- Religion and Philosophy»
MOTHER-AS-YOUR-FIRST-GURU & LIFE
Birth, Childhood, Destiny & Mystery
"Birth and death are two of life's greatest mysteries. No amount of medical science will ever debunk the mystic nature of either." Swami Gurupremananda Saraswati
From the moment you were born, you had a great life teacher who taught you spiritual truths by how she lived her life. Mothers teach by living their values. No amount of talk can compare with living your values.
Swami Gurupremanada Saraswati is an amazing yoga teacher and mother of six children. She has written articles and books on the topic of motherhood and mother as first guru. One great point she makes is that birth is a spiritual experience. You can prepare for childbirth reading books, seeing videos and learning from your own mother and others about the experience, but each birth is unique and might not be like what you envisioned or were expecting at all. There is a mystical/spiritual element to the process which is very difficult to define. You simply have to live the experience.
My own father was unhappy he missed the birth of our eldest sibling. My parents lived in an apartment when they were first married. The apartment was a block away from the old Lutheran hospital in Bemidji, the place of my birth. My mother went into labor and walked immediately to the hospital. She informed the nurse on duty to call my dad to tell him she was in labor at the hospital. Unfortunately, the nurse forgot to do so. My dad came home and saw that my mother was gone. He freaked out and called the police. The police asked him a very good question, "Is she pregnant?" Then it dawned on him that she must be at the hospital in labor. He called and found out that my brother had already been born. My mother had a two hour labor, very unusual for a first birth. Every other birth except for her last birth she had a two hour labor period. My youngest sibling had a difficult birth. My mother went into labor and then labor subsided. The doctor decided to have her come to the hospital and induce labor. What happened was her head was not quite in the right place, so the doctor had to do some cutting. My mother did not have a Caesarean. My youngest sister traveled down the birth canal, but the doctor had to cut the skin so the birth could occur. Nothing could have prepared my mother for this experience.
Later on you discover that your mother is your first spiritual teacher (guru). My mother was always sharing her philosophy with me when I was a child. She said it was more important to have fewer rules than have too many. She was very consistent in enforcing the rules we had based upon health, safety and consideration. Being an example was more important to her than just talking about how to live. She was not impressed unless you lived your values. She did not care what your religion you practiced. She cared more about how you were with people. I remember that she was not afraid at all of standing up for what was right. She was a homemaker, but she also made a difference in the community by collecting money for Camp Courage, a camp for children with disabilities. She made baked goods for public school music organizations to sell at their bake sales. She made costumes for school and church plays. She was one of the mothers who made it possible for girls to wear pants in wintertime in the public schools. I remember wearing tights and dresses at Catholic school on those cold winter mornings. Eventually girls wore pants year around at all schools. My bent towards promoting human and women's rights came from my mother, my first guru.
One question I have thought about is why do some children have gurus other than their parents when they are less than ten years old? After all, before that age you really are not in position to make many of your own life decisions. To develop a relationship outside of your family takes quality time, the ability to make choices and the ability to discus ideas and use reason. There are many adults who have difficulty with these issues. Having a child have a spiritual teacher other than their parents requires a certain maturity level. Your parents, in my opinion, are your best role models and teachers when you are young. Other role models might be your grandparents, aunts and uncles or school teachers. When you are older, you can take your time to have a teacher outside your family as a spiritual teacher.
Being active in the community, school and spiritual community is good for you and your child. It is also good to have some time for yourself and your partner. If you are exhausted and do not take care of your mental, spiritual and physical health, this is not good for yourself nor your child. As Krishna says, "A yogi does not eat too much food, nor too little." So balance is the key to life. I remember how my mother would have monthly dates with my dad. He would take her out to a nice restaurant, so they could have time together alone as a couple. They raised seven children, so this time was important to both of them. Swami Gurupremanada promotes this idea of balance between your needs and the needs of your child.
My mother was my first guru. She shared many gifts with me: the creative arts, how to be with others, and homemaking skills for all of us. She taught us about many other wonderful things. Mothers are the energy and shakti of the Universe. Do something nice for your mother today. After all, she was your first guru. As my guru, Pandit Munelal Maharaj says, "You were first seated on the lap of your mother." Your energy and hers are one.
JAI SHRI MOTHER! JAI SHRI GURU! JAI SHRI BIRTH!