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Avoidance / Avoiding

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Avoidance / Avoiding?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Avoidance / Avoiding

Anything that Helps You Avoid Pain is Valued. That Means that All Your Defense Mechanisms and Resistances are Valued Highly

Let’s talk about what we usually take the word “value” to mean. For most people, value is the value of the superego. What the superego approves of, you take to be of value. What the superego disapproves of, you take to be not valuable. So value generally depends a lot on our unconscious, our conditioning, and our beliefs. What we give value to at the beginning of the Work depends on our unconscious motivations. One of you said the things that were important to you before don’t seem that important now, so the things that you value have changed. Earlier, you might have valued something because of a certain unconscious deficiency you feel. If you didn’t feel beautiful, for example, you might have placed a lot of value on having more beauty. I’m not saying that beauty is not valuable, but in this case, valuing it comes from a sense of deficiency. That’s how we usually approach value. Or perhaps we value the things that gave us pleasure in childhood. From this perspective, what governs most valuing is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Anything that helps you avoid pain is valued. That means that all your defense mechanisms and resistances are valued highly. At the beginning of the Work, you put up a big fight to keep them. You’ve spent years building up all your ideas of how you are, how you should be, and how the world should be. These long-cherished dreams are based mostly on experiences of deficiency in childhood. As you understand yourself more through the Work and as you see what is really of value to you, these desires and expectations will change.

Behavior that Becomes Generalized and You End Up Avoiding Everything in Your Attempt to Avoid Seeing or Experiencing Any Difficulty, Pain or Hurt

The specific reaction in response to this painful sense of deficient isolation is to withdraw in an attempt to hide from reality. If you feel small, deficient, and isolated, it means that you feel inadequate to deal with reality, so the reaction of this ennea-type is to want to avoid dealing with reality, to hide from it, to try to separate, withdraw, run away from it, to break off contact—basically to not stay in touch with whatever reality is presenting. This reaction again implies the delusion of separateness, since you have to believe you are a separate individual to believe that you can hide or withdraw from reality. What you most want to get away from is the state of deficiency itself. But when you withdraw and you don’t let yourself experience it, this behavior becomes generalized, and you end up avoiding everything in your attempt to avoid seeing or experiencing any difficulty, pain, or hurt. This reaction escalates into the personality complex of ennea-type Five, with its characteristic emotional withdrawal and deadness, and the dissociation of mind from body. So the core of this ennea-type is a state of impoverishment and the schizoid defense of withdrawal and avoidance. This constellation is one of the principles of ego, part of its internal structure and logic; you don’t have to be an ennea-type Five to experience it. As we have said, we each have all the ennea-types within us since they are the nine differentiated manifestations of ego, although one type will be more pronounced in each of us.

Facets of Unity, pg. 108

Defenses Seen to Function as the Avoidance of Feeling Defenseless

Recognizing the citadel as the defender of essence challenges the defenses of the ego-self, which then brings up her fears and terrors, ultimately the fear of death. Specifically, all these defenses are seen to function as the avoidance of feeling defenseless. Inquiring into the defenses reveals the ego-self’s underlying deficiency and inadequacy, for without the inner essential resources it has no real capacities. This universal ego deficiency turns out to be one of the main issues that the citadel addresses and resolves, with the wisdom that the soul is inherently deficient and truly incapable without her connection to her essential resources. Hence her only real recourse for supporting herself is living her life in a way that harmonizes with the truth her true nature has been revealing to her. Right living becomes the invitation for the citadel to take its place in the inner economy of the soul, as the essential defender of the truth and its realization. This again makes it possible for the soul to let go of her ego defenses and be open to the truth as the master of her existence and life. We discuss the citadel, especially in relation to the issue of ego deficiency, in some detail in The Pearl Beyond Price, chapters 29–31.

Desire for Pleasure, which Entails Avoidance of Pain, Involves Rejecting the Present Situation and Hoping for a Better One

Some teachings see ego in terms of its activity, which is primarily desire for future pleasure. This desire for pleasure, which entails avoidance of pain, involves rejecting the present situation and hoping for a better one. The cycle of ego activity is thus rejection, hope and desire; it is based on memories of past experience, and is directed towards the future. Thus ego, which here is an activity which resists the present moment, is clearly antithetical to the perception of the nature of reality, which involves being in the moment. Ego then is seen as antithetical to Being, and therefore for Being, which is the Supreme Reality, to be perceived and lived, ego activity must cease. Other perspectives see ego as the belief in a self or entity. The activity of ego is taken to be the activity of a person—an entity—who has desires and hopes. So here ego is seen as taking oneself to be a person, separate from the rest of the universe, who was born to a set of parents, who was a child, who grew up, in time, to his present status of an adult who has his hopes, desires and goals. The belief that this separate individuality is one’s identity, one’s self, is seen by some teachings as the main barrier to the ultimate reality, which is an impersonal and universal Being, or alternately the Void. Enlightenment then is the insight that one is not really this separate individual, a realization which is equivalent to the state of unqualified Being, or nonconceptual Reality.

Either Attachment to or Avoidance of Certain Concepts Renders Our Mental World Rigid and Closed

Experiences of physical and emotional pleasure and pain greatly influence the formation of the concepts of self and world, and either attachment to or avoidance of certain concepts renders our mental world rigid and closed. An example of this is the concept of sex or gender: We learn in the course of growing up that we “are” a girl or a boy. The notion that one is a girl or a boy is always fraught with various value judgments, ideas of what male and female or masculine and feminine mean, and related beliefs about oneself and others, which may be very far from objective. So even though there are objective differences in the noetic form of female and the noetic form of male, the concept of male or female will for any given person be deeply subjective; it will be a personal concept, involving all kinds of judgments, reactions, opinions, prejudices, and associations. These reactions and associations then limit our capacity to see clearly even what we are personally believing at any given moment about reality, and tend to make the rigidness of our reified concepts even greater. In turn, as we have seen, this rigidness and opacity about ourselves and the world separates us further from the truth of who we are, and thus is the source of our suffering and alienation.

For Truth to Manifest You Don’t Need Effort. Truth is What is There. You Need Only Stop the Effort of Avoiding Seeing What is There

We are seeing that our exploration of will has led us back to the perspective of truth. The truth will set you free. Will means staying with the truth. Will functions in the service of truth. And for truth to manifest you don’t need effort. Truth is what is there. You need only stop the effort of avoiding seeing what is there. You are always exerting effort, using your will to push something away, to make things different. This is how you stop your will. This understanding is why many spiritual disciplines state that you must surrender your will. It is true that you must surrender what most people think of as will. But what is usually not seen is that true will exists, and that it is the same thing that most people call surrender. But it’s not a sense of surrender to someone or something else. You are surrendering to the truth. What other choice do you have? However painful or pleasurable the experience happens to be, if you stay with it you might discover a deeper truth in it. Actually, when you look fully, squarely at the situation, you see that you have no alternative, except running away. You either experience what is so, or you try to avoid it. And trying to avoid it can only lead to suffering. You cannot change how you feel in the moment. Trying to change what you feel in the moment is like looking at a tree which has green leaves, and saying, “No, I like yellow leaves, I want it to have yellow leaves.” But it’s not the season for yellow leaves, and you can’t change that. You could paint the tree and cover up the green leaves; this covering up is what we do all the time with our feelings. But we can’t really change the nature of things.

In the Usual Mental Relationship – which is Avoiding Contact – You Will Notice that You Avoid Contact if there is No Experience of Love

The human being is nothing but the manifestation of the heart of God. So if there were no love we would not exist. Love is that basic. The heart is that basic. All that you see is a manifestation of love. When you actually, finally, let yourself see it, you see that you are a particularization of loving energy. Your atoms are made out of love. Your body is made out of love. Your mind is made out of love. Your surroundings are made out of love. Everything is made out of love. If there were no love, you would see nothing. Beyond love there is just God. Out of that love that manifests from the God state, or from the supreme reality, emerge all of the particularizations. We are the final fruit of that particularization, and because we are the final fruit, we have the microcosmic heart that reflects the universal heart. Just as the universal heart does not judge or reject negative things in the world, the personal heart, the human heart, also has the capacity to do that, not to reject, not to judge, to continue loving, to continue enjoying regardless of what happens. So in the usual mental relationship—which is avoiding contact—you will notice that you avoid contact if there is no experience of love. If you are in complete contact, you will perceive some love there. Being in contact does not mean you will experience only love. To be really in contact means to be in contact with whatever is there, all of it in all of its dimensions. If you feel that you are in contact, but you feel only pure frustration or anger or hurt or hatred, you realize that there is something there that you are not in contact with. You are avoiding something: your heart. Your heart is always there; you cannot lose your heart. So where does it go? Sometimes you do not see it, do not perceive it; you do not feel it, but it is there. It cannot go. How could it go? There is no such thing as your heart being gone, or your being will disappear. To say that your heart will go is like saying that you can continue living without a brain. If the heart completely goes, you will not be able to live. There is no life. You will not be able to feel anything.

Our Minds are Clever at Avoiding the Feeling that Arises at the End of Anything Because there is a Terror of Having No Supporting Mirrors to Give us Meaning

It is not easy to look clearly and sincerely at ourselves. Most of us don’t even know what is difficult about it. We just find our minds dodging in all directions to avoid it. I break up with my boyfriend, and suddenly I’m eating. If I’m not eating, I’m doing my paintings that I haven’t touched in ten years. Or I am just divorced or retired, so I’m going to travel for a year or so to see what’s there in life. Now this may be a great idea, but what is motivating you? Our minds are clever at avoiding the feeling that arises at the end of anything, because there is a terror of having no supporting mirrors to give us meaning. Just to exist as we are brings up a big fear of the emptiness. There is usually a fear that we don’t really have any Essence, and that we don’t have an identity. We may believe that the emptiness is all there is. This might be reinforced by early childhood experiences involving a panic about being different from others, about being different from our parents, for example, which creates a kind of self-consciousness.

Personality’s Fear and Avoidance of Death Creates a Gap (a Hole) in Awareness Around which the Personality is Structured

This deepest hole in the personality, around which its identity is structured, is the avoidance (the loss) of the awareness of death. More accurately, the personality does not understand death, and it avoids the perception of its possibility and its existence. It is terrified of death because it means its own annihilation. We are not referring here to the death of the body, although the personality cannot conceive of any other kind of death because of its identification with the body. We mean the experience of nonexistence, which is the absence of experience. But this nonexistence is the deepest nature of the personality, its very center. The personality's fear and avoidance of death creates a gap (a hole) in awareness around which the personality is structured. This gap is the kernel of the unconscious. Unconsciousness develops as the personality develops and is structured around this hole. Unconsciousness is ultimately unconsciousness of death, which is necessitated by the lack of understanding of what death is. So we can say that inner development is the expansion of awareness. Complete awareness is just that. It excludes nothing, not even the direct awareness of nonexistence (death). The Work is the expansion of awareness until the personality becomes aware of its most hidden secret, death. When this is revealed, there will be no fear in the personality; fears start dropping away. And then the deepest contraction and tension in the personality, which is the avoidance of the awareness of death, is loosened. This leads to the loosening of identification with the personality, because the identification is based on this deepest contraction within the personality. This in turn helps the essence to attain its true position as master.

The Feeling of Being Fake . . . . . . this Hole is there in Our Depths and We are Constantly Avoiding It

When you recognize the feeling of being fake without trying to change it, and when you do not defend against it, you will feel complete nothingness, worthlessness, complete lack of support, complete helplessness. It is not that our process creates it; no, we have to go through it because it is there. This hole is there in our depths, and we are constantly avoiding it. When we allow ourselves to experience it, we might learn that emptiness is nothing, only peacefulness, and that the chasm is nothing but a boundless peace. It is an emptiness, and it doesn’t have a selfhood, but it is not as scary as we imagine. One reason we are so frightened of it is that it is experienced as a kind of death. Even though you feel terrified of death before it happens, when you experience death, you will see that death is a resting place, a transition. But we confront it only when we must; no one confronts this issue at his leisure. Nobody explores it out of a little curiosity. No, we have to confront this chasm from dire necessity, when we know that life is not worth it all. That’s when you totally let go to the experience and know the meaning of death. And when you know the meaning of death, you know the meaning of life. This death is actually the death of the cork we talked about; it’s the absence of all the attempts to fill the hole, all the fantasies of what will really do it for you. If you allow this letting go to happen, then there will be the beginning of a rebirth. You will begin to discover who you are intrinsically, your significance, and the point to your life. Existence and preciousness now are not caused in any way. We are the causeless reality which we have to experience ourselves. Just being oneself, life has meaning. You will be the meaning. Your true preciousness is the meaning.

The Personality is Built on the Pleasure Principle, on Avoidance of Pain and Going Toward Pleasure

If you look at your experience at this very moment, you’ll find that most likely you’re either in some kind of painful state that you don’t want to experience or in something good you do want to experience and hold on to. That very attitude is bound to bring pain and suffering. The very core of the personality, what makes the personality a personality, is that state of attachment that brings with it the state of anguish. This state of attachment and anguish is a result of the attitude of avoiding pain and going after pleasure and, also, is the very movement away from pain and toward pleasure. Indulging in that attitude perpetuates and strengthens the personality. It can’t help but do that. That attitude is food for suffering—and for your personality. The personality doesn’t know what else to do if it doesn’t do these two things. “If I don’t try to get something good or get away from something bad, what else is there?” It’s true that the personality doesn’t know what else to do because the personality is based on this very attitude. The personality develops because of this attitude. Freud called it “the pleasure principle.” The personality is built on the pleasure principle, on avoidance of pain and going towards pleasure. These attitudes go all the way through your personality, through all the levels of your consciousness. It can be a very subtle thing. It is not a matter of saying, “Okay, now I’m not going to avoid pain, and I’m not going to go towards pleasure.” If you look carefully at what you would want from this policy, you’ll find that you want some kind of pleasure, probably some kind of release. Some people want to use this strategy to avoid pain. So there is a movement, a desire, which is based on the lack of complete welcoming and accepting of what is there, of what our consciousness is presented with.

To Be Pure Means that You Have No Preferences, but that Does Not Mean that You Have Preferences that You are Avoiding

We see here that the concepts of poverty and purity are connected to letting go of ego, leaving behind the self that believes in impure or pure. To be pure means not to believe anything. Not to believe anything does not mean you have beliefs that are suppressed. To be pure means to have no reified discriminations, but that does not mean that you have discriminations that are repressed. To be pure means that you have no preferences, but that does not mean that you have preferences that you are avoiding. The detached person who does not feel anything, who does not feel his preferences, is not what we mean by pure. Such a person has many impurities, attachments, and discriminations, but is not willing to experience them. The concepts of poverty and purity appeal to our hearts. They inform the path of the heart. They are things that you can actually feel. You can feel the poverty and the purity. Ultimately, poverty means letting go of all havingness. The final havingness is the self. Purity ultimately means letting go of all attachments, all preferences, all prejudices and personal beliefs and positions. When there is complete poverty, there is no self, no you; there is total purity.

When You are Being Your True Self, You are Not Looking for Pleasure, You are Not Avoiding Pain

When you are being your true self, you are not looking for pleasure, you are not avoiding pain, you are not trying to get approval, nor trying to get someone to admire you. You are not out to criticize someone else, or to defeat someone else, and you are not out to gain fame or power. You are naturally and spontaneously living as a genuine human being who has respect and consideration for other human beings. You are not trying to love someone; you are just loving, without even thinking about it. If you are a mature person, it is second nature that you are loving, that you are giving, that you are respectful, and considerate, and that you behave and act in a refined and mature human manner. To make these values and manifestations second nature, you have to put conscious effort into them. You have to make it your work. This does not mean that you have to be solemn and grim and serious; that is not the point. The point is to act with sincerity and to put conscious effort into being aware of yourself and others in order to treat yourself and others with respect. This also does not mean giving up pleasure; it means not seeking pleasure. It does not mean creating pain; it means not avoiding pain. Life is to be lived with the integrity, dignity, and self-respect of a person who knows that the point is not whether something feels good or bad. The point is not to lose your self-respect, not to abandon your true reality, the highest and purest elements within you. Regardless of how wonderful things are and regardless of how painful things are, your self-respect is strong enough to maintain your sense of integrity. That integrity does not mean having your way, or winning or succeeding or anything like that. It means being sincere about who you are and acting in ways that reflect your essential human values.

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