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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Dissolution?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Dissolution

An Emptiness Signifying the Dissolution of Identity

Narcissistic rage functions in two ways in relation to narcissistic hurt, and narcissistic vulnerability in general. It is a reaction to the hurt, from the hurt. The student feels deeply wounded and reacts out of this hurt with extreme anger. So we can see it as a normal reaction to hurt. However, it has special characteristics because the narcissistic hurt is different from other kinds of emotional pain. The fact that this wound is very vulnerable, and opens up to an emptiness signifying the dissolution of identity, imbues the reactive anger with an intensity and a hardness rarely seen in other kinds of anger. The reaction may actually precede the awareness of the hurt; the person will often experience the rage reaction and then, if at all, become consciously aware of the hurt. She perceives the failure of the self-object and reacts to this failure directly with rage and indignation. Only on investigation, or after the rage has passed, does she realize that she has felt hurt and wounded. However, the rage may arise only after she has felt the hurt, and understood the loss of mirroring. With more severely disturbed individuals the rage reaction is more likely to precede the awareness of the hurt. This points to the other function of the rage, that of psychological defense. The rage is used to avoid awareness of the wound, and the possible disintegration it may lead to. The more narcissistically vulnerable the self is, the more difficult it is for the student to acknowledge the wound directly, for to her this acknowledgment would mean weakness and defeat. It may take a lot of work and dedication for her to feel the hurt directly. The narcissistic rage functions to protect her from the awareness of her vulnerability, dependency on mirroring, and the weakness of her sense of self. When this issue is present, the student’s trust in the teacher can be an important factor.

Continual Dissolution of the Boundaries of Self-Image

Every realized human being continues to work on inner development. There is no end to the development and unfolding of essence. This development proceeds by exposing more and more, perhaps in time very subtle aspects of the personality. After the basic identification with personality is broken, the process of dissolving the subtler aspects of the self-image usually becomes easier. It is a continual dissolution of the boundaries of self-image, resulting in more expansion. It is not that personality is gone and now essence develops. It is rather that the more essence develops, the more personality is exposed and its boundaries dissolved. The fulfillment and expansion of essence is endless and boundless.

Dissolution of a Self-Boundary Invokes the Experience of Inner Open Space

The reader might now have many doubts, objections, questions, even anxieties. We will address some of them shortly. But first, we must note here that by dissolving a self-boundary—in this case, the unconscious body-image of being castrated—the person experiences spaciousness or space. We have traveled in our exploration, through the above case history, from the experience of spaciousness to the experience of open space. Space is the intimate experience of the nature of one’s mind. It is not important here to establish the exact ontological status of the phenomenon we are here calling “inner space.” We will later refer to many aspects and descriptions of this space from psychoanalytic, Western philosophical, and Eastern spiritual sources. Here, we will describe our own clinical evidence, which is the result of systematic exploration with many individuals. The concept of an actual “inner space” is probably unfamiliar to most readers, because our usual self-image contains an unchallenged belief that we cannot experience space directly, or that there is no such thing as an inner open space. We are here dissolving this boundary, because we have ample evidence both in experience and clinical case studies—evidence that has been repeated and can be duplicated—that the dissolution of a self-boundary invokes the experience of inner open space. Of course, it can be experienced as a form of spaciousness, but we are asserting here that if the awareness is more refined as a result of dissolving more self-boundaries, the experience is definitely and directly of open space—open, empty, and freeing. 

The Void, pg. 21

Dissolution of Boundaries Frequently Feels like Aloneness

Hence, aloneness is not a matter of one being separate or physically alone. It means one is existing without ego, without self-image. For if there was self-image then one would be engaged in internalized object relations, and one would not feel alone then. Krishnamurti said one time that ego cannot exist in aloneness. And we see here how true this is, for ego involves internalized object relations. That is why the experience of the Personal Essence feels like aloneness, and brings about strong reactions from ego; ego reacts because it starts seeing the end of its story. Aloneness means the death of ego, the false personality based on past mental object relations. The loss or dissolution of boundaries frequently feels like aloneness; for it is the dissolution of the last identification systems of ego. Although boundaries make one feel separate, even isolated, one still does not feel alone. These ego boundaries are based on self-images that are part of internalized object relations. As they dissolve one starts feeling alone, but this means that one is entering the state of freedom, Being without ego.

