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My Hindu Daughter, My Catholic Son
Growing Up Hindu
When my husband and I first met we attended regular Sunday Services at Self Realization Fellowship in Malibu, California. Just blocks from the beach, it was a beautiful place to be and to spend time in meditation. This was a Hindu Christian temple and just being there in this amazing place was enough to fill our hearts with a deep peace and sense of belonging in the world.
Because this place was so special and such an integral part of our lives together when we first met, we took these spiritual beliefs and practices with us when we moved to Northern California. Eventually we got married and eventually we got pregnant with our first child, our daughter.
During this time, we spent much time in meditation. In fact, we had worked up to 4 hours per day in deep seated meditation. Yes, cross legged on the floor in our meditation nook for 4 hours per day. Eyes closed, feeling the deep peace in our hearts as we sat in communion with each other and with God every morning at 6am and every night at midnight.
When we first conceived our daughter this spiritual practice of ours held deep meaning (and in fact today, still does). So we named our daughter Shanti, which is the Hindu word for "peace". This is her middle name, as we always want her to be centered and have peace in her heart, so we literally put "peace" into the heart of her name. At the end of each prayer that is spoken at SRF services, they sing "Shanti Shanti Shanti OM" (OM being the Universal sound of the Holy Spirit.)
When she was a baby, my sweet little girl would respond beautifully to the chant "Shanti Shanti Shanti OM" and this was how we would soothe her little heart when she would fuss. This chant would quiet her mind, and she felt safe and loved. Boy we were so proud of ourselves! Thinking this was a universal feeling that anyone would feel when faced with this kind and gentle chant, it became our "go to solution" in any emotionally stressful situation.
Then came the boy...
My Spiritually Diverse Children!
My Catholic, (Dare I Say?) Rigid Son!
My son was conceived on Saint Valentine's Day. Yes, sweet and romantic. Even a bit cliché perhaps. In fact, we have always held the idea that our sweet Shanti planned this one out. It was the very first time in her little life that she had EVER gone to sleep before 11:00pm! The fact that he was conceived on a Catholic saint's feast day actually escaped our attention for a while.
I was raised Catholic but had developed my own spiritual identity and beliefs over the years. A big part of this included and embraced the idea of reincarnation. Basically, I started having memories that I could not explain otherwise. I started reading books on the subject early on and decided that being born again and again just made so much more sense, seeing as how most of us cannot "get it right" one time on this merry go round we call being human. When I met my husband we both had, in fact, many memories that immediately sprang up for us about past lives we had experienced together. He was my main "soul-mate", or person in which I have decided to come to Earth with to learn lessons about life and love. This reincarnation business became even more real with my son being born. The knowledge of this indeed came in handy...
When my son was a newborn baby, he was extremely fussy. After having a perfect daughter, who I was absolutely certain was a true angel in disguise sent here as a gift of God to me... well my son was a challenge from the very start. We named him Liberty (his middle name) because while we wished peace for our daughter, we decided that another value we cherished as Americans is our freedom. What a wonderful wish for our son: Liberty!
Pretty much the minute he was born he had to do everything on his own. Complete independence. I guess another interpretation of this name we gave him... He slapped my hand when I tried to hold his bottle for him. He was two weeks old. The slap was accompanied by a pretty stern, angry look, just so I know, he means business! (I know this sounds completely weird, but I assure you it is true. I was not drinking and I had two witnesses to this event!)
While my daughter would rarely fuss and was easily contented with our happy little chant, my son was the exact opposite of his big sister. Every time I would chant "Shanti Shanti Shanti OM" he would cry louder. Every time he cried, I tried to pick him up. He would slap me and push me away. No matter what I would do, he would reject me immediately. I felt like a failure as a mother and really started getting perturbed at this tiny little newborn baby! Of course, this made me feel even more guilty and this nightly ritual of rejection was our life for close to 6 months. His father would come in, scoop him up and all would be well. I literally started to think that my son hated me!
One night as I started to chant yet one more time, my son, now six months old, literally escaped. I watched, shocked as hell, as he lifted his tiny little legs over the edge of his crib, and get out. He did not stop crawling as fast as he could until he had gone all the way down the stairs into his father's ever-loving arms. Carrying him back upstairs, my husband just looked at me and said, "What did you do to him?" I told him about the chant and he said (after six months of this --and yes I feel like an idiot already, thank you very much!), "Oh, well maybe you better stop that. Apparently he doesn't like it!"
