In Swami Kriyananda’s book “Expansive Marriage” he warns the householder yogi to be careful of the attitude, “us four and no more” taking hold of your family life. In our case, the warning would be “us three and no more”, but it doesn’t sound as catchy, so let’s stick with four. The warning is one of significance and something I think worth exploring by anyone embarking on family life. My husband and I became parents just six weeks ago, so my “expert” opinion is anything but that.
I wrote earlier about how marriage for a yogi is an opportunity to expand your love to include another person, with the goal of expanding your love to include all of creation in the way that God loves everything. Similarly, expanding your love to include the newly arrived soul in your family is an opportunity to go even bigger.
The tendency is for families to hold onto the love they feel for a new baby and protect it – to become a unit that is separate from everyone else. There are aspects to that instinct which are important; it’s critical that the little soul be protected and cared for, that she feel loved, that she know she is welcome…dare I say, that there be a healthy attachment between baby and family. At the same time, the exclusive nature of creating those bonds and protecting children can isolate a family – taking them farther from that sense of expanded love. The need to bond and protect gets compounded by the responsibilities of family, which take that isolation even further…you get into routines of diapers, naps, chores and meals to the point that there seems to be no time for anything or anyone else. Suffice it to say, it’s easy to fall into the “us four and no more” trap.
For myself, I am happy to report an opposite reaction to having a child. For me, it really does “take a village”…Tulsi is a social baby, as long as her tummy is feeling okay, and that is a HUGE relief to her mama. I could not be a good mama without the help of my husband, family and community. If I stop to think of why I feel and behave this way – relying on support and friendship to help me through life – I would thank the influences of my childhood growing up in Ananda Village and the way my parents allowed the support of friends and family help us through life. Some might see that reliance as a shortcoming, but I know that it has made my life so much richer.
To include your community in your family is to expand your heart beyond it’s “seeming” limits…I love to be there for others, as does my husband. Helping others helps me feel connected, to get beyond myself, to give love. In that way, I see the value in allowing others to help me too.
Tulsi is every one’s baby. She is being loved and welcomed by so many more friends than just her parents. By sharing her light with others, instead of hoarding it for myself, I am expanding my love to include our whole community. From there, it’s important to keep expanding that love. The world is a mixed bag and not every person Tulsi meets will be easy to love, but that’s the “opportunity” (aka challenge) – keep expanding that love.
Someday, the love I feel for my daughter will expand so much that it will merge into Divine Mother’s love – that’s the goal and I will work daily to get as close as I can to it. We all can catch glimpses of that experience in this life, whether it becomes a permanent state yet or not. You can feel it in watching a sunset, helping a friend, in deep meditation, by singing.
May we all discover Divine Mother’s love in our hearts and share it with the world.