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Essential Ground

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Essential Ground?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Essential Ground

The Soul Needs to Discern Her Essential Ground of Presence

Since the soul is mostly not self-reflective early in her life, she does not recognize her true nature. She abides in it without recognizing it. Furthermore, even if for some reason she sees it she will not recognize it. She does not discriminate it in her experience as something independent from the various forms and shapes she experiences, because her discriminating capacity is not developed enough to do so. By the time the soul is able to self-reflect in a sufficiently discriminating way, her ego development has already structured her experience to exclude the essential ground. It seems that the natural design of our soul is such that she cannot realize her true nature with a discriminating recognition, necessary for the enlightenment experience, until her cognitive capacities develop. In addition, the cognitive immaturity of the soul becomes a factor in the dissociation of the soul from her essence. To understand this we need to remember that for the soul to include something in her identity, she first needs to recognize it. This is the reason for her need for mirroring in childhood. The fact that she does not discern her essential ground of presence, does not recognize it, means she cannot include it in her identity. She cannot include it in her self-representation, nor can she retain it as a memory or an impression of herself.

A Compulsive Outward Movement Literally Means the Soul Leaves Her Essential Ground for the Object of Her Gratification

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.

Coemergence of Nonconceptual Awareness and Basic Knowledge

Thus the essential ground, the coemergence of nonconceptual awareness and basic knowledge, possesses implicit qualities that we refer to as its perfections. In its nondifferentiated and fundamental mode it implicitly possesses peace, love, compassion, truth, authentic existence, pleasure, joy, strength, will, clarity, intelligence, impeccability, purity, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, spaciousness, and so on. They are not explicitly recognizable, but the presence feels complete and does not lack any of these qualities that the soul always needs. These implicit perfections can and do manifest in a differentiated and explicit way in the inner experience of the soul. In other words, the soul can experience her essence in one of these differentiated qualities. Alternately stated, essence can manifest itself within as these perfect spiritual qualities, when the fundamental ground and nondifferentiated presence of the soul transforms a region of its field into this particular quality. The form that appears may have a shape but it might not; it may be bounded and limited or boundless and infinite. But it will have recognizable characteristics in all the dimensions of the Riemannian manifold of the soul. In other words, these noetic forms will be presence characterized not only by the three spatial dimensions, but also by color, texture, taste, smell, sound, viscosity, luminosity, density, and affect. They are noetic forms because each possesses a distinguishing cognitive component, which we call a universal concept. These forms are universal concepts, in that they are not personal or cultural ones constructed by individual minds. They are the spontaneous manifestations of true nature itself, and they can be recognized because true nature possesses inherent basic knowingness that it gives to the soul. (See Diamond Heart, Book 4, chapter 16.)

Dissociation of the Soul from Her Essential Ground

As the soul develops as an individual with character and identity, with the normal emotional and mental capacities, she slowly dissociates from her essential ground. A duality emerges between soul and essence that becomes bedrock reality, a duality that naturally and spontaneously separates the original unity of Reality. Soul, originally coemergent with her true nature, turns into a duality of self and spirit, and Reality becomes self, God/Being/spirit and world, three separate entities. The soul becomes a self, an ego-self, that may or may not believe it has spirit, soul or true nature. But this spirit is now something separate, mysterious, otherworldly, and something to which some of us want to attain. This spirit is now somehow mysteriously related to a spiritual world, where God or Being rules. The cosmos, on the other hand, becomes a physical world, mostly dead and inert with pockets of life and consciousness here and there.

Structuring of the Soul by Her Own Essence

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 personal essence is not a well-known manifestation of true nature, but it is a major potential of our soul. It is the only essential aspect that makes ego development understandable as a stage of the soul’s development. In fact, the individuation of the soul is the way true nature, in its transcendent ground, is able to experience its manifestations in the various ways available to lifeforms. Here, true nature, transcendent to all manifestation, appears in the form of a human person who can walk, talk, and think, but is still the presence of this nature.

The Essential Ground of the Soul is Not Only Her Ontological Dimension

Our perception of the soul’s changeability and unfoldment helps us to recognize this dynamic dimension of the soul. All these manifestations of dynamism are nothing but the various ways it expresses itself. In other words, the pure conscious presence that constitutes the field of the soul is a dynamic presence, where dynamism is completely pervasive of, and absolutely inseparable from, this presence. The essential ground of the soul is not only her ontological dimension but also this pressure to manifest her potential. The potential of the soul, in other words, is a dynamic potential, similar to the potential of the seed.

Unless We Discriminate this Formless Ground We will Never be able to Perceive the Forms of Reality in Their True Fullness

However, when we see without veils, we experience that the whole of existence possesses a single true nature—its common essential ground—and we find no distinction between appearance and true nature, for nothing can be separate from its nature. This is objective reality—all of existence perceived in its true, unobscured condition, in which everything is inseparable from its true nature. Experiencing this is enlightened or realized experience. We understand then that everything is really true nature, that the whole world is nothing but true nature displaying its inherent potentialities. We still see the many forms that reality takes, but those forms are transparent to their true nature, the essential ground of all of reality. On the journey of self-realization, it is important to learn to differentiate true nature from the familiar forms of everyday experience. Our very inability to do this accounts for much of the control that conventional reality has over our awareness. Unless we discriminate this formless ground, we will never be able to perceive the forms of reality in their true fullness. Therefore, true nature must first be discriminated in order to serve as our orientation for the inner journey. In the realized state, this discrimination is transcended and true nature is finally recognized in its truth—as inseparable from reality.

When We Experience the Ground of the Soul as Pure Presence of Consciousness We are Experiencing Our Essential Nature

Essence is the essence of the soul, her true nature, which we have seen to be her ontological dimension and ground. Essence is pure consciousness, which is experienced phenomenologically as presence. So when we experience the ground of the soul as pure presence of consciousness, we are experiencing our essential nature, essence. Essence and soul meet as pure consciousness. As we have seen, though, soul is not simply pure consciousness. We have seen that consciousness is to the soul as protoplasm is to the body. Hence, essence is the substance of protoplasm, a medium of pure consciousness. However, as discussed in previous publications, essence manifests in various qualities we have termed aspects. These aspects are particular differentiations out of the basic presence, pure consciousness. They are differentiations only in quality, so they always remain as presence. Each aspect is a presence capable of being self-aware, and the only difference from the protoplasmic presence is that this awareness is also an awareness of the particular quality. These qualities are usually implicit in pure nondifferentiated presence, but manifest explicitly in the soul as aspects like love, compassion, joy, peace, truth, strength, impeccability, sincerity, and so on. They are the perfections of our true nature, whose presence is necessary for the soul to develop and function fully and completely.

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