The Miracle of Human Birth
Who comes into the World?
Every birth is a miracle. A small being has arrived, which has its own personality and will. Who is it? Where does it come from? Has it really been “produced” by its parents? The new GrailWorld series examines the “Mystery of Birth” from a holistic viewpoint.
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.
The inequality of births
If we start out from such a “pre-existence of the soul”, then the next question to arise is how the inequality with births is to be judged. Why, for example, do some children have to suffer severe illness, but others do not? Is there no justice in life?
There is much debate on this issue, but there are only two possible conclusions to be drawn: one either concludes that indeed many “innocent children” have to undergo unjustified suffering – or one accepts that there is a hidden lawfulness, which ensures that the “child is matched with the family that is right for it”.
When we start from the assumption that the whole of Creation is borne by the love and justice of the Divine Will, then only the second answer can give us a correct foundation for further deliberations. Following this train of thought, no human being can be considered innocent when “coming into the world”, but he must be “bringing” something with him that gives rise to the circumstances of his birth. He must therefore have acquired certain strengths and weaknesses earlier on, that is, he must have sown a “seed”, which he is now “reaping” through the conditions of his birth. ‘Earlier on’ – does that mean: in some past earth life?
Memories from former lives
Today many people already believe in reincarnation, but what is often raised as an argument against repeated earth lives, is that nobody can remember a former earthly existence. This is erroneous, however. There are in fact quite a number of children who are able to talk about events in a previous life. These children are usually younger than four years old when they quite spontaneously begin to tell their parents or siblings “about before”, about their previous name, about the house where they lived, their family back then or about certain persons. Such children might talk about major events often more than once, such as a wedding, an accident or illness, because they still remain deeply moved by the experiences.
One might dismiss these testimonies as products of child fantasy, but in reality there is more to it than that. The Canadian research scientist Ian Stevenson (1918-2007) examined hundreds of these reports systematically and in great detail. He visited the localities of which the children had spoken, collated the information given by eyewitnesses and conducted frequent interviews with the children themselves. He finally came to the conclusion that these descriptions must be true. The children really could remember previous lives.
Sometimes the identification of the child with its former self is especially strong. Such children then speak with longing of past times, have the desire to return to the place of their previous life, to meet up with their parents again or want to be called by their “proper first name”.
If they are then actually taken to the place where they had spent their former life, they are able to find their way home through a maze of streets. They recognise members of their former family or neighbours and can point out structural alterations that were made to the house. Naturally, these are exceptional cases, which presuppose that a person was reborn very soon after his death. But one cannot take that as the rule.
The actual ego of the human being
Let us begin by assuming then that every human being entering the world already carries the sum of his experiences from past earth lives within him – even where he does not consciously remember them.
This now raises the question: What actually is this human core of being, his personal ego, which now has to reap all what he has sown in a former life – in the form of health or illness, a happy or unhappy fate? What is the personal ego which the parents did not create nor produce, but in reality only accept into their circle with the newly born child?
This ego is the spirit of the human being.1 This spirit originates in another, non-material plane of Creation. It is the centre of our consciousness, from where come all the spiritual abilities such as the free will, the perception of what is good and just or the sense of beauty. We human beings are spirit; the physical brain on the other hand is only a tool, which is at our disposal for our life in the earthly world.
It is therefore quite rightly said: “I have a body!” Whereas it would be wrong to say: “I have a spirit”. We do not have a spirit, we are spirit and as such we incarnate into a body. The expression “to incarnate” – “to enter into the flesh” – expresses very accurately what takes place: the spirit enters into a body which has been prepared for it, but it, nonetheless, remains a separate entity from the body.
From this point of view the fertilising of the egg receives a quite different meaning. It is not the life of a new spirit that begins with procreation, but only the development of a child’s body, that is, the material covering into which the spirit incarnates and which it will leave again at death.
Therefore, it is not new life that is created with human reproduction, but rather a new cloak, which, in a transient world, is able to hold fast for a time something which is immortal. Spirit – that is the living human being. The body is animated by the presence of the spirit.