FIRST FALL FROM GRACE
According to Wilber (1977), the primary dualism
is the separation that first creates self and Other. Based upon both
personal experience and study of several experiential growth modalities,
I submit that this first fall from grace, the primary dualism, correlates
ontogenetically with the phase of biological conception, more specifically
with the creation of sperm and egg. Elsewhere I have called this
the first shutdown, which is the first time we have narrowed our
consciousness (Adzema, 1985, p. 95). Or as Yogananda (1946) said,
"Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned
myself in a narrow microcosm" (p. 168).
Wilber (1977) describes the characteristics
of the primary dualism: "[T]his separation of subject from object
marks the creation of space: the Primary Dualism itself creates space"
At the level of Mind, or Void, there is no
The Absolute Subjectivity is sizeless
or spaceless, and therefore infinite; but with the rise of the Primary
Dualism, the subject is illusorily separated from the object, and that
separation, that "gap" between seer and seen, is nothing more than space
itself. Man, in identifying exclusively with his organism as separated
from his environment, necessarily creates the vast and grand illusion of
space, the gap between man and his world. (Wilber, 1977, p. 120)
At the time of conception — specifically, with
the creation of sperm and ovum — we have the emergence of form out of no-thing-ness
(so to speak). That is, that there is the awareness of a separate
thingness where before there was none. This awareness is referred
to as cellular consciousness (Buchheimer, 1987; Farrant, 1987; Larimore,
1990a, 1990b). The memory we have of it is the earliest one we have
of form within the frame of this particular physical form.
Cellular consciousness also relates to the
beginnings of the Chonyid bardo, which, as described in the Tibetan
Book of the Dead and reported by Wilber (1980, pp. 165-172), is a "period
of the appearance of peaceful and wrathful deities" (p. 165). These
appearances are caused by a contraction against the Clear Light, which
transforms that Reality into "primordial seed forms of the peaceful deities
(cf., Grof's BPM I level of experience in the womb) and these in turn,
if resisted and denied, are transformed into the wrathful deities"
(p. 165) (cf., Grof's BPM II and III levels of pre- and perinatal experience
— but more about these processes in the next sections). This is the
time when — having missed the opportunity for mergence with the Clear Light
during the Chikhai bardo, which occurs after death of the previous incarnation
— one begins fleeing into form once again, attracted by the "impure lights"
and "substitute gratifications" (p. 166).
That a separate consciousness exists here,
at this cellular level, at least in the "reflections" that we call memory,
is also evident in the research of psychedelics (Grof, 1976, 1980, 1985;
Masters and Houston, 1967) and in the re-experience that occurs in experiential
psychotherapy and in the memory retrieval acquired through hypnosis (Gabriel
(1992); Wambach, 1979).1
THE BREAKING OF THE VESSELS
Shoham's (1990) primary phase of separation is
AND THE SCATTERING OF THE DIVINE SPARKS
Nevertheless, with the additional perspective
of pre- and perinatal psychology and of experiential psychotherapy we can
add to and alter this formulation. Shoham writes,
In the first phase of separation,
man is ejected from the comfortable womb and cruelly exposed to the elements
in a manner that was recorded mytho-empirically in the Kabbalist catastrophe
of the breaking of the vessels. (p. 35)
Of course, I disagree with this. As stated
at the beginning of this chapter, in the first phase of separation the
individual leaves the godhead and generates form in the creation of sperm
That the interpretation of the myth needs to
placed farther back in time, into the womb, is indicated even in Shoham's
words, where he speaks of a "theurgic symbiosis and partnership between
man and God" (p. 35). "Symbiosis" relates to the flow in <--->
flow out feeling described as characterizing the BPM I or blissful womb
state, i.e., before birth. It is indeed correct to describe
this time also as a "partnership between man and God" in that the fetus
feels that all its needs are immediately responded to as well as it partakes
of the emotional-psychic field of its mother (the experiential analogue
of whom is "God").
The Thin Pipe From Infinity
Despite his placing the first separation at birth,
Shoham (1990) does see that some elements of the mythic projection need
to be interpreted farther back in time, into the intrauterine state.
