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Completeness (Incompleteness)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Completeness (Incompleteness)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Completeness (Incompleteness)

Absence or Incompleteness of Our Knowingness of the Objective Truth Begins the Process of Inquiry and Understanding

Objectivity is only one element needed for objective understanding, as we will see by considering the process of inquiry. First we are aware of an experience, perception, or situation. Understanding begins when we realize that we do not understand something about it. Since we love to see the truth, this absence or incompleteness of our knowingness of the objective truth of the situation begins the process of inquiry and understanding. At this point, our lack or incompleteness of understanding usually reflects our lack of objectivity. So our love of finding the truth begins the process of becoming more and more objective in our attitude. Acquiring an increasing objectivity regarding the situation is a matter of clarifying our experience, in terms of both our attitudes and the object of inquiry. This clarifying is a process of cutting through obscurations—the clouds of prejudice, opinions, reactions, defenses, and so on. So we experience the lack or incompleteness of understanding as not being clear about the situation. The movement toward clarification is the process of inquiry. We may ask questions, explore, or study certain things. We may observe more and correlate our observations. All of this is guided by the movement toward clarifying the situation. In other words, understanding commences as the opaqueness in the experience—the various levels of obscurations and unclarities—is dispelled through inquiry. 

Acknowledging the Incompleteness

The completeness can happen only by confronting the incompleteness head on, by recognizing it as incompleteness, and not by acting according to the delusion that we can complete ourselves by getting this or that. Completeness happens by being honest and truthful with ourselves, acknowledging the incompleteness, allowing it to happen, exploring it, going to its source: “How do I feel incomplete? Why do I feel incomplete?” So instead of saying no to the incompleteness and wondering how you can complete yourself, you can explore the feeling: “Well, I feel incompleteness; I wonder why.” You can be curious out of loving the truth, because you are interested in finding out what the truth is. You become interested in the exploration. To confront the incompleteness, to explore it, means to acknowledge it, to let it be there, to feel it fully until you find out and understand what it’s all about, why there is a sense of incompleteness. In this process, you might find out all kinds of things about incompleteness and about this or that aspect that you are out of touch with; but usually the incompleteness will continue as long as you don’t realize the completeness itself. And if that incompleteness remains, it is fine to just feel that; it is better for you that you don’t forget by finding a substitute.

Brilliancy, pg. 58

Almost Everything We are Engaged in is an Attempt to Fill that Sense of Incompleteness

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.

Because of Its Intrinsic Incompleteness and Unreality, the Normal Identity Always Needs Support

The ego sense of identity is supported by psychic structures based on internalized object relations, and by transference situations, that are enactments of those object relations. The idealizing transference is the primary object relation specifically utilized for the purpose of supporting this identity. This understanding clarifies narcissistic idealization, which supports a feeble and shaky sense of self and also demonstrates that all kinds of idealization, whether we call them primitive or mature, function to shore up one’s identity. Because of its intrinsic incompleteness and unreality, the normal identity always needs this support, regardless of how strong this identity might be felt to be. In fact, it is our understanding that all idealizations are simply variations, on and reflections of, the narcissistic idealization. We see then that any identity based on ego structures (which is true of both the normal identity and the grandiose self of the pathologically narcissistic individual) inevitably needs external support, such as the idealization of others. 

Filling or Covering Up the Hole of Incompleteness

Now, as is usual with any deficiency, the mind or the ego makes all kinds of attempts not to experience it. So there is a tendency to fill the hole or cover up the hole of incompleteness. We do that by taking actions within our mind, our feelings, and in the world physically, by doing all kinds of things to try to feel complete, to bring about completeness. Some people may say, “Well, I’m not complete until I have my ideal mate,” right? That’s one of the beliefs: If I find my ideal mate, I’ll be complete. They think that this single aspect will make them feel complete if it’s there. But that really won’t do it. Or some people say, “Well, if I just have strength, I will be complete; if I’m really smart enough, I’ll be complete; if this or that, then I’ll have a sense of completeness in my life.” People do all kind of things to try to not feel the sense of incompleteness. They do whatever they think will give them the sense of completeness. So there are basically two ways of avoiding the sense of incompleteness. One is to cover up or avoid the incompleteness. The other is to try to create a sense of completeness, to get a fake sense of completeness. So to really be able to confront the existential depth of incompleteness, we have to see the ways we cover up our incompleteness and the ways we try to get a sense of completeness.

