All the Things We Do in Life Are Distant Reflections of Our Earliest Life as Cells: The Spirituality of Cells and Seeds of Light in Every Darkness
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The Experience of Simultaneous Fractals That Is Life … The Toilsome Life of Cells: Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part One — It Ain’t Easy Being Sperm
Cellular/ Transpersonal Experiences
Having established the legitimacy of transpersonal aspects of prenatal, and especially cellular, re-experience, it remains to be seen what light this new perspective throws upon traditional formulations. I suggest to you that this perspective is a catalyst to a radical reformulation of traditional concepts of consciousness and development. My understanding is that it supports a view compatible with Eastern, Platonic, and “primitive” philosophical renderings—which can be characterized as Emanationist —and completely undermines the dominant Western evolutionary paradigm. I delineate such a perspective, which I call the Falls from Grace Theory, beginning in the next chapter.
However, let us first take a look at a sampling of the kinds of experiences and perspectives that are possible at this cellular and prenatal level of re-experience before attempting to see deeper into the structure of consciousness and development, presented immediately afterwards, which contains and makes sense of them. The current chapter—A Foray Into Cellular/Transpersonal Consciousness—contains transcripts of cellular/transpersonal experiences I had through the modality of holotropic breathwork. In order to retain the flavor and potency of the raw experience itself, these transcripts are only slightly edited and are from the descriptions of my experiences I recorded immediately after having them.
Just a Membrane Away (February 8, 1992)
Physicality Just Feels Sickening
An important thing that happened during the holotropic session was that after experiencing sperm feelings, and going into the egg, and the egg swirling around … in the beginning there was a lot of heavy duty nausea, a lot of it. I was very sick. I felt like I remember being sick like that at certain times of my life, and I just wanted to die. And I felt like I was back there at the beginning of life and feeling how shitty it is to be physical, right from the beginning … and feeling like: yes, this is what characterizes the physical plane; physicality just feels sickening.
And then there was a bhajan tape on. And I couldn’t help thinking lots of times about my Sai Baba connection and even picturing Puttaparthi and everything. There were several different bhajans. And suddenly I got this whiff of incense out of nowhere [there was no incense anywhere in the room]. And then I made the connection that I was feeling exactly the way I was feeling in Puttaparthi when I had dysentery. And it came to me that I had not fully processed the pain I’d gone through over there. And so here it was coming up again prompted by the smell of incense.
Nausea Goes All the Way Back to the Beginning … Everything That Happens, Even Sickness, Is Part of Spiritual Process
And I was making the connection, thinking about how I haven’t wanted to burn incense since that time because it’s associated with that feeling of nausea. And since that nausea goes all the way back to the beginnings, when we first came into life, it makes sense that I wouldn’t want to be triggered into that. I also realized that Baba had been setting me up to feel these feelings, about sperm and egg and everything, through the getting of the dysentery and how He was taking me to some pretty profound feelings over there—just in getting sick and dealing with life being a life and death matter and wanting to leave it and deciding to stay and everything.
Primordial Evil and Its Relation to Pain
Other things that happened: I got a glimpse into some primordial evil. At one point I started to feel real powerful, and there were a series of images of war in my consciousness. And I could understand how people could murder and rape, because it was so powerful to be caught up in stuff like that rather than to feel the pain of the body. And it dawned on me that I could easily have been murdering and raping in other lifetimes and that other people do also.
Even Warring Feels Better Than Feeling One’s Emotional Pain
And it’s got to do with how we come into this life and there’s all this pain in the physical body, and we act it out in all kinds of ways, including getting caught up in wars and things which are just this hyped-up organized energy which seems better than feeling the pain. And that was a pretty grisly area to look at about physicality and the horror that exists in it.
It Ain’t Easy Being Sperm
I also realized that I was feeling tremendously exhausted going through the sperm … egg … and I was having some blastocyst feelings for the first time. I was feeling like I was multiplying. At one point I felt as though I were trying to connect with the uterine wall and all kinds of things like that. There were, occasionally, good feelings, but mostly it was pretty uncomfortable and not nice.
