Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Basic Fault
Perspective of Separateness
The Basic Fault is the perspective of separateness, and the resolution in all spiritual traditions is oneness and union. There is nothing new in that. The theistic traditions talk about union with God. Buddhists talk about it in terms of dissolution of the self. Other teachings call it nonduality. It all amounts to the same thing. The resolution of the Basic Fault is that separateness does not exist. This belief in separateness is the most basic dilemma, the central spiritual problem. If the notion of separate existence does not dissolve, spiritual transformation has not truly happened. Now, I’m not saying that if you work with the Basic Fault you will suddenly realize oneness. Perceiving the truth of reality is a long, arduous practice. I haven’t talked about the fears and vulnerabilities involved, the challenges to everyday behavior, the shifts of mind required. “Shift of mind” is a euphemism for the actual collapse of mind that happens when you realize the oneness of reality. The mind that always looks from the inside out collapses and looks from the outside in. This is a radical change of mind. You don’t simply have an experience of separateness, you have a conviction of separateness. You literally have a crystallized conviction that reality is ultimately determined by the physical world. The deepest belief of the ego is that reality is how things look physically. So even your experience of presence or truth or God is within the framework of that perspective. You still want to see reality as if you are a discrete object living in a world of discrete objects. To be spiritual means being a happy, discrete object. But the reality is that you are completely connected from all directions, from four dimensions, from everywhere.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 277
Resolution of the Basic Fault
The Basic Fault does not resolve until you get to the stage of the fall on ice. Anybody know about the fall on ice? It’s when you're out in the cold, in reality and not in your mind. You have to see reality apart from the perspective that you are this separate self relating to a separate object. The Basic Fault can be seen as functioning through object relations, can be seen as taking yourself to be an entity, can be seen as taking reality to be the three dimensional physical reality, can be seen as seeing the world as a world of discrete objects in space. Only if we allow ourselves to let go of all object relations, not just the negative ones but also the positive ones, can we see the world as it is. We have to be willing to do that. We have to be able to take that risk at some point, to risk being out in the cold, to risk falling on ice.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 274
The Basic Fault Travels with You Wherever You Go
Real freedom is not independence from this or that ideal object but independence from object relations altogether. Trading one situation for another is not true independence. Trading husbands won’t do it. It might relieve things momentarily, but the Basic Fault remains intact. You might think bigger and change religions: “I believed in God all these years, but I’ll be a Buddhist from now on.” That won’t do it either. The Basic Fault travels with you wherever you go. In the depths of your being you believe you’re an entity, a separate entity among objects. Unless you experience that and understand it completely, there will always be strife and struggle in your life. When you see through the Basic Fault, I refer to it as basic enlightenment. It is the original experience of enlightenment. This realization does not mean that you’ll be able to live in accordance with it. A lot of work needs to happen for your mind to fully open to the truth of reality. You have to unlearn lots of things, and see through many conventional perspectives. This requires exposure to the extra dimension over and over and over again, because you will tend to go back to believing and functioning in the usual way. It is a gradual process. The separateness becomes less and less. Your sense of oneness is more frequent, richer, and more profound.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 279
The Thinking of the Basic Fault
So the Basic Fault is thinking that reality is a collection of breasts and open mouths searching one for the other. The Basic Fault assumes the central object relation to be the truth, to be how things actually work. So when reality starts to assert itself, when you start to grow up, this whole perspective is challenged. When the central object relation is challenged, you experience various kinds of loss.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 267
What is Needed to See the Basic Fault
But there is another object relation, the positive object relation, that is not repressed or split off but is actually identified with and acted out all the time as the normal object relation that operates as you relate to the world. This object relation doesn't feel particularly conflicted or oppositional. To see the Basic Fault, we'll have to see this positive object relation more clearly. In fact, the perspective we are working with will expose that particular basic
object relation. This is the central, basic position of the ego: what I call the central object relation.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 260
What the Basic Fault Exposes
So what’s going on? What's the problem? The love is there, the teaching is there, the pleasure is there, but it doesn’t satisfy you. The problem is fundamental, built into the very structure of the situation. The problem is your perspective, your point of view about yourself and about the world. That's what I mean by Basic Fault. Fault in the sense of a break or a fracture from objective reality, from how things actually are. You will see the basic problem if you let go of the object relation completely. You let go not only of the fulfilling breast, but also of the deflated breast, the empty breast. Then it is possible to see what the Basic Fault is. The problem here is the way we look at things, the way we understand things, the way we perceive the situation, what we take ourselves to be, what we take the world to be, what we take others to be. The problem is an entire world view, propped up by a certain metaphysics and philosophy that rule your daily life. The most important part of that metaphysics, of that world view, is that you relate to others and exist in the world from the perspective of internalized object relations. No matter what the object relation is, whether frustrating or rejecting or fulfilling, you relate to the world as a separate entity, a separate individual. The world exists for you as various sorts of objects. Whether the object happens to be the teaching, your teacher, your wife, your husband, essence, God, the truth, your mother, the breast, it is always something other than what you are. And you merely relate to it in a positive or a negative way. The central object relation rests on the perspective of not looking at the universe as a whole, not looking at the truth as a whole. We see that the fault is as basic as that. We look at the truth and at the reality of who and what we are as a separate entity, a separate something, a separate existence that relates to other separate existences.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 271
What the Basic Fault Is
All the various spiritual teachings address some version of our fundamental separation from reality. The understanding of this separation connects to a concept in psychology about a universal, painful disconnection in the infant soul, called the Basic Fault. Today we will use the phrase “basic fault” to speak of every person’s fundamental separation from Being, acknowledging how it relates to the psychological concept. True transformation happens only through the perception and understanding of this Basic Fault. Our realizations, insights, and experiences are necessary and, at times, painful or beautiful. But, if they are to transform who we are and what the world is, these realizations must expose and reveal the Basic Fault.