Brilliancy, pg. 259

From the Deficient Perspective of Incompleteness Comes a Feverish Perspective to Accomplish, to Fill, to Acquire

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.

Incompleteness is Not a True Description of Who You Are

Your intrinsic nature is complete, though you might not believe it now. If and when you recognize yourself—when you are really being yourself—you will find out that you are completeness. So, if you are feeling incomplete, that does not mean you are incomplete. All it means is that you are not resting in your nature. Everybody is complete. Completeness is the deeper nature of the human soul. The more you recognize that you are really complete, the easier it becomes to accept and to experience incompleteness; for you then know that incompleteness is just some kind of ignorance. It is a symptom, it is not a true thing; it is not a true description of what and who you are. Completeness is the true description of who you are. It is not enough, however, to believe what I say. You need to have that direct experience for yourself. Incompleteness is your path toward completeness. It is a treasure—or, more accurately, a window—that you have in your psyche. It is important to recognize the various ways you personally use to avoid the feeling of incompleteness. This may include denying your incompleteness or trying to become complete. Your spiritual search, for example, might be an attempt to cover up your incompleteness. In fact, people say that they are searching because they are incomplete. Searching for what? Completeness is not something to be sought after. Completeness is something to be relaxed into. It’s like when your muscles are tense: They just need to relax, let go, and settle. 

Brilliancy, pg. 60

Incompleteness is Not Due to Something Missing, Something Wrong with You

But first we have to deal with the barriers to feeling incompleteness. Incompleteness is one of those things that the ego feels ashamed about, believing that it is a deficiency, a bad thing. You usually explain it with all kinds of things: I’m incomplete because I’m too little; I’m incomplete because I’m a woman; I’m incomplete because I didn’t go to school; I’m incomplete because I haven’t got a job—whatever you happen to feel deficient about at the time. And usually you attack yourself thoroughly for it. So the first thing we notice about incompleteness is that superego attacks are common. The judgments need to be recognized and you need to deal with them. At some point, however, you need to understand the fundamental fact that incompleteness is not due to something missing, something wrong with you, or your not having done something. It has nothing to do with that. Completeness is really a way of experiencing your Being, so incompleteness simply means being out of touch with that experience. The superego does not usually attack you because Brilliancy is missing. Your superego doesn’t know about Brilliancy, so it attacks you about whatever sense of deficiency it finds in your experience. Under normal circumstances, there is a misinterpretation of the hole, or lack of Brilliancy; it is not seen as the absence of a certain manifestation of your Being. Instead, your superego attacks you, saying you’re too short, your nose is crooked, you’re dumb, you say things wrong, you never know which foot to put first—that kind of thing. That is the way your superego picks on you: It finds those little incompletenesses and attacks you for them. 

Brilliancy, pg. 59

Incompleteness that is in Itself a Recipe for Feebleness and Vulnerability

Identity is so important for the normal development of the soul that its disturbances can severely unbalance the total sense of self. In fact, the normal soul experiences a threat to the integrity of her identity as a threat to her survival. (See The Point of Existence, chapters 9–11, for more on the question of identity.) At the same time, the sense of identity develops as cohesive and stable when it is mirrored and supported, but also and necessarily if the sense of identity includes the major dimensions of the soul. The less it includes of the major dimensions of the soul’s potential, the weaker and less complete it is. This incompleteness is in itself a recipe for feebleness and vulnerability, for it means that elements of her own potential constitute a threat to the soul’s narcissistic equilibrium, since this equilibrium is developed on the exclusion of these elements. That is why the parent needs not only to mirror but also to call forth the soul’s potential. When we recognize that most parents are ignorant of their essential potential we see that they will have a difficulty seeing it, and hence mirroring or supporting it, in their child. The result is that the most fundamental part of the soul, her essential ground and its aspects, will receive at best a minimum of mirroring and support. The soul develops without integrating this fundamental dimension into her identity, leading again to her dissociating her experience of her essential nature. Instead, the soul integrates only the elements of her potential that her human environment could reflect and support.

