Introduction | Developing Body, Emerging Spirit | Forgetfulness of the Past
Necessity of Material Life | The Meaning of our Suffering | Moments of Liberation

Developing Body,  Emerging Spirit

Through the process of a spirit's union with the fetus, and the completion of such material ties at birth, a spirit's faculties are limited by the new body that the spirit inhabits, and these faculties, of both a physical and intellectual nature, will only be able to manifest in accordance with the physical development of the body.  Some faculties can even remain "abnormally" limited, for example, in the case of mentally and physically challenged persons.  In the latter case, such conditions represent a trial or expiation, either chosen by the spirit or imposed upon it, if necessary. 

The underdeveloped body of a child, however, does not cause the spirit to suffer, for this is like a time of rest for the spirit.  The periods of infancy and childhood serve several purposes, all stemming from their temporary masking of the spirit's past and true nature.  For one thing, the "innocence", tenderness, and fragility of a child serve to call for the attention and loving care of its parents.  Parents and caregivers would not react the same way to a child if the "not-so-charming nature" of that child's spirit were immediately revealed.


A second reason for childhood is to allow the spirit a period of adaptation. On one hand, the spirit must adapt to the change from the liberties it experienced in the spiritual realm to the limits it experiences in the material world.  Secondly, the spirit of a newborn may come from a past in which it acquired habits (cultural habits, for example) totally different from that of the newborn's parents, and this stage will allow the spirit to learn and adapt to the latter.

Finally, this period offers a child the opportunity to be influenced by those who are entrusted with his or her care and education.  At this stage, and particularly before the age of 7,  a child's spirit is more impressionable.  The influence of its past has not fully emerged.  Therefore, the new impressions that the spirit receives have a greater chance of influencing the child's personality.  During this time, if a child is under the advice and guidance of those with experience, then tendencies toward wrong-doing, brought by that child's spirit, are re-directed, and the spirit's faulty characters may be gradually reformed. 

Question 385 of "The Spirits' Book" asks, "Why does the character of young people change, especially as they go through adolescence? Is it the spirit that changes?"  The spirits answer that "the spirit, as it regains self-awareness, reveals itself as it was before incarnation.... After fifteen or twenty years, children no longer need [the same degree of protection and assistance from their parents], and their real characters begin to emerge."  At this point, the young person makes his way toward adulthood where he will truly be able to exercise his free will and chose the direction that his life will take.  Hopefully, the individual has received a proper education from his parents, one that will help him make good decisions along the way.

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