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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Boundaries?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Boundaries

The Formation of Self-Representations is a Process of Freezing Boundaries

The development of ego and sense of personal identity depends, as we have seen, on the process of identification, culminating in the formation of a self-image. We have seen that the formation of self-representations is a process of freezing boundaries in the emptiness of the mind. In contrast, the pearl beyond price, the personal aspect of essence, is a sense of personal identity that does not depend on self-representation, and hence, does not depend on the existence or the defending of boundaries in open space. In fact, its development comes about through the undoing of these identifications. The culmination of the elimination of identifications is the birth of the pearl beyond price, or the discovery of one’s own essential person-hood, one’s personal nature that does not depend on the past. This is an aspect of Being that is not understood or appreciated until it is experienced. When it manifests, one cannot but be filled with wonder at the majesty, beauty, and richness of essence.

The Void, pg. 77

The Loss or Dissolution of Boundaries Frequently Feels like Aloneness

The loss or dissolution of boundaries frequently feels like aloneness; for it is the dissolution of the last identification systems of ego. Although boundaries make one feel separate, even isolated, one still does not feel alone. These ego boundaries are based on self-images that are part of internalized object relations. As they dissolve one starts feeling alone, but this means that one is entering the state of freedom, Being without ego. Aloneness is actually inner aloneness; one is alone in one’s mind. There are no umbilical cords (internalized object relations) connecting one to the past. One is here, now. This is a state of purity. One is, and there is no self-image. This indicates that all states of Being, all aspects of Essence, bring the state of aloneness, when experienced with no self-image. The absence of self-image means the mind is empty and immaculately clear. It means the presence of the aspect of Space, which is what dissolves the self-image.

Boundaries Define a Difference but not a Separateness

Ordinarily, we do not experience the true nature of our souls because we have defined ourselves vis-à-vis the boundaries of our bodies. We have taken these boundaries to define our identity, believing that these physical boundaries are a fundamental and intrinsic aspect of who we are when, in fact, they are the most superficial aspect of who we are. This conviction that the body boundary defines us actually solidifies the sense of separateness by creating a layer of surface tension in the skin. When we actually experience the body boundary, we feel it as tension on the periphery of the body. It is not that physical boundaries don’t exist—if that were the case, there would be no differentiation, no color, no action. They do exist, but not as partitioning walls; seen through the fact of Holy Omniscience, they exist as differentiating outlines, articulating many different tastes, textures, and colors, without obscuring the underlying nature of everything as One. It is as though you have dropped different colors of dye into a fluid; many colors are swirling around, but it is still all the same fluid. One way of putting it is that the boundaries define a difference, but not a separateness. So I am different from you, but I am not separate from you; people are different from each other, but they are not separate from each other. The existence of boundaries, then, does not negate the underlying unity. Boundaries are characteristic of the objective concepts or noetic forms, relevant on the level of creation and existence. Boundaries and the forms they define are characteristics of the thoughts of God, as it were. This is why we call the universe a mind.

Facets of Unity, pg. 105

Boundaries Dissolve through the Action of Essence

Now, if the individual can do nothing to be free from boundaries, then how can this issue be resolved? How do these boundaries dissolve? They dissolve through the action of Essence itself. This can be called blessing, or grace, or divine intervention, and in some sense it is, but it is really a natural phenomenon, with its own immutable laws. One cannot do anything to dissolve ego boundaries, but if one truly loves truth then one is bound to explore and eventually understand this whole issue of boundaries, separation and individuality. The issue arises and will finally become clear, and distinctly uncomfortable, because of the continued experience of the Personal Essence. One’s curiosity based on love of truth for its own sake will turn one’s attention naturally and spontaneously to understanding this issue. One does not have to have any attitude towards boundaries. He is only interested in the truth, not for any end, but because he loves Truth deeply. Truth will expose this issue as an issue because in reality there is no such thing as a boundary; Truth is ultimately a boundless presence, as we will see in the next chapter, and this will emerge first as the dimensions of Essence that will expose and dissolve the falseness of boundaries.

Dissolution of Boundaries Imposed by the Self Frees Space

We have seen so far that awareness of the self-image brings about the experience of space, or of the mind as openness. In other words, dissolution of boundaries imposed by the self frees space. It literally expands the mind. Understanding this dynamic relation between self-image and space, we can theorize about the development of psychic structure: The development of the self-image simply represents a gradual building and structuralization of boundaries in the mind space. Here we see the relationship between mind as content and mind as ground. Space is mind as ground. Mind as content is a result of boundaries in this space. In fact, these boundaries are the mind as content, are what constitutes the psychic structure. The neonate is born with no boundaries in its mind space, i.e., with no psychic structure. Its mind is just space, openness with no boundaries, physical or mental.