Incompleteness that Will Cause the Sense of Self to be Weak, Distorted or Both

The self-representation can be false in some respects, or incomplete, or both. If we identify with a self-concept that does not reflect the true self, then the identity is false; in other words, we are mistaken about who and what we are. This alienates us from ourselves and exposes us to continual challenges from our environment which threaten our identity. False aspects of the self-image cannot be completely supported by either our internal or external environment. When the self-representation excludes aspects of the self, this incompleteness will cause the sense of self to be weak, distorted, or both. This is partially due to the pressure of the actual self on the identity. Any real part of ourselves that is excluded by what we take ourselves to be will create conflicts in the sense of identity, since its mere existence threatens the identity. For example, if our identity does not include our anger, or our love, then our identity will be threatened when anger or love arise forcefully in consciousness. Hence, the incompleteness of our self-representation leaves our identity vulnerable to the truth of our actual self, just as the falsehood of the representation leaves our identity in an untenable position in relationship to all of reality. 

The Hole of Completeness

So we want to explore this quality of completeness. You realize completeness just like you realize any other aspect: by dealing with its absence, which is incompleteness. The normal human experience is more like that—incomplete. But here by “incomplete” I don’t mean “deficient.” It’s not like I’m feeling, “Oh, I’m castrated” or “I don’t have strength; I’m weak.” Those particular deficiencies will feel like an incompleteness, but I mean here the more specific state of being incomplete, without something in particular being missing. The incompleteness here is not just feeling one of the holes. I am talking about the hole of completeness. Right? If you think of completeness as an actual aspect on it’s own, then there’s a hole—the absence of completeness—that will feel like incompleteness. It’s like what’s missing is not strength or this or that. What’s missing is completeness. You feel incomplete and you don’t know what to do about it. And that’s really the background of everyone’s experience, for everybody is feeling in some way incomplete; but usually we don’t differentiate that state of incompleteness. For a while at the beginning of our work, we deal with the particular deficiencies of the differentiated aspects: “Oh, I’m weak,” “Oh, I am worthless,” “Oh, I am unlovable,” and so on. And these are true deficient states. However, the sense of incompleteness comes from the deeper state of the absence of completeness itself. Our mind cannot conceive of that at the beginning of our work, so we look for and find something that is missing. But we can deal with the underlying state only by dealing with the root of the problem—which is the sense of incompleteness itself—only by dealing with the incompleteness, without looking for a scapegoat in one of the aspects. We can discover that there is simply an incompleteness there. It might feel like something is missing, a lot is missing, or everything is missing, but usually it’s just more a sense of “I’m incomplete; for some reason, I’m incomplete.” 

Brilliancy, pg. 259

When there is Always a Feeling of Incompleteness

When a person learns what it is to be oneself, the process of inner development, realization and understanding of truth involves continual discovery and expansion, with surprises and celebrations during the whole process. There is no end to the exploration and discoveries. Many of you can feel a very deep yearning, a subtle flame, a longing for that true life—to live our life as a continual celebration and freshness. In some part of us we know this is possible, and that it is the way life should be. If we don’t live this way, there is always a feeling of incompleteness. The understanding of what it is to be oneself unifies the spiritual and the mundane. It unifies the teachings of people like Christ and Buddha with the yearning of the ordinary person. The enlightened masters and teachers talk about renouncing the world, about being free of ego, and about their desire to live a true life. But an ordinary person is always wanting such things as pleasure and the fulfillment of his desire. We want the experiences of the physical world.

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