Dissolution of Concepts

So little by little the concepts go away. The concept of being the body, the concept of being an individual, the concept of past, present, and future, the concept of space all dissolve. The final concept to go is existence, the notion that something is there. Awareness of existence is called consciousness. We are attached to the sense that there is beingness. And even when the sense of beingness goes, there can remain a sense of consciousness. If the sense of presence or existence goes, there will be just consciousness. Pure consciousness is awareness without content. In Zen, this is often called fundamental reality. There is no sense of existence, there is just awareness. There is knowingness, but not knowingness of anything in particular. Nothing can be said about it. But even this open knowingness has to go at some point. It doesn’t go and never come back, but we discover that knowingness is not final, that consciousness is not final.

Dissolution of Identity

In our work, we use the true self to expose the false self. But there is always the danger of trying to hold on to an identity. The Buddhists, for instance, don’t talk about a true self, because they see this danger. They say there is no such thing as a true self, because your belief in a true self might enhance or substantiate an experience of ego. Here, then, we see the need for the dissolution of identity itself, whether true or false. We are attached to identity itself, and any attachment to identity, even to an experience of true self, becomes the false identity. We want to hold on to identity because we assume that we need a center. “Now I have a true center,” says ego, “finally I’m self-realized.” The ego is gloating over its victory, “I have slain the ego,” says ego. “Now I am a star, I’m no longer a human being,” says ego. Then the next level of the void needs to arise, the level of the dissolution of identity. We need to see that the attachment to identity itself is also hell and frustration. At this point you begin to see hell more clearly, more palpably. You start burning. The more attached you are to that identity, the more the burning and frustration. Then the dissolution of self, or the dissolution of identity, is what we call extinction, annihilation or nonexistence, which is a new level of the void. Not only your body is gone, but also your identity, your ego is gone.

Dissolution of the Conscious Presence of the Soul into the Absolute

In the process of dissolution of the conscious presence of the soul into the absolute, or in any experience of inquiring into the nature of the absolute, we discover that the last vestige of consciousness is a multimodal sensory one. As we see and feel the mysterious darkness of nonbeing we feel our presence as a kind of sensation. Our presence becomes simply the presence of simple sensation, sensing itself and the nonbeing of the absolute. As it apprehends the absolute it sees and senses it. The seeing becomes a seeing of darkness, which culminates in the total cessation of perception. The sensing becomes a sensing of absence of being, which culminates in the total cessation of sensation. As we learn to acclimate to the reality of the absolute, and experience it as our truth, we experience ourselves as its vast emptiness, as the infinity of the luminous night. We are then the absolute nonbeing witnessing the emergence of the forms of experience.

Dissolution of the Psychic Structure

The final outcome of the process of disidentification is the experience of the dissolution of the psychic structure or self-image. This is the experience of space, of what is sometimes called the void—when self-image is dissolved, the person will experience the loss of boundaries, both physical and mental. The nature of the mind is then revealed as an emptiness, a void, an immaculately empty space. The void and the absence of the identifications that form the psychic structure are the same thing. There are various depths and levels of empty space. We can say that the beginning of the void is the absence of identification with the self-image. There is self-image but there is no identification with it. What results is the inner sense of expansion and spaciousness. Then, at a deeper level, the self-image is gone, dissolved. There is only the experience of empty open space, which is boundless, clear, and crisp. The focus is not on the content of the mind but on the spacious emptiness that is its nature.