The Void, pg. 33

Space Acts by Challenging and Exposing the Unconscious Self-Boundaries of the Individual

We have shown so far how psychodynamic understanding of self-image leads to the experience of space, and how space, in turn, by modifying or erasing self-image, brings forth the unconscious affects and memories. However, this is not the main action or usefulness of space in this process. As we have seen, the main characteristics of space are openness and the absence of rigid boundaries. It is precisely these characteristics that make it most useful; for when space is present, it acts by challenging and exposing the unconscious self-boundaries of the individual. Since its nature is the absence of boundaries, it will naturally challenge any existing boundaries. This challenge usually manifests as anxiety, because the exposure of unconscious self-boundaries actually lifts certain repressions, and the possibility of lifting any repression arouses anxiety.

The Void, pg. 53

The Disappearance of Boundaries is Not Complete Disappearance of the Individual

So we understand the teaching of Christ when we realize that the individual, separate, bounded soul is a belief in our minds, and we relax and realize that the soul is continuous with the rest of reality. That soul continuous with the rest, as that totality, is then the Logos or the Christ or the Word. This is an exact and specific resolution because we don’t simply let go of our boundaries and become pure consciousness, pure awareness, or the Absolute or something like that. We let go of our boundaries without losing our uniqueness. We continue to be a soul, to be an individual, but are continuous with the rest of reality. We are an individuation, then, out of a totality. So it’s a very specific resolution. The disappearance of the boundaries is not complete disappearance of the individual. So we lose the sense of bounded individuality as we become that totality of cosmic dynamic presence—the Logos itself, in which there is no individuality. Yet, it is not simply boundless dynamic presence with no individual, even though it has no division or duality. For it is also possible to be a unique individual not separate from that cosmic presence, such that it’s hard to tell if you are an individual or not an individual. You are an individual and unique and at the same time you are the totality. That means the concepts are there still: the concept of a person is there, the concept of a table is there, the concept of a house is there, the concept of a tree is there, the concept of life is there, the concept of humanity is there, the concept of the universe is there. All the concepts are there but are not completely separate from each other. They’re more like variations in the same substance, formations of the formlessness.

The Separation Individuation Process Erects Boundaries and Fixes them in Space

Given our understanding of mind as space, we can see then that the separation-individuation process that Mahler speaks of not only builds the psychic structure and gives the individual his sense of identity, but more fundamentally, it accomplishes this by erecting boundaries and fixing them in space. In other words, the process of ego development is a process of bounding space, of building static boundaries in the openness of the mind. It is the carving of structure out of space, and the resulting psychic structure then is simply a structuralized space. This explains very clearly why when self boundaries are dissolved, space appears. What happens is that the structuralization is dissolved, the boundaries are “melted.” When the structure is melted, the nature of the mind with no structure is revealed, and this is space.

The Void, pg. 35

When there are no Boundaries what Naturally Arises is Love

When there are no boundaries, what naturally arises is love, abundance, and generosity, because what blocks love are the boundaries. There is no sense then that you are going to love someone, or that you want someone to love you. You are just you; you are natural, you are just living a human life, and there is love in it, naturally You do not say, “I want to do this because I want to be loving.” You just do it naturally. You are loving, without having to think about it. You do not have to feel compassionate to be helpful. You are helpful regardless of whether you feel helpful or not. Compassion might be present; you might not even care about it. You are just helpful. So, in a sense, in the Work, nothing is for you; at the same time, everything is for you because you are everything. Each one of us can come to see that these are not ideas, that this is not a point of view. This is actually the fact, this is the state of affairs; it is how things are when your mind is not interpreting things. The way we usually see reality is determined by the ideas and beliefs and patterns of our minds. When the mind stops, when the ego stops, and you let perception be there, clear and cleansed and pure, then reality is what is seen. Everything else is an interpretation, and there are many levels of interpretation. There are many levels of consciousness, many levels of reality. But ultimately, when you completely let go of that interpretation, of the desire to interpret, it is possible to see things as they are.

Without the Presence of Essence it is Very Difficult to Tolerate the Loss of Deeper Boundaries

As the process of the deepening dissolution of boundaries and the related experiences of space goes on (which we mentioned above need follow no absolute sequence), it usually happens that all manner of experiences and realizations not directly involving space intervene. We refer particularly to the experience of essence in its various aspects and dimensions. In fact, the experience of essence contributes greatly to the deepening experience of space. Without the invaluable presence of essence, it is very difficult, almost impossible, to tolerate the loss of the deeper boundaries. The experience of ego death and annihilation is too frightening to allow without the experience of a reality beyond the ego, the reality of Being, our true essence. And in turn, the realization of emptiness in its various grades contributes to the discovery and development of essence, and ultimately to its actualization as the real life.

The Void, pg. 149

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