St. Francis and Theresa Neumann testify to visions of Christ’s birth. They both say that Christ didn’t undergo a physical birth, but that He manifested as light. Were these true visions of the actual birth of Christ? What of other avatars like Krishna and Yogananda?

Dear __________

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 that 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.

I can’t be certain of these things, but 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 this isn’t to say that the birth didn’t have a physical reality much the same as other births. 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 followers of a certain saint insisted vehemently that it would be sacrilegious to portray him in a movie in any way other than as a beam of light! It’s easier than you might 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.

I hope that’s of some help, at least.

In divine friendship,

Swami Kriyananda

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