When Does the Soul Enter the Body?

A lot of people look for this article that I wrote some time ago – so I thought I would post it again here in this scribd format

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Praying to Conceive a Spiritual Child

It is a gift to aspire to bring Light to this world  in whatever ways God calls you to do so. If you are called to the family life,  and you are hoping to start a family soon, then know you can pray and ask God, Christ, Guru to send you a spiritual child…And then do your best to offer that soul love and spiritual support according to the child’s needs.

I offer this free e-booklet to all who would so aspire…now or in the future.

Tiny Preemie Baby Wakes Before His Funeral

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

‘Dead’ baby wakes before funeral

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

More on pre-term births:

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).

The Soul Enters at Conception, testimonies

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.

“Dear Mary,
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,
Sheila”

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.”

Conversations with Yogananda: RECORDED, WITH REFLECTIONS, BY HIS DISCIPLE SWAMI KRIYANANDA

*Read the full article in an easy to forward format:

When Does the Soul Enter the Body? by Mary Kretzmann

When Does the Soul Enter the Body?

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.

When Does the Soul Enter the Body? by Mary Kretzmann

(scribd.com document – very nice format – easy to print and forward.)

Excerpt:

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.”

Conversations with Yogananda: Entry ~ 177 ~
RECORDED, WITH REFLECTIONS, BY HIS DISCIPLE SWAMI KRIYANANDA

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

or here in an earlier website post on “When Does the Soul Enter the Body?”

Praying for A Spiritual Child

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.

Special Circumstances

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.

Read this on scribd – I added photos, and more…

Video of home of St. Therese (with one of her poems set to music)

When Does the Soul Enter the Body?

By Mary Kretzmann

(This is now a new chapter for my BOOK (see tabs)  “Finding God in the Heart of Your Family

“Life Begins”

Children ask about the beginning of life. It may come up after they heard something on the schoolyard, and when we the parents aren’t quite ready for it. It might be sparked by things in movies, discussions at school, or by items in the news. And, of course it comes into discussions with teens, regarding dating and the other sex, etc. (I’ll address that topic more deeply in another chapter.) So this question can come up in various ways in a child’s life, and it is helpful to be able to provide more than just the clinical “facts of life” to a child, but also a little bit of the spiritual aspects.

The information in this chapter is foundational for nearly any stage of parenting in which you currently find yourself as you read this book. It is especially helpful if you are hoping soon to start your own family, or to add to your current family.  If that is indeed the case, may your prayers for a spiritual child be guided and blessed, for all such souls serve to uplift the general vibrations of the planet, and in that way, bless us all.

My husband and I, very newly married, first heard Swami Kriyananda mention this topic in a spiritual seminar the very first week that we moved to Ananda Village. I was deeply struck by the information because I loved children very much, and we wanted to start a family sometime soon. In addition, I had most recently worked in a preschool and was very aware of the individuality of the children there; this seemed to go well beyond whatever the parents could have done to influence the children once they were born to them.  Some kids could only be explained by the fact that they were born way, with certain qualities already established.

I loved all of the kids, and I even loved the “difficult” ones more, in a way, due to the amusing charm of their individual natures; but honestly, when you work in a preschool, surrounded by 24 children, the thought of becoming a parent can begin to look a bit like a mild form of Russian roulette. We sign on for a very long and expensive contract as parents, and this goes well beyond the financial costs, which are legend, but also includes our intense conscientious care and attention for the better part of 2 decades. So, I was happy to know that parents could influence matters by praying for a spiritual child to be born to them. At the time, the tender age of 23, I thought “spiritual” might also mean “easier on the parent.”

Many years later, I can now say it is not necessarily always easier, but at least the children will likely be receptive to the spiritual values in your heart and soul, giving a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment to this intense life commitment. I now see that when we invite spiritual souls into the family, there is an increased responsibility to follow through with appropriate spiritual support and training. This, of course, is the topic of this book, and it is an ongoing process of discovery. It was my nature to want to do these things; still, I was only later stuck by the fact that it was my responsibility to do them, as well.

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.”

Conversations with Yogananda: Entry ~ 177 ~
RECORDED, WITH REFLECTIONS, BY HIS DISCIPLE SWAMI KRIYANANDA

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!

All of this knowledge serves our children as they grow older, and must make moral decisions in their personal lives, as well as in the various ethical questions that can come up in an ever-advancing, scientific society that continues to offer us more options individually, and as a society.  This book is not meant to serve as a precise ethical guide on any of these related issues, but rather to offer tools of spiritual insight, based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, with which to guide yourself and your children.  One thing is for certain: life gets complicated at times.  The knowledge in this chapter can serve as a guiding light in weighing out pros and cons of various issues, and can especially serve to stem the tide of pronounced spiritual relativism that sometimes enters such discussions.

It is truly a gift to us all that Paramhansa Yogananda, a God-realized Master, made so many teachings available regarding all areas of life. As the age progresses, these things will work their way into the general knowledge of the culture, at least for sincere seekers. It is already happening in many ways. Swami Kriyananda writes:

Paramhansa Yogananda was sent on earth with a divine message for this age…His mission was to complete the message of Kriya Yoga. The first disciples of Kriya Yoga practiced the divine technique in the privacy of their own homes. Theirs was a hidden role, intended to build the magnetism of this great gift of God’s to the world. Yogananda’s coming was intended to complete that mission by showing Kriya Yoga in Action. In this role, his life was strongly reminiscent of similar roles that he played in lifetimes as an instrument of God. For it is not enough that a few people take the Kriya teachings within themselves, only. The full effect of these revolutionary teachings must be directed outward also. Their role is, thereby, to transform society itself.

What the world needs now is a general uplift of consciousness. Such, our Masters have declared, is the function of the new rays of energy and consciousness that are entering the planet at this time. The role of Kriya Yoga is not intended only to inspire a few people to withdraw from outward activity and seek inner union with God. Its role is to show mankind how to live together on earth in higher awareness.

As I reflect on these things, I recall the old saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” As spiritual parents we are given the special opportunity to uplift the hearts and minds of our children. These efforts have a profound effect not only on our own little families, but also gradually on our entire earth family.

May we all be blessed.

For further inspiration:

A Way To Awakening is a television program, filmed in India, in which Swami Kriyananda reads passages from the book, Conversations with Yogananda. Highly recommended. Each show is about 25 minutes and includes the story, a short talk, and music. Sometimes we watch these as a family, and new shows are added each week.

Watch here: >A Way To Awakening<

Click here for: The Energization Excercises of Paramhansa Yogananda
http://www.ananda.org/meditation/energization.html