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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Dependency?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Dependency

A Condition of Dependency on and Idealization of the Teacher

The disciples come to the presence of the teacher or guru, merge with his consciousness, and experience the essence, but they cannot take it with them. They leave it with the teacher because it is still his. This usually leads to a condition of dependency on and idealization of the teacher, which is contrary to the whole point of inner development. Those teaching systems become supply sources: the kids come to their mother, nurse at her breast, then go away, to return when their bellies are empty. The kids never grow, because they do not have the means to learn how to nurse themselves.

Idries Shah relates a story in which a visitor asks a Sufi how come some countries are full of gurus and spiritual teachers when there are only a few Sufis who appear to be teaching. The Sufi answers: “India, for instance, is full of gurus and shrine worshippers, and public Sufis of real truth are more than rare because the gurus and their followers are at play and the Sufis are at work. Without Sufi work, humanity would die out.”8 It is not easy to recognize or appreciate true essential work. It is not a matter of having ecstatic experiences, of seeing visions, and so on, although these events happen as part of the learning process. The work is more for an individual to be a true and real human adult, integrated on all levels from the most physical to the most sublime. The work is oriented toward reality, truth, objectivity, completeness, and so on, and these things are not usually visible to one without inner development. Experiences are not only for enjoyment but are to be digested as nutrition essential for a human being if he is to grow to be an actual complete adult.

Abandonment of the Essential Identity

Here, at the end of the practicing period and at the beginning of rapprochement, both the dual unity and the sense of grandeur and omnipotence are lost, as a result of the maturation of the child’s cognitive and perceptive faculties in conjunction with increasing identification with the body-mind. Dealing with this colossal disappointment becomes the task of the rapprochement subphase and an important fulcrum in the development of the child’s self. Since the child lacks discriminated awareness of her Essential Identity, she does not understand that it is this identity that is truly grand and, in a sense, all-powerful, but her physical-emotional-mental self is not. She never learns that she is more than the psychosomatic organism. This situation has far-reaching consequences. One of these is that the perception of vulnerability, limitation, and dependency, without the ability to discriminate these from the experience of the Essential Identity, leads to the abandonment of identity with the latter. The child loses her nonconscious self-realization. She pushes away the sense of grandeur and omnipotence because she feels it is not true, and in the process, she pushes away her Essential Identity. The significance of this step cannot be appreciated until we are deeply involved in the process of self-realization. We know the extent of the loss in childhood only when we consciously regain the Essential Identity. The practical consequence of the shift from the Essential Identity to identification with the body-mind is that the child becomes more realistic about her physical and mental capacities, which is necessary for both survival and normal life. She is now especially aware of her body, its feelings and sensations, its abilities and its image. By the end of the practicing period and during the rapprochement subphase, we begin to see “the baby’s taking possession of his own body and protecting it against being handled as a passive object by the mother.” (Mahler, 1975)

Because of the Infant’s Phase-Appropriate Need and Dependency She Can Lose Connection with Her Essential Ground

Why does the soul not possess this self-liberating quality in her infancy and childhood, when she is also quite impressionable and naturally coemergent with her essential ground? This is a complex question, and not easily answered. One way of addressing it is to relate it to the question of dependence and autonomy. In infancy and childhood the absence of maturity in the soul manifests not in distance from her essential ground, but in her total dependence on others; not only physically, but also emotionally and in all other ways. Because of this dependency she is at the mercy of her environment, her circumstances, and the ministrations of her caregivers. Her real need at the time for their physical support and nourishment, love and caring, mirroring and understanding, and so on, predisposes her toward losing touch with her essential ground. She is not enlightened, in the sense that her cognitive capacities are not developed enough for her to know and comprehend that she is her true nature, and she is not mature enough to consciously and cognitively realize her ontological autonomy. In other words, because of her phase-appropriate need and dependency she can lose connection with her essential ground. This loss tends to happen as part of a more comprehensive process, an important part of which is the retention of impressions. We will discuss this process in some detail in chapters 11 and 12.

Consequences of the Child’s Perception of Vulnerability, Limitation and Dependency

The truth is that the child needs to learn not that his grandeur is not real, but that it is not a property of his physical-emotional-mental self. However, he learns by becoming increasingly aware, due to both experience and maturation of autonomous functions, that he is limited in his capacities and dependent on his mother. Since his sense of self is nonconceptual and nondualistic, he does not have the understanding that his Essential Self is truly grand and, in a sense, all-powerful, but his physical-emotional-mental self is not. He never learns that he is more than the psychosomatic organism. This has several far-reaching consequences:

1. The perception of vulnerability, limitation and dependency, without the ability to separate these from the experience of the Essential Self leads to the abandonment of identity with the latter. The child loses his unconscious self-realization. He pushes away the sense of grandeur and omnipotence because he feels it is not true, and in the process he pushes away his Essential Self. The significance of this step cannot be appreciated until one is deeply involved in the process of self-realization. One knows the extent of the loss in childhood only when one consciously regains the Essential Self.

2. The child becomes more identified with the self-image, and begins to believe that he is his body, his mind and his emotions. The identity shifts from Being to ego. The Essential Self remains only in the vague memory of its sense of identity.

3. The most practical consequence is that the child becomes more realistic about his physical and mental capacities, which is necessary for both survival and autonomy. He is now especially aware of his body, its feelings and sensations, its image and its abilities.

Ego Functions Through Emotional Dependency and You Call It Love

So emotionally, the personality continues to have a symbiotic relationship with mother. We grow up physically, but not emotionally. We continue to unconsciously believe we are dependent in ways that an adult human being doesn’t actually have to be. You see yourself as dependent on others for love, approval, recognition, support, nourishment, contact, pleasure. Most people think that’s the way it is. They think, “How can you be a grown up person and have a career and a good life unless you have a mate or at least a lover?” That’s how most people think. They don’t question it. They think they need love, and it is true—they do. But what they are seeing is the personality. The ego functions through emotional dependency, and you call it love. Even when you are by yourself, not married or in a relationship or in a group, you are still relating to your mother—the mother inside you. You relate to your superego which is always beating you up. Why is your superego beating you up? Because it makes you feel that your mother is around. When you were a child, your mother was always judging you. So, every time you feel like a little kid, your internal mother comes and beats you up. Then you feel secure. You might complain, but you feel secure.

Emptiness Manifesting in the Self-Image as Weakness, Dependency, Castration, Worthlessness and Inferiority

The structuralization of self-image, as well as other childhood experience, leads to the loss of space as part of our experience. Along with space, and due to other factors, essence, in its various aspects is lost. Self-image ends up excluding emptiness and the fullness of essence as possible categories of experience. These losses are related to all kinds of lacks and deficiencies. The loss of space affects the self-image by creating an unconscious body-image with a genital hole. In fact, the genital hole is simply, as we have mentioned, the lower part of an empty tube. Sometimes the hole is felt at the top of the head. So space and essence are replaced by a personality, based on a constructed self-image, whose core is a deficient emptiness which is experienced as an empty tube at the core of the body. This emptiness is felt as the lack of such qualities as love, value, joy, strength, will, autonomy or sense of self. It manifests in the self-image as weakness, dependency, castration, worthlessness, inferiority, and so on. As we said earlier, this genital hole with its accompanying emotional associations is a universal phenomenon. Everybody develops a self-image. However, individuals differ in the way they relate to this hole depending on their personal history. The relationship to this lack determines to a great degree the character of the individual and his overall self-image and sense of identity.

The Void, pg. 86

Letting Someone Walk All Over You

I am not talking about continuing to love someone and letting them walk all over you. No, that is not what I am talking about. That is not love. That is dependency. That is need. I’m talking about real understanding, forgiveness, appreciation, joy, and pleasure. That’s the love I’m talking about. I’m not talking about a situation where there is negativity, the person hates you and exploits you, and you still stick around—that’s not love. You are probably just engaged in the frustrating relationship then, the mental relationship. Real love is courageous, it is strong, it is no bullshit. If someone does something hateful to you, you deal with it with strength, but you do not stop loving. You do not eliminate the good just because there is bad. You do not eliminate what is really there just because there is also something you do not like. So your courage is in being real, and in being real, you are truly courageous to see the other person as who they are, the whole package. You can be angry sometimes and still have the courageous heart. You can even hate, and still the courageous heart is there. Hate does not contradict love because it can coexist with it. If you are really courageous, sometimes there will be hate, sometimes there will be anger, sometimes frustration, but these are passing reactions. They are not real. What exists, what is permanent, is the heart itself. The heart is beingness, an expression of Being. Being is indestructible. It is independent of your mind. A human being is not truly realized unless he can be the courageous heart. No matter how much you are realized, if your heart is conditional, it is dependent on the situation and frightened; it is cowardly. You are still not yet real, not complete, regardless of how you experience yourself or how you experience the other. This means that your relationships are not yet real. The real person has real relationships.

