Until recently, love was the realm of poets, philosophers and holy
scriptures. But at the end of the twentieth century, love also has been
studied from multiple scientific perspectives. Because scientific research
has become incredibly specialized, however, it is easy to miss the
importance of the phenomenon I call the “scientification of love”(1).
One effect of genuine scientific advances is to raise radically new
questions. This is the case of the scientification of love, which inspires
simple and paradoxically new questions such as: “How does the capacity to
Today, by weaving together data from a broad range of scientific
disciplines, scientists and others are in a position to conclude that the
capacity to love is determined, to a great extent, by early experiences
during fetal life and in the period surrounding birth. The first contact
between mother and baby, during the hour following birth, is considered
Keys to decode old messages
The scientification of love prompts us to reconsider old messages more
than any other modern scientific movement. In the current scientific
context, we are encouraged to look at legendary people whose names have
been associated with Love from a new perspective. The names of the goddess
of love Aphrodite, of Buddha and of Jesus are the first to come to mind.
The similarities are intriguing.
The first conspicuous similarity is the way that the circumstances of
their conception have become an important part of the legend. Each was
Aphrodite was conceived when Cronus severed the testicles of his father
Uranus and threw them into the sea. Following 20 years of sterility,
Buddha’s mother, Maya, had a strange dream in which she saw a white
elephant entering into her womb through the right side of her chest, and
so she became pregnant. Jesus was miraculously conceived in Mary after a
visitation by the Angel Gabriel.
Evidently these conceptions occurred outside the realm of space and
time reality, while the women were in ecstatic states. In the light of
modern biological sciences the Holy Spirit might be interpreted as the
sense of belonging, being part of the whole, as a state of mind that can
be reached when our neocortical computer (and its vision of the universe
limited to space and time) is switched off. Being in an orgasmic state is
a way to reach a new “wholly” transcendental dimension.
The circumstances of a conception are an indication of what the
emotional state of the mother was like during her pregnancy. The
pregnancies of Maya and Mary have been clearly presented as a blessing:
“Rejoice, highly favored one … blessed are you among women…” (Luke 1:28);
“Heaven and Earth rejoiced.” (Luke 2:14 ?)
The similarities between the birth of these three legendary figures,
representative of three different backgrounds, are still more striking.
Biographers of famous people rarely think of researching about the birth
itself. But the births of these three figures are well-known aspects of
their legends. If one keeps in mind that, according to modern scientific
data, the period surrounding birth is critical in the development of the
capacity to love, one can easily grasp how obvious the resemblance is
between the births of Aphrodite, Buddha and Jesus. All three were born
outside the human community. This is a highly significant detail when we
consider how all known cultures tend to disturb the physiological
processes in the period around birth, particularly interfering with the
first contact between mother and baby. Cultures do that via a variety of
peculiar beliefs (such as the belief that colostrum is bad) and
The kind of message that is transmitted through a story about a birth
in a stable, among mammals, suddenly becomes clear in the age of the
scientification of love. Like Jesus, Buddha was also born outside the
human community—in his case, in the Lumbini Garden while his mother, Maya,
was traveling and had taken a rest among the Ashoka blossoms. In delight
she reached her right arm out to pluck a branch and, at that moment,
Buddha was born. As for Aphrodite, she was born in the sea, from the foam
of the waves.
Because I belong to the Judeo-Christian world, I am tempted to present
my own vision of the birth of Jesus. Until now the image of the Nativity
that has come down to us has usually been restricted to a birth in a
stable, between an ox and a donkey.
