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Ego Metabolism

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Ego Metabolism?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Ego Metabolism

Being Can Act When Ego Gives Up Its Defensiveness

This interdependence between ego and Being can also be seen in the process of inner metabolism. Ego on its own cannot complete the metabolism of experience and hence cannot bring about complete human development; Being is needed for this process to take place. On the other hand, Being cannot accomplish on its own the whole process of metabolism; it cannot dislodge ego when ego is defensive. From the perspective of the mind, Being can be resisted easily with a slight movement of ego; thus ego must first cooperate by relinquishing its defensive posture. It is up to ego to cease resisting. When it ceases its defensive posture completely, then Being acts.

Complete Metabolism of Experience Must End in Being

Our conclusion is that the process of integration of ego, which Kernberg says begins with introjections and ends with the formation of ego-identity, does not necessarily have to stop at the fixation of an organized structure of identifications in the psyche. In other words, psychic metabolism of experience does not have to end in the mind. For such metabolism to be complete, it must end in Being. This is what explains the process of true inner transformation, which now can be seen as the completion of ego development, to the level of the essential person.

Development of Autonomy

Since the Personal Essence is the true individuality, it is closely related to the capacities of primary autonomy, which are usually referred to as the ego functions. We have seen that the development and integration of these capacities is intertwined with the development of object relations. Thus we might wonder what happens to these capacities when the object relations are finally metabolized. The answer is that they finally come into their own. They become more developed, more integrated and more synthesized into a harmonious whole, not dependent on a mental structure. Their true origin, the extent of their functions and their real meaning become clear. In general, the presence of the Personal Essence brings about a radical expansion and individuation of autonomous functioning, indicating the greater development and integration of the apparatuses of autonomy.

Ego's Fear of Absorption

We see, however, that not only for the schizoid character, but for every ego, there is a deep fear of being completely devoured and absorbed. This is not due only to difficult early object relations, as in the etiology of the schizoid character, but due to the vulnerability of primitive ego structures in the face of Being. This must be the case at the time in ego development when internalization is a just beginning to be set up

Metabolism Leads to the Capacity to be in the World

Our work of inquiry can be understood as a process of metabolizing experience—past and present experience. By being fully present in your experience you metabolize it and grow. When it comes to the past, our Work can be seen as understanding or metabolizing your unconscious mind, your ego, or personality. True metabolism doesn’t lead to deficiency or weakness, but to development, growth, and the functioning capacity of Being. Without experience Being cannot be in the world. Metabolism leads to the capacity to be in the world, and that is what it means to have a human life. However, if we fail to metabolize our experience—for example, by rejecting it and thus stopping the metabolic process—we retain undigested experience, which in time will become suffering

Metabolizing Identification Systems

The relation of our concept of absorption to the experience of Being must now be explored. Our hypothesis is still somewhat vague. To make it more definite, we turn now to our basis for this suggestion, which arises out of certain experiences in the process of inner transformation that show the relationship between ego structures and Being. The process of essential realization itself can be seen as a process of “metabolizing” identification systems. Every time a system of identifications, a self-image or an object relation, is understood objectively, it seems to dissolve and an aspect of Essence is born. We will explore this further as we discuss understanding in the next chapter.

Soul's Individuation of Her Essential Presence

Through metabolizing her history, the soul individuates her essential presence. She now experiences herself as an ontological presence, but this presence is at the same time a well-rounded individual, a person of presence. The presence is characterized by the quality of personalness. The soul continues to experience herself as a person, but this person is presence, a true and essential structure. The soul is now structured by her own essence, rather than by images from the past. She is no longer dissociated from her essential ground; that ground transubstantiates itself into a personal essence. This personal essence allows the soul to act as an autonomous person with unique qualities and skills. The qualities are essential aspects, and the skills are the influence of these qualities on the faculties of the soul in a way that embodies her personal learning.

The Original Sense of Spiritual Purification

We come then to the understanding of what is required for inner transformation: impressions will be completely metabolized, to the point of absorption into Being, only when completely purged of falsehood. Ego is absorbed into Being only after it is completely purified. This is the original sense of spiritual purification, which has nothing to do with morality but involves separating the true from the false. This understanding is one reason the Sufis call the process of inner transformation the “purification” of the ego. We see here, too, the role of truth in this process: since human development is constituted by the metabolism of personal experience, and for this metabolism to be complete the true must be separated from the false—the former to be absorbed and the latter to be discarded—we can see that the specific requirement for growth, maturation and development is truth, the truth garnered from personal experience.

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