I love this conversation!
I've been thinking and writing a lot lately on the concept of "awakening" at a spiritual level, and one of the things I kept chewing on was whether or not we *needed* to be asleep for a time in our incarnation.
And by "asleep" I don't mean merely forgetting past incarnations, but feeling cut off at the soul level in many ways, being unable to see beyond the problems and issues of this incarnation and the material world in which it takes place, living very literally, I guess is the best way I'd put it.
So the question I kept posing to myself was, is the state of being "asleep" merely an artifact of our cultural malaise? --in other words, are we as spiritually awake and aware children "put to sleep" by the consumerism and artificial gender roles and defensive wariness and manipulation of our current cultural machine? --which would make it something we could potentially (and perhaps SHOULD) overcome as a society; or is there a reason for it that goes deeper and has a greater purpose than that? Making it, in other words, something we should understand and engage with in a healthier way, but not necessarily try to eliminate?
I was reading Paulo Coelho's wonderful novel The Witch of Portobello recently, and within it there was a long discussion on the spiritual idea of the navel. He wrote something about how strange it is that one of our first experiences in life is one of great violence done to our spiritual center, when the physical umbilical cord is severed. The whole section sent my mind into a whirl of thought and I thought about our spiritual birth into this world; is there a comparable severing of an umbilical-- not the astral "silver thread" described in OBE literature but a direct connection outside of this reality-- that causes us to "forget" or to "sleep" here? And if so, why?
In a way, cutting a baby's umbilical is the act that first completely establishes the newborn as its own, separate being-- the first moment it lives and breathes independently from its mother. It's a necessary separation for the child to begin the process of growing and developing, of learning to take nourishment from the world, of learning to exist as an individual.
I'm still chewing on all of this...=) But I've begun to think that maybe there is such a thing as a necessary sleep for some period of time in our lives, a symbolic separation from the Source that can be in some ways traumatic or at least unsettling, and that it's necessary in order for us to fully commit to the experience of this incarnation, of this world and its physical experiences, and of the identity we've chosen to take on. That something about the purpose of a mortal life here on earth is the experience of "individuality" or separateness. Other posters here have touched on this idea as well...that this incarnation wouldn't be the same kind of challenge if we still had those memories, that connection, that knowledge.
That this incarnation represents a very specific kind of initiation that we each choose to undertake, and that it requires us to accept the loneliness and anxiety of the separation-illusion, of the forgetting and sleep. Like the tribal rite of passage where the young warrior is cast out of the village into the darkness with only a loincloth and spear, not allowed to return until he has killed his first lion. He goes out without armor, without fellow hunters, without anyone to save him if he fails, and he doesn't know for sure that he won't be killed or maimed or get lost. He has to be fully present in that moment, in the wild, to really experience his surroundings and learn to use them to help him succeed.
So much to think about!!!