Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who Comes into the World?, Part 1

There is somebody there!

Something is developing in the womb of the expectant mother during the nine months of pregnancy. Initially nothing is visible; the woman does not yet feel the growing body and knows only indirectly that something is going on inside her.

But this all changes when suddenly this “something” begins to move and react to various stimuli. What was hitherto merely “organic” is soon felt to be a little living being with its own personality. There is somebody there!

This impression grows stronger the closer we are to the hour of birth. A being who himself feels, perceives, reacts, wants something! Someone who will later on shape his life according to his own wishes.

With reference to the “new life” which is brought forth, every birth appears as a miracle. But there are also questions arising which must not be circumvented: Where does this being that has just “entered the world” come from? Is it a part of its parents? Have they really created it?
Of course, the parents have contributed something to enable the child to be there, but this contribution is quite clearly a material one only: egg cell, sperm and other substances have, during the gestation period, contributed to form the body of the newly born child. But the child also has its own character, its own will, and its own personality.

Do these also originate from the parents?

The answer to these questions depends on whether one regards the human being as something completely of the “flesh” or whether one recognises his essence as being non-material, that is, whether or not one attributes the psychic properties to a non-material soul, which takes possession of the body during its “earthly sojourn”.

The great religions all presuppose a non-material element in the human being. In the biblical account about the Creation it is clearly expressed that the human being was “formed from the dust of the ground”, but that this materially formed body then had “the breath of life breathed into his nostrils” (see Genesis 2, 7).

It is not just religious traditions but many observations of children also tend to confirm the “dual nature” of the human being – physical body and living soul. When, for example, a baby begins to move its hands, one has the impression that it is trying to master a new “instrument”. It is as if the living soul is consciously trying to “get a grip” on the body. The newly born also display their own pre-formed personality very clearly by their wishes or in expressions of discontent.

Our language gives expression to this intuitive knowledge that the human soul already existed before birth. When it is said that “the mother has brought her child into the world”, then this presupposes that the soul of the child does not originate from this world.

When it is likewise said that somebody is “a born poet” or that he “has a certain gift”, then this points to abilities which this person “has brought with him” into this life.

Furthermore, the well-founded assumption that the soul has existed already before birth also finds expression in the common child’s question: “Tell me, Mummy, where was my little brother before he came to us?” For a child, it is quite clear that nobody can suddenly appear out of nowhere.

The stork and science

The story of the stork who brings babies also points out in a metaphorical way that every child already existed in “a far distant world” before it came to the family.

A sober scientific observation will, on the other hand, recognise the “origin of life” in the fusion of sperm and egg. Non-material or spiritual connections remain beyond the grasp of science and are therefore not considered, since they cannot be verified using scientific methods. If we follow this reasoning to its final consequence, we are left with the premise that every child must be considered as having issued from its parents; that is, that the parents “give life” to their children. Consequently, they would be ultimately responsible for all the talents and shortcomings of their children as well. Naturally, many mothers and fathers feel very uncomfortable with this train of thought. Who, in all honesty, can claim for himself the role of “Creator”?

Many a mother struggles to “come to grips” with the way the child comes into the world through her. What exactly is her contribution to enable the little body take on form inside her? Which thoughts, words or acts have an influence upon the development of the child? It is noteworthy that the mother does indeed offer the possibility for procreation but this then proceeds on its course without her knowledge and assistance, as do the further multiplication of cells and the development of organs. The duration of the pregnancy, too, is, in normal cases, not influenced by the woman and the birth is triggered without any conscious impetus coming from her.

All of this shows that the idea that we human beings are giving life to our children is incorrect. We can make a birth possible, we can fashion good earthly and spiritual prerequisites, but the coming to earth of a human being, the incarnation, proceeds on a course, which to the greatest extent, cannot be influenced by our will.

The human soul has existed already before its birth, but through a pregnancy it has been given the opportunity to attach itself to a physical body and thereby to “animate” it.

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