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Devoid of . . . .

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Devoid of . . . . ?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Devoid of . . . .

A Pure Animal Soul, Devoid of Any Human Concerns or Sentiments

The Libidinal Soul: This is the animal soul at the beginning of ego structuring, where the soul’s animal potential is all contained in one structure. This is a much more primitive structure than the soul child, for it is not patterned by the human body image. This structure forms the more primitive ground of the soul child, and hence will generally arise as we make the soul child more transparent. It is a structure of a living entity, shapeless and formless, but has individual boundaries, for it appears as an entity. It feels like a primitive animalistic creature that is completely run by the instinctual drives and appetites. Its aliveness and dynamism are much more total than those of the soul child, appearing frequently as a writhing, wiggling, but powerful organism with no fixed shape or size. Civilized society does not know how to deal with this aspect of the soul, so it relegates it to our subterranean depths, by repressing it in the unconscious or disowning it as a split-off part of us of which we are not normally aware. Because it is usually disowned by society and the individual, it becomes a pure animal soul, devoid of any human concerns or sentiments. In other words, splitting it off into a disowned and rejected part of the soul involves the creation of a soul structure that is separate from and not impacted by the other and more human elements of the soul’s potential. This dissociation from human concerns, which means absence of heart, appears in the experience of the libidinal soul in being irrational, guiltless, ruthless, completely selfish and self-centered. In other words, the animal soul is originally run by drives and instinctual appetites, but it is not particularly destructive or grossly and intentionally selfish, but similar to animals in the wild. However, because it is disowned, it loses contact with the other elements of the soul, and becomes distorted and extreme in the intensity of its aggression, worse than actual animals.

Because of our Essential Blindness, our World Representation is that of a World Devoid of Depth

This is related to the well-known psychological phenomenon of transference, in which we project images of people from our early childhood onto people in our present lives. We unconsciously see this person as mother and that person as father, with the corresponding image of ourselves in relation to them, recreating these early relationships. Likewise, we project an image of the world onto our present-day experience of it, based on our early experience. This world representation is a synthesis of many images. It is based primarily on our early experience with mother, since she was the central figure in that environment, but also includes the totality of the environment that we experienced as a child. Because of our essential blindness, our world representation is almost inevitably that of a world devoid of depth, devoid of consciousness, devoid of presence, devoid of God, devoid of truth. It is an empty shell, a projection of mother’s empty breast. As long as you see the world as separate from God or devoid of Essence, you cannot really recognize, experience, or embody your essential nature in a permanent way. We are not something separate from the world—the sense of separation is only a mental construct—and so it is impossible to recognize the fundamental nature of one without seeing that of the other. When we see through this dichotomy, when we perceive beyond our world representation, we see that the physical world has a reality that is similar to our essential nature in the sense of its presence and consciousness, and we perceive that world to be perfect and good. We see, in other words, that the physical world is made out of conscious, loving presence, and this recognition underlies the sense of basic trust.

Facets of Unity, pg. 56

Ego, of Its Very Nature, has a Rejecting Attitude

Acceptance: This aspect is extremely subtle to experience. Its nature is the exact opposite of that of ego. Ego, of its very nature, has a rejecting attitude. Its defenses are based on the rejection of parts of experience. Its structure is never devoid of defense, which is rejection. The very presence of identification systems implies a subtle rejection of Being. This means that no part of ego is capable of accepting. The individuality of ego is incapable of Acceptance, because its very existence depends on a subtle attitude of rejection. Ego can only cease rejecting, but it cannot accept. The complete cessation of rejection is the absence of all defense and resistance. This precipitates the aspect of Acceptance. Thus Acceptance involves the cessation of ego, or of a segment of its structure. We see here the intimate relationship between the aspect of Acceptance and the process of absorption. Acceptance is really necessary for absorption to occur, for absorption cannot proceed if there is still resistance, which is rejection. The word acceptance is somewhat misleading, for the aspect is not an active attitude; there is no activity of acceptance. It is a presence of Being when there is no attitude of either “no” or “yes.” A “yes” could mean a prejudice, a certain point of view. But this aspect does not have any attitude. It is a pure, delicate and gentle presence, of utmost humility and exquisite refinement. It is like a gentle rain, that brings freshness and life. Most individuals, when they experience it, refer to it as blessings.

