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Emptiness Wound

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Emptiness Wound?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Emptiness Wound

Expansion of the Emptiness in the Emptiness Wound

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 students’ reports, 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, a nothingness that stretches out forever. The emptiness in the emptiness wound expands until its boundaries extend indefinitely. The emptiness within the shell is now completely revealed. 

Narcissistic Injury is the Emptiness Wound and Its Various Associated Affects and Reactions

The narcissistic injury, that is, the emptiness-wound and its various associated affects and reactions, is covered over by the self-identity, through the identification with self-images and their associated affects. The overall structure of self-identity is sometimes experienced as a shell around the deficient emptiness. This shows very clearly that the experience of being an empty shell—which is reported frequently by individuals suffering from narcissism—refers to the psychic structure of self-identity, and that the emptiness inside this shell is the direct consequence of the alienation from the Essential Identity. One does not usually experience the shell directly as a shell; if she did, she would be aware of the deficient emptiness. The more she becomes aware of the truth of her identity, the more likely she will become aware that she is a shell, and the more aware she will become of the emptiness. The usual experience of what we are calling the shell is the sense of self characterized by a specific feeling of identity. Because of the normal feeling of identity, the ordinary individual is not directly aware of her fundamental narcissism. As she becomes aware of her fundamental narcissism, she will recognize that her feeling of identity is based on a structure which she can perceive directly as an empty shell. This will usually make her feel phony or fake. 

Referring to the Narcissistic Wound as the Emptiness Wound

Experiencing the narcissistic wound completely, without defending against it, will lead to the dissolution of the shell, which is actually the awareness of the emptiness within it. We sometimes refer to the narcissistic wound as the “emptiness wound.” This wound opens us up to emptiness, to nothingness. It opens us to the nothingness of the dissolution of the self. No wonder it evokes such terror, which sometimes we feel as the fear of death. It is the ultimate fear of disintegration and disappearing. The vague sense of dread that we felt before we were directly aware of the wound becomes an immense terror, as the wound opens up to emptiness. It is here that we understand the existential dread and terror unique to narcissism. However, when we understand the situation accurately, appreciating that we are opening up to a deeper experience of ourselves, and have the empathic support of the teacher, it becomes easier to surrender to the process. The dissolution of the shell is actually a surrender of the self, letting go of our concept of self. The opening can then become an entrance into vastness, and into the fundamental presence and truth of the self. 

The Emptiness and the Wound are Intertwined Elements of Narcissistic Alienation

The alienation from the Essential Identity results in narcissistic emptiness. This feels like a deficient emptiness, the specific deficiency being the feeling of absence of the sense of self. It is the loss of identity. Instead of clear and definite self-recognition, the person feels an emptiness, a phenomenological nothingness, with an accompanying sense of no identity. She feels that her self is missing. This deficient emptiness makes her feel lost, with no center, no orientation, no purpose, no meaning. A typical reaction to this deficient emptiness comes in the form of superego attacks. One feels one is worthless, not important, not good enough, or perhaps fake. The deficient emptiness is the feeling of having no self, which can feel like a lack of center or orientation. When this emptiness is arising, superego reactions—self-attacks, such as feeling one is worthless, not important, or not good enough—might arise as resistances to directly experiencing the deficiency. These reactions are partly due to disconnection from the value of Being. A healthy reaction at this point might be the sense of remorse of conscience, for failing to be authentic. The emptiness and the wound make up one structure, the emptiness wound. The emptiness and the wound are intertwined elements of narcissistic alienation. The emptiness-wound is where the hurt and vulnerability are felt. In experiencing the lack of all other aspects of Essence, one generally experiences both the emptiness and the hurt about its lack or loss, but emptiness and hurt are experienced separately. Only in the loss of contact with the Essential Identity does one experience the hurt and emptiness inseparable from each other, as two elements of the same felt state. 

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