Satsang in the Family
Tom and Sue Fortunato greet a long awaited member of their family: their son Pyare, whose name means, "one who is blessed with love."
After beginning to meditate on Knowledge you will find basic changes happening in your life. Knowledge, like a seed planted in your soul, quickly sprouts and with some care grows too large to stay in the confines of old habits and old ideas. The experience of meditation taken into everyday life gives you a certain distance, a calm point of reference so when you look at any situation in your life you can see: How do I really feel about this; will this action actually achieve what I want, or is what I want disguised like the mid-morning cravings for candy bars that often hide needs for real nutrients?
Knowledge helps to sort it all out. It makes each moment fresh. As Francis Whitridge, one of the premies we interviewed for this article related, "The first morning I woke up after receiving Knowledge, it was a crisp winter day, exceptionally clear for a February on the coast of Maine. I had a distinct sense of the newness of the day, that it had neverhappened before, and I had a chance to break all the habits, take flying leaps over all the traps that had caught me and run me round in circles for years. Connecting in meditation every morning renews this sense even though it's been three years since I first found this feeling in me."
We use Divine Times to chronicle this process of self-discovery, the changing ways premies look at themselves and the world, and that's why Divine Times is more than just a newspaper full of facts. We try to get in depth, inside the news so that we can learn from the experiences of other premies. Two months ago we started a series, though then we didn't quite announce it as such, on the inside of premies lives. The first article was Light in the World of Private Enterprise, with three accounts of groups of premies trying to do business in a spiritual way. Last month we had two articles on
(continued on page 14)
premies in their neighborhoods, looking at social activism in the context of meditation. This month we are working with a sensitive and beautiful subject: The family.
Phil Marriot arrived looking like the "Little Prince", all in white, adorned with a crown and a garland of flowers.
Susan, escorted by her "father" (Willie, a local premie) was equally lovely with lilacs in her hair and a bouquet of blue, yellow and white. Their only vows were those that flowed from their hearts as they stood before us. They each, in that moment of heartfelt truth, spoke of their desire to unite in their service and devotion to our Guru Maharaj Ji.
Weddings are always beautiful. But what about the days, weeks, months, years afterwards? Young and hopeful in his second year of marriage, a premie husband, Jim Stevenson, talks about his experiences living so closely to another human being.
"I got married in that wonderful period after Guru Puja in Amherst. My wife and I had been together for several years before we started meditating and we felt it was time to formalize our commitment to each other. When we said our vows, all I could think of was how beautifully sacred the institution of marriage actually is. With each word said, I could feel the commitment I was making hit me a little deeper. I said "I do," and I could feel my whole attitude toward life shift. When you marry someone you better plan to stay married to them for your life was Maharaj Ji's message to me.
"In fifty or sixty years people do a lot of growing and changing. When I think of how I have changed in just three years I am amazed. I think the thing that breaks up marriages more than anything is people growing apart; the deepest goals of each partner become different. Being together no longer serves to help them reach things that seem most important. The wife starts to feel that maybe she doesn't want to have children, maybe she wants to be a musician, maybe she's really good and with some support she could really make it. But the husband wants to have a nice job and a nice wife at home. The two goals aren't going to match up. The problem isn't so much the different life-hopes but that the couple doesn't communicate clearly to each other. Then one day the wife will mention it subtly to the husband. He won't respond because to him it doesn't sound important; he is caught up in his own plans. By the time they really get to talking about it, the issues have become out of proportion and completely polarized. This problem seems to come into almost any situation where people have to work together over a period of time. Yet, you have to learn how to use your love and compromise.
"As premies the solution is all in coming back to satsang. Lisa and I are always making an effort to share satsang about even the littlest things we are going through. We share the same life-goal of realizing Knowledge so we have a more common thing than most married people.
"Another thing that can really hang people up is thinking about the past. Lisa sometimes does little things that remind me of how I used to be four years ago when I was a junior in college and we first started to date. During that time I was kind of a redneck type, into drinking, showing off, fraternities. I wasn't a very nice person and I wasn't very happy either. That's why I started meditating. Meditation has brought out a lot of the sensitive qualities that I always had but was embarrassed to show. When Lisa does things that remind me of that old part of myself it's very easy to just blame it all on her. I say, 'Lisa you make me feel like a red-neck; can't you grow up? You always expect me to …' It can go on and on. This kind of stuff can really poison a marriage. But it's complete illusion. The chances are Lisa wasn't aware of any of the things I accuse her of. It is a fact that people can't bring anything out of us that's not already there. So leaving them behind is not going to get rid of the problem, even though they remind us of those problems. This is where meditation helps so much. Instead of blaming my own bad qualities on her and identifying them with her, I try to reverse it. To look at myself."
