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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Chasm?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Chasm

Filling the Great Chasm, the Narcissistic Emptiness, with Whatever One Can Find

The experience of black space is not immediately established as a permanent attainment because in addition to those we discussed in the last chapter, there are other barriers to this space. These usually present themselves after the full experience of inner spaciousness, but sometimes before it. The usual tendency is to fill the great chasm, the narcissistic emptiness, with whatever one can find. The ultimate filler is the formation of the shell, but the student will try anything to avoid awareness of this emptiness. We have discussed many of these fillers, the various reactions and object relations, the images and memories, the ambitions and ideals, the hopes and plans, and so on. However, the direct encounter with black spaciousness magnifies a more subtle barrier against full awareness of the chasm. It reveals something ordinarily too subtle to see and too implicit to apprehend. It exposes, in clear relief, the activity through which this filling occurs, especially the activity through which the familiar identity perpetuates itself. In other words, the stillness of the inner spaciousness reveals the agitation which characterizes the activity of the familiar identity, what we have termed ego activity (see Chapter 8). In fact, the experience of the imperturbable peacefulness of the endless night sky not only exposes this inner psychic activity, but tends to intensify it. The self reacts to the stillness as a death, and intensifies its activity by which it generates its sense of self-recognition. The ego activity becomes furious agitation and feverish inner obsessiveness. 

Learning that Emptiness is Nothing, Only Peacefulness

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.

Narcissistic Emptiness is the Great Chasm

We have discussed how the development of the self-representation creates the shell, and also disconnects the self from its essential core. Now the dissolution of the shell reveals this disconnection. The emptiness reflects specifically the alienation from the essential core. The shell can be seen as covering up this emptiness, but in fact, the emptiness has always been there in the shell. The normal identity is the shell, empty of essential nature. This is the true meaning of narcissistic emptiness. Feelings of pointlessness, meaninglessness, purposelessness, absence of center, orientation, significance, and identity arise directly from the absence of identity with the Essential Identity. In fact, the properties of center, identity, significance, purpose, meaning, and so on, are some of the experiential characteristics of the Essential Identity, the precious point of existence. Furthermore, since the Essential Identity is the identity of Being, the narcissistic emptiness has another, greater significance. Since the identity of Being is what gives the self the capacity to identify with Being in any of its aspects and dimensions, the realization of the Essential Identity is tantamount to the capacity to simply be. So narcissistic emptiness involves disconnection not only from the Essential Identity, but from Being as a whole. It is the absence of self-realization. It is the gap between our essential nature and who we take ourselves to be. It is the great chasm separating our experience in the conventional dimension of experience from the fundamental ground of the soul. It is the emptiness of narcissistic alienation itself.

Perpetuating the Chasm

Identifying with your desire will only perpetuate the chasm by strengthening a self-image that is split off from who you are. In other words, you will not become complete by acquiring something you haven’t got or by fulfilling a desire; you can’t reach completeness by trying to complete yourself. Who you take yourself to be, your sense of yourself as incomplete, can’t be completed because its very nature is an incompleteness. The chasm is infinite and cannot be filled. You can resolve this issue only by realizing that you are split. Seeing this and not acting according to the split can bring freedom. You fall back into yourself and realize that you are complete, that who you truly are has always been complete, and has never lacked anything, that you cannot lack anything. Having this perspective helps us to orient ourselves towards self-understanding and towards our work here. We cannot help continuing to desire, and even to continue to believe our desires. We cannot help thinking the thoughts of a person who is incomplete. However, if you allow the possibility that this may all be a wrong identification, a split from who you are, your orientation may change. You might believe less strongly in your desire and fears, and begin investigating them more. Instead of acting out your desire for love or approval, recognition, acknowledgement, pleasure, or fame —any desire—you can begin to observe the desire itself. The perspective of completeness does not condemn pleasure. We’re not saying that pleasure is bad. When you know yourself as complete, there will be an experience of pleasure, but it will not perturb you, will not force you from your center. Pleasure is there and so is pain. You are beyond both of them; they have nothing to do with you. The pleasure and pain are of your body and mind.

Seeing the Narcissistic Wound as the Same as the Great Chasm

The narcissistic wound that arises has all the characteristics of the wound of alienation from the Essential Identity, but feels more profound and has other differentiating characteristics. The wound feels like a deep hurt, a very teary sadness, but we do not generally experience this sadness and hurt as differentiated from the deficient emptiness. We feel an emptiness permeated with sadness, a vast nothingness that pervades the whole world. This nothingness is pregnant with hurt. There is hurt, a sense of wounding, a sadness, but also a compassionate warmth that pervades the emptiness. Thus, when we experience the narcissistic wound at this level of narcissism, it is indistinguishable from narcissistic emptiness. It is as if the wound opens up and pervades the emptiness, inviting the quality of loving kindness, which we experience now as boundless and infinite. This allows the sadness to become deep and profound, as if the wound goes through the depth of the universe. We feel as if tears drown all of reality. The wound feels like a very deep and boundless emptiness, filled with tears and pervaded by compassion. These phenomena hint at the specific properties of the true self which is about to manifest, but also show that the narcissistic wound at this level is the same as the chasm that separates the self from this dimension of Being. Remaining in this emptiness, and not resisting or reacting to it, clarifies the nature of the sadness and loss. Sometimes the sadness becomes a deep longing for the dissolution of our separateness from everything. We feel what seems to be the deepest and most expanded longing, from the depths of the universe, a longing to lose our personal boundaries and to be part of the whole. Thus, this longing is for the dissolution of the self-entity structure, which is the barrier to the currently arising dimension of Being. At this point in our process we are identified with Being, but the boundaries of the self-entity structure seem to limit us from experiencing our Being in a more profound and expanded way.

