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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Gratification?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Gratification

A Powerful Understanding of the Phenomenon of Falling in Love

Recognizing and appreciating the nature of the oedipal self and its narcissistic disturbances brings us a powerful understanding of the phenomenon of falling in love. The characteristics of this form of self, both the sweetness of love and the ecstasy of passion, are exactly what the individual in love enjoys. To be in love is to be swept by an ecstatic love, in which the sweetness of appreciation and affection cannot be separated from a passionate desire to be one with the beloved. We feel full, alive, sexually stimulated, and vigorous; we behold the beloved as beautiful, luscious, sexy, and extremely desirable. We feel tender and selflessly loving, but also turned on, excited and full of life. We need intensely for this love to be seen, appreciated and reciprocated. Unrequited love causes us extreme frustration, also deep narcissistic hurt and disappointment. It exposes the disturbances of oedipal narcissism. A common narcissistic element of being in love is exclusive preoccupation with the beloved at the expense of other areas of one’s life. The lover has extreme hopes for a level of fulfillment that goes beyond merely the reciprocation of love; he deeply entertains the hope for complete narcissistic gratification, which will enable him to spontaneously be himself with deep, orgiastic abandon. In other words, the lover’s desire is not only the reciprocation of his passionate love, but the realization—through the support and mirroring in this reciprocation—of his oedipal self.

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.

Discharge of Tension Closely Allied to the Manifestation of the Merging Essence

During a state of relaxation, especially in the state of the Merging Essence, the nerves feel soft, smooth, delicate, as if they are bathed in gentle fluids. They feel like gentle running brooks. But in the state of frustration they feel as if the gentle fluids have dried up, and the nerves feel dry, harsh and prickly. In this state they clearly cannot function well. It makes sense that the state of frustration is a contraction because it is the state of the organism when there is an undischarged tension. In the original experience, the child needs something but does not get his need met. The need is like a rising tension. It is in fact sympathetic arousal, a heightening of the charge of the autonomic nervous system, similar to what happens in the fight or flight reaction. When the need is met there is a discharge of the tension and arousal reaction. The discharge, which is a parasympathetic reaction, is felt as relaxation, satisfaction and gratification. This discharge, as we have discussed, is closely allied to the manifestation of the Merging Essence. The Merging Essence, which is felt as a pleasurable contentment, affects the nervous system, discharging its tension. When the need is not met, the heightened state of arousal and tension remains, and the Merging Essence is not released. This is clearly not healthy for the nervous system, for its function of autonomic regulation is being impeded. This state of contraction, which is the outcome of undischarged mounting tension in the nervous system, is frustration, the primitive affect characterizing negative merging. We call this affect “negative-merging affect,” expressing its relationship to the state of negative merging, but distinguishing it from the undifferentiated object relations themselves, which are colored by the affect. This frustration, this painful and primitive affect, is felt as pure suffering. It is the specific feeling of suffering. It is not just pain or anger or fear; it is emotional suffering in its purest form. It is the suffering at the core of all human pains.

Illustrations of How the Need for an Aspect of One’s Being can be Directed to External Objects and Activities

Gratification. After a while the child cannot distinguish the Merging Essence from the experience of gratification. So he cannot separate it from the perception of his needs being satisfied. In other words, he does not separate it from the mental representations of the activities or processes leading to gratification. So need for the Merging Essence becomes associated in the mind with the need for other things, such as food, comfort, protection, safety, pleasure, warmth, contact, discharge of tension and so on. This has far reaching consequences, from the compulsive need for love relations, to overeating, smoking habits, drug addiction, greed, idealization of communities and belongingness, and so on. These are illustrations of how the need for an aspect of one’s Being can be directed to external objects and activities.

Realizing that the World Does Not Have the Richness and Gratification that One Always Believed It Had

Staying with this realization of the deep underlying relationship to the world will spontaneously lead to a new perception, hitherto totally unsuspected. One begins to become conscious that one’s empty shell feels continuous with, and not separate from, the rest of the world. One feels as if one’s individuality and the rest of the universe make the same entity, at the same level, with the same significance. This is the beginning of the objective awareness of the totality of the ego identity. One starts becoming aware of the totality of the ego structure projected on all of reality. Then one starts becoming aware that this reality, which includes both self and world in a continuous manner, does not seem to have any real significance. Both self and world turn out to be one big shell, empty and insubstantial. Now it is not only one’s personality that is perceived to be fake and empty, but the whole world is experienced in this way. It is strange to see physical objects, including people, having no substance, no density and no reality. They feel empty and flat like cardboard, colorless and devoid of vitality. Everything still looks the same, but one realizes that one has been projecting a significance, fullness and reality that is not really there. Here one is objectively perceiving the totality of ego identity, and realizing for the first time that it is empty, unreal and, in fact, feels like images or thoughts, which it is. So not only one’s individuality, but the totality of the world that one has been familiar with, turns out not to have the reality that one believed in so unquestioningly. One realizes, for the first time, that the world does not have the richness and gratification that one always believed it had. The world of ego is as empty as ego.