[B]efore birth, there is the
process of pregnancy and the formation of the human fetus to be considered.
This, we claim, is depicted mytho-empirically by the Kabbalist dynamic
of Tzimtzum (contraction). Rabbi Haim Vital, the foremost
disciple of Rabbi Isaac Luria and chief exponent of Lurianic Kabbala, describes
the process of Tzimtzum:
But we see indications going back still farther,
to the time surrounding conception, in what Shoham presents here.
The earliest events he cites are the formation of the fetus in the womb
through the "thin pipe extended from Infinity to create the worlds."
He claims this describes the situation of the fetus in the womb, being
fed by the umbilical cord. However, with a slightly altered viewpoint
on his depiction, his earliest events take on the characteristics of the
earliest events, viz., surrounding conception. This may be
either an additional meaning to the myth or the more accurate meaning of
the myth, however you choose to consider it (the multilevel quality of
myths is well established).
[Emanating Divinity] contracted Himself,
a space round all around was formed. . . . After this contraction,
a space was [thus] formed for emanant creatures to be created . . . and
a line like a thin pipe extended from Infinity to create the worlds. .
. . [T]he pipe line created a round form . . . linked to the emanator
(Infinity) by the pipe line only . . . and the line is thin so that it
emanates light [livelihood] by measure and ration as needed by the emanant.
This would seem to be a plastic mytho-empirical
depiction of the formation of the fetus within the round womb, fed by the
umbilical cord stemming from an unknown emanator (to the fetus) in the
away and beyond, perceived by the nascent awareness of the fetus and later
projected onto mythology as Infinity. (1990, pp. 35-36)
At any rate, consider: In the process
of contraction, Tzimtzum, there is this space in which things can
be created. I have no quarrel with Shoham that the space described
represents the womb. But there is this thin pipe from Infinity extended,
the pipeline created around form, linked to the emanator by the pipeline
only. Considering the near-universal relation of Infinity to the
male (as contrasted with the similarly universal analogues of maternal
to the manifest or temporal), I believe a masculine interpretation is warranted.
You thus have a masculine Emanator Divinity contracting and being linked
to this round place by a thin pipeline.
Then, right in the beginning, Divinity contracted
himself. There's this round form linked to the emanator by the pipeline
only. The line is thin so it emanates light, livelihood, measure,
and ration as needed by the emanant; and it does so into the round place.
A more accurate depiction of sexual intercourse and ejaculation from the
viewpoint of the cellular would be hard to find.
There's a pipeline that's connected to "Himself"
through which He emanates things out into the Universe and creates them.
According to the tradition, the line emanates light. Are these not
the sperm coming out? The energetic sperm, biologically speaking,
can be related to sparks of joy or sparks of life — as they have been described
Yet Shoham writes that this would seem to be
a plastic mytho-empirical depiction of the formation of the fetus within
the round womb during gestation. From this alternate perspective,
however, the thin pipeline is not the umbilical cord. It emanates
light from "Himself," the Father-God — who in reality is the father.
Another way of saying it: The father ejaculates sperm into the womb.
Is not the inside of the penis, taking the sperm's perspective of course,
also to be likened to a thin pipeline?
Shoham writes "fed by the umbilical cord stemming
from an unknown emanator." I believe this is incorrect. This
makes the "contraction" be the actual pregnancy; whereas the meaning of
contraction is more accurately fitted to the processes, physically, of
ejaculation on the part of the father and, spiritually, on the part of
the newly created individual going from the Greater Reality into form.
This is the actual coming into form of sperm and egg from undifferentiated
reality and infinite potentiality: Experientially, the self has "contracted."
It is also the first "split" — the first creation
of something Other than One-Self. So what I'm proposing about
the experiences surrounding conception, I contend, is a better analogue
to the mythological Kabbalist depiction of Tzimtzum, contraction,
and the thin pipe from Infinity, than is Shoham's interpretation of it
as the umbilical cord and nourishment from the mother.
