a spiritually inclined child
4) Prayers for guidance on how long to “try”
5) How many options and expenses are worth pursuing
6) When to let go, and simply enjoy the blessings of a peaceful meditative life
7) How to feel that life is always a gift, even when our deepest desires are denied or delayed? How to avoid having this upset our lives, or marriage, or friendships?
8) How to gracefully enjoy the children of your friends and relatives
You may be going through all of this, simultaneously. If so, you must give yourself space to find the right balance for you and your spouse in this situation. Pray your way through this – together and individually. For the most part, men are more easily philosophical about all this. That’s because fatherhood seems an abstract idea, and responsibility, yet his loving concern for his wife, and her happiness, is very real. Strive to remain a source of love, joy and comfort to each other. Keep it that way, no matter what the process and outcome. Prayer and peaceful meditation will help you very much in this regard.
Couples will vary in what steps they will consider in order to conceive. One young couple asked for prayers because they were going to try in vitro fertilization. The prayers were for the success of the method, because this was their only chance, but I also knew that the prayers could help with the magnetism of drawing a spiritually inclined soul to them. It was successful all around and they were blessed with a healthy baby girl. The child is still very young, and has a lovely, joyful nature.
Praying to conceive, while also practicing times of celibacy, are not at cross purposes with each other, because physically the process is enhanced with a time of waiting. Often couples are counseled to wait until the woman is more fertile each month, as this allows the husband’s sperm count to increase and strengthen. This waiting period could be spent praying for a spiritual soul to be born to you. Think and pray about what you can offer the child in terms of spiritual guidance and fulfillment. (You can read my book, “Finding God in Your Family” for ideas on that.) Hold this intention and feeling up in prayer, and then leave the results in the hands of the Divine.
Video of home of St. Therese (with one of her poems set to music)