The Moment You Take Yourself to be Anything in Your Mind, You are Split From Who You Are

Being complete does not necessarily mean knowing anything. Completeness is independent of the mind. The mind typically functions out of a sense of incompleteness. Much of its activity occurs because you take yourself to be incomplete. Only once in a while is it needed for conscious, practical functioning, and most of this happens without our having to think about it. The mind spends most of its time designing ways to fill needs, satisfy desires, and quell fears. Whether you are meditating, watching TV, or taking a bath, there is agitation of the mind arising out of your own sense of deficiency, of holes needing to be filled. Almost everything we are engaged in is an attempt to fill that sense of incompleteness. So if who we actually are is a completeness, and we have always actually been complete, why do we experience ourselves as incomplete? One way to see it is that the experience of incompleteness is actually the experience of a distance from your completeness. To be incomplete means to be separated from your completeness. There is a split, a gap between what you think you are and who you actually are. This split, this chasm occurred for some reason at some point in your history. You have abandoned yourself. You have become separated from your real self. You are taking the constructs of your mind to be you. The moment you take yourself to be anything in your mind, you are split from who you are, and you will experience insecurity, fear, and desire. The separation from your real self will bring wants and needs, the thoughts that accompany them, the feelings that accompany those, and the rest of the mess that most people call their lives. Once this chasm develops, what you take yourself to be is always based on it. How you experience yourself most of the time is based not on completeness, but on the absence of it, on a gap. So it is understandable that you’ll have all kinds of wants, needs, desires, thoughts, ideas, ambitions, plans, and so on. From the deficient perspective of incompleteness comes a feverish activity to accomplish, to fill, to acquire. The desire to acquire something—an object, person, emotion, more knowledge, experience, pleasure or Essence—is based upon this sense of incompleteness, which is itself based on an incorrect understanding of who you are.

The Supreme Betrayal and the Beginning of Endless Suffering

The narcissistic wound that arises here is for not being seen as the source of everything, of all knowledge, understanding, love, value, preciousness, meaning, and existence. We are hurt about not being recognized as this supreme manifestation of Being, the one most worthy of love and admiration. It also reflects our own incapacity to see our true pure nature, as we are not yet realized at this level. At this juncture, we understand that believing that we are separate individuals, or autonomous entities, rather than recognizing ourselves as the oneness of all existence, creates alienation from pure Being. To take oneself as ultimately a separate and autonomous person creates the supreme wound, which appears as an abyss, an abysmal chasm, that alienates us not only from our true nature, but also from everybody and everything. This is the supreme betrayal, and the beginning of endless suffering. We also understand, here, the cosmic shell as the experience of the world devoid of its true nature, the infinite pure Being. Looking through the representational world, we see only a world devoid of Being. The quality of infinity and omnipresence of the identity at this level of experience eliminates duality. We experience Being not only as our true nature, but as the nature of everything. This means it is also the true nature of the ego-self. The pure presence of Being is the underlying ground both for aspects of Essence, and for structures of the ego-self. Both become seen as particular formations within the presence of pure Being. 

To Really be Oneself is to Eliminate the Chasm, to Unify the Two Sides of Oneself, to Fully Become One

You will see that your very nature is that grace, pure, unoriginated preciousness, which you don’t see by looking but by being. There is no sense of separateness between the looking and the being; they are one act. To be yourself means you are Essence, you are Being, you are the significance, you are the meaning. We have seen that we are always looking for the preciousness that was lost, thinking we can get it from the outside. But it is the innermost. It is so private, so deep, so inner, that there is nothing more inner than this. Who you are is so inner, so private, so precious, that when it is experienced at its depth it is felt as an absolute sacredness. To really be oneself is to eliminate the chasm, to unify the two sides of oneself, to fully become one. It is not as if you are someone who has a body, someone who does this or that, someone who has an Essence. You are it! You are the whole thing. Meaning is not something we can get to with our minds; it is not an answer found in the mind. It is not an ideal or an image we’re fulfilling. It is not a result of anything. It is just falling into one’s nature. To be able to simply fall into one’s nature, is, however, not easy. It is the most difficult thing there is. It takes perseverance, patience, sincerity, and compassion for oneself. And it may take a long time.

We Must Allow Ourselves to Experience the Chasm

When we want to explore our true identity, we have to allow ourselves to refrain from using our various roles, activities, ideals, and images to fill our sense of emptiness. Then we can observe whether any of these things actually satisfies our deep need for meaning. If you observe yourself, you will probably discover that you have become disappointed in one thing after another. You will see that you are disappointed in your career, the relationship with your lover or spouse, your own mind, everything. You’re disappointed because they don’t do what you hoped they would do for you. You are expecting the wrong thing from each area of your life that disappoints you. There is one disappointment after another until you allow yourself to fall into the great chasm, the great split. You need to allow yourself to exist in that vast emptiness. We must go through this non-existence. There is no other way. To become unified, we must go through the split in us, which is the same thing as the chasm. We cannot go over it or avoid it. We must allow ourselves to experience the chasm. We have to allow ourselves to feel the insignificance completely, without defending against it.

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