This is the second of four essays under the above title. The first one asked, “Who’s counting the sacraments?” In this second essay, I want to talk about “The Sacraments of Birth and Before.” The third one will deal with “The Sacraments of the Breathing Body.” And the fourth one will examine “The Sacraments of Death and Thereafter.”
The Sacraments of Birth and Before
1. Sacrament number one
I claim that there are seven sacraments in this section. The first one is when a soul emanates from Source. God is, God knows Herself to be, and God totally loves whom She finds Herself to be. In Hinduism we call this Sat, Chit, Ananda – being, knowing self, and bliss. In a sense – and, of course, this is cataphatic not apophatic language – that is the essence of the Divine: being, knowing self, and loving self. But it is very difficult for the “all that is” to have experiences, because there is nothing except the Self. So, at, some stage God self-fractures; He emanates, He plays a game of hide and go seek with Himself to try to pretend there are parts that aren’t Him, to see if those parts can remember who they really, really are.
So, visualize a sunrise. When the sun comes up in the morning, it sends shoots of light out into the morning sky, but these rays cannot actually be separated from the sun. Therefore, in some senses, sunbeams are an illusion. There is only the sun and its emanations, but these emanations appear to be distinct from each other and from the sun. That’s what souls are; and that’s the first sacrament – the emanations from God. Many different spiritual traditions hold this notion of self-fracturing, holographic, fractals of God.
- Sacrament number two
The second sacrament is when these souls organize themselves into what you could call “soul pods,” or soul families. Groups of souls get together and they make a commitment to help each other remember who they really are, because that is the whole object of the exercise. We will continue to put more and more limits on ourselves as souls, to plumb the depths of separation from Source, to see if, even in the darkest places, we can remember that we are God, and that there is only God. So, we make these contracts with groups of souls: that we will grow together; that we will challenge each other; that we will support each other in this journey.
- Sacrament number three
At some stage, we volunteer for incarnation in various dimensions. That is the third sacrament. All souls don’t just come to planet Earth. There are many dimensions for which souls volunteer. And each dimension has a different form of limitation, of separation from Source, in order to give the souls the opportunity of remembering anyway; of overcoming our limitations, in order to dig more deeply, into the love that is at the Source of each one of us.
- Sacrament number four
The fourth sacrament is when we make what I’ve called “pre-conception contracts” with each other. As these souls get ready to incarnate, they are not going to come in at exactly the same time, because some of these souls will volunteer to be our parents, or our grandparents in a lifetime. Some of these souls will volunteer to be our children in a lifetime; some will volunteer to be our siblings in a lifetime; some will volunteer to be our friends. And another group, a very important group, will volunteer to be our “enemies”, because we learn as much from our enemies, as we do from our friends. There are two kinds of people we tend to experience in our lives. There are fertilizers in our lives, people who love us unconditionally and they are very good for our self-image and our confidence. But, if there were only the fertilizers in our lives, we would all become narcissists. So, we arrange to have enemy figures in our lives. And, this is true not just as individuals, it is true as cultures and it’s true as nations, that there are enemy figures; and their job is to be “weeders” in our lives; to point out to us our inadequacies, even if we don’t want to see it.
And so, we make these “pre-conception contracts” as a soul pod to come in and to play a particular drama. And we set up the dramas in such a way that we apportion roles that give each person the ideal opportunity to develop whatever virtue they want to work on in an incarnation. Maybe this time we focus on courage, maybe next time on compassion, another time on forgiveness, another time on patience, another time on a sense of humor. And so, we come in and we create this drama; but the problem is we forget when we come in, why we came in.We are like a Shakespearean troupe, and every year we put on a different drama. This one was “As You Like It,’ and next year it will be “Hamlet,” and the year after that it would be “Macbeth.” It’s the same people, but we’re playing different roles; we may change genders, races even, but that’s not important. The object of the exercise is to develop our acting skills. By acting skills, I mean, learning how to love more and more unconditionally. That’s the entire objective of every incarnation. We’ve chosen – very carefully – the people whom we encounter, whether they’re family, friends or enemies. We are here by pre-conception contract in order to provide the ideal circumstance in which every single one of us can do the kind of growing that we want to do. That’s the pre-conception contract. That’s sacrament number four.
- Sacrament number five
Sacrament number five I call, “the launching pad.” Several years ago, I had a really powerful experience where a friend of mine, who is also a clinical psychologist, hypnotically regressed me, and I found myself in a life between lifetimes – what Hinduism or Buddhism would call the “bardo state.” At the end of that period I found myself on a “launching pad”, where the souls were making final preparations for incarnation in various different dimensions. And we were all together in an “aula maxima,” some great hall. A great angelic being was orchestrating our departure. The experience was such that any thought that any member had was immediately communicated, through this angelic being, to everybody else. So, each one of us was privy to the thoughts, and hopes, and expectations of everybody else. We were encouraging each other. There was, as you can imagine, trepidation, anxiety, hope, and joy about this new adventure, because we had forgotten what it was like the last time we were down here.
- Sacrament number six
Sacrament number six is the docking of the soul with the developing fetus or embryo. At some stage, after a woman – one of the pre-conception contract group who agreed to be the mother in this instance – conceives from the soul who agreed to be the father. The soul is going to dock with this developing embryo/fetus.
In fact, I believe that the baby is baptized in the amniotic fluid of the mother’s womb. That is the real Baptism because it is the commitment to incarnation and to mission. That is what the baby is saying in the docking. Now, not all pregnancies are successful in the sense that sometimes there’s a miscarriage. And that may be part of the contract; or sometimes, I believe, it’s that the soul gets cold feet. And having been used, in the bardo state, to space-lessness and time-lessness and Christ Consciousness, to find itself now confined to this tiny, little embryonic self, can be very frightening. Sometimes it gets really cold feet and says, I’m outta here. It’s like Christ at Gethsemane, “Let this chalice pass from me.” Except, Christ went on and said, No I’m going to see it through. Sometimes souls that leave say, Let this chalice pass from me. I’m serious. I don’t want to do it right now. And so, they go back and the fetus is miscarried.
- Sacrament number seven
Sacrament number seven is the actual birth and the first breath. And there you’ve got Spirit again – ruach, pepo, pneuma, inspiration – there’s the life of Spirit, the first breath the child takes. I would call this, in Catholic terminology, the sacrament of Confirmation. Because while the Baptism took place in utero, when the baby signed up for a mission, now it is confirming its decision. I’m going to stay with this process, I’m going to become a land animal, I’m going to see it through to the next phase of my mission.
So, that for me is the sacrament of Confirmation – the actual first breath; it literally is the personal Pentecost. At the original Pentecost according to John’s gospel, Jesus breathed upon the apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” So, the breath was the reception of the Holy Spirit; the breath was the first Pentecost. And, thus, every one of us had our individual, personal Pentecost, when we took our very first breath on Planet Earth.
These seven, then, would be the first group of sacraments I’ve called, “The Sacraments of Birth and Before.”