Main Pages

By Region




Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Fixation?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Fixation

A Basic Structure of the Ego-Self

The state of poverty is the emptiness within the libidinal ego. We experience it as a state of deprivation and insufficiency due to the oral fixation on emptiness as lack of nourishment. This makes us want to move away from it and to seek fullness from outside. This extroverted orientation is one of the first, basic ego attitudes that disconnect the self from its inherent inner richness. Turning toward external objects as sources of fulfillment is the oral fixation of the self on a mode of operation natural and necessary in the first year of life, a fixation that patterns the self in such a way that it alienates it from its inner core. Actual and severe deprivations and disruptions in early infancy will clearly deepen this fixation and give it a distorted character, but this basic fixation develops in all infants because of their total dependency. This patterning is a basic structure of the ego-self.

A Subtle Fixation in Our Mind, a Groove that Expects the Dual View Always to Give Way to the Nondual View

If we understand the dual in terms of the nondual, we tend to think that the nondual should be what arises in our experience. And, in some sense, that is the orientation of reality. Reality does go that way. The more fully and openly we see the dualistic view, the more the light of Living Being shines through and reveals the brilliance and unity of all things. But this can create a subtle fixation in our mind, a groove that expects the dual view always to give way to the nondual view. The liberated mind, on the other hand, doesn’t care which way reality goes. We continue to practice even though we’ve lost our ideas about ultimate states and conditions. We are simply practicing. Reality is just doing its thing, living and knowing its manifestation as fully as possible. Opening time and space to reveal the mysteries of reality doesn’t only mean that there is no journey and no ultimate condition. Opening time and space can reveal much more profound mysteries. For instance, one of the things that we believe is that we cannot experience a whole hour in one minute. We think it takes a whole hour to experience an hour of time. But sometimes we can have the experience that what takes an hour can happen in a minute. That does happen. And space too can open to more space than you can possibly imagine, and can reveal secrets about itself that, after a while, you can’t even think about. Space and time have unfathomable mysteries, some of which we will explore further as we go on.

All Fixations Operate from One Perspective

AH: There are as many variations as people. We could put those variations into groupings. One of the groupings is the nine points on the enneagram. But even within one fixation there are all kinds of variations. No two people are the same. No two people are the same, but in another sense, everyone is the same. Basically all fixations operate from one perspective. There are nine types or fixations but they all come from one point of view—of acquiring things for the self, and defending that self. When you see that your focus on your self, your separateness, your preoccupation with your personal life, are all barriers against the natural order of reality, you become more willing to be open and loving. There is no threat then about being generous. You see that generosity is our nature. There is no loss in letting go of your point of view; there is tremendous gain—yet no self gains it. The gain is everyone’s gain, the gain is for the universe. You will feel freedom, joy, fulfillment and happiness —but these feelings are not for you to possess, they are for the universe. Whenever any human being loses his point of view, the entire human race benefits. Ultimately, the work we do to understand our lives and ourselves is not for us individually, but for the good of everyone, for the earth as a whole.

Becoming Free of the Fixation of Any Particular Perspective is the Same as Becoming Free of the Self

The dynamism of our being cannot be fully liberated unless we are free from the constraining influence of the conventional view and unless we are free from the self, which is the center of that conventional view. So for our inquiry to come into its own, for our life to come to greater maturation and completeness—which means for Being to exercise the full range of its possibilities—we need to have a thoroughgoing understanding of the self. This is why much of our work in the Diamond Approach is an investigation and exploration of the self—its dynamics, its structures, its history, its manifestations, and its underlying forces. So becoming free of the fixation of any particular perspective is the same as becoming free of the self, because the sense of self is centrally responsible for all fixation. In our work, as in some other teachings, thoroughly understanding the self in its values, structures, and dynamics is not separate from thoroughly understanding our true nature—the purity at the heart of Living Being. As we explore our true nature in its qualities and dimensions, we find that we also gain greater freedom from the self and the conventional view. The more we understand the nature and dimensions of Being, particularly the emptiness of Being, the more we see through the view of the conventional self. The greatest challenge to our sense of self comes from experiencing and understanding the emptiness of true nature, the emptiness of experience. That is why in exploring the self, we can’t help but encounter and work with emptiness, of one kind or another, as we have throughout this path.

Fixation of Object Relations in the Mind

Thus, ego formation occurs in the context of a relationship to a primary love object, the mothering person. This is the source of the English analyst W. Ronald D. Fairbairn’s naming this approach “object relations theory.” Every situation or interaction between infant and mother is an object relation. Except in the very earliest phases, in which there is no differentiation at all, the infant always sees himself in relation to the mother, not in isolation. The memories of such interactions are mental representations of the object relations. The infant remembers not only himself (that is the image of himself) but always also the image of the mother in the interaction. The fixation of these representations in the mind is called “internalization.” As more of these representations accumulate, which means as more memories are retained and fixed, there begins a process of organization of these representations. This organization of internalized object relations is the task of the separation/individuation process, which ordinarily culminates in the development of self and object constancy.