Dissolution of the Shell

When a student is able to deal with the narcissistic wound and the attendant rage, he can come to understand and accept the hurt. This allows him to be open to the essential quality of loving-kindness and hence to develop a greater tolerance of this wound, which is felt as a rip in the shell of the self. As we have seen in some student's records, the wound then expands and deepens, culminating in the experience of the dissolution of the shell. The experience generally proceeds until the student experiences no shell and no wound. There remains only an awareness of boundless emptiness, and nothingness that stretches out forever. The emptiness in the emptiness wound expands until its boundaries extended indefinitely. The emptiness within the shell is now completely revealed.

Dissolving the Veil of Ordinary Knowledge

A more encompassing and open inquiry will disclose to us a discriminating knowingness not bound by ordinary knowledge and its positions, but simply aware whenever positions are in operation. The more open your inquiry becomes, the more you are able to see how ordinary knowledge creates a film through which you are always peering into what you are experiencing right now. Through inquiry, you open up this recognition, this basic knowledge; it begins to become available. By dissolving or parting the veil of ordinary knowledge, you start looking directly, immediately, and intimately, and the experience is now more purely basic knowledge. Observer and observed dissolve. This movement, which is a transformation of awareness, happens through understanding. However, this understanding/transformation is not just a movement from ordinary knowledge to basic knowledge. The change can be the unfoldment in the purity of basic knowledge itself.

Full Self-Realization – Enlightenment – Requires the Complete and Final Dissolution of All Psychic Structures

It is our understanding that spiritual states, in general, require disidentification from psychic structures, normal or neurotic, and that self-realization, in particular, means the absence of these structures, at least in the duration of the experience, as we have discussed in very specific details. Full self-realization—enlightenment—requires the complete and final dissolution of all psychic structures. There cannot be neurotic manifestations in full self-realization, because any neurotic manifestation must be the expression of some psychic structures, which, by their representational nature, will limit the realization. So what is called a “sick guru” must be an individual who is spiritually developed but not fully realized or enlightened. This understanding, besides illuminating the nature of spiritual realization and protecting its purity, may help us to see the imperfections in a spiritual teacher’s realization without having to rationalize them away or to devalue him or her completely. This way, we may retain the objectivity that we need to help us appreciate what we can learn from a particular teacher and what we cannot. The situation of spirituality in the world is not such that we need a fully realized and enlightened master—a Buddha, a Lao Tzu, or a Christ—for us to receive guidance in our spiritual quest. The situation is not unlike others, in most fields, where we find teachers of various degrees of competence and maturity, and the student needs to find the ones who can help him or her best.

Longing for the Dissolution of Separating Boundaries

At this level of realization, we come also to perceive the unity of all manifestation. Since Being is an indivisible medium (not composed of parts), it follows that everything makes up a unity, a oneness. There is one existence, as opposed to two, or many. It is merely an infinite presence that possesses a pattern. This pattern is everything we perceive, including all persons and objects. So everything is connected to everything; there exist no separate and autonomous objects or persons. Another discovery is that we see this unity and oneness as our very self and identity. We experience: “I am everything. I am everyone, the bodies, thoughts and feelings of everybody, inseparable from all objects. I am the ground, essence, and source of everything.” No wonder we have been longing for the dissolution of the separating boundaries; the self intuited that the arising manifestation of Being is boundless and infinite. And no wonder we need to be seen as the most special. Pure Being is the most precious thing in reality because it is the preciousness of everything in reality. It is most special because it is the precious ground of everything that is special. In fact, it is what ascribes specialness to anything. This is the reason some students experience the narcissistic need as to be seen as the most special person. The self knows unconsciously, or we could say intuitively, that its identity is the boundless pure Being, but it is still consciously identified with being a separate entity. So even at this level of work, there are often big issues.

Need for the Dissolution of Muscular Armor

Emotions and feelings are primarily sensations, and these are sensations of the body. If the body is insensitive, there will be no awareness of these sensations and hence no awareness of feelings. This will preclude the possibility of understanding. So sensitization of the body is required via the dissolution of muscular armor and its tension patterns. But the sensitization of the body is not just for the awareness of sensations and feelings. These are the first to be encountered by the expanding awareness. But the sensitivity, in time, needs to get deeper, and the perceptions need to get finer so that the organism can be aware of the subtler presence of essence itself. Essence is an embodied existence and will be experienced in the body, not somewhere else or abstractly.