The Scattering of the Divine Sparks
Further support for this move in placing these
interpretations farther back in time, to that of conception, is given by
considering the Kabbalic mythical depiction of the breaking of the vessels
and the scattering of the Divine sparks. Shoham (1990) tells us,
The myth of the breaking of the vessels
relates to the birth-giving mother and the ejection from the womb, whereas
the myth of the scattering of the divine sparks, which in Lurianic Kabbala
occurs as a result, relates more directly to the neonate himself.
The newborn child feels himself to be a precious particle of Divinity,
omnipresent and hence omnipotent, because at this stage of his life he
cannot be aware of anything or anybody except himself. (p. 36)
In this way Shoham relates a myth of vessels breaking
and a related myth of a scattering of Divine sparks to the time of birth
and the actual delivery. Contrary to what Shoham believes, I think
the scattering of the Divine sparks is a much more accurate depiction of
what we might call "the scattering of the sperm." For it is always sperm
that need to get scattered, widely disseminated, because they do
not all survive. Fish fertilization, for example, involves male sperm
being scattered over the top of the eggs.
Furthermore, "The newborn child feels himself
to be a precious particle of Divinity" (p. 36). Regardless of the
truth of that, more obviously we re-create the universe coming into form
in the spewing out into form in an ejaculation: There are these hundreds
of millions of "sparks" that go out from the father and each one of them
is a precious particle of divinity in that each one could create the child.
Shoham adds, "Omnipresent and hence omnipotent
because at this stage of life he cannot be aware of anything or anybody
except himself." Once again, this does not fit with the later time
of birth but with conception. For, as we see most clearly further
on, at the time of birth and prior to it, the fetus is actually distinctly
aware of an Other — distressingly and confrontationally so. Whereas
around the time of conception there is that quality of omnipresence and
omnipotence (more so at some times than others). One has created
form in the creation of sperm and egg, but one is only slightly removed
from godhead; one still thinks oneself to be part of Everything.
It is not until one gets further along in the
gestation process that one feels oneself to be truly distinct or is truly
aware of the separation that has occurred. This happens with the
encounter with the uterine wall during the latter stages of pregnancy.
And yet Shoham, in referring to this time of breaking of vessels and scattering
of sparks, uses the terms the "theurgic conception" of the Kabbala.
He means this in a way much different than biological conception, yet I
feel he may unconsciously have revealed the more accurate interpretation.
It is interesting how the unconscious will lead us along, manipulating
us to reveal the hidden truths, even in the very words that come to mind
and despite our conscious intention in their use.
Further support for this interpretation occurs
in his use of words after "theurgic conception," where he is overtly describing
events occurring after birth. He writes, " . . . sees every human
act as having an immediate effect on Divinity. This makes for a symbiosis
between God and man." Once again, I believe he has covertly revealed
the correct interpretation — in his use of the word symbiosis especially
— that this is the time after conception, not after birth.
During the intrauterine, post-conception time, there is exactly that quality
of closeness to the Divinity. During this "BPM I" time, we have this
dialectic going: this flow-in, flow-out between us and the universe, which
is reflected physically (biologically) in the flow-in, flow-out between
us and the mother through the umbilical cord.
The Breaking of the Vessels
Shoham continues: "God needs man to 'mend'
the catastrophe of the breaking of the vessels" (p. 36). By this
he means that God needs man to mend the catastrophe of birth. He
has told us that "The transition from the womb to the world outside is
violent in all respects" and that "The shock of birth . . . is not remembered
by us . . . but it is undoubtedly registered by our sub- or preconscious
and is projected, inter alia, by myths" (p. 36). This fits
exactly with our experiences and discoveries in the experiential psychotherapies.
But I disagree with his next statement:
"The myth of the breaking of the vessels relates to the birth-giving mother
and the ejection from the womb" (p. 36). The experiential psychotherapies
tell us that birth is the second catastrophe and that the sense of catastrophe
is associated initially with the time surrounding that of conception, with
the first coming into form of sperm and egg.
With this in mind, the myth of the breaking
of the vessels does not have to be related to the time of birth, e.g.,
to the breaking of the mother's water; but can more accurately be situated,
once again, farther back in time to that prior to conception. From
this perspective the vessels that break are those of the testicles and
the ovaries. The egg breaks free from the ovary; the sperm are suddenly
released from the container of the testicles in an emission.
