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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Chest?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Chest

Awareness of Sadness Happens Right at the Site of the Sensation of Sadness

The picture of the soul that we are presenting is actually nothing but a description of the phenomenology of our ordinary experience. When we experience an emotion—sadness, for example—we do not actually feel ourselves to be an objectified subject and the sadness as some object, in a different place from this subject. The awareness of the sadness happens right at the site of the sensation of sadness. If we are experiencing the sadness in the chest, then the sensitivity that is actually in touch with the sadness is also at the chest. In fact, it is coextensive with it. In what we are calling egoic experience, however, we tend to conceive of ourselves as an observer looking at the sadness, and typically this observer is somewhere in the head. But this observer is not the sensitivity that is actually and directly feeling the sadness; this sensitivity is right at the site of this emotion. Discerning this sensitivity, we discriminate the field that is the soul, and begin to appreciate the primordial characteristic of the soul, the phenomenological nonduality of its experience. When we recognize that the soul is the experiencer, what is experienced, and the field of experience, we understand why it is called in some traditions the “organ of experience. “

Body Language Responses to Movements in the Heart

Love is the most real thing that many people ever experience. It is usually called to mind as a distant memory, and then it becomes what we call emotional love. But even in the experience of emotional love, we can tell when we like somebody or we don’t like somebody. There remains a knowing of some kind. Something happens in the heart. And our body language shows it. One can become more held in and held back when the energetic contraction of dislike exhibits itself. You can notice that the chest is more caved in or protected. In contrast, liking and loving offer up more and more generous movement and openness. As you lean slightly toward another, perhaps the chest softens and the arms release their protective armor. A softer heart and a less defended posture are attributes of love coming through our physical expression. There is a natural moving toward, in every way. And almost a glowing.

Emptiness Felt as Almost Physical, as an Empty Hole or Cavity in the Chest

However, when we are confronted with impersonality in the course of letting go of ego identifications, if we neither posit it as the ultimate reality, nor reject it, but genuinely investigate the truth, we will ultimately come upon the personal element. The absence of the personal element, which is felt as an impersonality, can be seen at such times either as an emptiness in the chest, or the presence of a hard impersonal shield over it. The emptiness is felt as almost physical, as an empty hole or cavity in the chest. The emptiness affects the individual by making him feel that he doesn’t have what it takes for him to relate in a personal way. He is impersonal because he lacks the personal element. He feels the emptiness as a deficiency, a lack in who he is. This deficient emptiness is simply the state of the absence of the Personal Essence. The rigid shield is a defense against this deficiency, which gives the individual a sense of being a person that is not personal. In fact, it is what is usually referred to in depth psychology as a schizoid defense. It is a defense against personal contact, because of the vulnerability that it might expose. So the individual employs this impersonal defense of isolation and emotional detachment so that he does not feel either the vulnerability of personal involvement, or the sadness about the lack of it. This condition is much more common than is normally acknowledged, for it is usually hidden by the ego’s fake sense of being personal.

Experiencing a Solid Clarity in the Chest so Clear that it is Paradoxically Absent

Coinciding with this understanding, and more directly as a result of contemplating the developing courageousness of the heart, a certain essential structure begins to manifest. A clear crystalline presence appears in the chest, filling the whole thoracic cavity. It first appears as a tall dome-like structure, sitting in a large lotus. The presence feels hard like a crystal, but there is also the sensation of clarity pervading the chest cavity. This clarity imbues the crystalline solidity with such lightness that it feels empty. But it is not merely an emptiness, or a solid emptiness. The emptiness is so light it feels like total absence. In other words, the crystalline presence, although it seems solid and substantial, simultaneously feels as absolutely nonexistent. In fact, it feels like a solid clarity that is so clear that it is paradoxically absent. More particularly, it feels like the absence of anything in the chest. The chest cavity feels so empty and clear that I can only describe it as a total absence of anything that can be felt. The chest is a totally clear window. It is as if the consciousness is so clear, so free from impediments and obstruction that there is nothing for it to sense or see. The sense of absence brings a sense of total freedom and release, and a lightness that transcends the concepts of lightness and heaviness. The crystalline structure in the chest has the same quality of consciousness as what I have been experiencing as the nameless or nonconceptual transparent nature of everything.

