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Abyss

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Abyss

Feeling in Your Bones that You are and Will be Okay

Basic trust, on the other hand, is not a trust in some thing, some person, or some situation, and so is not readily diminished by life circumstances. Instead, it gives you an implicit orientation toward all circumstances that allows you to relax and be with them. You feel in your bones that you are and will be okay, even if the events at the moment are disappointing or painful, or even completely disastrous. Consequently, you live your life in such a way that you naturally jump into the abyss without even conceptualizing that you will be okay, since you have the implicit sense that the universe will take care of you. Your life itself becomes a spiritual journey, in which you know that if you stop trying, stop efforting, stop grasping, stop holding on to people, objects, and beliefs, things will be okay, that they will turn out for the best. This doesn’t mean that letting go or allowing structures to dissolve will necessarily feel good—that’s not what you trust. Even if it doesn’t feel good, even if you are frightened, you somehow know that this dissolution will be okay. The capacity to accept the most problematic phase of spiritual transformation—the dissolution of familiar structures and identities—arises from this innate sense of safety and security.

Facets of Unity, pg. 23

For True Self-Realization You Have to Jump

When you experience no support in the presence of someone like your teacher, it is easier to go through it. In time you can go through it by yourself because you already know you have gone through it many times. But even the idea that you can do it is a very slender thread, and it can break. For true self-realization you have to jump. You have to take the risk of jumping when there is no support, when you have no idea of what’s going to happen. It feels like jumping into an abyss. You don’t know whether you are going to come out of it or not, or whether you’ll be better or worse, or whether you’ll come out of it the same kind of person or not. You don’t know whether it will work or not. You have no idea. That is why a deep faith in reality, a basic trust in truth, can be very helpful at this point. When the hole is experienced completely, true support will arise. Basically, true support is resisted by the attempt to hold on, which is why the true support of Essence cannot be faked. It is very difficult to really let go; you cannot be lazy about it. You can experience all kinds of states without doing much work, but not true support. Even certain self-realizations can happen without much work, but to experience true support your work has to be real.

If Jumping into the Abyss is Easy, One’s Transformation Tends to Happen Easily

The first step of this process in dealing with any sector of the ego has two parts. The first is becoming aware of—actually perceiving and experiencing—the particular belief or identification that constitutes the structure. The second is the dissolution of that facet of the ego structure. The latter is the most difficult one in the process of transformation, since it means letting go of part of one’s identity, and this surrendering can be experienced as a dissolution, a disintegration, a fragmentation, or a sense that you are falling apart. This juncture can be very painful or frightening because the old sense of your identity is crumbling and falling away and you don’t know what—if anything —will take its place. What you’ve held on to has felt real to you, and now you’re letting it go and heading into what feels like unknown and uncharted territory. It feels like jumping into an abyss and it can be terrifying. If this jumping into the abyss is easy, one’s transformation tends to happen easily. But if this letting go of past identities is difficult—very painful or excessively fraught with fear—one will tend to hold on to the old, staying aligned with one’s ego. What makes the difference is the presence of a certain kind of trust that we call basic trust. It is an unspoken, implicit trust that what is optimal will happen, the sense that whatever happens will ultimately be fine. It is the confidence that reality is ultimately good; that nature, the universe, and all that exists are of their very nature good and trustworthy; that what happens is the best that can happen.

Facets of Unity, pg. 22

Realizing that the Absolute is Simply a Bigger Abyss than You have Seen

I distinguished between the nonconceptual experiencing itself as nonconceptual, and the nonconceptual experiencing the conceptual. I can be the Absolute experiencing myself as the Absolute, in which case there is no consciousness of myself nor of anything. But I could be the Absolute experiencing the world. Then I am not purely the Absolute; then the level of the Nous is present with the Absolute, so there is discriminating awareness. Only because there is Nous do I know there is an Absolute. Without discriminating awareness I would never know the Absolute; I would just be the Absolute without knowing that I am the Absolute. So in some sense, in order to know it you have to get out of it. For awareness of the Absolute, another dimension needs to arise, which is the dimension of the nonconceptual, which is pure awareness. As the nonconceptual, you can become aware of the Absolute. You realize that the Absolute is simply a bigger abyss than you have seen.

The Abyss Separating Being from the Ego Membrane

As we have noted, however, secondary autonomy does reduce the defensive function of ego, making it more harmonious within, more sensitive to external reality, more emotionally objective and more open to profound states. This makes sense from the perspective of Being in that the personality based on identification is like a surface membrane over the reality of Being. The more normal is the structure, the more consistent and homogeneous the ego membrane. Greater integration and maturity allows this membrane to become thinner and more permeable to the reality of Being, which accounts for the depth and objectivity of mature behavior. Some spiritual work schools, in fact, do not accept students unless they approximate such ideal ego development. For it is understood that it is easier for such individuals to cross over to the realm of Being, and that the crossover will be the next natural developmental step, which these individuals will spontaneously desire. This does not mean that this crossover is a matter of the ego membrane becoming thinner and thinner until it directly, concretely allows the reality of Being. A more accurate way of seeing it is that there is an abyss separating Being from the ego membrane. This abyss is the experience of the absence of Being. To cross it means completely and finally abandoning the identifications of ego.

The Supreme Betrayal and the Beginning of Endless Suffering

The narcissistic wound that arises here is for not being seen as the source of everything, of all knowledge, understanding, love, value, preciousness, meaning, and existence. We are hurt about not being recognized as this supreme manifestation of Being, the one most worthy of love and admiration. It also reflects our own incapacity to see our true pure nature, as we are not yet realized at this level. At this juncture, we understand that believing that we are separate individuals, or autonomous entities, rather than recognizing ourselves as the oneness of all existence, creates alienation from pure Being. To take oneself as ultimately a separate and autonomous person creates the supreme wound, which appears as an abyss, an abysmal chasm, that alienates us not only from our true nature, but also from everybody and everything. This is the supreme betrayal, and the beginning of endless suffering. We also understand, here, the cosmic shell as the experience of the world devoid of its true nature, the infinite pure Being. Looking through the representational world, we see only a world devoid of Being.

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