My vision of the Nativity is inspired by what I have learned from women
who have given birth in privacy. It has also been inspired by “Evangelium
Jacobi Minori, ” the protogospel of James, the brother of Jesus. This
gospel was saved from oblivion in the middle of the 19th century by the
Austrian mystic Jacob Lorber, who wrote “Die Jugend Jesu ” (The childhood
of Jesus)(2). According to these texts Mary had complete privacy when
giving birth because Joseph had left her to find a midwife. When he
returned with a midwife, Jesus had already been born. It was only when a
dazzling light had faded that the midwife realized she was facing an
incredible scene: Jesus had already found his mother’s breast! Then the
midwife said: “Who has ever seen a hardly born baby taking his mother’s
breast? This is an obvious sign that when he becomes a man, this child
will judge the world according to Love and not according to the Law!”
On the day when Jesus was ready to enter the world, Mary was sent a
message—a non-verbal message of humility. She found herself in a stable,
among other mammals. Without words, her companions helped her to
understand that on that day, she had to accept her mammalian condition.
She had to cope with her human handicap and disregard the effervescence of
her intellect. She had to release the same hormones as other parturient
mammals, through the same gland, i.e. the primitive part of the brain that
we all have in common.
The environment was ideally adapted to the circumstances. Mary felt
secure and, because of this, her level of adrenaline was as low as
possible. Labor could establish itself in the best possible conditions.
Having perceived the message of humility and accepted her mammalian
conditions, Mary found herself on all fours. In a posture like this, and
in the darkness of the night, she could easily cut herself off from the
Soon after his birth, the newborn Jesus was in the arms of an ecstatic
mother, as instinctive as a non-human mammal can be. He was welcomed in an
unviolated sacred atmosphere and was able, easily and gradually, to
eliminate the high level of stress hormones he had produced while being
born. Mary’s body was warm. The stable, too, was warm, thanks to the
presence of the other mammals. Instinctively Mary covered her baby with a
piece of cloth she had on hand. She was fascinated by the baby’s eyes and
nothing could distract her from prolonged eye-to-eye contact with Jesus.
Gazing at each other like this would have been instrumental in inducing
another rush of oxytocin, so that her uterus contracted again and returned
a small amount of enriched blood from the placenta along the umbilical
cord to the baby; and soon after, the placenta was delivered.
Mother and baby could feel quite secure. Mary, guided by her mammalian
brain, stayed on her knees for a short while after the birth. After the
placenta was delivered she lay down on her side with the baby close to her
heart. Suddenly Jesus began to turn his head from one side to the other,
opening his mouth into a round O. Guided by his sense of smell, he came
closer and closer to the nipple while Mary, who was still in a very
special hormonal balance and still behaving very instinctively, knew how
to hold the baby and made the right sort of movements to help her baby
find the breast.
This is how Mary and Jesus transgressed the rules that had been
established by the human community. Jesus, as a peaceful rebel who defied
convention, was initiated by his mother.
Jesus spent a long time sucking vigorously. With the support of Mary he
was able to emerge victorious from one of the most critical episodes of
his life. In the space of a few minutes he entered the world of microbes,
adapted to the atmosphere, separated from the placenta, started to use his
lungs and breathe independently, and adapted to the force of gravity and
differences in temperature. Jesus is a hero!
There was no clock in the stable. Mary did not try to time how long
Jesus was at the breast before he fell asleep. During the first night
after birth Mary had only a few bouts of light sleep; she was vigilant and
protective, and anxious to meet the needs of the most precious little
creature on earth.
In the days that followed, Mary learned to recognize when her baby
wanted to be rocked. She was so in tune with him that she could perfectly
adapt the rhythm of the rocking movements to the demand of the baby. While
rocking, Mary started to croon tunes, and words were added. Like millions
of other mothers she had discovered lullabies. This is how Jesus started
to learn about movement and, therefore, about space. This is how he
started to learn about rhythm and, therefore, about time. He was gradually
entering a space and time reality. As baby Jesus grew, Mary began to
introduce more and more words into her lullabies and this is how Jesus
learned his mother tongue.
1. Odent M. (1999). The Scientification of Love.
London: Free Association books
2. Jacob Lorber. Die Jugend Jesu, Stuttgart 1852.
Current German edition: ISBN 387495 107 3, Lorber Verlag,
* * *