Featureless True Nature Reveals a Consciousness that is Conscious of Itself but Devoid of Thought

The experience of featureless consciousness is timeless and spaceless in the sense that it is not patterned by concepts of either time/no time or space/no space. We perceive the passage of events without having to identify with the concept of time. We experience dimensions of space without any persisting sense of here and there. Our experience has no sense of size or location, quality or color. Featureless true nature reveals a consciousness that is conscious of itself but devoid of thought, differentiation, conceptualization, and recognition. It is a pure and undefined consciousness that is free of the concept of consciousness. By calling it “consciousness,” I am referring to the fact that there is experience, which is so indefinable that we cannot refer to it as either presence or emptiness. How can there be consciousness of something that has no definable features except for consciousness itself? It is a pure and complete absence of mind. Although featurelessness is friendly to features—which can be and ordinarily are present—they do not pattern the featurelessness. Featurelessness is both beyond mind and can coexist easily with mind because it does not have any feature that opposes or negates mind.

Feeling Empty and Meaningless but Also Experiencing the Whole World as Empty, Devoid of Warmth and Nourishment

The student understands at this point that this hungry, empty self is the deepest psychodynamic source of his selfishness, self-centeredness, self-seeking, exploitativeness, cruelty, heartlessness, and compulsive need for narcissistic supplies. This self views these supplies—the admiration, acknowledgment, recognition, support, love, success, acclaim, applause, and the rest—as a kind of food it needs to assuage the gnawing hunger and to fill its painful emptiness. At this point, as the underlying emptiness of the self begins to manifest, the student might experience the usual narcissistic meaninglessness and emptiness of life and existence. He feels empty and meaningless, but also experiences the whole world as empty, devoid of warmth and nourishment. Persisting with exploring these manifestations, he discovers that for this self, meaning is food, or a full stomach. However, this food has a narcissistic quality to it. Before he actually experiences the emptiness, he feels hungry, and observes that he tries to assuage his hunger with narcissistic supplies. He tries to fill himself with acclaim, applause, admiring mirroring, adoring support, and idealizing love, with recognition, appreciation, and approval, but goes about it with the uncontrollable hunger of a famished soul. He can never get enough; his satiation is transitory and his fullness can only be short-lived.

Feeling Self as the Immensity of Presence, Absolutely Dense and Infinitely Deep

More precisely, the new perception is that when the colorless nonconceptual presence expands, manifesting as the nature and substance of all appearance, this presence moves to the surface. The clear, empty but solid presence is now exterior to me, and a deeper truth is revealed. I recognize myself now as this new, now black, presence, and I see the world becoming my surface. In other words, as all appearance manifests as my exteriority, the clear crystalline medium loses its depth and becomes only the clear surface of the newly arising blackness. The final effect is that the clear nonconceptual presence has transformed into a black nonconceptual presence. The blackness is not exactly a color, but rather the absence of color, like one would imagine intergalactic space before there were stars. I now experience my identity, which is the nature of everything, as a crystal black absence. I feel myself, my existence, as the immensity of presence, absolutely dense and infinitely deep. Yet this immensity and density feels totally light and weightless, completely devoid of any sensation. It is so empty it is total absence. It is nothing, but at the same time it is dense presence. To describe it exactly, it is radiant black crystalline dense absence. How can absence, which is not existence, have qualities like radiance and density? This is absolutely paradoxical, but this is my experience. How does this absence feel? Like the absence of everything. But this absence of everything is simultaneously the solid ground and nature of everything. The sense of this truth is that it is neither presence nor absence but, at the same time, it combines presence and absence. It feels absolute in its truth and certainty. The sense of truth and certainty are not conceptual; they are totally beyond mind and thought.

Personal Essence is the True Human Being, the Personal Presence that is Devoid of Falsehood, Without Being Impersonal

From our point of view, the man of spirit has half the truth, and the man of the world has the other half, concealed behind a reflection that is taken to be the truth. In our exploration we will discuss some of the eternal truths, which are known in some of the spiritual traditions, and are not revealed, but instead kept as precious secrets, given only to those who genuinely seek. However, we will sometimes use the modern language of psychology, and the findings of ego psychology and object relations theory, to convey these truths in a manner appropriate to our time. The approach we are giving here can be seen as radical from the above points of view. The Personal Essence, which is the subject of this book, is neither “spiritual” nor “worldly.” It is the true human being, the personal presence that is devoid of falsehood, without being impersonal. This is not envisioned as possible by many spiritual teachings, although it is not the personality of ego. However, it is what makes the nature of ego and its concerns intelligible. An important consequence of the understanding of the Personal Essence is a new perception of the life led by most people, the perception of a spiritual truth or an essential element in the heart of all ego strivings. This means that in fact most of humankind are not astray in the usual sense of the word, but are after something real and precious. The difficulty lies in the fact that they do not know how to find it. The qualities of the Personal Essence are those of fullness, autonomy, competence, respect, dignity, integrity, excellence, maturity, harmony and completeness, among others. There is very little knowledge and guidance in the modern world about how to develop into such a true human being. The result is that most of us settle for an imitation or an incomplete development, which is the personality of ego.

