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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Frustration?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Frustration

Boundaries of the Separate Self Become a Frustration

Because that sense of separation in itself is suffering, a deep longing to dissolve the separation, a deep longing to unite or merge with something or someone, develops. The boundaries themselves become a frustration, become pure suffering. The strong desire to bridge that gap, to melt the boundaries manifests most often in wanting to be close to or to connect to someone else so that you won’t feel the separation. You try to dissolve the isolation by engaging in the activity of desire. You want love; you want acceptance. You want someone to love you, or you want to love someone. But wanting to love or to be loved, that in itself implies the belief that you are a separate individual.

Frustration, Attachment, the Source of Suffering

So we can ask now, what is attachment itself? First of all, you’ll need to see that all of your suffering, especially emotional suffering, is because of these attachments. If you’re attached to anything there is suffering for fear of loss of it. If you have something, you’re afraid of losing it; if you don’t have it you are frustrated and suffering the absence. There is no rest or peace because something always has to be done to keep the desired object there. This frustration, this attachment is the essence of suffering. Directly feeling this attachment itself reveals it for the suffering and hell it is. It even feels like fire and brimstone—hot and irritating, caustic. It is the source of suffering because it is pure frustration, pure pain, pure dissatisfaction, pure non-gratification, pure anguish. We have called this state negative merging because though what you want is true merging, what you get is negative merging.

Reaction of the Animal Soul to Frustration

The animal soul is not a cruel human who has lost her heart. As we come to understand this manifestation, we begin to see that its exaggerated destructiveness and hateful quality are actually reactions to frustration. Because the instinctual self is not allowed to be powerful and effective in getting its way, its power turns into destructive hatred and heartless reactivity. The particulars of the structure connect with one's early history in relation to power, control, destructiveness as well as the need to protect the vulnerable and loving heart. When we are finally able to experience this animal form without either rejection or judgment or acting out, it transforms into its original form. This turns out to be an animal kind of power and energy, calm and confident, peaceful but ready to act with full power and energy. The opening of this experience removes the negativity associated with frustration.

The Ego is Bound to Live in Frustration and Suffering

There is another, less obvious reason the ego is bound to live in frustration and suffering. We have seen that identification systems, by their very nature, tend to resist Being, and that they always involve some defensive function; further, any defensive quality or posture in the mind must be reflected in the organism as tension or contraction. We have described this either as a thickness in the case of defense, or a lighter dullness like a rubber cloud, in the case of pure identifications. But this thickness, which can become hardness, and the dullness, are nothing but states of contraction in the organism, basically in the nervous system. Thus the core of the thickness or dullness of all the defense mechanisms of ego must be the negative-merging affect. This thickness is the dull coating we have discussed in relation to the feeling of frustration. Thus all identification systems are reflected in the nervous system as the negative-merging affect. So the negative-merging affect forms not only the core of negative identifications that are based on negative merging, but also the core of what are usually considered positive identifications. The wider implication is that the experiential core of the ego is the negative-merging affect, pure suffering. Again we see the truth of Buddha’s first noble truth, this time from the perspective of psychology.

The Specific Feeling of Frustration

Now, what is the specific feeling of frustration? Although people generally believe they know the feeling of frustration, the specific affect is not so easily discerned. Most people feel a general discomfort, irritation and impatience. There is a sense of being pent up, edgy and discontented, that demands immediate release. One can feel dissatisfaction and discontent, but what are these? More specifically, what are the sensations in the body when one is feeling frustrated? In anger one feels heat, energy, power and, maybe, some discomfort. In sadness one feels warmth, depth, gentleness and, maybe, some depression or hurt. But what are the specific sensations of frustration? The sensation of frustration is very painful, usually intolerable to feel directly. What most people call frustration is really a softened and smoothed out frustration; the frustration is usually filtered through some defense or numbing of the sensation. It is possible to perceive the raw affect of frustration, but usually only when one goes very deep within oneself. One’s consciousness must become fine, subtle and minutely discriminating. One must be able to discern one’s state at the subtler levels of personality, which generally requires the aid of essential experience. One starts feeling a kind of heat, as in anger, but it is a dry heat. It is an unpleasant feeling of heat and dryness. This makes it feel prickly, a hot prickly sensation, similar to the sensation of irritated and inflamed dry skin. When one is willing to go deeper into the sensation one feels it as a harshness, a dry and hot harshness, prickly and almost feverish. There is a hot irritation here or there in the body, a restlessness on the skin. Even though the purest form of this affect is very subtle, the reader might recognize these “symptoms” of negative merging, which are actually very common indeed in our experience, but so ubiquitous and so filtered through defense that they are not noticed. When it intensifies, the harshness becomes more prickly, as if one’s skin is being rubbed by sandpaper from the inside. One image that many students report is that of barbed wire inside the skin. One feels as if he is being pricked by a concentration of fine barbed wire.

When Life Stops Being the Life of Strife and Frustration

The discovery of essence is the beginning of the true life. Essence, as we have seen, is not a state experienced once and then always experienced in the same way afterward. Essence is rich and endless in its aspects, qualities, dimensions, capacities, and possibilities. All of this richness starts unfolding, bringing surprise, delight, beauty, value, and fulfillment. Life stops being the life of strife and frustration, the wish for success and the fear of failure. More than anything else, life becomes a process of creative discovery. Discovery itself becomes the heart of life. Life becomes a continual creation because essence is the creative element in us. Suffering and problems become less important, and creative discovery becomes the actual process of living. The unfolding of essence becomes the process of living. Life is no longer a string of disconnected experiences of pleasure and pain but a flow, a stream of aliveness. One aspect manifests after another, one dimension after another, one capacity after another. There is a constant flow of understanding, insight, knowledge, and states of being.

When there is Frustration it is Natural that there will be Hatred and Anger

When there is frustration, it is natural that there will be hatred and anger. That is not bad. But it is destructive to allow that anger or hatred to eliminate everything else. The courageous heart does not allow that. The courageous heart wins all the time, by continuing to love regardless of what is happening. You do not love the other because he is good; you do not stop loving him because he is bad. You love because it is your nature to love. Your nature, part of being a human being, is to have a heart; and the heart loves and appreciates and understands and forgives and accepts. Part of that acceptance and understanding is to have room, space, for the other parts of the relationship. You realize that yes, there is frustration, there is difficulty sometimes, sometimes the other person does not like me or I do not like him. But that does not eliminate the courageous heart. It all becomes contained within and absorbed by it. If we allow that to happen, then the relationship is real. We see it as it is. We are not making it something that it is not. We are not looking at it in a purified, artificial way. We are being total, all of ourselves.

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