It is known that the egg is inside of the ovary
for the whole lifetime of the mother. The eggs are actually developed
in the ovaries of the fetus; the girl about to be born has her eggs inside
of her already. And at puberty her ovaries begin to release these
eggs. She starts "breaking the vessels," so to speak. But the
eggs have been there for a long time, sometimes going back twenty or thirty
years. So by now a "sisterhood" has been created. Then what
happens? At a certain point at the start of menstruation the vessels
get broken, they start releasing eggs; before that they are sealed.
Thus the "pact" between them (experientially speaking) is broken as well.
As for the male, the sperm are in the testicles
a much shorter time. But the individual sperm are inside the testicle
with hundreds of millions of other sperm. The testicle is also "sealed"
until an ejaculation. One could think of that event as analogous
as well to a breaking of the water before birth. The seal on that
vessel has to be broken in order for the sperm to "spill" out.
Thought of this way, the result of the breaking
of the vessels — which Shoham says is the scattering of the Divine sparks
— is much more easily understood. Its interpretation does not have
to be stretched to fit the idea of the sparks being the neonate itself.
Rather the scattering-of-Divine-sparks myth fits perfectly with the idea
of the release of multitudes of sperm and egg upon the "breaking of the
vessels" of the testicles and ovaries.
For these reasons I believe Shoham is wrong
when he says this myth relates to birth; instead it relates to the experience
of conception — lending support to the idea that conception is the first
catastrophe, the first separation, the first removal from Divinity.
Thus the myths support what we have discovered experientially at the level
of cellular consciousness.
MENDING THE CATASTROPHE
To continue, Shoham writes that God needs man
to mend this catastrophe of the vessels, and that this is part of the symbiosis,
that this is part of what we're doing in our dialogue with the Divine.
Considering my interpretation of the breaking
of the vessels as the creation and release of the sperm and egg, we might
say that the mending, then, of that breaking would be the sperm
meeting the egg and the formation of a new union.
But Shoham also talks about the God that is
represented in these myths as being an imperfect God, a "blemished God."
I will not go into his reasons for such an understanding. But consider
that from the vantage point of the events surrounding conception this understanding
of a "blemished God" fits as well: For when we are inside of our
fathers and mothers and we are cells — either a sperm cell or an egg cell,
either way — we are part of a being who's damn sure imperfect, acknowledged
to be imperfect at that time. Partaking of our parents' beingness
at that time, which both biologically and experientially is the case, we
are identified with someone who is analogically Divine yet in their humanness
is indisputably less than perfect — "blemished Gods."
Furthermore, this ties in to what has been
observed to be a primary and pervasive reason for parents having children.
That is, parents want children in order to have a continuation of their
selves. Essentially the child becomes the parent's "atman project"
— that is, the continuation of the parent's attempt at perfection or of
reuniting with or creating the lost and unconsciously yearned for state
of divinity. A similar way of saying this is that children are parents'
So basically children are released from parents,
they "emanate" from parents, in order to try to mend what the parents feel
themselves to have broken. The child represents the hope of the parent
to be vindicated, completed; the chance for the adult to get it right,
if not in his or her own lifetime, then at a time after one's death, through
the actions of the biological being emanated from oneself.
Thus, in such mythology, God is very often
accurately interpreted as the parent. What we have is a situation
where children come out from the father and mother to try to mend their
lives; so children are a continuation of the parents' [life] "project."
Shoham (1990) says further:
[T]his cosmic catastrophe gives Divinity
a chance to cleanse him- or herself of his or her polluted components and
allows man to save himself while mending the blemished divinity.
Thus, a new conception, the creation of a new
human life is felt to allow the parent to cleanse him- or herself of his
or her polluted components.
But from the perspective of the newly created
individual, this world scheme gives to humankind a chance to do better
next time, to do better than the parent did, to overcome the "bad karma"
of the parent that was put into the Universe through that particular new
form, that newly created being, and which originally is recorded in the
sperm and in the egg. We therefore have here an indication of collective
memories and pain as well as the hope of resolution of one's ancestral
memories. This is to say that the child carries those things of its
parents with it; and this world scheme gives the child a chance to cleanse
the Divinity (the parent who by proxy represents the entire species and
all progenitors) of its polluted components.