Understanding The Core of Pain … “Life Is a Prison.”
One thing that occurred to me: Of course I want to transcend the physical plane! I said when I introduced myself in the go-around before the workshop that I’d done this hundreds of times in the last twenty years; and I’ve been born literally into hundreds of lives, and I’m tired of coming here, and feeling this pain. And it occurred to me that that is what Baba is doing to me—having me get right to the core of understanding pain, so I can decide finally to give up this addiction to the physical plane and stop coming back here. At one point, for example, at the end, it occurred to me, as Baba had said: “It’s a prison.”
The Experience of Simultaneous Fractals That Is Life … The Toilsome Life of Cells
After the sperm and egg feelings, and the egg getting nauseated going down the fallopian tube, and the conception feelings, I was having these feelings that were like cells multiplying. I was also feeling like a zygote and my hands were going out, taking things in and throwing things out. I was thinking how everything in my life is a reenactment of these early things, like right down to the tiniest things like taking tissues in and throwing phlegm out while I’m lying here in this workshop.
Seeds of Light in Every Darkness
I remember one spot in the experience where I was feeling the imperfection on the physical plane, and then at one point in that Mary Lynn had water ready for me. And so I realized there are some good things here too, that there is love, and so on—some flashes of light in it all.
Continued with We Are Always and Only “Just a Membrane Away” … from Understanding Everything: A Foray Into Cellular/ Transpersonal Consciousness, Part Two — “Juicy Caring” and the Answer to Pain
Return to The Agonies and Ecstasies of Exquisiteness: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Thirteen — The Psyche Heals Itself … If Only Allowed to Do So
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Stopping the “Internal Dialogue”: Meditation and Primal Are Attempts to Experience Aspects of Consciousness That Are Nonverbal, Noncortical, and Non-Neurotic
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Is God a Defense? Is Passion not Spiritual? A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Two — To Travel Unafraid Through All the Rooms of One’s House
Is God a Defense?
This chapter is part of the development in primal in correcting one inaccuracy of the early “primal scream,” which is Janov’s attitude regarding the relation between feeling one’s feelings and the spiritual process. Janov would claim that religion and the belief in a God are defenses, and that spiritual experiences employ the energy of repressed material, as in sublimation, or are reaction formations to such pain. Specifically, Janov has stated that meditation is “anti-Primal.”
Is Catharsis Anti-Spiritual?
Attacking from the other side we have Wilber (1982) claiming that preverbal experiences are to be distinguished from transpersonal experiences. He claims that “[b]ecause both pre-X and trans-X are, in their own ways, non-X, they may appear similar, even identical, to the untutured eye,” whereas in reality they are profoundly different (p. 5). He posits a structure of linear development in which one conceivably could “regress” to pre-X, to prepersonal experience, and mistake it for transpersonal experience.
Therefore he would claim that such experiences as we undergo in the phenomenon of re-experience are actual “regressions” on the spiritual path and are antithetical to a true spiritual quest. He would also claim a spiritual meditative practice is antithetical to one of re-experience or “regression therapy.”
Meditation Is Often Emotionally “Messy”
Wilber’s theory strikes me as a curiously dualistic way of interpreting a nondichotomous reality. And although his reasoning is tight and internally consistent, it excludes the evidence of transpersonal experience as exhibited in the spiritual, psychedelic, and ethnographic literature, or the evidence of meditation research. For, as Epstein and Leiff, (1981, p. 140) wrote in commenting on Wilber’s distinctions between supposed pre- and transpersonal experience: “In fact, meditation experiences embody all of the above. Confusion arises when meditation is analyzed as one discrete state, rather than as a developmental process.”
Spiritual Growth Is Not a Linear Path, It is an Expanding Outward
Thus, I differ with Wilber in that I do not see preegoic influences as counter to a transcendental path; rather, I see them as distortions to be worked through.
