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Growing Up

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Growing Up?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Growing Up

Coming to Believe Our Own Pretensions

Young children are completely involved when they are playing. They are not trying to be something or accomplish something. They might be happily content with the moment, or crying about something, but they are completely in the moment. Then little by little, the child begins to do things to get someone’s reaction or attention, to be good, or to get approval. The child begins to become fake, and after a while the innocence is gone. This is easy to observe when you are around a child growing up. We have forgotten that we too are like that, fake, because we have learned to be subtle and hide it, even from ourselves. But in the early years when the child says something to you, it is often obvious when there is a manipulation of their real experience or desire. They are not subtle at the early stages. As they grow up, they become more subtle and more defended against their impulses and feelings in the moment. Finally, the usual identification with the personality prevails, and we believe that everything we do is real. We have come to believe our own pretensions.

Learning How to be an Adult

In this school, we have the opportunity to grow up. It is a school to grow up in. In society at large, the usual situation is like a nursery full of little children. The main difference between an actual nursery and society at large is that a nursery is recognized as a nursery while society at large believes that everyone is an adult even though everybody is still a child pretending to be an adult. In a nursery, a child doesn’t pretend he is an adult. Our Work is to learn what it is really like to be an adult, to find out what growing up is really about. Because of that, we can’t treat people like children here, or they’ll never grow up. All the problems you have exist, quite simply, because you don’t want to grow up. You don’t want to behave like a grown-up; you want to continue being a little baby. The fact that you don’t want to grow up, that you want to continue being a baby, explains almost everything you feel. It explains, for instance, the common pattern of people being angry at the teacher for not doing or being enough for them. They say, “Why don’t you do more for me? Why is it so difficult?” What they’re really saying is “You’re not a good mommy!” This is exactly how babies feel when mother is not being what they want. An adult does not think that way. An adult looks at the situation and asks, “What is the best way this situation can be used? What can I get out of it?”

Realizing that there is More to Life than Just Growing Up, Living and Eating

At some point, when you are older, you realize that something is not quite right. You are having some problems with your life, perhaps with work or with a relationship. So you might begin to become psychologically sophisticated, and try to understand your mind and your personality. You do therapy, study psychology or philosophy, and understand your problems. Why do you have problems? You might want to know what it is about your perceptions of things that makes you unhappy. You might realize that there is more to life that just growing up, living, and eating. You realize that you might not really understand what’s going on here. Most people don’t begin to wonder about these things until later in life. When you are ten years old, you do not ask such questions. It doesn’t occur to you that your misconceptions can cause you trouble. To begin to question your notions about the world takes a lot of living, until you are sixteen or seventeen if you are lucky, or maybe until you are thirty. You begin to realize that part of your difficulty is that there are certain things you don’t understand, or certain things you have assumed that are actually not true. You begin to realize that your mind has some influence on how you experience the world. At some point you might become spiritually sophisticated, and wonder about experiencing deeper things in your life, in yourself, in the world. So you become interested in the spirit, in spirituality, in the subject of God, or Essence, or Being. You begin to consider that maybe you have a soul, maybe you have spirit, maybe you have Essence. You feel something new in your inner experience. People talk to you about the God or Goddess within, and other people talk about the God that’s outside, up there, or the Goddess down there. So you develop the notion that there are things in the world that are not seen by the eyes, not perceived by the senses.

The Fundamental Truth About Growing Up

The nontheistic traditions—the Buddhists and Taoists, for instance—do not postulate the existence of God. The Buddhists speak of the Four Noble Truths. The first Noble Truth is that there is suffering. That is the nature of the personality. The second Noble Truth is that the cause of suffering is desire. The third Noble Truth is that there is a way out of that. And the fourth Noble Truth is the path. So there is suffering; its cause is desire; it is possible to have a cessation of desire; and there is a path towards that cessation. Desire here is the looking outward: “I want this. I want that. Give me love. Give me pleasure.” It is seeking things from the external. The cessation of desire is the movement inward. The theistic approach comes from the perspective of the heart. The other approach, the Buddhist one, is the perspective of the mind. They are basically the same thing. Growing up is learning this fundamental truth, accepting it, and acting accordingly. You can cry and blame other people for not giving you what you want, but if you persist in the Work, you will finally see that’s how it is. Along the way, you will protest. You will resist in many ways, gross and subtle, direct and indirect. In the process of growing up, you will have many fears about giving up the child’s attitude because you believe that you don’t have the capacity to provide what you need for yourself. You believe unconsciously that there is no other way but to look outside. Yet it is possible to grow up. What does “grown-up” mean? You think of a grown-up as a person who can take care of you. Why don’t you think you can take care of yourself? You believe your mother or father could to it; why don’t you believe you can do it? The reason you don’t is that you want to continue being a little baby and have your mother or your father inside you. When you are finally willing to grow up, Essence becomes your mother and your father.

The Next Level of Development

Growing up and maturing through the experiences the world has offered us has been important for our development. The next level of development involves starting out as a child in the spiritual world and maturing into adulthood by becoming a complete human being who knows her true nature and is nourished through it. In other words, the adult of this world is the child of the spiritual world. The adult of the spiritual world has a foot in both worlds and feels them as one. And real relating can only happen between two mature adults. The more mature we are, the more the relational field can open to new potential, and the less the past dictates the content of experience. Our maturational process does not flourish if we disregard this world, push it away, or disown our parents. It is a matter of embracing everything and finding an opening to that other possibility, that next dimension of experience—the inner dimensions.

What Essentially Happens in the Process of Growing Up

What essentially happens in the process of really growing up is that you don’t need your mother or your father any more. You don’t need to have your mother inside you or outside you. In the course of dissolving the mother inside you, you have to deal with the fear that there will be nothing there to support, protect, comfort, or nourish you. You must learn that you have these capacities in yourself. What takes the place of the mother—first the physical and then the psychological mother—is your essence. To recognize, realize, integrate, and develop your essence is to become an adult. Your essence is you. It is not something you learn from your mother. It is not being like her or relating to your superego. It is being your real self. Then you will have what your mother gave you in your physical babyhood: love, compassion, support, intelligence, consciousness, protection, pleasure, fulfillment, release—all these things. Essence can give you these things because Essence is support, is strength, is intelligence, and so on.

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