Entering this world as a new born, we are squeezed down our mother’s birth canal to arrive, as if through a portal, into a shockingly foreign environment at the start of a relentless journey towards individuation. True individuation can take many years, even given an ideal childhood. Yet individuation is only a stage towards reaching another reality and discovering a deeper truth about ourselves.
Our arrival into the world involves something so challenging, because I believe that where we had just come from is an ocean of universal consciousness in which we enjoyed what has been termed ‘oceanic bliss’. Of course we don’t normally have any memory of this, just as we don’t have conscious memory of the birthing process we went through either, because, for most of us, the process of growing up is a process of forgetting where we have come from while learning to adapt to and negotiate the physical dualistic realities of human life.
So what about this so-called bliss state which I am proposing is from where we have come, and how can I assert this? I’ve read about it in books. I learned the term ‘oceanic bliss’ during my training in Psychosynthesis (Psychology with a Soul). It is conveyed in the deep spiritual traditions of the East and, more personally, I have a subtle knowing which sits mysteriously somewhere inside me, like a bodily knowing. I am not alone in this. I meet people who speak of an innate knowing about where they have come from, and parents, especially mothers, can witness something of this looking into the eyes of their newborn babies. My experience of this, as father of my newborn daughter, moved me to tears in a way that defies words to describe or explain it.
I am proposing this here, because I experience it myself; that the loss of this state of oceanic bliss is huge and painful. It leaves a hole; a hole of deep longing and disconnection that is begging to be filled. But first we have our mother connection, whose love and constant care postpones the loss of oneness we come in with. We are symbiotic at first, while she provides all our needs, enabling us to make the transition into human life bearable through this vital relationship of co-dependency.
But as we start to separate from our mother and learn about ourselves as individuals, this sense of a hole inside us, which causes feelings of loss, aloneness and even alienation, can begin to impact our lives. A kind of existential loneliness which we are very unlikely to have cognitive awareness of, because it operates at such a core level of our being. The writer and teacher Lissa Rankin MD describes this feeling of loss or lack as ‘The God Hole’. I knew it so well and know it still.
It is a hole I have tried to fill in so many different ways; with practical activities and achievements, with new material things – clothes or gadgets, for example, – with friendships, with sex, with food and other forms of nourishment, with less wholesome things like drugs, alcohol and gambling. Most of us are caught up in this hamster wheel in some way or another, and all of these activities are subject to becoming addictions in our desperation to fill that hole and stop the pain that emanates from it. Dr. Gabor Mate, a leading specialist who works with trauma and addiction, uses the description for addictive behaviour as ‘Ritualised Compulsive Comfort Seeking’, which is a more compassionate way of describing our strategies for survival in the face of painful distress.
The hole is not a physical thing, of course. It cannot be found in the body, or detected on a scan. It may be experienced more as a restlessness, an itch that cannot be scratched, a longing that is described so powerfully in the many writings of the 13th century poet Rumi. It accounts for the growth of our society’s need and dependence on material comforts. It is a vulnerability that marketing experts and advertisers have exploited with ever greater sophistication, to persuade us into believing that if we just buy this one special thing, all our hopes and desires will be met. Shiny objects that are dangled in front of us, trying to convince us that finally, at last, our hole will be properly filled and life will become more meaningful than we could ever hope for. I am also proposing here that this hole and its effects on us, account for the ubiquitous levels of stress, depression and mental disorders that are a phenomenon of modern society.
If we are lucky enough or learn enough wisdom through life experience, and after all other avenues have been explored, our searches can lead us to a realisation that this nagging sense of loss, this yearning and longing can only be met and eased at a spiritual level, by connection to source; by reconnecting with The ‘Ground of Being’, with God and God’s love – all of which are also ways of describing that universal consciousness we were experiencing before we began this life. I have been studying and learning about this for 30 years on a winding spiritual path, yet only now am I working seriously to shed the more stubborn onion layers of my dysfunctional ego-structure, to gently dissolve the numbing and the armouring I built around me, for safety in my early years, so I can stop trying to fill my hole in all the wrong ways.
Only in this way – and this is important – can we get to experience unconditional love. It is what we wanted and needed all along. It is what we expected from our mother, but could never quite get, because our mothers are humans too, with all their personal wounds and limitations, their anxiety, their loneliness – their own separation from source, preoccupied and tortured by their own ‘God hole’.
What I mistakenly felt all these years to be a hole or lack within my individual bag of skin, is actually not a hole but the vastness of pure awareness in which we are all held, like the sky of limitless space in which clouds come and go, storms happen, our sun, moon and all the planets are constantly moving. We think we are objects within that space, constantly changing. But our true nature is the space itself, which is pure awareness, not a ‘thing’ at all. It is no-thing and yet everything. It is constant, outside of time and in that sense we are not born and we never die.
Is this too much to grasp? In some ways it is laughably simple. It is our ego minds that cloud the truth. This has been my own search, which according to my own cosmology is my journey ‘from mother to Mother’. As I describe it here, it is actually from Source, to mother with a small ‘m’ and on to The Great Mother Goddess, Gaia Sofia – The sacred feminine who is the source of all life. To put it yet another way, from Ocean and back to Ocean. It is my personal endeavour in search of freedom. A journey that can take lifetimes or no time at all. It is not a journey towards anywhere, because it is already who we are when our ego is allowed to loosen its relentless need for grasping and rejecting, for separating and naming. I’ll say it again to help my True Self: Our ego is not who we truly are.
When there is no longer a seer but only seeing, our ‘hole’ is full-filled and we become free. But of course we have to consider ‘The Pre-Trans Fallacy’, coined by Ken Wilbur and very relevant to the above. But I will leave that to a future post.