Focusing Only on Yourself is Already a Fixation, the Biggest Fixation

The next factor needed to prepare ourselves for the perception of the experience of liberation is that of compassionate kindness. It is a very important, necessary quality. You need kindness for yourself because the process is difficult. Since you’re not liberated, it is natural that you’ll suffer, so why push yourself in a way that you’ll suffer more? Why beat yourself up if you make a mistake? The factor of kindness also brings a quality of trust in yourself, trust in the process, a kind of trust in your mind, in your essence. Kindness also brings an unselfish attitude. If you have kindness, you have kindness for everybody, for everything. You have kindness for anything that suffers. You’re doing the work out of kindness because you suffer. You see that you suffer, and out of kindness for yourself you want to do something about it, and that kindness in time extends to others. Other people’s suffering hurts you too. You want to liberate yourself and you want other people to be free from their hurt and suffering. This natural course of events brings in a very important attitude that is a factor in allowing this state of liberation. This liberation has no fixation, and if you are focusing only on yourself, that is already a fixation, the biggest fixation. “What’s in it for me, what hurts me, what doesn’t hurt me, what’s good for me?” Activity is focused around the I, the sense of ego identity. Compassion is a vehicle that dissolves this fixation or boundary, and frees you from self-centeredness. Kindness makes the pain of going through difficult work tolerable, and brings more trust to your mind, your essence and your heart; it brings more gentleness into your work, and more compassion for others, and works on the dissolution of the self-centered fixation which is one of the main barriers to self-liberation. It is a very necessary factor which needs to be developed while we’re working through the personality patterns and issues.

Freezing or Fixation Can Never be Absolutely Complete

When we see life from the perspective of living reality, of Living Being, we see that the ordinary view takes one possible manifestation of reality and freezes it, fixes it in place so that reality continues to present itself in that particular way. But that particular mode becomes a recycling of the history and the characteristics of the individual self. At the same time, we can see that freezing or fixation can never be absolutely complete. Light always comes through. Life breaks out and novel things happen. That, of course, helps us recognize that reality can be different from how we think it is. And we might then think, “Yes, that is the ego view, the fixated view, the deluded view. And we are going to learn the correct view by becoming free from those constraints.” That is true for a while. It is a good way of looking at things because it loosens what is stuck and fixed in place, and makes whole what is fragmented and partitioned. Seeing the limitations of the dualistic view can liberate the dynamic livingness of reality to manifest other ways of being itself. Reality is always realizing itself, always living itself, always manifesting itself in one way or another. Reality can manifest itself as you in a dual experience with the world, and it can also reveal to itself the worldview—what we call the ego view or the dualistic view—that underlies the ego’s experience of the world. We can think of the ego view as deluded—and it is deluded. Nonetheless, that is one way that reality shows itself. Reality sometimes presents itself by deluding itself in a certain way. It can also reveal other possibilities by liberating itself from those delusions and showing itself without those delusions. We could call those other possibilities realization and enlightenment.

Merging Essence Allows Discrimination in Perception but it Does Not Allow the Fixation of Boundaries and Partitions

The Merging Essence seems to be needed by the organism at that time for healthy maturation and growth. Its presence brings about the symbiotic connection to the mother needed for survival and psychological development. It is a differentiated aspect of Being, in contrast to the nondifferentiated aspect of oneness characteristic of the normal autistic stage, in which there is no perception of boundaries at all. So it is a step toward differentiation, and part of the perceptual and cognitive development towards the ability to discriminate. It allows a certain limited capacity for discrimination. More accurately, it allows discrimination in perception, but it does not allow the fixation of boundaries and partitions. Boundaries and partitions are perceived but are not seen as fixed; they are fluid and changeable. It appears that one of the first boundaries experienced is that of a common boundary around mother and child, in what Mahler calls the “dual unity.” Perception becomes more discriminative when the Strength Essence dominates consciousness, in the differentiation subphase. It brings to perception the capacity to see partitions as more fixed and stable. Still, even here, partitions are seen as porous, transparent and permeable. The impermeability of boundaries is the effect of ego development, and not that of Essence. We see that the Merging Essence is needed for the development of the perceptual and cognitive faculties, among others, and hence is instrumental in ego development. It is involved in the first inner re presentations, the undifferentiated ones, which arc the basis for all subsequent identifications.