Precipitation of the Genital Hole

In our earlier case histories we discussed how the genital hole is precipitated by allowing feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, passivity, dependency, weakness; it did not reflect a sexual image exclusively. This is both true and untrue. It is true in that the genital hole signifies not only the absence of space in the normal person’s realm of experience, but it also signifies the absence of essence in its various aspects. As we saw in the section on essential development, space is needed as a ground for the experience of essence. Even when essence is experienced before space is integrated, it does not become a permanent experience. It can become a permanent part of our experience only after space is integrated. This phenomenon is understood by most spiritual teachings. So the absence of space also signifies absence or lack of essence in its various aspects—such as strength, will, value, personal essence, and so on. The genital hole is frequently experienced as associated with these lacks. On the other hand, the statement that the genital hole does not reflect a basically sexual self-image can be seen as untrue. It does reflect the image of having no genitals. In fact, it is common for women who feel these lacks to attribute them to the lack of a penis. Babs felt exactly these lacks when she lost her imaginary “penis.” However, in her case, the usual identification is with the phallus; other women, passive or dependent types, identify with the hole itself.

The Void, pg. 83

Resistance Appearing as a Defense Against Dependency

The other major object relation involved in oral narcissism is that of a hungry, libidinal, and devouring self, that feels full of life and vigor, passion and desire, uncontrollably wanting an object that appears to it full, luscious, yummy, and totally desirable. The resistance against this early oral object relation is due to the fear of destroying the object by devouring it, and deeper still, the fear of frustration in the event the libidinal object is unattainable. This resistance frequently appears as a defense against dependency, which manifests as devaluation of the object, and not feeling one’s neediness. Another form this resistance assumes is that of creating relationships in which the other experiences the narcissist as full and desirable but unavailable. When the resistances dissolve and the object relation becomes conscious, one’s experience of oneself ranges from being a hungry and desirous infant to a sense of being a primitive, instinctual, devouring organism. There is passionate love suffused with devouring desire. This is not an easy object relation to transform, and its significance is not restricted to the question of narcissism. It underlies some of the fundamental attitudes of the personality, and its transformation requires the exploration and clarification of object relations in general.

Seeing an Infantile Sort of Dependency on the Teacher

If you want to live a more fulfilling life, you have to develop a taste for certain values, a taste for truth and understanding, depth and profundity, precision and exquisiteness, dignity and integrity. These refined values are subtle rather than gross. They will lead to a refined human life, infused with natural beauty, colorful and rich. All of these things are present all the time—you don’t have to achieve them, you just need to appreciate them. You need to begin to love them and orient yourself towards them so that you allow yourself the time and opportunity for them to emerge. It is also important to see that the result of the orientation towards solving problems, conflicts, and tensions, is an infantile sort of dependency on the teacher. If the student learns to appreciate the process of understanding and supports the truth, then the student is an adult and an equal with his or her teacher. There will be collaboration and an enjoyable interaction, an artistic, creative flow. The world is full of all kinds of miraculous things and beautiful subtleties. When it is not focused on and limited by the perspective of getting rid of the problem, this entire process—including the problem—can become a source of fulfillment. Often, there is an attitude that “Nothing good is going to happen until I get rid of this problem.” This attitude eliminates any openness to what might arise in the moment. If people are going to be heavy, waiting to solve their problems, there will be no happy people left. We’re talking about a certain focus, a persistent stubbornness, a narrow-minded view of wanting only what you have in your mind, what you think is good. You are saying then, “I know what is best and I’ll close my eyes to anything else that is there.” This only leads to suffering, frustration, and tension.