Soul, Moving Her Allegiance Toward Truth

The soul comes up against this deeply entrenched view of reality when she begins to learn to love truth for its own sake, especially when this truth turns out to be inside her, for it is the truth of her nature. She experiences a deep conflict between her love of truth and her love of pleasure and allegiance to its external sources. When the soul learns at some point to make this significant shift, and turns toward the truth, this turn becomes the state or station that invites the descent of the Markabah. This is the diamond body of pleasure, bliss, delight, and celebration, which arises as the soul’s love of truth deepens and becomes a true turning away from the habitual egoic orientation and toward authentic loyalty and allegiance to the truth. The turn of the soul’s heart is not a turn away from pleasure; it is simply the shift of allegiance from the pleasure of gratification and its sources, to the inner truth of the soul and Reality. The soul moves her allegiance toward truth, understanding its centrality and value irrespective of whether the truth is pleasurable or painful. This turn is the necessary condition for the descent of this diamond vehicle, which turns out to be what gives the soul the desire and the capacity to transcend her egoic pleasure orientation. This becomes easier to understand if we remember the nondual unity of soul and essence; when the soul is turning toward truth and developing allegiance to it, she is already being impacted by the approach of this essential form, causing this particular issue to arise. As the soul works with this issue, which is being pushed to the surface in clear relief by the grace of Being in the form of the Markabah, and as she manages to make the turn because of her commitment to the truth which she has developed in her previous work, she finally becomes open to the direct and explicit manifestation of this form of grace. In the process of the inner journey, everything is interconnected in a magical way. As the soul exerts her effort and sincerity and develops her love of truth, she awakens and invites more help from true nature, in the form of new manifestations of essence that then help her progress further.

Soul’s Desire for the Object and for the Gratification of Her Desires Becoming the Same Thing

The understanding that usually arises in working through the rejecting object relation and its related animal soul structure is that for one reason or another the soul had to disown this power early on, which turned it into destructive hatred, which was then projected onto the bad object. Thus the animal soul structure turns out to embody our essential power, which in early childhood was inseparable from animal desire. The second primitive object relation in the animal soul is the libidinal or desire soul. It involves the same soul structure as in the rejecting object relation, which it manifests as a shapeless animal entity with tremendous aliveness and vigor. In this object relation, however, the soul is hungry and voracious, and lustily desires the objects of her satisfaction. This is the soul in the mode of going after the object, where the desire for the object and for the gratification of her desires are the same thing. She wants, and she wants fully, lustily, and passionately, with no holding back or sense of propriety. This primitive creature is bent on satisfying its instinctual desires for food, sex, territory, pleasure, and so on. It is single-minded in this desire, and all its power and passion are channeled powerfully to satisfy it. The libidinal soul is not only completely driven by powerful desires, but also indiscriminate in satisfying them. Any object will do, will copulate with whatever creature that comes its way. It will eat whatever seems full and meaty, with no considerations of manner or taste. This is the desire side of the animal soul, fully embodying and expressing her instinctual nature.

The Expectation that Becomes the Libidinal Foundation of the Materialistic and Worldly View of Reality

Thus the soul has a much deeper loyalty to her initial object of gratification than most of us suspect. The power of this attachment does not become clear until it is brought up in deep levels of the soul’s inner journey. In our work this issue arises in connection with the experience and integration of the diamond vehicle called the Markabah, the diamond vehicle having to do with pleasure. The soul’s loyalty to the historical object of gratification and to the orientation associated with it is libidinal, emotional, and philosophical. The mother, or breast, was the first external object and hence the prototype of such objects. Each time the soul relates to an object of gratification, or a love object, the soul cannot help but relate to it in a way that is similar to how she related to her mother. She values it as a source of pleasurable satisfaction and fulfillment; at the same time, she has a deep and committed allegiance to it. But the fact that the first object of gratification is an object that the soul comes to recognize as separate from her and outside her, deeply conditions her to expect pleasure, satisfaction, and fulfillment only from external objects. This expectation becomes the libidinal foundation of the materialistic and worldly view of reality, the view that the animal soul adheres to totally. The first instinctual object and love object, the mother, becomes projected onto later objects, and onto the world, for mother was not only the first object but, at the beginning, the whole world for the infant. The externality of the first object makes the soul, at some point, project this onto all objects that she considers outside herself, onto the totality of manifestation.