Wow! At that moment, it dawned on me! (Finally. I know, I know. Duh!) My son was Catholic! My daughter was Hindu. They came here with religious and spiritual beliefs that they had lived with before, in past lives. No wonder he couldn't stand me when I chanted in Hindu! I was a Heathen in his opinion! So I put this theory to the test immediately.
His father kissed Liberty's wee stubborn head and placed him gently back into his crib and left the room. Liberty gave me a dirty look and turned his tiny baby back on me. His father made me promise to not chant again! I promised. Instead, I started to pray... "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus..." What happened next was truly shocking...
Little Liberty rolled over, eyed me harshly for a second then smiled a huge smile. He then got up, on his knees in a kneeling position, and placed his hands together prayer style and bowed his head. I could not believe what I was seeing! I prayed the rest of the prayer, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death."
When the prayer was finished, my son put his arms up for me to pick him up. For the first time in six long months, my son actually wanted me to hold him. From my understanding, he had been afraid of me and mistrustful, since I was not Catholic. What he didn't know is that I was raised Catholic and baptized as a Catholic. So I truly was not a heathen after all! That was the most special hug I have ever received in my entire life. My son finally accepted and most importantly, trusted me. From that day forward, I prayed with my children, offering up two sets of prayers to fit their former lives as well as a couple of new prayers to combine all of our spiritual beliefs.
Our Children Teach Us
What I learned from this experience is that our children are not born as babies that have nothing to offer us. We do not need to assume that they are born a blank slate waiting to be filled with our ideas. Sometimes, our children will surprise us. Maybe, they are even here to teach us a lesson or two.
My best spiritual advice I could offer any new parents around the world is to keep an open heart and a loving mindset about you. Your child may have come here with spiritual ideas that are different from your own. If they remember something different than what you want to teach them, there is a reason for it. Be patient with your child. He or she will teach you also. Eventually he or she will come around to your ideas and will most likely adopt much of your beliefs and what you have to teach them.
Allow your children to express themselves fully, without judgment. Write down what they say, even if it goes against your ideas and ways that you have been taught. This is brought to you for a reason. All is learning and progress.
When I look back at my life, I realize that there was a reason why I was born into Catholicism. Even though it didn't "take" for a lifetime, it was enough to help my son in my future. I have adopted a new belief from these experiences:
I believe that all that you go through in your life, all your experiences, even if it seems meaningless and holds no obvious reason for you, has a purpose that will be revealed in time.
Also, I truly think that your children picked you out of thousands of potential parents, for a reason. These new babies being born on this planet right now are coming here to help us usher in a new era. They are remembering who they are, who they were in past lives, and they are revealing so much more to us on so many levels that we have to start listening to them with fresh ears. Our parents and grandparents raised us in very different ways than we are to raise our children. We are not the sole teachers in a one sided relationship here. Our children are coming to us for specific reasons and we need to become like little children to receive a new Heaven that they come to offer us.
My multi-cultural, multi-religioned children have taught me that All is a part of it. All is worthy, worth our attention. All is important and all paths lead to God, to the Divine. When I first fell in love, I had no idea that our deeply spiritual love would lead to a spiritual lesson in equality. I now have learned with the help of my children to love everyone and to embrace with an open heart all the world's religions.
For the record, I pray to God daily and meditate still in small increments. And on occasion now I attend Catholic Services and pray also to Mother Mary. On behalf of my son. We also light candles in our home and have pictures, statues and candles of the former Pope, Jesus, Lord Krishna and Buddha (thrown in for good measure). We even own a delightful copy of the Koran. We all now live with the understanding that God is God is God, no matter where the ideas came from. Truth is truth and love is love. We happily embrace it all!
My daughter still has some leanings towards an Eastern perspective, while my son still insists he is Catholic. They both now embrace universal ideas and believe in reincarnation. And while they differ in opinions, they both still value peace and freedom. =D
Wishing you peace, freedom. spiritual fulfillment & God's abundant blessings,
PS. I also adapted the Hail Mary prayer (God Forbid) to be a bit less scary to a baby and more affirming of our beliefs. This was accepted by our ( then rigid) son and I offer it to you now, in case you were ever in need of a softer, gentler, pro-reincarnation alternative:
"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for all of us, now and throughout all of our lifetimes. Amen."
400 Year Old Catholic Church in Antigua
Children & Reincarnation
Spiritual Link to Self-Realization
- Self-Realization Fellowship
The official organization founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda to teach scientific methods of meditation and principles of spiritual living that lead to direct God realization. For more than 85 years, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) has been de
SRF in Malibu, CA
Near Malibu Beach (Mermaid Girl's Favorite So Cal Beach!) =D Considered Los Angeles, this is also called Pacific Palisades by locals. :)