A Conversation about Consciousness with Michael Wolff
If you have recently arrived in a new country, you are faced with many challenges. A particular challenge is to identify with people that you believe to be successful and then to try to be like them and accepted by them – says Michael Wolff – Aikido Teacher, Energy Practitioner, Founder of Conscious Evolution Coaching.
You have been working with consciousness for over 30 years. Can you describe your understanding of success – how it was and how it has changed over the years?
Perhaps I could begin by telling you how I started my journey. I’m now 70 years old. My parents were recent immigrants. My father was German and my mother Austrian. Both of them were Christians, although their grandparents had been Jews. Why is this relevant? Because they were fleeing from Hitler. They fled independently to Kenya in Africa, where they met and married towards the end of the War.
Kenya was then a British Colony. So as I was growing up, most of my friends at school were English. At five years old I remember the playground of my nursery school. All the little boys were playing war games – how the victorious English crushed the evil Germans. It definitely wasn’t cool to be German. – even less so to be Jewish. When I was 11 years old, my best friend was forbidden by his father to play with me. Why? Because I was a German Jew.
I didn’t realise at the time but what I did to protect myself was to split off my German / Jewish side and pretend to the world that I was as English as anyone else. I wanted my friends to see that I shared the same values, interests and aspirations. I was just like them. In those days, society was very racist. There was colour racism and the English had a strong sense of racial superiority. It was far more intensive in the 50’s when I was growing up than it is now. There was also a hierarchical social class structure. Since I didn’t want to be what I thought I was, I decided that I might as well opt for being upper class. Upper sounds better than middle or lower.
My father, starting from nothing and managed to become quite well off. So he was able to send me to a top Public School in England, eventually going to a top university. I had earned my upper class English credentials. I have to all outward appearances become one of them.
Being the son of immigrants I thought that I was different from the word go. I had lost my roots, but my English friends with all their outward appearance of confidence hadn’t lost theirs. I was rootless, they were rooted. Or so I thought.
At the age of eighteen I fell so deeply in love that when this failed, it ripped my heart to pieces. I then discovered the hopeless and inadequacy of Romantic Love.
From about the age of six I had a brilliant idea. Since I was lacking in upper class Gentile Englishness, the best way to make up for that deficiency would be to fall in love with blonde English Gentiles. What I didn’t have in myself – I could make up for in a girlfriend.
Needless to say, this plan didn’t work. Every year since the age of six I would fall madly in love with my prototype Goddess. Naturally she never reciprocated to the same degree. I needed her to make up my other half, but she definitely didn’t need me. Finally at the age of eighteen I fell so deeply in love that when this failed (as it was bound to), it ripped my heart to pieces. I then discovered the hopeless and inadequacy of Romantic Love.
How is all this relevant to consciousness?
I was pretending to be something that I wasn’t. At a very early age, maybe 4 or 5, I “created” my so-called Core Separation Wound. A Separation Wound is what holds us in Separation Consciousness.
As I learned many years later, Separation Consciousness is an unconscious choice that humans made about 10,000 years ago. Humans have been on the planet for at least one million years. In all that time they were in Unified Consciousness. They were deeply interconnected with nature and themselves. They were hunter gatherers, following their food. There was a sense of abundance and more than enough for their needs. However, over the million year period, roughly every 100,000 years, the earth underwent a catastrophic climate change in the form of glaciations. During these extreme periods, humans were severely challenged.
Coming out of the last major glaciations 12,000 years ago, some humans decided that staying in Unified Consciousness was no longer safe. They must have experienced scarcity of food and thought they needed a different way of managing their connection with nature. They decided in order to achieve greater control and security it was necessary to become progressively separate from the direct interconnection that they had experienced in the past.
As immigrants or children of immigrants think that we are separate because of our differences.
The humans that opted for Separation Consciousness have progressively prevailed and now make up the vast majority on the planet. Those still in Unified Consciousness have been either wiped out or marginalised in today’s society.
So, we as immigrants or children of immigrants think that we are separate because of our differences, but actually EVERYONE in so-called civilised society experiences separation and rootlessness. Each one of us is nursing and nurturing our own Core Separation Wound.
What are the benefits of Separation Consciousness?
Well, we could say that everything that we experience today in our civilised life arises from our Separation Consciousness. Out of an underlying fear of scarcity, we drive ourselves to be competitive and to be in control. And what gives us the emotional incentive to be successful in our competitiveness is the “grit in the oyster”, the Core Separation Wound. It’s the wound that never heals. And why? Because we guard it with our lives in order to hold on to what enables us to survive and thrive. As the son of an immigrant, I had a decent-sized bit of grit. By the time I was forty I had created a beautiful pearl of success. I was the CEO of a £10 million pound company and materially and socially I had everything I could have asked for.
My life was not in harmony. On a scale of 100, where 100 is the ability to respond harmoniously to the ups and downs of life, I calibrated at around 10. I was highly successful, but lacking in harmony. Why? Because I was continuously being driven to close the “Separation Gap” – where, what and whom I wanted to be from where I was now. Whenever it looked as if I was closing the gap, it would then immediately re-open. There was always tension, resistance and stress.
In the end, I got so stressed that I had to change. That was over thirty years ago. I started on the Japanese martial arts path – Aikido – literally the Way of Harmony through Ki (Life Energy). That has been a journey of re-discovering and embodying Unified Consciousness. Now my level of harmony is very close to 100.
Does this have any significant relevance for humanity?
Definitely. We may now be at another major turning point. It is quite likely that our attachment to Separation Consciousness, while enabling us to create all the successes of our modern life, may also be the cause of our eventual downfall. It may just be that the many problems that we have created for ourselves in Separation Consciousness can only be solved in Unified Consciousness. Just as Separation Consciousness and my vision of success led to my own awakening and the discovery of a more enriching concept of success, maybe we need to being doing this collectively.