Gershon Winkler

Our ancestors tell us that in the womb of our moms we are taught everything we would ever want to know or need to know. It is all given to us carte-blanch on a platter in the womb of our genesis. Some angel comes to us, by the name of Lay’lah, literally “Night” and tells us everything until it grows hoarse and runs out of verbiage; shows us everything until its Power Point runs out of batteries. During this nine month period of floating around in the mey nuk’vin (Aramaic for the Feminine Waters), we are given to see “from one end of the universe to the other” (Midrash Tanchuma, P’koodey, No. 3). It is a time of all-knowing. And then, at the moment of birth, just when we are about to enter that realm of body/mind/spirit integration, when everything we were taught and got to see would have the opportunity to coalesce, to manifest, to become applicable – poof! – Lay’lah touches us in the space between the nose and the mouth (which is why we have that indentation there) and we forget everything.

The aggravation of losing all that precious knowledge and visual memory prompts us to scream, cry, bellow in frustration. This is why babies cry when they are born. Except of course in water births because they know better than to open their mouths under water! The trauma of having had something so precious and then having lost it in one fell swoop goes untreated as we become incubated, acculturated, educated, graduated, hired and retired. Throughout our lives we clamor to retrieve as much of that experience and learning as we possibly can. We frantically take notes at workshops and seminars, spend thousands on books that promise to rekindle that flame that once bathed us in blissful knowing deep inside the womb, and tens of thousands on trips to South America or New Guinea in the hope that shaman after shaman can reconnect us with that nine-month Nirvana.

Often, the trauma is re-triggered in us when we write something profound on our laptops and suddenly an electrical storm hits and we lose all of it. Every amazingly-worded sentence. Gone. Then we beat ourselves for not “saving” every few minutes, knowing the storm was brewing outside.

Perhaps there is a way or two to deal with this. Maybe the clue as to how to recover the data we lost in the womb lies in the way the Night angel caused us to forget it in the first place. Hmmm. Let’s see….. She touches us in the space between our nostrils and our mouth. The nostrils take in the Breath of Life (“And [Creator] breathed into its nostrils the Breath of Life and the Human became a living being” – Genesis 2:7). The mouth is the place from which we share the Breath of Life with others through kiss (Zohar Chadash 60:3). It is also the place from which we communicate words and sound that heal, that nurture, that gladden, or that kill, harm, sadden. Finally, it is the place through which we take in the nourishment necessary for our bodies. The mouth, then, is the paradoxic Passageway of Transformation, or – in Hebrew — Peey’sho’n, the name in ancient Hebrew for one of the four rivers that flowed out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:11).

So somewhere between our commitment to taking in the Breath of Life, and the chaotic, churning cauldron of transformation, of choices at the crossroads, lies a treasure of infinite wisdom and experience that Lay’lah buried at the moment of our birth. And our challenge in this life is to seek it right there, in that elusive space between our consciousness of being (nostrils) and our day-to-day struggle with right-or-wrong choices and actions (mouth). As a tenth-century, B.C.E. Hebrew chieftain (Solomon) put it: “If you will desire it like you would desire silver, and you will seek it as you would seek treasures, only then will you understand awareness of the Infinite Mover of the Universe, and you will discover the knowing that the Source of the Many Powers imparts” (Proverbs 2:4-5) – only then will we regain that knowing, that understanding, that vanished from our awareness when we first got here. But if we seek it from others, if we assume that someone else can hand it to us on a platter, or we can buy it somewhere, then we are likely to never dis-cover it.

Read, study, go to shamans and wisdom teachers, but only for tools, only for the spade. Each of us must do our own digging for our own treasure. This is the greatest gift. And the most neglected.