Presence (Essential Identity) that is Totally Clear, Devoid of Any Obscurations

At this stage, seeing where we are transforms smoothly into the state of self-realization with objective awareness of ourselves. There is the presence of the point (Essential Identity) and the nondual experience of it; the point is present within a clear and transparent medium. We know ourselves as a transparent and clear presence, crystalline in its clarity and precision, the center of which is the blinding brilliance of the Essential Identity. The presence is totally clear, totally devoid of any obscurations; it is sharp, vivid, and rich, with inherent luminosity. This is the mirror-like awareness, which is now inseparable from the presence of the Essential Identity, but in a faceted and precise diamond-like form. There is a precise, clear, and objective seeing of oneself inseparable from the simplicity of being oneself. Seeing where one is and following the thread of one’s unfoldment is the teaching of this manifestation of Essence. This manifestation of Essence is a whole dimension which manifests as a diamond-like clarity, with the various colors and qualities of the essential aspects. The clear, crystalline medium manifests itself both in a colorless form, indicating clarity, and also colored with the rich hues of the essential aspects. As we become clearer about this self-aware, clear presence as it manifests as and through the essential aspects, we come to understand the various elements needed in mirroring.

Presence Without Qualities, Devoid of Recognizable Qualities

In the realization of pure presence, the soul understands presence in its most pure and simple state. She finds it to be so simple that she cannot say anything else other than that it is presence, or beingness. Presence here is without qualities, devoid of recognizable characteristics such as love, compassion, truth, joy, and so on. It is presence, and that is all, no more and no less. Since her true nature here is simply presence, it is devoid of opaqueness. From this perspective it becomes clear that the manifestation of a quality or color adds something to true nature; it adds a slight opaqueness. Even when there is color the medium of presence can be transparent, but with color it is not as transparent as when it is colorless. When there is color, or quality, one sees the color, or feels the quality, in addition to simply being aware of presence. Hence one’s awareness is slightly divided between the sense of presence and the color or quality. It is not exactly a division, for in essential realization the presence and the quality are inseparable, but the mind can still discern two things, on two ontological levels. They are coemergent and coextensive, but the presence and its quality or color can be discriminated. In pure being, there is no possibility for this discernment, for it is no longer a matter of coemergence. It is singleness, simple unity. This simplicity means total transparency, complete colorlessness. The medium is completely see-through; there is nothing to obstruct the awareness. There is not even any quality for the awareness to reflect on and recognize. It is presence, however, with the sense of the fullness of beingness. Presence is substantial here, and full.

Pure Being is None Other than the Ultimate Reality, but Still Not Seen Completely Objectively

In our exploration, we will discuss the need for the person in more down-to-earth terms, by understanding the characteristics of the Personal Essence. We can understand this need, at least partially, when we remember that the Personal Essence is related to functioning. It is the aspect of Being responsible for actual functioning in the world of space-time. Pure Being, in its state of eternal unity and nondifferentiation, cannot function in the physical world; it does not even make sense to speak about functioning in relation to this aspect. It is completely separate from, and transcendent to, functioning. Functioning presupposes differentiation and discrimination. The Personal Essence is the integration that is the outcome of the synthesis of the differentiated aspects of Being; it is the functional aspect of Being. To thoroughly understand in what sense the Personal Essence is the functional aspect of Being, we must explore the relationship of the Personal Essence to the ultimate reality. This ultimate reality is not exactly that of nondifferentiated Pure Being or oneness. It is beyond all conceptualizations. Oneness still retains a concept of oneness. Nondifferentiated Pure Being still retains the concept of Being or existence. Pure Being is none other than the ultimate reality, but is still not seen completely objectively. It is devoid of all differentiation, but it is not devoid of concepts. It is beyond all concepts except one; one is still adhering to the subtle conceptualization of existence. There is still a sense of presence, of beingness, which is very clear experientially. And we find that ego ultimately will use this sense of presence to support its existence and identity. So the next development in the process of inner realization is for Pure Being to lose the last concept, that of Presence.

