In the opening pages of CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS,
Sigmund Freud acknowledged the existence, in some people, of what
he called “the oceanic feeling.” It includes an awareness of one’s
smallness in the face of the rest of what is. Words like “awe” and
“adoration” come to mind. This feeling isn’t simply fear, or need
not be. It may include a sense of unspeakable joy, a strong
feeling of all-right-ness. Often there is an inclination to
acknowledge some sort of obligation to do better, or to be better,
in the presence of that.
Freud admitted to having never experienced this feeling
personally, but for some reason he felt he needed to refer to it.
Unlike Freud, this writer has experienced the oceanic feeling, the sense of wonder; and also let me say here the oceanic feeling is not always pleasant.
Littleness is part of it. Helplessness often is.
A sense of loss of control, along with fear and frustration, can be in it.
An awareness of my mortality is in it.
My earliest memory of it was a recurring thought, which was more like an audience than a vision. I was very, very young, in fact within the womb, dialouging with myself, reaching out to my mother for allowing me to be born.
I felt deep pain, a sense of helplessness when I felt myself hearing the sub-conscious thoughts of my own mother. Later I corroborated with her, and learnt that she had not wished to be pregnant at that time. She had wanted a child, but only much later. This was astounding news to me and a part of me experienced that wondourous feeling again. It was the sense of wonder.
I feel it when I am swept away by sexual ecstasy.
I feel it, sometimes, as I kneel alone staring into space and connecting with the unknown.
I have felt it reading certain books, discovering new previously unimagined contents.
And I feel the oceanic feeling every time, when, after an absence of months or years, I first see again the ocean itself, or the Himalayas I wallow in that feeling.
A client recently told me, that he creates this wondourous feeling everytime he bathes his lover after tender lovemaking, or asks to be fed by his lover while he feeds her too, fulfilling his desire to feel wanted and make her feel wanted.
We all try and re-create this feeling with our partners in some special way expecting to be fulfilled, but it doesn’t happen!!
What he was re-creating was a material consequence masked in emotional layers.
Its the third truth from the Buddha, “the craving” the desire to be “one” the desire to “want” the desire to “feel” this oceanic feeling of ecstasy.
All I could explain was that it cannot be commissioned, it simply happens when we lower our defences and submit ourselves to the sense of wonder without any expectation.
On the contrary, the oceanic feeling, the sense of wonder, can
lead people to a humble awareness of Truth, with some sense of the
human ego’s relative size and importance, in all the Cosmos.
This is a feeling to be experienced in totality without conscious awareness and certainly not by creating an experience.