Jim and Lisa don't have any plans for children. Why not? "To be really honest about it, we don't feel stable enough, responsible enough yet, to bring any new souls into the world. It seems that if you have a child you better not have any pressing plans for the next eighteen years. Kids need a lot of care."
For premie couples that have decided to have children, the experience of future parenthood has prompted a lot of growth. We spoke to Sue Fortunato while she sat on her porch on a quiet street in Denver. Sue is expecting her first baby to be born in three weeks. "I've really seen myself change," she said. "From a freak to a mother. When Maharaj Ji gives you a service, he gives you the grace to do that service. I feel more settled and at home wherever I am. I feel closer to my husband. It's harder to sit in meditation, but I'm meditating more during the day."
Linda Bach, whose baby girl, Sashi, was born five months ago, wrote these two poems about her feelings caring for her "little one":
Only by his Word, was your life begun
Only by his Word, will your life end.
My only prayer for you -
little devotee growing inside me - is
Only by his Word, will you
lead your life.
Love creates life.
Life creates love.
Into this circle are we led by birth.
May we guide this little one
To always walk in this circle,
and Living Love.
For premies, more than for most people, the actual time of birth is very important for both child and parents. Most premie parents want to have their children at home, or if this is not possible, in the most humane hospital situation available. This request has startled many of the premie's obstetricians. And the search for doctors who are cooperative has provided some interesting and thoughtful situations. Pedrick, a nurse from Fairfield, Connecticut, writes about the case of one premie family there.
"It really all started some months ago when our former DUO director, George Clare and his wife Sally, discovered with the usual pleasure that they would become physical mom and dad to a new little person. Almost from the beginning, they knew they didn't want the new one coming into the world in a hospital with the 'normal' conditions prevailing; anesthetics, drugs, forceps … Then when Premlata was born and we read the whole beautiful tale about her arrival, I was a convinced bystander that Maharaj Ji would not fail to arrange a suitable situation for the birth of George and Sally's baby.
"Sally's original obstetrician had refused to consider using Dr. LeBoyer's method, stating that it was against hospital policy. It was out of the question for him to perform a home delivery. The search began at once for someone to help with a home delivery.
"Sally called other doctors, but received a stereo-typed attitude from each one of them; "unthinkable,
absurd. Nonsense." The mother-to-be pursued one lead after another but nothing was happening. There didn't seem to be anyone who could help in the delivery of their child without all the clang-bang of the modern medical world. Everything is so cold, so mechanical, so dead, in hospital rooms; George and Sally's faith did not waver though time was growing short and new ideas were running out.
"Then two weeks before the birth, Sally was introduced to a young specialist employed at the local hospital; something of a rebel, as it turned out. He listened to Sally openly and not only agreed to do everything the way she wished, but called in the assistance of a well known midwife - who turned out to be a constant friend and coach in the days before and after the delivery. The specialist agreed to use LeBoyer's technique plus a few other requests that George and Sally had made.
"This young doctor was so enthusiastic about the whole thing and so determined to have it work out right for the new parents, that he ignored the probability of his suspension from the hospital.
"The hour arrived for the Clares to go to the hospital and the doctor was there waiting for them. George came to the labor room with them and set up a small altar with Guru Maharaj Ji's picture. The doctor and midwife were never far away and they carefully guarded the couple's privacy. The doctor ordered that Sally was not to have any of the preparations usually put upon all the expectant mothers in the labor room. They were able to meditate and there was no one there to disturb them.
"After hours of labor, the contractions slowed down to a point where the doctor felt that he must act for the safety of Sally and the baby because for this to happen is a warning signal that things may not be going as they should. After much consideration, they decided to allow an administration of Pitocin, which would bring backthe contractions and this is just what happened. Finally it was time for the baby to be born and Sally was moved into the delivery room where the lights were turned dim and everything was performed just as Sally and George wanted. They stayed in the delivery room for a long time after their daughter, Dale, was born so that the mother and baby could be together and not be separated for these first precious minutes.
"The situation was the talk of the hospital. After Sally had a meal and all were rested it was time for them to go home. This in itself is an absolutely outrageous thing to do according to normal hospital procedure. But as Maharaj Ji would have it, things were done the way he wanted. George and Sally had had the best of both worlds; an experienced hand at the time of need and all the lovely softness that should be present when a new baby comes into the world."
What happens when the kids grow up? The next issue of Divine Times will carry part two of Satsang in the Family, featuring an interview with Bertha Turner, a mother of five premie children and a premie herself.