Realizing that the Ego-Self is Fundamentally Poor, Totally Indigent, Devoid of All Possessions and Qualities

The student realizes that in identifying with the ego-self she truly has nothing, for everything comes from Being. As the ego-self, she is fundamentally poor, totally indigent, devoid of all possessions and qualities. This state is very profound; by this point, too, the student is coming to the insight that this is the intrinsic condition of the ego-self, and is not particular only to her personal situation. The state has a sense of having nothing, feeling nothing, being nothing, and perceiving nothing. It can easily shift to the state of cessation (the disappearing), but it can go further.

Seeing Physical Objects, Including People, Having No Substance, No Density and No Reality

Staying with this realization of the deep underlying relationship to the world will spontaneously lead to a new perception, hitherto totally unsuspected. One begins to become conscious that one’s empty shell feels continuous with, and not separate from, the rest of the world. One feels as if one’s individuality and the rest of the universe make the same entity, at the same level, with the same significance. This is the beginning of the objective awareness of the totality of the ego identity. One starts becoming aware of the totality of the ego structure projected on all of reality. Then one starts becoming aware that this reality, which includes both self and world in a continuous manner, does not seem to have any real significance. Both self and world turn out to be one big shell, empty and insubstantial. Now it is not only one’s personality that is perceived to be fake and empty, but the whole world is experienced in this way. It is strange to see physical objects, including people, having no substance, no density and no reality. They feel empty and flat like cardboard, colorless and devoid of vitality. Everything still looks the same, but one realizes that one has been projecting a significance, fullness and reality that is not really there. Here one is objectively perceiving the totality of ego identity, and realizing for the first time that it is empty, unreal and, in fact, feels like images or thoughts, which it is. So not only one’s individuality, but the totality of the world that one has been familiar with, turns out not to have the reality that one believed in so unquestioningly. One realizes, for the first time, that the world does not have the richness and gratification that one always believed it had. The world of ego is as empty as ego. This is a stunning discovery for the ego, and shattering to some of its most basic beliefs. One can never forget such a realization. The usual experience of the personality is that one feels oneself as real, full and existing, and the world also as real, full and existing. The usual sense of significance and substantiality of the personality is experienced as continuous with that of the significance and absolute reality of the world that one perceives.

The Cognitive Aspect of the Experience is that I am a Person with No Qualities, only a Personal Presence

A new obstacle arises at this point, a belief that constitutes a resistance against this new manifestation. This belief interferes with the sense of witnessing, without totally eliminating it. The belief is that there will be no personal life, no personal living, if there is no enmeshment in life. This exposes the belief as part of the inertia of being the separate individual of ego. Being responds to this concern by manifesting the aspect of the personal essence, the pearl beyond price, the person of Being. The experience transforms into knowing myself as a full presence, rounded as a pearl, but transparent and sweet. I feel personal, even though I am a pure presence of transparent consciousness. This transparent fullness has a subtle sweetness, making it feel slightly sticky, or gummy. There is pure presence, with clarity and spaciousness all around. The cognitive aspect of the experience is that I am a person with no qualities, only a personal presence, devoid of images or psychological boundaries. Since I can be a person without being the product of memory, I can live a personal life without getting lost in it.

The Deep and Subtle Perception that One Can Perceive Directly that an Identification Cannot be Absolutely Devoid of Defense or Resistance

Observing this, one becomes aware that there must be some way that this part of the personality is keeping itself from contact with Being. When identified with this ego part one feels separate from Being, without a feeling of interest or curiosity about it. One becomes slowly aware of a very subtle resistance in this personality aspect, against the presence of Being, which makes it feel separate from it. One becomes aware that the structure of this part, its very fabric, is pervaded by an extremely subtle posture of resistance; this resistance is part of its familiar sense of identity. To understand the difference between this subtle resistance and the usual resistances of ego defenses, one can visualize the usual resistance as a block of rubber. If you push against it, it pushes back, it resists you. In comparison to this thick block of rubber, the subtle resistance is like a very thin cloud of rubber. Whenever there is a strong feeling, one part of this cloud condenses and becomes a full-fledged resistance. However, at all times the thin cloud of rubber pervades, so to speak, the withdrawn personality segment. It is in such deep and subtle perception that one can perceive directly that an identification cannot be absolutely devoid of defense or resistance. There are many aspects of this experience, but we will focus on what happens next. As usual, when the resistance is seen and understood it begins to dissolve. This resistance is understood to be an attempt to avoid contact with Being, to stay separate from it, untouched by it. As this subtle resistance starts dissolving, one starts feeling oneself becoming absorbed in the undifferentiated Being. The experience of being absorbed by something bigger and unknown is quite definite and clear. There is no fear by now, because there is understanding, but sometimes there is some sadness, as if one is losing an old acquaintance. One feels one is being absorbed, as if one is a liquid being absorbed by a sponge. As the absorption proceeds one becomes less the personality and more the impersonal Being.

