Main Pages

By Region



Fundamental Ground

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Fundamental Ground?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Fundamental Ground

Being is the Fundamental Ground of All Existence

Another important factor in the ego activity is that the self is always striving to be a particular way, in order to achieve support. The primary image patterning this activity is the ego ideal. The self tries to approximate a certain ideal, in the hope that if she succeeds, she will be worthy of the support she needs. This ideal is never attained, but the self never tires of trying. Thus, effort is a chronic characteristic of the self-identity structure. This understanding of the ego activity of moulding oneself according to an ideal is similar—but not identical—to Kohut’s formulation of the action arc of the self which is motivated by ideals. Our concept of ego ideal is borrowed from traditional ego psychology, but integrated into our conception of the self. This lack of basic trust is fundamental to the normal identity. There is no sense that the deeper nature of the universe is good and loving. This basic distrust reflects the ignorance of the knowledge which arises only with self-realization, which is that Being is the fundamental ground of all existence, and that its nature is inherently benevolent. In religious language, this issue is understood as the lack of faith that God exists.

In the Process of the Work the Student is Learning to Integrate Deeper Strata of the Self

In the process of the work on self-realization, the student is learning to integrate deeper strata of the self, primarily the fundamental ground of the self, the essential presence. At some point, the need for mirroring becomes primarily the need to have mirrored the essence of who one is. This allows integration of essential presence into his direct experience of who he is, his true identity. The need for mirroring focuses on Essential Identity as the student is dealing with the issues of central narcissism, which is due to alienation from the Essential Identity. The need for mirroring and the mirror transference become most distinct and precise as the issues of central narcissism arise. The student is likely to experience the following issues:

* The need to be seen and admired, which is characteristic of narcissism in general, becomes more specifically the need to be seen as special and precious.

* It is accompanied by the need to be seen and recognized not only as special, but as unique. He wants his uniqueness to be seen and applauded, whether or not this uniqueness is specifically in relation to his qualities and existential traits.

* The more extreme his narcissistic alienation is, the more the need for mirroring is not only for specialness and uniqueness, but for grandiose conceptions of them.

Knowing Our Nature as the Most Solid and Fundamental Ground of all Appearance

This precipitates the movement of the student’s identity into a subtler manifestation of Being, a totally nonconceptual realization of true nature. He experiences himself now as nonconceptual reality, beyond all mind and concepts, beyond all specifications and recognitions. He cannot even say whether he is being or nonbeing, absence or presence. Existence is negated, and this negation in turn is negated. His recognition of himself negates both negation and affirmation of any attributes, which is a much more profound experience of Being than that of pure Being. There is now no definite sense of any concept, reality, thing, or manifestation. He is both existence and nonexistence, not existence and not nonexistence. He is both self and not self. This is a very paradoxical manifestation of Being, beyond any conceptualization. This experience is boundless, but it does not feel as clear as presence or fullness. It is like experiencing the inside of all of the universe as a totally clear and completely transparent, crystalline medium. There is no iota of obscuration or impediment, just an infinity of transparent clarity. There is a stunning sense of awakeness, intensely fresh and new. When there are no concepts in our recognition of ourselves, nothing is old; everything is the pure freshness of suchness, the intensity of eternity that has no concept of time. The recognition of ourselves has no mental elaboration; it is the totally pure being of transparent crystalline clarity. There is a solidity of presence, an infinite immensity that feels at the same time absolutely empty and nonexistent. We know our nature as the most solid and fundamental ground of all appearance, without this nature taking on any sense of fullness or substance. It is a totally solid, complete absence, which shatters the mind with its cool transparency.

Nine Different Ways of Perceiving the Fundamental Ground and Reality of Love

We can now talk about the Enneagram of the Holy Ideas in relation to the question of basic trust. The nine Ideas can be understood as differentiated ways of seeing what makes basic trust possible—nine different ways of perceiving the fundamental ground and reality of love. Basic trust is nonconceptual, as we have said. The Holy Ideas are in the conceptual realm, discriminated enough for us to put basic trust into language. Another way of putting it is that the Holy Ideas are nine different perceptions or views of God, if you are speaking theistically, or of our fundamental nature, if you are speaking non-theistically. They are the unobscured perspectives of the enlightened mind, universal ways of experiencing reality in the sense that they are unchanging, since they are the perception of what objectively is.

Facets of Unity, pg. 59

Primordial Presence is the Fundamental Ground and Substance of the Body, Although It Itself is Not Physical

The complete multidimensional self can be experienced only in the fullest realization of presence. In this condition of primordial presence, thoughts, feelings and images do exist, but in a different way than they do in the conventional dimension of experience. These aspects of the self are felt to be completely inseparable from presence itself, not in the sense of two things tied together, but in the sense of coemergence. We do not experience the body as the container of the presence; nor do we experience presence as containing the body. These perceptions might appear in the course of spiritual development, but they are incomplete in that they retain the duality between presence and body. When the experience of oneself as primordial presence is complete, this presence is coemergent with the body If we imagine being aware in an immediate way of the general shape and sensations of the body, its various parts and organs, and simultaneously aware of the protoplasm of the body, then we will have some idea of the experience of the body and presence being coemergent. The physical body and its protoplasm form an inseparable unity; they are not two things that are somehow connected. Similarly, primordial presence is the fundamental ground and substance of the body, inseparable from it, although it is itself not physical.

