The forming of a drop
A long time ago, just before you were born, you lived in the ‘ocean’ that was your mother. This ocean carried you, you had no sense of gravity, you floated in a secure and loving world. You were nourished without even having to ask for sustenance. You didn’t even have to breathe, that system only kicked in after you were born. You were one with your mother in all things, your only preoccupation was being. Consciousness was still oceanic, pure and light. You were fully anchored in that consciousness, you were that consciousness, there was no ‘I’. You are still that consciousness, you are still in that ocean, but certain things happened to you that have caused you to forget.
It all starts when the ‘ocean’ recedes; the waters break and your ‘ocean’ drains away. You experience gravity for the first time and you feel the pressure on your body. The process of birth begins and you feel pain for the first time, too. It is exactly at this moment, when you feel the pain, that the first ‘I am’ thought hits you. ‘I am’ may well be the very first fragile thought that forms in your mind. The realisation ‘I am’ is partly due to the pain you feel in your body during birth. This ‘I am’ thought attaches itself to your body through the pain. Later on this will manifest itself in the firm conviction that you are your body.
When you are lying on your mother’s breast after being born, two things happen that will have a major impact on the course of your life:
- Your mother feels different to you now; first you were one, now you are two. This feeling of separation, combined with the pain of birth, leads to your first emotion: fear. And your similarly new-born sense of ‘I am’ immediately attaches itself to this fear emotion, too. Later on you will experience this as the belief that you are your emotions.
- Your umbilical cord is cut and your automatic supply of nourishment vanishes along with it. You now have to find some other way of sourcing food. At first this involves crying and suckling. But more importantly, having already attached itself to your body and your emotions, your sense of ‘I am’ now clamps on to the thought ‘I have to do something if I want to survive’. This will later turn into the belief that you are the only one who has control over your own life.
All of these experiences draw a veil over your already fragile oceanic consciousness. Not only do you become separated from your mother, but the emergence of the sense of ‘I am’ also separates you from the oceanic consciousness. And that is how the drop that believes it can exist separate from the ocean is formed. Whereas once—before the idea of ‘you’ first emerged—you were firmly anchored in a primal state of being, the anchor has now fixed itself to something other than your natural, original self. I call that something your sense of ‘I am’ here, your first thought.
So a new ‘I am’ is born at the same time as the baby. This ‘I am’ will go on to become what we often refer to as ego. I prefer to call it your ‘I-structure’. Your sense of ‘I am’ will form the basic thought behind all the assumptions you will make during the rest of your life.
The ‘I am’ appears out of the oceanic consciousness, out of the primal emptiness. The drop emerges from the ocean, but, as we have already seen, it is no more than a thought, a thought that appears in the vast ocean. And if the drop is a thought, then the feeling of being separated is a thought, too.
I would like to make use of another metaphor that illustrates perfectly how the process of growing into a fully-fledged ‘I am’ works. I am sure you have inspected a spider’s web up close at least once in your life. The web is usually held together by no more than four main strands which support the sticky network of circles. Your ‘I-structure’ is just like a spider’s web. The strands are thoughts that grow into assumptions. And like the spider’s web, your web also has four main strands—your four basic thoughts:
The main strand holding everything together is the first thought and assumption: I am.
The second strand is the thought/assumption: I am my body.
The third strand is the thought/assumption: I am my emotions.
The fourth strand is the thought/assumption: I am in control, the ‘I-have-to-do-something-to-survive’ idea.
It is between these four main strands that you will weave the circles of your own I-structure web during the course of your life.
In the case of a baby, this structure, the first strands of the web, is very fine. So fine in fact that the oceanic consciousness is still able to shine through it. And you can feel this, too, which is why we all melt at the sight of a baby. In addition to a tiny and lovely human being, we also catch a glimpse of that pure consciousness, but if you continue to watch closely over the following months you will notice the structure beginning to close, the strands of the web beginning to multiply. The ‘I’ becomes stronger and moves to the foreground. The being, the eternal consciousness, becomes more and more obscured by the web.
Now you are older and have been feeding the idea of an ‘I am’ for so long that it has become the person you are. One with a sturdy structure, a strong ego, with all its peculiar habits, ideas and strategies for survival.
The web that you have been weaving for years has become very strong thanks to the many thought-strands in which your beliefs are firmly anchored. And just like a real spider’s web, these thought-strands are sticky, too. They maintain a firm grip on you and they keep your ego in place. They hold your attention, take control of you and turn endlessly in circles. They are so sticky that they fix everything within their reach in place, including your sense of ‘I am’. We call that ‘I-fixation’ or identification. As time goes by you come to believe that you are the web. You identify completely with everything that goes on inside your web.
Back to the ocean
The question is: how stuck are you? How tightly has your web been weaved? How much of the light from the original oceanic consciousness, your real you, is still able to shine through? Are you able to remember anything of that primal being?
Somewhere deep within your heart you are still aware of that original consciousness and you know that the web is nothing more than a thought. A thought-web in which, to a certain degree, you have become ensnared. Almost all of the thoughts that have passed through your mind over the course of your life have now disappeared. In the end, even the all-consuming I-web thought will disappear, too. When you die, this basic thought will die with you and the web will collapse. After all, it has only ever been held together by a few tenuous strands.
Just like your daily thoughts arise out of… well, what actually? Empty space? Only to disappear again… this is also how your ‘I am’ thought first appeared, out of the same empty space. A space in which it will eventually dissolve, too. Thoughts do not have any firm base, they have no roots in space. What they do have, however, is the power, or more accurately the ability, to attach themselves to things. First to your body, then to your emotions and actions, and later on to physical objects. After ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’, ‘me’ is often the third word that we learn. This ‘me’ stays with us for the rest of our lives and it interweaves with everything and everyone we know. This is how our web begins to take shape. Thoughts become assumptions, assumptions become beliefs and together they form the sticky strands of your ‘I am’ web.
When you can see the web that has grown to become your I-structure, with all its inclinations and habits, for what it really is nothing more than a thought, the strands will begin to weaken and perhaps even break. Being still can be a powerful solvent, breathing a powerful medicine. Meditation is also a powerful medicine, but then the right kind of meditation.
These days there is a wide variety of meditation techniques, programmes, courses and workshops on offer where you can learn how to create a better version of yourself. The question is however: which self? The self that you have built up over the years and that has become your I-structure? Or the self you were before you were born, the original consciousness, the ocean? The answer is quite simple: do not invest too much time in the first option, it will only serve to reinforce your web. Remember, it is just a thought, an illusory web that is forever changing and that will eventually vanish just like all other thoughts do.
Trying to improve the second option, your true self, is an even bigger mistake. That self does not need any improving! What could you possibly hope to improve about the original consciousness?
What does the drop have to offer the ocean?
Exactly… itself and nothing else.
Just like the drop dissolves in the ocean, where it was once formed, so does our thought-web dissolve in the consciousness from where it first came. There is very little you can actually ‘do’ about it. Letting go of a thought is a form of surrender, a surrendering of your attachment to that thought.
This is what you can ‘do’:
Make your web a little thinner, more open and transparent so that more light, love and stillness are able to shine through you. Make the strands less sticky by trying to become more attentive. Shift your anchor from your mind to your heart, the centre of your being. And try cutting one or two of those strands in half every now and then.
If the above has sparked your interest and you would like to know more about an alternative to living in your web, try our year-long programme and find out what stillness in your life can mean to you. Discover how shifting your anchor to your natural state of being can affect your life and the lives of others around you.