The Experience of Ego Cannot be Devoid of Narcissism

As has been amply demonstrated by object relations theory, since all ego structures are based on identifications with impressions from the past, it is clear that the experience of ego cannot be devoid of narcissism. Thus the conventional dimension of experience, which is deeply patterned by these structures (whether healthy or pathological), includes an intrinsic narcissism. Everyone knows that he has some measure of selfishness, self-reference, a need to be seen and appreciated, a deep wish for esteem and admiration from others, and some distortion in his self-concepts. Although we are accustomed to thinking of these traits as normal, they are in fact narcissistic phenomena. They are universal to all nonrealized individuals, reflecting the fundamental narcissism that is the result of not knowing oneself on a deep level. This is what we call the “narcissism of everyday life” or “fundamental narcissism.”

The Sense of Pure Identity, of Pure Selfhood

The Essential Self, on the other hand, is a simple presence with the specific feeling of identity. One feels simply “I am present, that is me.” The sense of identity is very distinct, very clear, very definite and very precise. It cannot be described, but it can be recognized, just like love can be recognized when it is felt. That is what it means to be an essential aspect. This aspect is the purest, most specific, most exact, most differentiated feeling of the particular category of experience. It is a completely differentiated and discriminated perception of a particular category of experience. This complete definiteness and delineation of experience is not possible on the ego level; it is the domain of Essence. The Essential Self is experienced as the most definite of all aspects of Essence. It is supremely singular, and amazingly unique. This unique singularity is recognized readily as one’s true Self. One recognizes oneself in a very direct and simple manner, with a feeling that one has known one’s Self always, even though one has always identified with the vague sense of identity belonging to the ego. The sense of pure identity, of pure selfhood, is completely devoid of, and independent from, any emotion or image from the past. It is the presence of Being, in the specific aspect of Self.

The Sense of Who One is is Never Devoid of the State of Inadequacy

Given that ego is so cut off from the real resources of Being, one might wonder where it gets its strength and energy! Part of the answer is that individuals vary in terms of the rigidity of their identifications with ego structures, and as we saw in our discussion of maturity and metabolism, the less rigid or the more flexible the ego individuality is, the more permeable it is to Essence and its resources. Under such conditions, one has available some real strength and energy, at least some of the time. However, the sense of who one is is never devoid of the state of inadequacy. The self of ego is what is inadequate, even though one might not really be inadequate to the demands upon one. This is seen in students who are experiencing essential states but still believe they are inadequate. This is a result of identifying with the ego individuality. Individuals believe consciously or unconsciously that they are truly inadequate, because they believe they are the ego individuality, and this individuality is actually basically inadequate. It is hopeless for the ego individuality to become free of its inadequacy; this is why most individuals identify so much with inadequacy and hopelessness. When one identifies with ego then one is, in a manner of speaking, truly inadequate and hopeless. This fact confronts all students of essential realization at some point. As they experience essential states and perceptions, they become hopeful that they can become adequate. But they are ultimately frustrated and disappointed when they realize, over and over, that this is completely impossible. They cannot be completely adequate while they continue being who they have been in the past. They must ultimately let go of the identity with ego. This is the metamorphosis known in spiritual traditions as “self-realization,” and constitutes a profound shift of identity.

