In a 1927 letter to Sigmund Freud, Romain Rolland coined the phrase “oceanic feeling” to refer to the sensation of being one with the universe. According to Rolland, this feeling is the source of all the religious energy that permeates in various religious systems, and one may justifiably call oneself religious on the basis of this oceanic feeling alone, even if one renounces every belief and every illusion.
The oceanic feeling is when we are nothing and everything at the same time. We are nothing because there is no thing that can describe or contain what we are and we are everything because all existence takes place within our being. The oceanic feeling expressed in negative terms implies the dissolution of the separate self, the end of duality and when it is expressed in positive terms, it manifests as the oneness with all life. Regardless of how it is expressed or put into language, it is a feeling not an idea. The oceanic feeling is the feeling of being the ocean where all rivers flow rather than a river that flows towards the ocean. In the words of the great mystic Rumi: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
Alexis Vasilikos (b.1977) is an Athens-based visual artist who works primarily with photography. His work revolves around peripatetic photography, meditation and energetic editing and is deeply influenced by Eastern mysticism. He studied photography in Athens, at Focus and A.k.t.o. and attended the Art History Course of D.A.M.S. in Bologna. Since 2012 he is co-editing Phases Magazine, an online fine art photography magazine. Ηe is represented by CAN Christina Androulidaki Gallery.
Images courtesy of the artist & Can Christina Androulidaki Gallery