Spaciousness in the Mind Allows for a Deep Awareness of the Fundamental Ground of Experience, Presence

When a person is not identified with the content of mind, he will not necessarily experience his identity immediately as essential presence. A more typical development, discussed at length in Chapter 11, and in our book, The Void (Almaas, 1986), is that the first thing one is faced with is the experience of emptiness. When one is not identified with the usual content, the experience might be: “There is nothing there!” or even “I am not here!” This emptiness will evoke all kinds of issues and reactions, but eventually it resolves into something more peaceful: spaciousness. The mind feels expanded and open to experience, without identification or attachment to any particular content. This spaciousness in the mind allows for a deep awareness of the fundamental ground of experience, or presence, which may be felt as emptiness. Without the usual identity defining one’s experience, one might simply experience, “I am.” One can become aware of the central point of one’s attention or awareness. Meister Eckhart wrote, “God has left a little point where the soul turns back on itself and finds itself.” With the manifestation of spaciousness and the knowledge of the center of one’s awareness, one has begun the realization of the Essential Identity, the central identity of the self-aware soul.

The Fundamental Ground of Any Experience is the Pure Nonconceptual Bare Awareness of Experience Before Recognition

This is consciousness with no mind involved, awareness with no knowing of any kind. There is merely the awareness of shapes, colors, movements, qualities; there is no recognition, knowing, or understanding of what one is perceiving. There is differentiation but not discrimination. We refer to this perception without recognition as nonconceptual awareness, for recognition and knowing require concepts. There is awareness of content but no recognition of it; recognition requires a further step in the functioning of consciousness. The traditional metaphor for this pure perceptivity is the mirror. The mirror analogy describes the soul’s primordial and original condition, which is the pure nonconceptual awareness of experience. This is the fundamental ground of any experience, which is the pure nonconceptual bare awareness of experience before recognition, reaction, categorization, or any such phenomena occur. Becoming conscious of this nonconceptual awareness is an important aspect of inner work, and something we begin to understand from the first glimpses of recognizing the soul. Simply understanding that the soul is a medium that is aware of experience within its own field, we begin to understand the mirror-like quality of the soul. A mirror reflects forms without adding anything to them. It merely registers the shapes, colors, and movements of the forms. Our consciousness functions like a mirror with respect to the forms that arise within it. This nonconceptual awareness is fundamental to the soul, a function that underlies and precedes all other functions of consciousness.

The Fundamental Ground of the Soul is Aware of Differentiation in a Mirror-Like Fashion

We have seen that this fundamental ground of the soul is aware of differentiation in a mirror-like fashion, but also that this differentiation appears within it as formations within a field. We have also seen that this ground possesses the capacity to cognize these formations, as noetic forms with recognizable characteristics. Some of these formations are simply presence itself with recognizable qualities. In other words, the noetic forms constitute all manifestations within the soul, but there is a special class of these forms, pure forms in the sense they are the differentiated manifestations of implicit qualities inherent in the nondifferentiated ground. These forms are not images, thoughts, emotions, sensations, movements, or any category familiar in our ordinary experience. They are purely spiritual forms, essential noetic forms.

The Great Chasm Separating Our Experience from the Fundamental Ground of the Soul

This is the true meaning of narcissistic emptiness. Feelings of pointlessness, meaninglessness, purposelessness, absence of center, orientation, significance, and identity arise directly from the absence of identity with the Essential Identity. In fact, the properties of center, identity, significance, purpose, meaning, and so on, are some of the experiential characteristics of the Essential Identity, the precious point of existence. Furthermore, since the Essential Identity is the identity of Being, the narcissistic emptiness has another, greater significance. Since the identity of Being is what gives the self the capacity to identify with Being in any of its aspects and dimensions, the realization of the Essential Identity is tantamount to the capacity to simply be. So narcissistic emptiness involves disconnection not only from the Essential Identity, but from Being as a whole. It is the absence of self-realization. It is the gap between our essential nature and who we take ourselves to be. It is the great chasm separating our experience in the conventional dimension of experience from the fundamental ground of the soul. It is the emptiness of narcissistic alienation itself.

Truth is the Fundamental Ground of Our Soul

So it has been acknowledged and understood by all spiritual traditions that what finally liberates the soul is to see the false as false and the true as true. This is for one simple reason: Our soul is fundamentally faithful to the truth. Truth is the fundamental ground of our soul, so the soul is fundamentally faithful to the truth. She always lives and acts out what she believes to be true. Yes, we frequently act out of lies and falsehoods, but this is because the soul believes that they are true. When we act out being a little deficient kid, for instance, it is because the soul believes that she is a little deficient kid. When we act from anger, we really believe that the truth is that we should act out the anger. The difficulty is not that the soul loves or likes falsehood, but that she takes a falsehood as truth and lives it out faithfully. For example, the soul will not let go of identification with the ego because the soul is totally convinced that this is who she is. The soul is convinced that she is the body, that she is this person, and so this is what she is going to live, act out, and defend until death. The soul is, in a word, ignorant.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach