Unbeknown to him, I watched through the hospital nursery glass as my son-in-law gave his newborn son his first bath. Gently and with awe he touched the tender new skin and lifted the tiny child with the palm of his hand. It nearly brought me to tears.
How essential is touch to a newborn infant who as yet has no thoughts or impressions of life? It cannot yet see but it can feel. How essential are the first words it hears, the tastes and smells and sights it later meets as it first opens its senses to the world? Imagine this state of having no idea of what to expect, no mental impressions, only awareness and senses.
This is how we all begin. Perhaps in the womb we received our first intimations of what human embodiment would be. And then we are brought into the light of delivery and the hands of human experience, available to absorb whatever is given.
We are open and receptive, caught in wonder and longing.
I sat in bleachers once at a rocket launch in Florida, behind a young woman with a little toddler in her stroller. This child had beautiful dark eyes with long lashes and a face ringed by dark curls. Her mother was intent on the rocket launch but the little girl was focused on the mother and spent the whole time searching her mothers face and trying to catch her eyes. Her whole body was intent on connection.
We do not remember being this way as young children — memories before the age of reason seem to be scarce and vague. The impact of our experiences are held at a deep emotional level, as if our inner child is entangled in the emotional body, stored along with early impressions about the nature of human beingness. Our early sensate knowledge and understanding of connection likely color our relationships at an unconscious level the rest of our lives. When a child knows safety and love it moves comfortably into the world. When exposed to violence and rage at early ages, it is burdened by psychic scars that are too deep to remember.
What has this to do with spiritual realization? With awakening? Everything.
The longing in us for God or Truth or understanding is the inherent longing of consciousness to remember its source, to restore its connection to that pristine awareness with which we entered and exited the womb. We were once free of all the impressions we have acquired over the years from the actions of parents, teachers, classmates, relatives and strangers. Each encounter or lack thereof left marks like little post-ums all over our psyche, and at a certain point we made a decision through these filters about how to be and what to be in the world. We may have felt accepted and safe or we may have felt unseen and irrelevant. We may fit in somewhere or always believe we do not belong. We may have waves of anger, fear or depression, feeling needy or lonely, all arising seemingly out of nowhere. There will be moments of feeling lost and out of control, overwhelmed by some circumstance of life. We did not come in with fear and foreboding, despair and a need to be in control. We came in open and available.
A challenging part of spiritual process are those moments when we see our conditioning, relive uncomfortable memories, and begin to see the primal need to be vulnerable again, to open the heart. It is our vulnerability that makes us available to spirit — to realization — to a connection with our roots that will eventually overwhelm our patterns and conditioned responses to life events, freeing us from ourselves. This longing for Truth or awakening is consciousness longing for itself in its most expansive and unbounded form, knowing its connection to every bit of creation, knowing itself as love of creation, remembering itself as availability to wonder. Human life is full of challenge and unavoidable sorrows, but the pure awareness with which we entered has a sweet openness to all experience without the contractions the body learned along the way. It knows at the core it is okay. It remembers that it is eternal.
To reconnect with this is to be awake. To live as this is liberation. To gently touch the infant consciousness, whether within ourselves or in the children around us, is a way to make the human journey more easeful, to offer a sense of security in this world of form we all pass through. It can help the individual and the world awaken.