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Birth

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Birth

At Birth there is no Awareness of an Entity that is Separate from Its Environment

Thus, according to ego psychology, a stable sense of identity or separate self is not something that the human being is born with, but is a result of a developmental process—what Mahler has called separation-individuation. At birth there is no awareness of an entity that is separate from its environment. A psychologically separate identity develops slowly as the infant interacts with its environment, especially with its mother. Thus the identity, with its mental apparatus (psychic structure), is a construction in the mind. The particular structure of the mind, the particular patterning of the content of the psyche (ultimately resulting in the sense of self), is something that develops, something that grows. It is then something not ready-made at physical birth. This is why Mahler speaks of “psychological birth.”

The Void, pg. 8

Birth of the Pearl Beyond Price

The development of ego and sense of personal identity depends, as we have seen, on the process of identification, culminating in the formation of a self-image. We have seen that the formation of self-representations is a process of freezing boundaries in the emptiness of the mind. In contrast, the pearl beyond price, the personal aspect of essence, is a sense of personal identity that does not depend on self-representation, and hence, does not depend on the existence or the defending of boundaries in open space. In fact, its development comes about through the undoing of these identifications. The culmination of the elimination of identifications is the birth of the pearl beyond price, or the discovery of one’s own essential person-hood, one’s personal nature that does not depend on the past. This is an aspect of Being that is not understood or appreciated until it is experienced. When it manifests one cannot but be filled with wonder at the majesty, beauty, and richness of essence.

The Void, pg. 77

Cycles in the Rebirth of Aspects of Essence

This emergence of essence is what is usually referred to in Work literature as a “rebirth.” The essence is born again, having been buried for years. The birth is a completion of a cycle, preceding the beginning of another cycle. The whole process repeats itself; understanding a new constellation or sector of the personality leads to its specific deficient hole (emptiness) and ends with the emergence of the corresponding essential aspect. There is awakening, death, and rebirth for each aspect of the essence—awakening to a certain sector of the personality, the death of this sector in the experience of emptiness, and then the rebirth as the emerging of the aspect of essence. This cycle is repeated as many times as there are holes in the personality. As we see, there is no one death and no one rebirth, unless we take the first emergence of essence as the unitary experience. The personality dies gradually, one sector at a time. We see here the meaning of the cycle of death and rebirth. This sequence of awakening, death, and rebirth is the usual one known from ancient times, but here it is seen with diamond clarity.

Ego Development is Part of the Process of the Embodiment of Being

The understanding that is arising here is that ego development is part of the process of embodiment of Being. It is part of the process of Being finally learning to manifest and live in embodied existence. At birth the infant lives as Being, in a state of undifferentiation that is not linked to the body. A process then starts, of consciousness gradually cathecting the body and physical reality. This process of embodiment of Being is a process of personalization, of Being finally emerging as a person, a Human Being. This process of embodiment includes the process we have described, the personalization of Essence, in which the various essential aspects become integrated in the presence of the Personal Essence. Now we see that this process also involves embodiment of these essential aspects; for the Personal Essence is the embodiment of Being. In embodiment one is both Being and a person, a human being. One is the fullness and richness of Being, manifest as a unique person, living a human life in the world. One is both Being and the expression of the love of Being.Being is transcendent, and ultimately nondifferentiated. It is possible to see that the person is a result of Being differentiating into the various aspects which then become integrated again in a process of embodiment, forming a new synthesis, the Personal Essence. When this process is complete then the human being has attained maturity. This maturity includes the capacity for transcendence; for the Personal Essence is in actuality a cell in the oneness of Being. In other words, transcendence and oneness, the concerns of the man of spirit, are part of the maturity of the Personal Essence, which is the truth behind the hopes of the man of the world.

Essential Birth

This brings us to the concept of rebirth in relation to the Personal Essence. Rebirth is a recurrent theme in the literature of inner transformation. Inner transformation is primarily a death and rebirth, the death of an old identity and the birth of a new one, on a deeper level of reality. While we can see the realization of each essential aspect as a process of death and rebirth, it is the discovery of the Personal Essence which is actually felt by many students as the birth of who they are. It is the true birth of the Human Being, and is recognized as such by the experiencer himself. If the development of the separate individuality of ego is the psychological birth of the individual, then the realization of the Personal Essence is his essential birth. The death, of course, in this process of rebirth, is the abandoning of ego identifications. In this sense the “birth” of the Personal Essence is fundamentally different from the birth of the ego, which is not preceded by a death but arises out of a state of nondifferentiation. There is no conscious identity preceding ego identity which needs to be dissolved to allow the birth of the ego. However, the birth of ego does mean the loss of contact with Being, as we will see later.

Over and Over Again, We’re Taken in and Birthed Into Being

In this way, through practice, we deepen back to the source and become a conduit for its expression. What begins as the release of emotional charge at the surface level of our existence becomes the entry into the freedom of continuous energetic renewal of our nature into manifestation. The ebb and flow of our consciousness is the expression of the pulse of life. The more you sense your belly and the more present you can be when you’re having reactions or experiences of any kind, the more any experience can be an opening to the underlying stillness with its intelligent, creative dynamism. The energy that transports and transforms us is the radiance of the silent stillness, which enables our life to take new form. We are born anew each moment, coming forward as radiance and purity, void of the reactive self based on the past. We are free in such a condition. This is a process that continues infinitely—individual consciousness in a continual, alive embrace with presence and emptiness, looping and spiraling as one living vortex, continually clarifying and purifying, learning and emptying, wanting and loving, blending and disappearing and rising again. This process is not a matter of getting to an ultimate end or any particular state, where you say, “Okay, I get to my stillness or the dynamism and I’m done.” No, over and over again, we’re taken in and are birthed into Being once more in novel ways. This potential is true and present within all experience. Whatever your experience is, whatever is happening, there is freedom to be discovered within it. This is the discovery of the life of a real human being.

Recognition of the Essential Identity in the Infant

To recognize the factor responsible for the sense of identity, one must recognize a certain essential quality, the essential aspect of Identity. The Essential Identity is one of the pure forms in which presence manifests in the soul. (In previous books we have referred to this quality as the Essential Self.) When we know the Essential Identity, the Self of Essence, it becomes possible to see and understand the behavior and attitudes that express it. Our understanding, based on both direct observation of infants and reconstruction of adult experience, is that this manifestation is present in the infant from the beginning of life. It can be observed even in intrauterine existence. In most infants, however, the Essential Identity is present only occasionally, becoming more predominant in the differentiation subphase, and then becoming the dominant essential aspect in the practicing subphase of the separation-individuation process. The Essential Identity can be seen from the time when we notice a certain look of alertness and directedness suddenly appearing in the infant. This look can appear even right after birth, but rarely, and for only short periods of time. Some infants seem to have it more than others. The presence we see in the infant at these times is the Essential Identity. It is related to this specific look of alertness. This look, which gives the feeling that the infant is present in the look, is one of the behavioral manifestations of the Essential Identity which Mahler observed.

The Self of the Newborn Has Its Ground in Primordial Presence

In our view, a human being is born a living Presence, a soul, with various essential qualities inherent in that Presence. This living Presence possesses all the potential of humanity, all its properties and capacities. The self of the neonate, with its perceptions, sensations, feelings, images, impulses, processes, and movements, has its ground in primordial Presence, the source of all these psychic manifestations. The essential Presence itself constitutes the identity of the infant, more than any particular manifestation.

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