The Deeper Meaning of Christ's Birth

Dear Swamiji,

St. Francis and Theresa Neuman both testify to visions of Christ’s birth. They state that He didn’t undergo birth in the usual way, but manifested as light. In other words, Mary was pregnant, but when it was time for Him to be born, He didn’t pass through the birth canal but appeared in the manger as a manifestation of light. Do you think these were true visions of the actual birth of Christ? Is it possible that this is the way other avatars such as Krishna and, possibly, Yogananda come into this world?


My first reaction to your question was, "Who knows?" I certainly couldn’t say for sure. However, it’s an interesting question because it’s so easy to get pulled off into unreasonable extremes one way or the other if one doesn’t appreciate the truth on both sides. Perhaps, I can at least share a few thoughts that suggest themselves.

I’m sure that those visions reported by St. Francis and Theresa Neumann were true. Just what were they saying, though? Master once told us, "I see all of you as images of light. Everything – these trees, bushes, the grass you are standing on – all are made of light. You have no idea how beautiful everything is!" He was describing a reality deeper than the physical one we could see. He wasn’t, though, saying that the material world we beheld didn’t exist: simply that it isn’t what it appears to be.

My best understanding is that the visions you mentioned are likely to have been similar in nature. Seen with inner vision, of course, Christ’s birth certainly did appear quite different from that of an ordinary person. It was that deeper reality that drew the wise men to the manger. But it’s not to say that the birth didn’t have a physical reality much the same as any other birth. The great ones make a point of acting out in their own lives most of the outward drama through which the rest of us have no choice but to pass. Like Christ on the cross, they could do otherwise, but they choose not to. It’s in condescending to live out these scenes that they make the example of their lives real and meaningful to us, and encourage us with the thought that, as they have overcome, so can we.

Master had a vision once in which the Divine Mother told him, "I have suckled thee through the breasts of many mothers. This time, She who suckled thee was I, Myself." His mother, then, was no ordinary woman! And yet Master never suggested to us that his birth, viewed from the physical point of view, wasn’t in full accordance with natural law as God has established it.

I’ve heard that when they were making the movie, "Gandhi," a group of Gandhi’s followers insisted vehemently that it would be sacrilegious to portray him in any way other than a beam of light! This is the sort of silliness one wants to avoid. Stated that way, of course, it looks ridiculous. But it’s easier than you think to fall into errors of this sort. Even the Gnostics, wise as they were, appear to have erred along these lines, in denying any physical reality to Christ’s suffering on the cross.

In Divine Friendship,

Swami Kriyananda

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