Opening of the Chest into an Infinitely Deep and Dark Space, which Feels Clear and Devoid of all Extraneous Things

Recognizing that the source of the feeling of loneliness is my association of the painful loneliness of the past with the state of aloneness of presence in the present, liberates the sadness, allowing it to evaporate, leaving a sense of transparent depth to the dark abyss, a spacious depth. The feeling is centered in the chest, as if the chest region has become void of everything, except for a subtle lightness which curiously feels deep. Feeling within the chest, inquiring with no goal in mind, I find no sense of solidity. The chest feels empty, but curiously quiet, peaceful and still. I recognize the state as a luminous black spaciousness, which is the unity of stillness and space. There is immaculate, glistening emptiness, but the emptiness has a sense of depth. The depth seems to be the felt aspect of the blackness of space. It is like looking into, and feeling into, starless deep space. The depth, although void, has a soft texture, an exquisite gentleness. There is a sense of comfort, safety and a carefree trust, as if the vastness of intergalactic space has mysteriously evolved into a gentle and loving medium. It is not a cold space, not an impersonal space, but a space that feels exactly like what the human soul has perennially longed for: the warmth of mother’s breasts, the softness of delicate velvet, a quiet shining blissfulness and an endless generosity. My chest has become an opening into an infinitely deep and dark space, which feels clear and void of all extraneous things. Also, inseparable from the transparent voidness, is the presence of love itself. Now I can taste the pleasurable sweetness of love on my tongue, and throughout the whole chest cavity.

Sensing that the Chest is not there in the Experience of Absence

When we experience absence, we can’t help but fall in love with it. Although it’s certainly not what we imagine as lovable, absence is the most lovable condition. We think we love things or conditions that are pleasurable and sublime, but when we really experience absolute absence, we completely love it because there is no barrier whatsoever between our heart and this completely free condition. In the absence, your heart is so light, so open, so empty, that the sense is that your chest is not there. In fact, all of you is not there. What you have always experienced and taken yourself to be is absolutely absent. No remainder is left after you are gone. Such absence is so fundamental, so radical, so absolutely clear and exact and real that you can’t help but be passionately in love with it.

To be Completely Established, any Essential Aspect Must Attain the Freedom to be Anywhere in the Body

This process of making possible the presence of essence in external situations goes along with a similar process of freeing the essence in the inner environment. The essential aspect may flow in certain locations of the body but not in others. This is an indication of more issues to be resolved regarding the particular essence. The work then is understanding and resolving these barriers and blocks in the body, until the essence flows into them unhindered. Let's take again our example of the merging essence. The individual might realize that his experience of it is restricted to the chest only, that whenever this aspect is present it does not go beyond the boundaries of the chest. He might want to believe that it is a heart quality, and that is why it is always located in the chest. But essence cannot be restricted this way. To be completely established, any aspect must attain the freedom to be anywhere in the body. The individual might notice, if he applies his attention, that the merging essence is blocked from going downward into the body, particularly into the pelvis. Usually the essence will spontaneously go to the blocked area and expose the repression in it related to the particular aspect. But the individual must be interested in seeing the truth, whatever it is, for the process to proceed. The individual might find out, for instance, that when the merging essence flows into the genital area it activates the wish for genital merging. This might bring out conflicts around sexuality, oedipal and otherwise. These conflicts need to be understood and resolved for the merging essence to exist freely in the genital area.

Wounding in the Energy System that Corresponds to Emotional Hurt and the Loss of Essence

At this point the person might go on to experience himself as an empty space, devoid of any fullness or quality. If he deals with the associations he has to this emptiness—such as those of dependency and need—and the fears produced by them—probably the fears of disintegration, disappearing, and so on—then he will remember the old hurt that cut off the essence. This is another big dark spot. The person will unearth the painful situation or situations that ultimately led to the loss of this particular aspect of essence. Besides the memories and affects, the individual will experience the emotional hurt as a wound. It will feel physically like a wound in the chest, but it is a wound in the energy system that corresponds to the emotional hurt and the loss of the essence. When one allows oneself quietly to experience the hurtful wound and the memories connected with it, the golden elixir will flow out of it, healing it, and filling the emptiness with the beautiful sweet fullness that will melt the heart, erase the mind, and bring about the contentment that the individual has been thirsting for. The flow of the merging essence will happen when the individual feels and realizes exactly what he actually wanted and couldn't have as a child of a year or so. As we know, the merging essence is connected in the symbiotic phase with the dual unity, with the gratifying merging with the mother. This means that here, in the depth of the hurt, in the middle of the bleeding wound, the individual will realize: “I want my mommy, I love my mommy.” When this is deeply felt, now that all of the barriers are gone, the merging essence will emerge, because for the baby the merging essence is Mommy.

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