Structuring of Dependency into the Soul

This overwhelming focus on the physical and instinctual aspects of experience tends to dissociate the soul from her essence, especially as it becomes instituted in her structure. However, a specific feature of this deep structuring seems to be central in effecting such dissociation: the fact that the infant, toddler, and young child are completely dependent physically on their environment. This dependency becomes structured into the soul not in the normal sense of dependency that many individuals have, but in a more fundamental orientation toward experience and life. The infant’s experience is that whatever the soul needs comes from her caregivers and the physical environment. In other words, what she needs can only come from outside her. This is typified by one of the most fundamental ego structures, the soul in the form of the empty stomach relating to an external breast. This deep impression in the soul permanently orients her toward the outside, always toward the most surface and physical reality, for the satisfaction of her needs. As a result, whenever the soul experiences any need, any inner emptiness, the original template that the soul will morph her experience through will be that of an empty stomach wanting something from outside her. This outer directed orientation characterizes the animal soul, and functions as the fundamental underlying attitude of the ego-self. The soul is then not only externally oriented, but she is always ready to move forcefully outward. This compulsive and rigidly structured outwardness, in both orientation and action, automatically dissociates the soul from her essence. Essence is the inner, the depth; fixated orientation away from it is bound to dissociate us from it. The compulsive outward movement literally means the soul leaves her essential ground for the object of her gratification. The end result is not only dissociation, but the fixated position that richness resides outside, when in reality, for the adult soul it is primarily inside. Because of this fixed animal structure, the soul will find it difficult to commit to her inner richness, even when she experiences and understands its unlimitedness, for this fixation is so deeply structured and crystallized that it takes a great deal of maturity and learning to break through it.

Vulnerable Dependency on the Mirroring Object

As long as the student feels that his teacher is empathically aware of him and mirroring him in an admiring or special way, he feels that she is supporting and validating his sense of self. This mirroring object relation is largely a fantasy in his mind, which is usually unconscious unless it is disturbed. He continues to bask in her positive light—whether real or imagined, which helps him to be open to seeing and accepting his exhibitionistic and grandiose tendencies. However, this equilibrium of his sense of self and self-esteem is precarious, as is reflected by his extreme sensitivity to any lapse or imperfection in the teacher’s empathic mirroring. Now that he has established a mirror transference to his teacher, he is depending on her to shore up, confirm, and preserve the cohesion of his identity and its attendant self-esteem. He is extremely vulnerable to her, in a way that he might not appreciate until he feels some disruption in this idyllic condition. The shakiness of his sense of identity, his sensitivity to the absence or presence of perfect empathic mirroring, and his vulnerable dependency on the mirroring object (the teacher in this case) are reflected in the fact that what might appear to the external observer to be slight or even minute lapses in the mirroring cause extreme reactions of distress. Deep emotional hurt, tremendous rage, and an extreme loss of self-esteem are some of the elements of his reaction to slight inaccuracies of feedback from his teacher, or even her imagined absence or lessening of attention or approval from her.

Why a Teacher is Sometimes Seen as an Enemy

Like other essential aspects, associated with this aspect of support is a hole that is experienced as lack of support. Most of the time an enemy is the right person to expose it for you. Sometimes your friends love you too much to expose it in you. Your friends may be aware that you need to depend on them less, but they may not have the heart to do anything about it. But you might find an enemy who will do something about it. This is why a teacher is sometimes seen as an enemy. A teacher sometimes precipitates this state just by confronting you with its reality. If your teacher confronts your fake support and your dependency that needs support, usually you’ll hate your teacher for a while. Or you’ll hate your friends if your friends support you in that way. You’ll see your friends or teacher as an enemy and in some sense they are an enemy. That’s the definition of an enemy, but it is a useful enemy. So your teacher sometimes seems to be your friend and sometimes seems to be your enemy. I am not saying you should go around looking for enemies. There are a lot of enemies around without looking for them. Things will just happen. A lot happens in our world and in our environment that exposes lack of support. Sometimes it takes a long time to encounter your lack of support, but it always happens at some point. When you really let yourself experience the hole, the deficiency, the emptiness, without trying to get support or to be seen or to be mirrored, you will see yourself, and this is the way you will get support. Support usually occurs through mirroring. Anyone can support you by mirroring you. Mirroring involves someone showing you what you are by seeing and appreciating you.

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