The Libidinal Soul Oriented Towards External Sources of Gratification

It takes several days of contemplation, with curiosity and openness of mind, before I begin to understand the crystal structure, the crystal heart. This inquiry takes me through a process of becoming aware of a region of my soul that I have never seen so completely or so graphically. I become aware at some point of a certain unclarity in my consciousness that reveals, upon inquiry, a thick and opaque part of my soul. I feel, mostly in my belly and pelvis, some kind of a blobby structure of soul that appears polluted, dirty, almost nauseating. The first reaction is disgust and repulsion, but because of the presence of the crystal heart, and my true desire to see the truth of the situation, I am able to hold this arising manifestation of my soul with an open and inquiring mind. It becomes clear that the turbidity and obscuration in this soul structure is due to a constellation of desires, impulses, needs and wants. This is a particular manifestation of the soul, the individual consciousness, that is structured by the patterns of identification originating from the oral stage of development, in the first few months of life. Some of the sources of this manifestation of the soul might be inherent to the soul, due to its physical orientation, and because of its lack of development and refinement. The consciousness arises here as an animal organism, ruled by instinctual desires and dominated by animal cravings. This manifestation of the soul is exposed fully only after a long process of refinement and clarification of consciousness. Once the more superficial ego structures become transparent, previously unconscious, very deep soul structures are revealed, structures associated with the instinctual parts of the soul. This level is patterned only by the most primitive ego structures, originating from experiences in early life. Inquiry into this manifestation reveals it to be the libidinal soul oriented towards external sources of gratification, an orientation that automatically alienates it from the truth of Being. This alienation is always present unconsciously, but at some point can be seen and felt directly as a deficient, hungry emptiness, inherent to the libidinal soul.

There is No Openness in the Moment when there is Only an Infant’s Wish for Gratification

A mature human being with self-respect and dignity will learn to tolerate and accept some problems, live with some frustrations, and still manage to appreciate the finer things that are there. Something immature and petty is happening when someone experiences a subtle perception, an essential state, or some understanding, but only sees the possibility of either pleasure or gratification, missing the substance of the experience or process. This is a common occurrence. One such reaction is excitement because it feels good, or another might be to discard the experience because it is not what was expected. “I don’t care because my boyfriend still doesn’t love me.” There is no openness to the moment then, only an infant’s wish for gratification. The Work is not a magic wand. What I look for is a certain appreciation for the process of what we have done together, not a result. There is a certain exquisiteness in the interaction; it has a beauty of its own, apart from gratification. Feeling good is only one of the elements that I perceive in the situation; in fact, the result becomes simply interesting. I see how I feel in that state, and how I feel about my boyfriend or girlfriend not loving me. I find it very fascinating when I experience a state like that, and I don’t care whether someone loves me or not. That is very significant. This does not mean that there will not be emotions of loss and grief when a relationship ends; feelings will be there as usual. But the significance of the Work is beyond loss or gain. The significance lies in the freedom that results from the sincere desire for truth.

Two Deep Delusions of the Soul Growing Up

. . . . . . . . The soul is powerfully driven by the animal instincts, dominated by the need for gratification. Gratification is the pleasurable satisfaction of her desires, whether they are for safety and security, company and intimacy, sexual and physical pleasure, or for anything else she craves. Structured thus, the soul grows up adhering to two deep delusions: that the purpose of life is the gratification of her desires; and that the objects of gratification exist outside her in the physical world. She becomes enmeshed in a life of seeking instinctual gratification, ruled by the pleasure principle, which is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The love of truth, which the soul has learned in the course of her inner journey and through which she has invited the assistance of the diamond guidance, comes up against this basic human orientation. The soul recognizes that to continue to love truth selflessly requires a huge shift in her view of life and her orientation in living it. She sees that truth must come before pleasure, and that she must look inward for what she needs. Most human beings are not willing to make this shift, and are not even convinced of its truth or necessity. The conventionally conditioned soul is not only wedded to the orientation of seeking pleasure externally, but this orientation is part of a larger one, which is her allegiance to the world and loyalty to its view. This orientation has its roots in the soul’s very early experience of receiving pleasurable gratification from her mother. This early gratification creates an amazingly deep bond, such that the soul grows up deeply loyal to the mother who satisfied her needs and desires. Every soul with normal ego development grows up deeply, though often unconsciously, loyal to her mothering person, the first love object and object of gratification.

We Desire Instant Gratification but Our Appetite for Such Gratification has No Bottom and No End

We share with the animal kingdom a focus on the physical world; we are oriented toward and preoccupied with physical and other external phenomena. Partly as a result of this focus, we also share with animals the instinctual drives toward and passions for survival, food, sex, procreation, company, pleasure, power, dominance, possessiveness, territory, security, safety, comfort, entertainment, and so on. We are primarily driven by our survival, sexual, and social instincts. And these instincts operate in us the same way they operate in the animal kingdom, with drivenness, compulsion, and irrational passion for their gratification. When we experience the animal potential of the soul, what we call the animal soul, we are then full of desires, cravings, uncontrollable impulses, lust, and passion for what the world offers. We want with passion, crave with hunger, and desire with instinctual abandon. We desire instant gratification, but our appetite for such gratification has no bottom and no end. We want and want and want. We want to eat, copulate, possess, dominate, even nourish and nurse ad nauseam. Even when we believe we are being human because we want contact and sharing, our attitude about such fine qualities is animalistic, and worse. We are greedy for contact, and our need for sharing is bottomless. And whoever stands in our way had better beware.

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