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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Barriers?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Barriers

Overcoming Barriers will Integrate Realization into Action

However, when you put forth the effort to be present, to be aware, to be essentially in action, the awareness becomes the understanding part, and the presence, the Being part of action. You will encounter difficulties and barriers to being present and aware in action. Learning how to deal with these barriers is the actual Work. From this come observations and issues that you might have to work on for some time afterwards. Overcoming these barriers, through continual practice of presence and understanding, will integrate your realization into action. You might not be able to actually do it in one Sunday afternoon, but you might start becoming aware of the difficulties, the barriers, your preferences, and your prejudices, and of how your imbalance shows and presents itself.

Attachment to the Channels of our Senses

The attachment to the channels of our senses is a major barrier against the experience of the nonconceptual. Understanding how the senses work will help to clarify the difficulty. This understanding is not available to someone who has not experienced anything beyond the senses, or who might not even think about such a possibility. But when you experience things without using your physical senses, you begin to see how your physical senses tend to prejudice you in a certain direction. To be imprisoned by our physical senses means to have the conviction that the information about the world that comes from our physical senses is actually what exists, and to take the information that comes through the channels of the senses as complete information about reality. In other words, it is believing that what we see is what we get. Obviously, all of us are to some extent imprisoned in this way. But we don’t believe that we are imprisoned. What we believe is that the world that we apprehend through the physical senses is the world as it is. We believe that what exists is what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

Barriers Against the Experience of Essence in the Therapeutic Situation

The barriers against the experience of essence in the therapeutic situation are many. In the case of the merging essence we can see one specific but important barrier. The merging essence melts away ego boundaries and allows a condition of merging to take place. So if the merging essence arises in the patient, he will automatically and unconsciously merge with the energy system of the therapist. Since the therapist has his own barriers and fears regarding this essential aspect, the patient will experience them. He also will experience them as his own because of the merging condition, and this will block his experience again. In this circumstance, the barriers of the therapist serve to repress the essence of the patient, without either of them knowing it.

Feeling Clearly, Without any Sense of Condemnation, “I am the Barrier”

It finally dawns on the student that the totality of his personal experience still has the same old flavor, and because of this ego boundaries and self keep being reinstated. This unchanged quality begins to feel undesirable; one feels clearly, without any sense of condemnation, “I am the barrier.” The further exploration of this overall issue takes the student through the process of realization of the Essential Self, a subject we will discuss in detail in a future book. Part of this realization is the capacity to disengage from ego activity, which is now experienced as the activity of the person as a whole. One learns finally, then, that the realization of the Personal Essence is not final until one goes completely beyond the personal life. This is because ego boundaries and sense of self do not stand on their own but are supported by the personal life and personal history. This insight usually appears as a perception that one is lost in one’s personal life. One has the strong impression of being imprisoned by everything in one’s life, desirable and undesirable factors alike. The student is not usually aware that the impersonal aspect is approaching; he is simply experiencing more and more that the fact of being a person is a barrier to freedom and harmony. He perceives that the totality of his person, including his personal life and history, has not changed. This makes him aware that he is lost, enmeshed in his personal life, that he is so involved in his relationships, work interests, house, family, friends, projects, activities, plans, ideas, thoughts, preferences, prejudices, everything that is the content of his life, that he is trapped by it, and hopelessly limited within it.

Guidance Can Create Barriers for Us so that We Pay Attention and Learn

Guidance works in many ways, not always by giving you flashes of insight and understanding about your situation. If you need to learn about being vulnerable, for instance, it will place you in a situation where you get threatened. The manifestation of relevant situations is one effective method of the guidance. So, as in this example, if a threatening situation shows up, and you believe that you need to learn to not become vulnerable, then you are not reading the guidance correctly; you are reading it according to your filters and obscurations. Guidance, then, can create barriers for us so that we pay attention and learn. But in a deeper sense, it doesn’t need to create barriers, because the barriers already exist in the obscurations that distort our perceptions. So what we call barriers, or difficult experiences and situations, are nothing but the optimizing force coming through our filters and manifesting as a certain kind of experience that we find painful and perceive to be a barrier. If we understand the meaning of that experience, however, we have recognized the guidance.

Inner Psychological Activity is the Primary Barrier to Simply Being

From this perspective, we come to understand that we may support ourselves to simply be not by doing anything, but by letting go of all inner activities towards that aim. The dimension of the Diamond Will provides guidance about the various barriers to this wisdom. It reveals, by its mere presence, how inner psychological activity is the primary barrier to simply being. It challenges all the false supports, all the activities and mechanisms that the self utilizes to gain support. The understanding that arises as we integrate this dimension of experience attains great subtlety and profundity. It includes the understanding of mental functioning and no-mind, timelessness, surrender and nondoing, and the ending of the search.