Openness in Inquiry Means No Fixation, No Rigidity, No Closing Down

This openness in inquiry reflects the openness of true nature. Without this openness, which is a fundamental characteristic of true nature, inquiry will not work. The core of inquiry has to be an openness to what is present in experience, to what you know of that experience and what you do not know. It is openness to seeing things as they are, openness for them to change and for the change to reveal more of what is present. Openness means that you are not stuck in “I know this, and that’s it.” Openness means that no knowledge is final knowledge. Inquiry is open to the knowledge of now, but also open for the next moment to bring about a totally new and different knowledge. Openness means no fixation, no rigidity, no closing down. It is the expression of a spaciousness in the mind, a spaciousness and awareness in the knowing capacity. This open attitude of inquiry is the means of engaging not only the dynamism of Being but the spaciousness that is the infinite potentiality of our true nature. Most fundamentally, it is a direct expression of the truth that true nature is ultimately a mystery. The absolute openness of true nature means that you can never know it completely, can never close the book on inquiry into it. You can never conclude the inquiry, because to conclude the inquiry is to stop the unfoldment, to stop the dynamism—and the dynamism cannot be stopped. Why? Because true nature is infinite in its possibilities, and it is infinite in its possibilities because it is the absolute mystery.

Preferring the Nondual to the Dual and Believing that the Nondual Perspective is Final

Spiritual development usually proceeds from the dual to the nondual perspective. The characteristic recognition of the journey of descent is that reality is nondual, that realization and life are not separate. At this juncture, it is very easy to fall into the reification and fixation of preferring the nondual to the dual and of believing that the nondual perspective is final. In fact, many of you might be thinking, “Why does he keep saying there is no aim? Clearly, the nondual perspective is the aim and now, finally, we got to our aim, to seeing the oneness of reality!” But if we really understand the nondual perspective, we recognize there can’t be any aims. If everything is one, how can there be a separate person striving toward some differentiated goal? And beyond this impasse, at some point, we can come to see that reality presents possibilities other than dual and nondual. Reality is quite mysterious—its aliveness is irrepressible.

Seeing the Fixations and Unfreezing Them Can Begin to Reveal their Nature and Ground

By liberating itself from those delusions, reality begins to reveal the ground, the underlying nature of all these manifestations. Seeing the fixations and unfreezing them, thawing them, and melting them can begin to reveal their nature and ground as transcendent, as pure luminosity, clarity, and emptiness. For some time now, that is how we have been working in the school. We have been looking at this thawing, this melting, this liberation, and experiencing the opening of this realm of time and space. But, in a subtle way, we continue to see this process from the perspective of the individual self, from the view with which we began. From this view, the process feels like a progression or development, seems like a liberation from one condition and the arising of a freer condition. What is truly difficult is to see reality or experience reality from its own perspective, totally free from the view of the individual self. I am not saying that the perspective of reality is free from the individual self—I am saying free from the view of the individual self. The individual self has so many bases, so many positions that it uses to construct itself. Because many of them are subtle, it is difficult to see through them completely, so we continue to see reality from their perspective without being aware of it. A big part of what we are doing in this teaching is exploring those bases on which the individual self is erected: motivation, goal, causality, separateness, and journey. A journey has a beginning and an end, but reality has neither beginning nor end. And reality is not a thing. When we talk about reality as Living Being, we might think that it is a Being. It is not a Being. When we say Living Being, we mean the whole thing, everything, all of it, all of reality. All of reality is alive and always in a constant condition of transformation. This condition of transformation is its life.

Soul Can be Free from the Fixation of Independently Existing

As this conventional sense of self is deconstructed by spiritual practice, it is possible to experience the individual consciousness without the fixation of a separate and dual self. Most Western traditions use the notion of soul to connote the individual consciousness that is without the fixation of a separate self. The Eastern traditions have different views and terms for it. Most Hindu schools usually refer to it as jiva or jiva-atman. And the closest terms for it in the Buddhist tradition are “stream of consciousness” and “mindstream.” When the dual sense of self is understood, the individual consciousness is free to appear as a soul, which is a living, conscious, and dynamic presence. But the view itself can still be ego-logical, since the individual consciousness can continue to experience itself as a separate and independently existing soul. However, it can also be free from that fixation and recognize itself as an expression of Living Being. The individual soul can experience herself as inseparable from Living Being, an organ of its perception and action. This is a realization that we are Living Being, and we recognize the individual soul as our eyes and hands and feet—as our perceptual apparatus and as our means of acting in the world. In this condition, we are beyond the view of the ego. The individual soul matures and develops through life and experience and understanding. Its maturation reveals the essential person we call the pearl beyond price, the manifestation of the true individual instead of the ego individual. There is an essential person, and this essential person is a person of presence, a manifestation of presence.

The Fixated Position that Richness Resides Outside when in Reality for the Adult Soul it is Primarily Inside

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.