Purification of the Soul Dissolves the Belief in Separate Existence

So our job is to be a servant. And to serve is to express. And to express is to be a clear and unimpeded medium for the truth. For that to happen, we need to be purified of our coarser elements. If we approach experience as if it were a lollipop, the objective function of the soul is not fulfilled. The more our soul is aware of the deeper realms and the more correct its attitude toward those realms, the more we express the truth. The deeper realm, the realm of objective reality, is ultimately the home of the soul—its origin, source, and nature. The absolute reality is the nature and origin not only of the soul but of everything. What better master to serve than the innermost nature of you and of everything! So being a servant is an exalted position. Purification is necessary, but on its own it is not sufficient in order for the soul to serve. Purification makes us, in some sense, acceptable for service but not yet necessarily capable of service. To be capable of service, there needs to be development of the capacities, development of the knowledge, development of all possibilities of the human soul. So the servant first has to be worthy, and then has to be capable of the service. The purification of the soul allows the attitudes of serenity, humility, and truthfulness toward our experience to arise by dissolving the belief in separate existence.

Space is What Dissolves or What Accompanies the Dissolution of Any Image

The aspect of Space is related to the Personal Essence in yet another, more specific way. It is one of the aspects needed for an important part of the process of psychic metabolism, i.e., that of elimination. We have seen that for metabolism to proceed to its completion, which is absorption, the false in any experience must first be eliminated. The greatest falsity, in any identification system, is the central belief that the image defines who one is, The content of identification systems is either part of an image, or used to build and fixate an image. So the elimination of image amounts to dissolving all of what is false in the mind. The truth contained in the mind becomes absorbed into Being, and does not remain as an image, which is a mental content. And since Space is what dissolves, or what accompanies the dissolution of, any image, then it can be regarded as the aspect needed for elimination. When an image is eliminated the mind becomes empty (of its content), clear, spacious and light. This is the experience of Space, mind with no content, the nature of the mind. The dullness of mental content dissipates as the lightness and clarity of Space penetrates it.

The Phenomenon of the Dissolution of Self-Images

The phenomenon of the dissolution of self-images upon their becoming clearly conscious is actually involved in the uncovering techniques used in depth psychological work. This dissolution makes it possible for distorted images of oneself to change when they emerge in consciousness. Another step in this process, however, reveals that these uncovering techniques can also dissolve realistic images of the self. In general, psychologists and psychiatrists do not take these techniques that far. As one self-image dissolves for a patient, another arises, so the analyst or therapist does not have the opportunity to observe what happens when there is no self-image in the mind. Even when a self-image does dissolve without being immediately replaced, the practitioner is not likely to give the arising spaciousness enough attention to enable him to recognize its significance in relation to the self-image, since his model of the possibilities of experience probably does not include the state of inner boundless space. In our work one of the main methods is simply to take these uncovering techniques further than is done in analysis or psychotherapy. Various identifications are revealed, and begin to dissolve as we become aware of the mental process of identifying with them.

There is No Dissolution of Boundaries Without the Action of Space

We have already shown that the self-boundaries which form self-image are boundaries that bound space. They structuralize space. We have seen that the dissolution of boundaries leads to the freeing of space, and can be seen as the same phenomenon as the emergence of space. Space always manifests in one’s consciousness as the self-boundaries disintegrate. We can say either that space melts away boundaries or that dissolution of boundaries allows space to manifest. It is one phenomenon. The dissolution of boundaries cannot be separated from the emergence of space. So here we see the role of space in inner change: There is no lasting change without a change in self-image, there is no change in self-image without a dissolution of self-boundaries, and there is no dissolution of boundaries without the action of space.

The Void, pg. 105

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