This stems from the basic difference between our developmental frameworks in that Wilber sees a linearity, and I see a dialectic in which a transcendental jump “forward” may require an incorporative “backward” step. I do not see growth at all as a linear progression, but more like an expanding outward.
To Travel Unafraid Through All the Rooms of One’s House
What we find, in primal anyway, is that one actually is more adult when one can let one’s self be childlike at times. Wilber’s theory seems to exclude the possibility that the “healthiest” state may be, as many have described it, one in which we have access all the way “up” and “down” the “spectrum,” in which we can travel unafraid through all the rooms of our house. In this context regression can seem a meaningless term and discussion of it appear spurious.
An Alternative Explanation
Thus, unlike Janov who casts a dark light on spiritual pursuits in affirming the importance of primal experience (re-experience), Wilber impugns the validity of “pre-” experiences (re-experience) in affirming the importance of spiritual and meditative experiences.
Regression Is the Left Hand of Progression
My purpose here will be to counter both theorists in affirming that “pre-” is not distinct from “trans-,” as Wilber stated, nor primal distinct from meditation, as Janov stated.
Basically, the evolved primal therapy I participated in differs with Janov in discovering that primal and meditation are congruent techniques beneath their surface differences. This is evident in the similarity of the phenomena experienced in each and in the similarity of effects each has on the personality.
Their congruence is further indicated by the fact that transpersonal phenomena do seem to occur to advanced primalers, contrary to Janov’s claims. Though experiences of both primalers and LSD subjects seem to indicate that much of what is generally considered transpersonal phenomena is derivative of traumatic life experiences, particularly those occurring at birth or in the womb, there is much of transpersonal experience that cannot be explained away in that manner.
Stopping the “Internal Dialogue”
The alternative explanation I am presenting rests on the idea that the purpose of the spiritual disciplines is, as Castaneda has termed it, to stop the “internal dialogue.” This corresponds in primal therapy to the attempts to get “below” the rationalizations, intellectualizations, and defenses that are laid down in the cortex, to the real body feelings underneath. It would seem that both methods are engaged in an attempt to delve into and experience aspects of consciousness that are nonverbal, nonsymbolic, noncortical, and nonneurotic.
Neurosis has often been defined as a narrowing of consciousness. One way of viewing this is that it entails being cut off from large areas of awareness and experience that are tied up with painful memories and feelings. In this light it is interesting to consider a statement by Paramahansa Yogananda, who was discussing his experience of returning to a physical body in his reincarnation on earth. He writes, “Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm” (1946, p. 168).
“Imprisoned in a Narrow Microcosm” = Human
One way of viewing the human condition, then, is as a “neurotic” state in that it entails a narrowing of consciousness. We see neurosis in the pathological sense as simply a more extreme narrowing of consciousness than what is accepted as normal.
In this way we can see the function of the spiritual disciplines, which is to increase the capacity of the individual to accept the “larger reality,” as parallel to the purpose of primal therapy, which is to increase the capacity of the person to accept walled-off portions of her or his personal reality. As they apparently deal with different “levels” of reality, one might suspect that there would be differences in technique.
Catharsis and Calmness Alternate on Liberation’s Highway
But, conversely, I propose that primal and spiritual techniques are complementary, despite their surface differences, with either being helpful depending on the material to be worked through. Further and more specifically, I propose that primal can aid the spiritual process by clearing out negative material from the personal unconscious that would otherwise distort and impede that process, whereas spiritual techniques sometimes can be helpful in extending the arena of growth beyond the borders of strictly primal (or personal) reality.
Continue with “At Times I Hopped Like a Frog … Between Smiles and Tears, I Continued my Inward Journey.” — Guru Muktananda: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Three — Cathartic Meditation
Return to How Valid Are Spiritual Experiences? Psychedelic Research and Deep Experiential Psychotherapy Have Intensified the Exploration of Spiritual Aspects of the Unconscious
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