This is the story of how coming to have a child and raising her turned out very differently from what I expected. It is a story of how by surrendering what I wanted and following inner guidance, a unique new story emerged that ultimately turned out to be the best for all concerned.
Even though I started on the spiritual path of meditation when I was 17 years old, which would not be considered typical by most, I still assumed that the rest of my outward life would be “normal” in most ways. I assumed that when I was ready to have a family, I would find the right marriage partner, settle down, establish myself financially, have children, and bring them up in a settled and “normal” way. It turns out that “normal” was not to be, and not what was best.
A first step in surrendering
I met my daughter’s mother, whose name, appropriately enough for this story, is Faith, while living in Hawaii in 1991. On our second date, Faith told me that, during a meditation, a couple of years earlier, she had felt the spirit of a little girl come to her and ask her to be her mother. Faith intuitively felt that the name of this unborn soul was Kalena Rhianne. It turns out that Kalena is a Hawaiian name which means, literally, The Pure One. This experience occurred long before Faith ever considered moving to Hawaii.
So begins the unusual nature of my daughter’s entry into this world. The first thing I thought unusual was Faith telling me this story on our second date! However, since there was a special connection between Faith and me, I mentally filed it away.
Six months later a very different type of feeling began to come to me with increasing intensity: an overwhelming imperative to have a baby. Never before had I experienced such a desire and I was unsure what it meant. I just sat with it for a while, keeping it to myself, until the intensity of the desire impelled me to share it with Faith. Not surprisingly, Faith was also experiencing the same desire and was also “letting it be” to see what it meant. This discussion with Faith was the beginning of our mutual agreement to trust our inner guidance, and our child’s soul guidance, on how her upbringing should unfold.
Conscious conception and a home water-birth
I had been taught by a Self-Realization Fellowship monk (of all people!) a technique of conscious conception. I was never sure why he shared this with me because, at the time, I had hoped to become a monk myself. Faith and I practiced this technique and did indeed immediately conceive a child. As you might surmise, it was not just any child but a beautiful girl whom we of course named Kalena Rhianne.
Another unusual aspect of Kalena’s entry into the world is that we had a home water-birth with only a mid-wife in attendance. This is not what I would have expected or “liked” to do, but because Faith was pretty insistent about it, I surrendered to her wishes. Together Faith and I did all we could to insure a positive experience and outcome, which did indeed come about.
Right around Kalena’s first birthday it became clear that Faith and I were not going to remain together. After I had accepted a job offer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Faith decided she did not want to move to Santa Fe or continue our life together as marriage partners. Thus began a new stage in our relationship. Faith and I would now be living in different cities. Although we were not able to be partners in marriage we agreed that, as much was humanly possible, we would be harmonious co-parents of our daughter. That Faith and I would be living in different areas of the country meant that Kalena would need to travel between states. I would, as I was able, also take trips to Hawaii to spend time with Kalena.
This arrangement lasted for about two years until I realized that my dharma as a father to this special being required that I live closer to her. I had just been offered another lucrative six-figure job in New Mexico but I needed to let it go and move back to Maui, where my daughter was now living. One of the biggest lessons for me in this journey as a father was the constant letting go of what I wanted and accepting what was trying to happen for the highest good of all.
After a year or two in Maui, I had to move back to the Los Angeles area in order to make enough money to support Kalena. A very important thing happened at this point for both Kalena and me.
The blessings of the Great Ones
Kalena was around four years old and was coming to stay with me in Los Angeles for a few months. I had written a letter a year earlier to Daya Mata, the president of SRF, whom I had met on several occasions, starting in 1971, and who was for me, during those years, a channel of the divine love of my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. In this letter I had asked if she would bless my daughter. This was not something that Daya Mata did as a matter of course for SRF members. However, during Faith’s pregnancy with Kalena, I had felt this should happen.
In response to my letter, I received a letter from Daya Mata’s secretary telling me to let them know when Kalena would be visiting me. When I knew those dates, I called Daya Mata’s office and let them know. In a week, I received the call I had been waiting for: “Daya Ma would like to see the little girl tomorrow.”
We drove to Mt. Washington, the headquarters of SRF, the next day. When we entered the reception room Daya Mata warmly and sweetly greeted Kalena and me. Although there were two chairs next to her, Kalena pronamed as I had taught her and sat on the floor in front of Daya Mata. I decided to take Kalena’s lead and sat next to her on the floor.
At this point Daya Mata talked to Kalena a little and gave her a small toy, a wind-up duck, that someone had given her as a playful Christmas gift. She then asked me, “Is there anything I can do for you, my dear?” I mentioned the letter I had written and that all I wanted was for my daughter to be blessed. She was quiet for a little while and then said, “I can do that. However, I want you to know for certain that the blessings of the Great Ones are always on this one!” She then put her hand on Kalena’s head, closed her eyes for a moment, and said, “Love, Joy, Life, Jai Guru!”
I am relating this story because this moment of blessing was something that I vividly remembered during the years that, for at least half of each year, my daughter lived many miles away and had to travel back and forth on airplanes to see me. I believe the blessing was a gift from Divine Mother to help me in the ongoing process of surrendering my desires and expectations in bringing up my child, and following divine guidance to the best of my ability.
“The proof is in the pudding”
Both Kalena’s mother and I were not happy with the state of normal public education or, for that matter, with most private schools. Faith became adamant about homeschooling Kalena, which is what we did. Except for when Kalena spent six months at a Waldorf Kindergarten in Los Angeles and seven months at a Montessori school in St. Louis, she was homeschooled by Faith, me, friends and homeschooler families with whom we were close.
An interesting note is that when I moved to Ananda Village in 2014, I attended a class on the Education for Life principles developed by Swami Kriyananda and based on Paramhansa Yogananda’s ideals for education. I spent the whole class in amazement. The very concepts being shared with us in that class were, for the most part, the same concepts Faith and I used when we homeschooled Kalena. I knew once again during that class that indeed the blessings of the Great Ones were always on my daughter.
There is an old saying, “the proof is in the pudding,” meaning that you know if a recipe is good by the result. My daughter was able to get her High School Equivalency Diploma with a score in the high 90th percentile. She has recently finished her college courses in art and graphic design with nearly straight A’s. More importantly, she has grown into an amazing young woman who is wise, loving, serviceful, hard-working, and positive. She is also one of the most adaptable persons I have ever known.
One of the great gifts that raising my daughter has given me is the realization that, letting go of my desires and surrendering to the life paths God shows me, always brings the highest good.
Thank you for sharing this story, Prem Das! It is very beautiful and most inspiring. All parents should read this… Thank you. Blessing of love and peace in your heart. Joy to you always! Johanne
Prem Das, thank you so much for this beautiful article! As a father myself, I appreciate your words greatly.