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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Ambition?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Ambition

All Need or Movement Toward a Goal is Ambition, which is Based on Ego Activity

I recognize that all need or movement towards a goal, even towards creativity, is ambition, which is based on ego activity. Creativity can be spontaneous unfoldment, but when it is, it happens on its own. I do not need to move towards it, want it, or concern myself with it. As the absolute, all that appears to awareness is my creativity, without my lifting a finger. I am the source of all that arises. The recognition of being devoid of ambition deepens the peace and settling of everyday consciousness. This settling becomes a feeling of contentment. The soul, the individual consciousness, begins to feel like a blobby pearl, soft and pliant, relaxed and settled. It is like being a liquid pearl, suffused with the stillness of peace, and empty of reaction or drive toward activity. Sometimes this feels like being a relaxed old man.

Beyond ambition, beyond attainment, is home.

Contentment, without content; peace, uncaused.

The peace and contentment develop into a sense of fulfillment, as the consciousness attains a nectary fluidity, with the sweetness and aroma of apricot nectar. I feel a sense of maturation, not in terms of capacity, but in the sense of ripening. The fulfilled consciousness becomes a ripening when I experience the soul not only pliant and nectary, but full and sweet, just like a very ripe apricot. The whole soul becomes a heart, a heart full of the most flavorful apricot nectar.

As Long as You try to Actualize an Ideal there is Suffering

S: The Work is tricky that way. We get involved in idealizing consciousness.

AH: Yes, but it works with that, too. You become more conscious, you realize Essence, your heart is open. And you discover that you’re just as miserable as before. “What happened?! I was enlightened yesterday!” “What’s this? I was God-realized, I was enlightened, and look at me now!” It’s the same thing. Ambition is ambition. And then you realize, even enlightenment doesn’t do it. It’s not it. It’s not the point. The point is not to worry and be happy. There isn’t really even a point to get to—it’s just that the centers are functioning harmoniously. In time you realize that as long as you live according to any ideal, as long as you try to actualize any ideal, there is suffering. And you learn this through the process of suffering more than anything else. If you suffer deeply and with understanding, you will mature, you’ll be a ripe human being. A ripe human being is a human being who feels deeply that at the deepest level there is happiness and harmony, but who knows at the same time, that desiring happiness and harmony cuts him off from reality. Because he is mature and he knows this principle, he stops desiring. A mature human being knows that he wants happiness more than anything else, and he also knows that by wanting it, he will not get it; so he acts accordingly. Another person might know these things, but not be mature enough to act accordingly. Being mature means that your knowledge allows you to actually stop pursuing your fantasies. But it takes a lot of disappointments to allow that to happen.

Coming to the End of Ambition

A few months after the realization of the absolute mystery of Being, I become aware of a curious process. This development is very subtle; it has been unfolding for some weeks before I realize that it is a specific process. It manifests as subtle and fleeting feelings, insights and perceptions. The first conscious intimation of this development is a sense that I am at the end of a stage of my life. I have done what I had set out to do, in inner realization, work, and personal life. There is a feeling of completion, and a sense that I have no more ambition. Then there appears a large gap, like a big empty space in my life. I am aware of an opening for something new to emerge. The gap is both in time and space, free to be occupied. Arriving home, and coming to the end of ambition, have left me with a great deal of time and space. I realize now how much space and time seeking takes, whether or not one is conscious of this seeking. The incessant seeking crowds the mind and life with a universe of desiring and discontent, and with a multitude of strategies for fulfillment. I decide not to try to determine what should happen next, not even to figure out what it might be, but to allow the guidance of Being to unfold my life. This guidance has taken me to my essential home, and it will surely let me know what will come next. In any case, this guidance is actually nothing but the insightful discrimination of what Being is presenting in experience.

Feeling the Restfulness of No Searching and the Peace of No Ambition

The Self-realization of the Absolute is the end of the search, the satisfaction of the soul’s longing. But it is not the completion of the inner journey. As the process continues, we continue to realize the absolute as our ipseity and the true nature of all manifestation. The soul becomes established in the absolute mystery, where its crystalline emptiness becomes the unchanging field of all her experience. For some, this station lasts for many years, and for others only a few days. At some point, the soul realizes that she cannot simply remain at the transcendent summit of Reality; her unfoldment naturally takes her on another journey, the journey of descent. Here the soul begins to have confusing experiences; she has known herself as the absolute ipseity, but begins to experience herself in more limited ways. Issues and limitations arise that do not make sense for her station of absolute realization, yet at the same time she recognizes that some profound learning is occurring. She has been content to remain at home in her nature, feeling the restfulness of no searching and the peace of no ambition. She is now finally melted in the arms of her Beloved, totally annihilated into its velvety emptiness. She has gone through the whole cycle of discovery and development, and now she is back at the origin of all manifestation, as the mysterious and luminous mystery at the root of all. She desires nothing, not even the exploration of the mysteries of Being. She is happy and satisfied with the spontaneous life of freedom, with no care and no burden.

Letting Go of Ambition

Gradually, the understanding emerges that the interest in old age is an expression of appreciating it as a time of completion, of finishing with one’s life-projects, of ripening. I see old age as a time, or condition, of relaxation and settling, and of not wanting anything, not needing to do anything. It is a time of mental rest, of physical relaxation, of letting go of ambition. Desires have exhausted themselves, and plans have been either completed or abandoned. I feel a longing for this condition, which my mind associates with old age. This longing is accompanied by viewing life in a new light. I see life, with its excitement, projects and ambitions, as a wound-up spring which unwinds slowly. The excitement and ambition are expressions of the tension of this wound-up spring, impelling us, driving us, relentlessly and mercilessly. Old age means to me that the spring is all unwound; no more tension and no more drive, just a mellow settling. There is appreciation of this settling, of this mellowness. 

Shaping Ambition

For instance, a person might have the objective of becoming a painter. Becoming a painter will involve many things he has never experienced, but the ambition is shaped by the way he believes he will feel, the responses he thinks he will receive, the impressions and influences he expects to make on others, and so on. These are determined or informed by his past experience. His objective and the values he attaches to it become an ideal. He then experiences hope, which initiates desire for the ideal. This desire is an important element in psychological activity. It is the actual manifestation of the psychological drive. In other words, ambitious striving includes desire, which implies hope. Without hope there would be no desire. Both hope for a future objective and desire for this objective imply that we experience the condition of the self at the present as not completely satisfactory. This discontent, subtle or gross, conscious or unconscious, constitutes a rejection of the present state of the self. When there is complete acceptance of one’s present state, there is no desire and no need for hope. The subtle current of rejecting activity is based on the images which we have of ourselves, and the ideal images that we are trying to actualize. This condition can be conscious, but it is usually an unconscious and implicit undercurrent of the psychological activity of the self. 

The Condition of No Ambition for Anything at All

The Inner Journey home is many things. It is a journey of adventure and discovery; a journey of maturation and completeness; a journey of truth and authenticity; a journey of love, devotion, passion, and union; a journey of compassion, giving, and service. It is a journey of realization of the nature of soul and reality; a journey of insight and learning; a journey of fulfillment of life and human potential; a journey of liberation from suffering and limitation; and a journey of inner freedom. Yet, all these reflect one thing, and only one thing. For the journey is essentially a journey home, to our original primordial ground and source. To be at home is to be whole, contented, and at peace, for no reason but that we are abiding in our true nature. There is no need then, no restlessness, no stirring of dissatisfaction, no ambition for anything at all. Abiding at home, we can live any life that fits our circumstances, and it will be a life redeemed, where one’s fulfillment is identical with serving others. Such connection can take us through the vicissitudes of life and its unavoidable adversities, with grace, dignity, and maturity. 

To Live According to Ambitions and Ideals is the Normal Manifestation of the Disconnection from the Dynamism of Being

Action based on ambitions and ideals disconnects the self from its innate dynamism. The activity is bound to be somewhat unauthentic, for regardless of how near the ideals and ambitions are to the actual condition of the self, they cannot be identical to its condition in the moment because they are based on structures most likely laid down in early childhood. In fact, activity based on ambitions and ideals is a kind of substitute activity, reflecting our inability to contact the real dynamism at the center of the self. This is the sense in which the tension arc of ideals and ambitions is a false dynamism, an impostor that takes the place of the real thing. The unrealistic ideals and grandiose ambitions of narcissistic individuals are exaggerated manifestations of the fundamental narcissistic condition. So we can see that in narcissistic pathology, just as the unrealistic self-images and ideal images are distorted and exaggerated manifestations of fundamental narcissism, which is disconnection from the core of the self, the tension arc of the unrealistic ambitions and ideals is the distorted and exaggerated manifestation of the disconnection from the dynamism of Being. Our discussion indicates, also, that the normal tension arc of ambitions and ideals is the normal manifestation of the disconnection from the dynamism of Being. From this perspective, to live according to ambitions and ideals is the very essence of the narcissistic condition; this is a manifestation of the self that is not being itself. Self-centered individuals are typically ambitious, and extreme ambition is usually considered narcissistic. Ambition has never been considered a true spiritual quality; it is acceptable in modern society primarily because of the increasing materialism of the time. The prevalence of personal ambition is possibly a manifestation of the narcissism typical of contemporary society. 

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