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Prenatal Structures

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Prenatal Structures

Impressions that Become the Initial “Grooves” in the Soul Influencing and Orienting Future Development

Prenatal structures are a subcategory of preconceptual structures, but are earlier and more primitive, formed during uterine life. Since the soul is the animating consciousness, she is present commingled with the body throughout prenatal life. Various spiritual teachings put the conjunction of soul and body at various times in prenatal life, but the differences generally involve the first week or two, and mostly in regard to whether the soul is present all the time or intermittently at the beginning. Embryonic development is an intense growth process, during which organs form and function, the body systems develop, and the whole organism differentiates into an amazing complexity from very simple building blocks. This rich and eventful process impacts the impressionable soul, and some of these impacts survive as rudimentary structuring, depending on the intensity or duration of a particular process or physical structure. These impressions become the initial “grooves” in the soul, influencing and orienting future development. We recognize three sources of structure in prenatal life. First, since the sensitive field of consciousness is completely inseparable from the physical organism, intense physical processes with their anatomical development will impress the soul with more or less permanent structures. The impact of a new anatomical development, at the beginning as bulges and tubes but later on more complex and complete, leaves long-lasting impressions, impressions that become the initial blueprint for ego structures in general. Second, major prenatal events, especially difficult ones, will also leave long-lasting impressions on the soul. These include difficult initial implantation, the umbilical cord wrapping tightly around the developing embryo, and similar events. Third, the state of the holding environment, in this case the mother and her womb, may imprint the soul with either positive or negative impressions. This can be the general influence of the mother’s health, her emotional state, and whether she takes medications, alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. These will directly affect the state of the soul because the soul cannot differentiate herself from her environment. She will feel the mother’s inner states, and will be affected by her physical condition, but will experience it happening in her own field; thus these impacts will form impressions that will later be integrated into her sense of identity.

One of the Primitive Forerunners of the Rejecting Object Relation is a Soul Structure that Appears as Feelings of Not Being Welcomed or Wanted

We have also observed a whole family of prenatal structures that are imprints from early embryonic development. These generally take the form of tubes and bulges of various kinds and combinations, reflecting the morphology of these early stages. At the beginning the zygote differentiates and develops into three tubes, out of the three layers of the original disc. These tubes are dominant physical structures at a time when the soul is quite impressionable. The imprint of these prenatal tubes functions as a forerunner of ego separating boundaries. More accurately, the early tubular structure of the embryo imprints the soul with a form that becomes an initial body image according to which the sense of separating boundaries develops. This is, we believe, the reason that when we inquire into the ego separating boundaries we frequently find a structure in the shape of a tube along the body. The soul contracts and forms a tube, which sometimes feels like plastic, that gives her the sense of being an autonomous entity. One of the primitive forerunners of the rejecting object relation is a soul structure that appears as feelings of not being welcomed or wanted. Upon investigation we can discern this structure in the form of something that wants to attach itself to something else but is not able to, as if it is repulsed. This is a prenatal structure that students frequently encounter, modeled on the process of the fertilized egg trying to implant but having difficulty in the process. It is amazing how the sense of being rejected can start so early when there are no differentiated affects yet, just an impression of a physical process that develops, by integrating more highly structured experiences of being rejected into the rejecting object relation. This shows how far one needs to go to be liberated from these basic object relations that structure one’s soul. 

Primitive, Prenatal and Preverbal Structures are Simply Impressions in the Soul; they are Not Cognitive

Crystal guidance functions in another, unexpected way. Beyond the exposing of concepts and dichotomies, its crystalline structure illuminates barriers that developed before the arising of conceptual knowledge. These are the structures of the soul that were established very early in life, before the cognitive capacity developed enough for the establishment of representational structures. We discussed these primitive, prenatal, and preverbal structures in chapter 14. These structures are simply impressions in the soul; they are not cognitive. Because it is the expression of nonconceptual awareness, crystal guidance penetrates these preconceptual structures and challenges their opaqueness. These structures manifest in consciousness and reveal how they are barriers to realization and liberation. Crystal guidance, along with the various aspects manifesting as crystals, brings about the precise and objective understanding of this dimension of obscurations. Such understanding can be simply the recognition of the nonconceptual as the ground, but can also manifest as insight and basic knowledge. We have described how this occurs: pure presence with its noetic capacity can manifest coemergent with that of nonconceptual awareness. In other words, the inner guidance of Being can arise as the coemergence of pure awareness and basic knowing. Pure awareness penetrates the preconceptual obscurations, and basic knowing discriminates the specifics as insight. The nonconceptual dimension of the inner guidance challenges and highlights the nonconceptual differentiations in these obscurations, allowing the noetic dimension to discriminate these differentiations. The insight is basic knowledge, but it is a discrimination that nonconceptual differentiation brings into awareness. As the noetic guidance illuminates the obscurations they melt away, and allow the soul to experience herself on the nonconceptual dimension. 

Structures that Predate Fertilization, as the Sperm or Ovum

Prenatal structures can date to earlier times. Some individuals encounter structures that predate fertilization, as the sperm or ovum. The sperm structure normally manifests as an energetic condition when one feels that one needs to always be on the move, that one cannot rest, or some important opportunity will be lost. Investigating these feelings may take us to feeling small and running fast, running without looking back, but full of the total impulse to go fast and get someplace, without knowing where. These examples of very early structures give us a sense of the depth to which the inner journey goes in the process of the liberation of the soul. This discussion also shows us the depth and extent of the structuring of the soul through which we become shackled before we are even conscious of our ourselves. We need to also point out that these structures are very subtle; we do not encounter them so clearly in our everyday experience. Though these primitive structures underlie our everyday experience, we cannot discern them until we have made transparent the more superficial structures built on top of them. 

The Presence of Direct Impressions, Due to the Vulnerable Malleability of the Infant Soul, Show that the Soul Can Develop Structure Before Her Memory

Ego structure depends on two levels of impressions in the soul. We have discussed primarily those semi-permanent impressions that are due to the self-representation and its subunits molding the field of the soul. This self-representation is built up using memory traces of earlier, more momentary impressions. However, some of these early impressions remain in a semipermanent way, not through representational memory, but by the impressions being strong enough, or repeated frequently enough, that they directly condition the substance of the soul. These are the kind of impressions we discussed in chapter 7, the direct structuring of the soul field by her own intense or repeated experience. These direct impressions also become integrated into the overall self-representation, and synthesized with the mental structures. The presence of direct impressions, due to the vulnerable malleability of the infant soul, shows that the soul can develop structure before her memory and that cognitive capacities develop to the extent of being able to hold and organize memories. This means that there are two levels of structuring in ego development that become integrated together as one structure, the ego structure of the soul. Because of this understanding we can assume that the forerunners of ego development extend back into prenatal life, to the beginning of life in the womb. We will discuss these prenatal structures in the next chapter; but we want to note here that these earlier structures actually function as the initial ground of the more familiar ego structures. Because of this, the exploration of one’s ego structures will arrive at some point at preverbal and even prenatal structures of one’s soul. This tends to happen in the inner journey because this journey takes us to dimensions of Being that are beyond conceptualization and memory.  

The Primal Condition of Prenatal Life

In her primal condition, the soul is a wholesome harmonious unity, where there is no separation between soul and body and no dissociation of soul and essence. Our view is not that the baby initially lives in heaven, but that it lives without the duality of self and spirit, soul, and essence. Most importantly, the primal condition is characterized by the nonduality of essence and soul. Individual babies are born with different dominant characteristics, but common to all is that there is no distinction between the soul and the essence at the beginning. This primal condition might, and possibly does, exist more purely and completely in prenatal life. It is most likely not completely harmonious in prenatal life, owing to disruptions that happen in the womb, but as we will see our exploration includes prenatal structuring of the soul. It is also more complete in infancy than later and becomes gradually limited and disrupted in early childhood. When the infant is in homeostasis, when it is not frustrated, mistreated, or sick, but is lovingly and appropriately taken care of, it seems to live not only in absence of duality of soul and essence, but with a great deal of obvious pleasure. This homeostatic baseline can get disrupted, but the soul’s initial harmony is resilient and it reasserts itself spontaneously. However, the fact that disruption is a possibility, combined with the factors we discussed above, leads to a permanent state of disruption. The soul at some point loses her resiliency and the duality becomes impressed on her substance as a permanent structure. In other words, as a result of the soul’s normal development her homeostatic baseline moves from wholesome harmonious unity to a largely conflictual and permanently dissatisfied state of duality. Stated alternately, when the adult soul relaxes and settles down at times of no instinctual or environmental pressures she does not go back to her original harmony, but can only settle into the dualistic ego state that has now become the bedrock of her identity and reality.  

To Work Through a Soul Structure is First to Recognize It as a Structure that Patterns Our Experience

It is our observation that when inquiring into preconceptual structures, one eventually encounters structures that cannot be understood without considering the structuring impact of prenatal experience. These are even vaguer and more difficult to recognize than the other three types. For instance, in deep stages of the unfoldment of the soul you may experience yourself as wrapped with something thick and tight. You might physically feel as if you are in a straightjacket, tight and thick, but there are no accompanying memories, images, or specific feelings. You feel hemmed in, maybe vaguely depressed. Upon exploration you recognize that there is a thick and tight boundary around you that makes you feel contracted, but not as an emotional reaction. This may then reveal that there is some movement, some convulsing pulsation in the walls around you. You feel you want to get out, but it is not really up to you. This is an experience of a structure that developed in the womb toward the end of pregnancy, where the uterine wall, because of the size of the embryo at this stage, molded the soul’s sensitivity strongly and continuously until it created a lasting impression. Unable to differentiate her own body from the wall of the womb, the soul incorporates its pattern into her own structure. Being in touch with this structure can lead to birth experiences of various kinds, but the exploration of structures is a different category than a birth experience. The birth experience may give us the sense of freedom and release, and may have profound consequences for our development, but it might not make this structure transparent. To work through a soul structure is first to recognize it as a structure that patterns our experience, and to see how this appears in various situations in our life. Then the particulars of this structure reveal an underlying emptiness, the understanding of which ushers us to some aspect of the experience of our true nature. This experience of true nature is the most important part of the process of working through a structure; without it the process will only have a limited therapeutic effect. 

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