This, then, is the child's chance to save itself;
but the child is also coming into the world to help to cleanse the world
of a taint that is passed down. It is an "Original Sin," so to speak,
because its origins extend back through the generations in an infinite
regress. Why the taint is there is a whole other question, however.
According to the myth, the outcome
of the breaking of the vessels was that particles of Divinity were imbedded
in all objects and life-forms of creation, serving as divine cores within
profane temporal casings. Furthermore, the breaking of the vessels
introduced evil to the world; before, only good emanated from the great
light of infinity. (Shoham, 1990, p. 36)
In essence, then, as stated above, with the creation
of sperm and egg we have the beginnings of form out of no-thing-ness.
And with this creation, this first separation, evil has been created, darkness
and confusion arise. For that separation is duality; and that duality
is evil — the opposite of real life (God), live spelled backwards,
and the beginning of the possibility of death.
TRANSPERSONAL BANDS: WOMB WITH A VIEW
At any rate, in that there is a separate awareness
— in this creation of form, this creation of sperm and egg from no-thing-ness
— there is a separation (of sorts) from the environment. But this
separation is not total, not yet; there is a fluidity of awareness between
environment and organism. Spiritually, it can be said that at this
level one is still in touch with transpersonal forces or patterns.
These are Wilber's (1977) "transpersonal bands," which we see relate ontogenetically
to the time in the womb.
They relate also to the later stages of the
Chonyid bardo which, as Wilber (1980) writes, is "the subtle realm of divine
and archetypal illumination" (p. 169). The separation from Other
at this level takes global, archetypal, karmic forms. One is "instructed"
about destiny, life purpose, and so forth; one's karmic and past-lives
patterns are still very much "at hand." This is Masters and Houston's
(1967) symbolic level, Jung's collective unconscious, and Grof's
Biologically, emotionally, and psychically
the organism is also connected to its "environment." After the sperm
and ovum unite to create the fertilized egg, it grows into a blastocyst
and implants itself in the uterine wall. Later as fetus, of course,
it shares in the mother's biological processes and substances through the
umbilical cord. So the organism here is actually still "attached"
to its environment, though maintaining a separate awareness, an awareness
Wilber's primary duality has occurred, which
for our purposes might be described as the separation between self and
Other or self and God. The heavens have been separated from the earth,
though they still meet at the ends of the horizon. Throughout its
time in the womb the organism is attached to the mother (the environment)
and shares freely in her feelings, thoughts, moods, and energies.
It is a vegetative-type existence, separate yet connected.
This is the condition of space without time.
This womb period has retained timelessness but not space- or formlessness.
One lives an eternal Now that is rooted in a specific form — that is, it
has a specific perspective or focal point of awareness.
Note that, contrary to Wilber's (1977) assertion,
the primary and secondary dualisms — those which create space and time,
respectively — do not occur together when looked at ontogenetically.
This difference from Wilber is significant, and I shall discuss it further
on. For present purposes, however, remember that Wilber's secondary
dualism creates a past and future, which place a veil between us and Now.
But on the contrary, at this point in the womb, death has not yet entered
the picture and time has thus not been generated nor, consequently, a past
and future. We therefore have the continuing sense of eternity and
of the immortality of form.
But something does happen (according to biologists,
pre- and perinatal psychologists, and the reports of experiential pioneers).
This leads us to the second fall from grace, to the experience of birth.
CHAPTER SIX NOTE
1. Evidence from experiential
psychotherapy is from Graham Farrant's work as reported by him at various
PPPANA (now APPPAH) conferences, in Aesthema (January 1987) and
Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology (Larimore &
Farrant, 1995); in works such as Gabriel, 1992; Hannig, 1982; Lake, 1981,
1982; and Noble, 1993; and from personal experience in primal therapy,
rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork. [return to text]
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Farrant, Graham. (1987). Cellular consciousness.
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Copyright © 1999 by Michael Derzak Adzema
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