“You don't give up in the middle of a walk. You won't get home."
Having Been Born
To begin, the human progression throughout life toward enlightened or transcendent awareness --- this is the great expectation. It may occur only at the last moment, before the last breathe (so long as there has been enough attention to the “noumenon” here and there throughout life.
As for what state of mind we begin with at birth --- that is another matter. It is my project to qualify the nature of the “Ur-consciousness or paleo-mind” with which we began this journey. For sure, the infant is not encumbered nor confined by concepts, language, nor higher cognitive functions. Let us consider the new born infant arriving as William Wordsworth put in 536 Ode
“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy . . .”
Can this “soul that rises with us” be compared to the “Oceanic feeling” proposed by Romain Rolland – the psychological feeling of religion, the "oceanic" feeling of limitlessness? “It is a sensation of an indissoluble bond, as of being connected with the external world in its integral form” (wikipedia), the like of which is unique to infants.
Or, since an infant does not name, know or understand consciousness, and has no religion as yet, could the Wordsworthian “clouds of glory”be just the calm, empty, dark of our dreamless dreams in the night? Whatever that time was like for me, I could compare it to dreamless dreams --- but I am unsure. Still, Kevin Hennelly of Santa Fe, tells that for about the first 18 months on planet earth an infant's sensorium (the entire sensory system of the body) is wide-awake --- unmatched and incomparable. The infant is aware and knowing at the level of soul, the emotional, the energetic and the psychical --- even the cellular level.
But of what exactly is the child aware? Mostly “the mother”. In PART 3 regarding healing, we will see how early deficits, injury, or attachment disorder might have been the bequest of those initial 18 months.
Wordsworth's next line, however, bodes some sentiments of mine:
“Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy . . .”
I agree. Even if the infant is sleeping, how could there be such a “oceanic feeling”given the terrestrial life into which we are born? Go to the archives and read the old newspaper of your birthday. There was a “buzzing, blooming confusion” (William James) going out there in the world somewhere.
Even before birth, all the bad news was going on as we were the manifesting person in the womb (putting aside the current debate around the Republican party platform regarding the “premiere moment of personhood”) . And in addition, if karmic consequences and reincarnation are to be believed, there is even more supposition that we do not “come through” and “come in” unscathed?
So from this point of view, might we entertain a dark metaphor --- namely that from the moment of birth, it is almost as if all of us, man and womankind, have been sentenced to consciousness? Are we born into a “penal colony” of consciousness?
But what could the infant have done or be guilty of to merit this? Nothing --- in the view of “materialists, agnostics and secularists. Even if we do come in innocent, our incarnation and incarceration starts with the rush and entropy of the human environment and the divine comedic-tragedy. Again regarding the world, just read today's newspaper or watch the news.
Next: Some classic theories of human nature . . .