The Animal Soul is the Primary Barrier to Spiritual Development

In reality, the animal soul is the primary barrier to spiritual development. It’s difficult for us to see this because we’re usually not dealing with a healthy animal soul; we’re dealing with a damaged, distorted, or arrested one. So we’re always dealing with the distortions. We don’t know how big a barrier the animal soul itself is because we’re busy trying to turn it into a more “normal” animal soul by freeing the instincts that were repressed in childhood. That in itself is not easy. But even if you can accomplish that, you recognize, “Oh, what did I do? I thought this animal was going to turn out nice and cute.” You didn’t know it was going to become a huge hungry monster that declares: “Good! Now I am strong, I have my energy. Now I can get what I want!” It’s not as if the animal soul never feels peace and happiness. It does—when it has gotten what it wants. The animal soul becomes beautiful and graceful—but only after gratification of its desires. There’s no freedom in this.

The Barrier of Making Reality Mental, Taking Concepts to be Reality

I have discussed before that there are two complementary approaches in our work, the psychodynamic and the phenomenological. Psychodynamic work deals with personal issues that are generally determined by conditioned patterns from early childhood. The phenomenological approach involves exploration of perception and cognition. This means confronting and seeing through limitations on our awareness that are not dependent on personal issues. The phenomenological barriers ultimately reduce to the barrier of making reality mental, taking concepts to be truth, to be reality. All phenomenological issues finally dissolve into a consideration of conceptual reality. Psychodynamic issues, the personal patterns, are based upon images, memories, and events (and constellations of these) but each image, memory, or event is based on words or concepts.

The Barriers that Stop You from Being

What stops you from being, from being present, is nothing but your hope for the future. Hoping for something to be different keeps you looking for some future fantasy. But it is a mirage; you’ll never get there. The mirage stops you from seeing the obvious, the preciousness of Being. It is a great distortion, a great misunderstanding of what will fulfill you. When you follow the mirage you are rejecting yourself. Of course, when you let yourself be, as you let yourself sink into reality, you might experience unpleasant things; but these are simply the barriers that stop you from being. In time, with presence, they will dissolve. You might experience discomfort, fear, hurt, various negative feelings. These are the things that you’re trying to avoid by not being here. But they are just accumulations of what has been swept under the rug of unconsciousness; they are not you. They are what you confront on the way to beingness. When we acknowledge and understand these feelings while being present, they dissolve, because the idea of ourselves that they are based on is not real.

The Barriers, the Boundary and the Sense of Separateness are Composed of all the Experiences of the Past

Your ideas, actions, desires, judgments, rejections, acceptances and preferences are all attached to this sense of identity. It’s what you call your self, and it’s what you are most attached to. You think, “That’s me.” But if you are that, then you can’t be anything else. You can’t be essence, you can’t be love, any kind of love. You can’t be will, you can’t be any of those as long as you are attached to that quality which you think is you. Your identity is something you feel is constant, always there. You recognize yourself with it. When you know your flavor, what you believe makes you be you, then it is possible to let go of it. Then you don’t have to be any particular way. As long as there is attachment to the self, to the identity, you don’t allow what’s really there to be there. The barriers, the boundary and the sense of separateness are composed of all the experiences of the past. These experiences of the past form the base of a pyramid. The identity is the tip of the pyramid. The tip of the pyramid disappears when you start to see that the base of the pyramid is made up only of ideas in your mind. When the identity and the separateness are gone, then it is possible to experience universal love, to understand reality as love, to understand God as love. Universal love is the basic energy of the universe. It is there all the time.

The Clarity of Pure Being Illuminates the Barriers Against Realizing It, Gross and Subtle

More than all the discourses in the world, the clarity of this pure being illuminates the barriers against realizing it, gross and subtle. We begin to see that locating ourselves anywhere within the self-structure separates us from this simplicity. Any motive, any hope, any desire, any ego movement means identifying with the structured self, with the ego-self. Thus, any movement of rejection, choice, desire, motive, hope, preference, holding, grasping, trying or effort will separate the self from this simplicity of being. The ego-self is always trying to approach the simplicity of realizing the Essential Identity (the point), but the more it tries, the farther it moves away from it. However, as the point, the student is aware of the ego self as if from the outside. It becomes possible for the first time to see and experience the normal self, the ego-self, from a vantage point totally outside of it. The student begins to have glimpses of the person he has been experiencing himself as, seen throughout his life, trying to free himself. He sees his virtues and vices, and understands—maybe for the first time—that this person has been doing all he could. He sees his purity, his effort, his confusion, his frustration, his dedication and his laziness, his sincerity and his blindness, his anger and his pain, his fear and his anxiety. As the pure presence of awareness and light, he perceives his ego-self as if in the third person. He recognizes himself as a compassionate and loving center, while the person who is the ego-self is doing everything in his power to approach and be this center. He sees how these attempts are inherently frustrating because they take him away from the true center.

The Freest Attitude for the Process of Growth is the Attitude of Complete Allowing

What I’m doing is opening your mind so you can allow and perceive a certain attitude, a certain way of being. The freest attitude for the process of growth is the attitude of complete allowing. You are not passive, and you are not active. You are allowing. We will see that the process unfolds from one thing to the next. The process emerges if you give it the space to emerge. Your most important work is to understand the barriers you have against the unfolding. Wherever you are, you look at yourself and understand what your barriers are, what the things are that are stopping you from fully experiencing what is there. When you do experience fully, you don’t try to hold on to the experience or determine what direction it will take. You just experience it fully and that’s it. Your mind is open for anything to happen. This requires a certain trust in the process, a trust that there is such a thing as transformation, and that it will be good, that it will be the best thing. The attitude of trusting without knowing what will happen, of allowing things to emerge, is needed at all levels and stages of the process of inner development. It applies to the external level, the emotional level, the subtle levels, essential levels, all of them. Any idea of how things are going to be will only work as a boundary.

The Issues and the Conflicts of the Personality are Not Haphazard or Meaningless

In most spiritual teachings, the personality is seen as a barrier, the problem, the devil that needs to be slain. Only then, it is believed, can realization occur. It is true that a seeker's personality or his history is a large part of his problem, but it is so only from the perspective of a consciousness that he still cannot relate to. According to his own perception, the experiences of the personality are real, solid, and of great import. Rejecting or ignoring the personality will only tighten the knots that imprison the student. Also, the issues and the conflicts of the personality are not haphazard or meaningless; they are not simply barriers to realization and liberation. They are related in specific ways to the states of realization themselves, to the states of being. To gain a more precise understanding of the situation, and to personalize the teaching, we need first to understand the personality and how it is related to the free reality, the being—what we call essence. Our true nature, our essence, what is real and unconditioned in the human being, does not exist in some mysterious realm, waiting for us to attack and slay the inimical ego, and then show up in glory. Our being, our essence, the divine within us, is connected to our personality in a very complex and intimate way.

Understanding Sees the Barriers, Sees the False, and Reveals the Truth

So, understanding sees the barriers, sees the false, and reveals the truth. It brings a sense of the completion of something, completing the gestalt. Then it brings in the unfoldment. One of the frustrating aspects of our work here is that when you understand something, it seems to change to something else. People work on something and get to a certain essential state; they experience their strength, for example. It feels wonderful, powerful, strong, expansive and all that. The person wants to feel it all the time. But our method is understanding, and understanding will lead us into whatever is next for us. So if a person comes to experience his strength and completely understands it, he’s likely to wake up one morning and find that it’s gone. What happened? It’s not there that much. Although the unfoldment might be experienced by the mind and the personality as a loss, it is really a movement forward, a movement deeper. Understanding continues like this from one level to the next. The moment something is completed and you understand it, your mind moves to the next thing. This process of moving from one thing to another, losing one thing after another, will continue until you arrive at something you cannot understand. The only end of this process of understanding is experiencing yourself in a way that is unknowable.

When the World Becomes a Barrier to Truth

So we often end up in situations where our hearts are divided. And when the heart is divided, the process of inquiry is less effective. However, the more the heart is one in loving the truth, the more our unfoldment will be optimized. The understanding that we need to love the truth and make it our dominant love—even our only love—lies behind the need for discipline, behind the view of renunciation, behind the view of detachment. When it is said, “Renounce the world, leave the world,” what does that mean? The idea is not that the world is bad. The point is that if you love it to the extent that you don’t want to see the truth, then the world becomes a barrier to the truth. You feel that the truth will threaten that love for the world, so some of the time you will choose the things of the world over the truth. Most of the time, choosing the truth over everything else does not mean that you have to renounce the world. It only means that the world is your second choice. But this is very difficult because of our divided heart.

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