The Soul has the Potential to be False

The soul’s retained impressions can also be disharmonious or even antithetical to her true nature, limiting or distorting her openness, creativity, flow, flexibility, and freedom. The retained impressions can become rigid and fixed structures, limiting her capacity for morphogenic transformation by constraining her malleability and her receptivity to the rest of her potential. Rigidity and fixation are elements of a larger category of disharmonious impressions: retained impressions that are disharmonious to her because they are false, inaccurate, and/or distorted reflections of her nature and properties. Distorted impressions create in the soul an opaqueness that obscures her inherent potential for luminosity, blocking the transparency of consciousness. In other words, any retained impressions that are not in harmony with her true nature and fundamental properties are bound to limit her access to her greater potential, to alienate her from the preciousness and freedom of her essential nature, and to inhibit her growth toward maturity and completeness. Fixed, rigid, and inaccurate impressions constrain the soul’s receptivity to her potential to be prejudiced exclusively toward the elements of this potential that are consonant with the rigidity, fixation, and falseness. The soul has the potential to be false, to manifest rigid and fixed forms, opaqueness, dullness, and darkness. When the retained impressions are such they will tend to channel her creativity and unfoldment of potential toward the elements of this potential that are compatible with these limited and distorted impressions. This is the problem with fixed and rigid impressions, and the forms that do not reflect faithfully her essential nature. This is a form of learning, but it is more exact to call it conditioning. Conditioning here means that she is structured in a way that is not wholesome; her experience is limited to forms that obstruct the free arising of her potential and its actualization.

Various Tensions and Rigidities in Our Bodies Reflect Fixations and Identifications in the Mind

The experience of soul as flow possesses many degrees of subtlety, each reflecting a particular depth of this experience. At the beginning, we experience flow topographically, similar to the flow of a stream of water. We experience the medium of the soul as a fluid that flows through our body. We experience it as streaming from one part of the body to another, as in the flow of energy up the spine. We might be aware that the flow is faster in some areas than others, more sluggish in some regions, more blocked in others, completely stuck or absent, or free and smooth. This can alert us to various tensions and rigidities in our bodies, reflecting fixations and identifications in the mind. This can be very helpful for our inner work, as we recognize the areas where our soul cannot flow as places that need to open up. As we work on them, and they relax and open, our soul may begin to flow to these areas, bringing them to life, and including them in her range of experience. Our soul then inhabits more of our body, and we feel more present, more embodied, and our experience is more available, and more open and flexible. Our experience in general becomes more fluid, more flowing, and we feel this as greater freedom and release.

We Engage in this Work to Understand that Specific, Rigid Frozen Way of Experiencing and Seeing the World

Existence is far more vast than you think. By believing we know what it is, we stop it. We make it stand still, static, and we fit it into a certain mold. We make reality old and stale. It is no longer new, no longer fresh. We deprive it of wonder and mystery. That’s why we engage this work—to understand the fixation of that specific, rigid, frozen way of experiencing and seeing the world. True understanding allows reality and ourselves to unfold, to change, to manifest all of the richness and variety of being. The entryway to this world of wonder, magic, and beauty is who we are. So if you know yourself, that human person is the opening, the door into that mystery. Being human, in fact, is the expression of that mystery. The most perfect expression of the mystery that exists is the human being. The human being has the potential not only to perceive and experience and see the totality of existence, but to be existence and to live existence.

When the Mind is Not Fixated

<p>When your mind is free, not concerned, or worried, or focused on anything in particular, and your heart is not grasping or clinging to anything, then you are free. The most characteristic quality is that there is no fixation on anything; you’re not focused on any issue or experience. Whatever is there, is there. So there is a freedom of mind. The mind is not saying, “I want this,” or “I want to look at this,” or “It has to be this way.” The mind is loose. The expression “hang loose” tells us what it means to be liberated. Being liberated means there is no clinging to anything; there is no worry, no concern, no heaviness. The mind is not fixated, focused or bound to any particular content; you are aware of whatever arises in the mind, without effort, without even trying to be aware. You don’t care whether you are sensing your essence, or even whether your essence is there. Whether you are happy or sad, whether a person is there with you or not, none of these things seem important. For the moment you’re completely free from all the concerns in your life. This state can never be achieved by striving for it. It will just happen one day, and if you notice it you won’t think it’s a big deal. You’ll go on eating your dinner or whatever you are doing. The moment it becomes a big deal, it’s gone. The moment you have the attitude of, “Oh, wonderful! I want to know what’s going on—I want to hang on to this,” it’s gone. Holding on is exactly what is absent in this state, and because of the tendency to grasp this subtle state, it can be very fleeting. It’s very simple, the simplest thing there is. Young children are in this state much of the time, a state without concern for anything in particular, daydreaming or playing. But because of our early experiences, our minds become set in a certain direction, so that we fixate on a certain part of reality and reject the rest. This selectivity is the loss of the state. </p>

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach