Image by kalhh
For almost every couple, the thought of bringing a child (or another child) into this world triggers a whole range of emotions. There can be a tremendous thrill of joy, and many couples are aware of this; but all too often this joy is covered by fear, doubt, or sadness. Why so much heaviness around one of the riches experiences life has to offer a couple?
Now that we have children of our own, we are vividly aware of the several universal issues that almost sabotaged our own very deep desire to have children — issues that we have seen apply to many other couples. I mentioned fear, doubt, and sadness, but initially there really is only doubt, and doubt breeds fear and sadness.
What are the big doubts? And where do they come from?
One of the deepest doubts arises out of all the pain and sorrow we've experienced in life, our remembrance of the "dark" side of our birth, infancy, childhood, puberty, adolescence, and so on. We've blocked out in various degrees the goodness, the love, the soul growth.
Yes, we do remember even our birth, although the memories may be mostly unconscious perhaps. And we've allowed the "negative" images of pain, or the jarring of our senses, to predominate over the far deeper and nobler feelings of, for example, triumph or mastery.
This negative "take" on life, although really superficial, hangs us up and prevents us from seeing our deeper feelings, as well as the incredible opportunity for growth, mastery, and love that life offers. We, too, often get lost in the pain and sorrow, rather than seeing them in perspective, as stepping stones along the path to where we are now.
Personally, we were afraid of the tremendous responsibility of having a family. We had the illusion (as many do) that we would lose our freedom. We had visions of heavy chains binding us to the earth, weighing us down with worldliness. We didn't know then that our illusion of freedom was really irresponsibility and laziness. We didn't understand that real freedom and happiness results from taking on responsibility gratefully.
Sometimes those of us on the path of consciousness make the mistake of twisting spiritual truth into rationalizations for not having children. We remember once deciding never to have children of our own because it was far better to feel that all children were our children. In reality we were tapping into deep spiritual truth, but rationalizing our fears nonetheless.
Our other brilliant argument was: 'We are all children, so why have children?" And it's true, our deepest desire is to become children, to become all that is childlike: open, trusting simple enthusiastic and loving. But, alas, we discovered these arguments all had doubt, fear, and selfishness hidden behind them.
"It is in giving that we receive"
We continued putting off having children for a long time. Our first excuse was our education and professional training. Then there was a year and a half spiritual pilgrimage. Finally, there were no more excuses. We had to accept the fact that our desire to have children was blocked. We had always loved children very much and had vivid dreams about parenthood, but something was in the way. To one wise being we tried to explain how beautiful our life was together, how we really didn't want it to change. He responded in perfect simplicity that nothing is constant, that our life will change anyway. That statement touched us very deeply.
In our spiritual quest, we can become very selfish, thinking only of our own growth or our relationship as a couple. We fail time after time to realize, as Saint Francis says, "It is in giving that we receive." We selfishly want liberation, or enlightenment, or love, but the only way to get these is to sacrifice our desires for them by helping the "strangers on the steps below us."
In her book, Initiation, Elizabeth Haich describes how during one of her initiations she got to a step that was impossibly high. She saw no way to mount it. It seemed hopeless. She then noticed someone else near her trying to scale the same steps. She forgot herself for a moment and helped the stranger up the steps. Imagine her surprise when she discovered she was at the top! The helping of another lifted her up without her even knowing it.
Parenthood Is A Lot Of Work
Sometimes we get stuck just seeing the work of it all — the diapers, the disciplining, getting up in the middle of the night. It is then that we wonder why people glorify parenthood so much. But when we look deeper and feel all that we have been given in return, we know that it is one of life's most fulfilling endeavors. Our children have brought a closeness between the two of us that we never thought possible. The day after Rami was born, we looked at each other as if for the first time. A whole new aspect of our beings had opened up for each of us to love — the father and mother.
We have seen so many individuals and couples place greater importance upon jobs, careers, and success than they do upon having children. The world (our worldly mind, that is) tells us that fame, sex, and power are more important.
On a far more subtle level, our ego tells us our spiritual growth is more important than having children. There is much confusion and misunderstanding of the ancient teachings which say we must leave our family, husband, or wife. This was intended to mean we must leave our attachment to our family. Then, as well as now, we are being asked to change our attitude about family life, not our physical involvement.
Loosening Our Attachments To All Of Life
In the same way, we are being asked to loosen our attachments to all of life, but only while we are participating fully in life. Many of us don't realize raising a family with love grounds us in a way that deepens our spiritual growth and our service to humanity.
If a couple is committed, if they have consciously chosen to make their relationship a shared path to God, the arrival of a child will always expand their love. Their relationship will always be deepened, broadened. Our children have brought us ever new opportunities for expansion in our relationship.
By giving love to our children, we were transformed quickly. What we feared would be such a solemn sacrifice is becoming the thrill of giving. What we feared would become so burdensome a responsibility is proving to be our true freedom.
What we feared would make us more worldly and materialistic is instead balancing us, steadying us, and planting our feet more firmly on the path of true spiritual unfoldment. With God's help, we found ourselves less interested in our own "spiritual progress" and more interested in bringing the inner beauty and strength of our children to the surface, to help them become real servants of God. It is this that transforms us as well!
Reprinted with permission. ©1984,
published by Ramira Publishing,
P.O Box 1707, Aptos, CA. 95001.
The Shared Heart: Relationship Initiations and Celebrations
by Joyce & Barry Vissell.
This book is for those of us who are learning the beauty and power of the monogamous or committed relationship. For the deeper we go with one other person, the more we learn about ourselves. In addition, the less we hide in ourselves, the more our heart is available to others, and the deeper our capacity for joy. Through this book we offer you the fruits of nineteen years of loving each other and ten years of guiding couples through their own initiations. We hope these thoughts, feelings and stories awaken your hearts to your own inner knowledge, and the ideal of the love relationship. As we all strive to be pure love, to become all we are intended to be, we are helping to spread the light of consciousness and serve humanity. May your heart be opened to the truth within you.
About the Author(s)
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors, near Santa Cruz CA, who are passionate about conscious relationship and personal-spiritual growth. They are the authors of 9 books and a new free audio album of sacred songs and chants. Call 831-684-2130 for further information on counseling sessions by phone, on-line, or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops.
Join Barry and Joyce Vissell in their first in-person event in 16 months: Summer Couples Retreat, June 24-27, 2021.
Visit their website at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.