To Experience Mystery is to Know the Mystery as Mystery

What do we expect transcendence to be? It is absolute nonmanifestation, and true nature requires the mirror of forms in order for it to reflect and know itself the way we understand knowing. Transcendence knowing itself is simply absolutely being itself, where the beingness of itself is completely absolute, and hence there is no hint of self-reflection, not even self-awareness. Self-awareness is already the beginning of manifestation. We might view this pure experience of transcendence as indicating that the source of awareness is inherently not aware of itself, that it is aware of itself only when it manifests the world with its light of consciousness. Another view is that true nature is inherently a mystery, a pure black light where there is nothing but light, this light preceding not only what we usually know as light, but also Being itself. Since its nature is mystery and indetermination, increased intimacy with this dark light will not produce more knowledge; it will instead produce more mystery. To experience mystery is to know the mystery as mystery. It is absolutely empty of any determination, devoid of any quality or form, and so to know it is to have no experience. This total absence of experience is not darkness, but rather total and absolute knowledge. It is the absence of all obscuration, but also the absence of all manifestation. Since there is no obscuration, no obstacles, not even the distraction of the forms of manifestation, why would we think of it as ignorance or darkness? Why think of it as not knowing or unknowing? Since the transcendent true nature is inherently mysterious and indeterminable, this is the absolute limit of mystery and indetermination. It is absolute knowing. It is the mode of knowledge of transcendent true nature, Being without mirrors, not even the mirror of awareness.

When One’s Life, with All Its Activities and Accomplishments, Constitutes a Shell

In other words, one does not gain value from one’s accomplishments; these accomplishments are, rather, the expression of one’s self-existing value. When one depends on any external manifestations, such as performance, achievement, excellence, or anything, to feel a sense of value or love, then one has not yet personalized the essential aspect of value. To depend upon external manifestations for self-esteem means one has to use one’s mind; one has to remember these accomplishments. But the value of Being is self-existing, is a presence independent of the mind, and of the past. This is not possible on the ego level, where self-esteem is always inferred from one’s manifestations and accomplishments, and always somewhat removed from one’s Beingness. This distance between one’s value and one’s Beingness becomes especially obvious in the case of the narcissistic personality. The narcissistic personality has no sense of value except from external approval, admiration, recognition, acceptance and appreciation. This need for such external mirroring is incessant and bottomless. One must keep performing and achieving in order to keep the narcissistic supplies flowing. So achievements are not expressions of who one is, but are pursued to give oneself significance and identity. One’s life, with all its activities and accomplishments, constitutes a shell that is empty and devoid of any sense of self or Being. In such a character, a momentary failure of or disidentification with one’s external achievements makes one feel that one’s life is empty and insignificant. The essential person may or may not have many external achievements, but his achievements are more meaningful to him, giving him a sense of pleasure and value because they are the expression of essential qualities.

When We Explore these (Ego) Structures, they Always Reveal Themselves to be Empty

What we call ego structures are the normal identifications of the self. Since they are the final and most highly structured outcomes of ego development, they are usually quite distant from the soul’s ground of presence. As a result, when we explore these structures, they always reveal themselves to be empty, devoid of inner reality. They are the most external structures, where the sense of inner medium of the soul is completely obscured from view, and her sense of agency is vague. We are a subject who observes and experiences objects, inner or outer. This is the conventional dimension of experience, the totally egoic realm of duality. All these structures can be seen to compose a segment of the soul that we refer to as the central ego, meaning the central identification system that develops through normal ego development and that the individual soul identifies with consciously. It is the final outcome of integrating the various object relations and their associated images into an overall self-image. It is the ordinary, normal, familiar sense of self and identity. We are not here dealing with deep instinctual structures, but with the normal level of object relations: for example, “I am a bad boy who angers his father,” or “I am a frustrated girl because my mother does not pay attention to me.” This is why when we penetrate these ego structures they reveal themselves as empty shells, devoid of substance and reality.

When You Begin to Recognize that Your Personality is Devoid of Being You Feel Like You’re Just a Shell

The empty shell is the experience of the personality when it’s seen for what it is. When you begin to recognize that your personality is devoid of being, devoid of presence, devoid of essence, you feel like you’re just a shell. There is nothing inside you—no substance, no fullness. And that usually arises when we are dealing with the question of identity: Who am I? What am I? This happens after you begin to work with and experience essence, being, or spirit. As we’ve seen, at some point, when you have had experiences of your essential nature, you realize that it’s possible not only to experience essential nature, but to be essential nature. Instead of experiencing strength, you are strength. Instead of experiencing truth, you are truth. So there’s a shift of identity and your sense of what you are changes. It’s no longer as if I am this individual or self that is having an experience of spiritual presence. No, I am this spiritual presence. It’s a fundamental shift in your experience of what you are, which is what we mean by “self-realization.” The self-realization of essence or being comes when you experience it as your identity, as your center, as who and what you are.

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