Main Pages

By Region



Holes (Theory of)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Holes (Theory of)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Holes (Theory of)

Content of Holes

For instance, the loss of the will is generally related to fears about castration, as we discussed earlier. The loss of strength is related to repression of anger and also fear of separation from mother. The loss of compassion is always due to suppression of hurt. Each “hole” is filled generally by the same thing, with variations depending on the childhood history, and cultural and social circumstances of the person. Compassion, for instance, might be replaced by sentimentality and belief that one is a loving person; intuition might be replaced by excessive ideation, and strength by a show of being tough.

Ego Identity (the “I”) as a Structure is on the Deepest Level a Hole of Awareness

Awareness occupies a very special place among essential aspects. In a sense, inner development as a whole—the work on both personality and essence—can be seen as the freeing and the expansion of awareness. The reason behind this is that the most basic function of the personality is the reduction of awareness. In fact, the deepest aspect of the personality is a restriction of awareness. The ego identity, which normally is called the self, exists on the deepest level as a contraction of awareness, a restriction of consciousness. To say it more accurately, the ego identity (the I) as a structure is on the deepest level a hole of awareness, or a deficiency of awareness, because of the loss of intrinsic and basic awakeness. This is the deepest and most defended hole in the personality. This deepest hole in the personality, around which its identity is structured, is the avoidance (the loss) of the awareness of death. More accurately, the personality does not understand death, and it avoids the perception of its possibility and its existence. It is terrified of death because it means its own annihilation. We are not referring here to the death of the body, although the personality cannot conceive of any other kind of death because of its identification with the body. We mean the experience of nonexistence, which is the absence of experience. But this nonexistence is the deepest nature of the personality, its very center.

Every Time We Feel a Deficiency, a Hole there is a Longing for that Particular Missing Quality that Resulted in the Hole

Every time we feel a deficiency, a hole, a gap, there is a longing for that particular missing quality that resulted in the hole. But with that longing there is an additional subtle, underlying longing for the completeness, because each hole, each deficiency, makes you feel incomplete. So it is true that if there is a deficiency of love, for instance, you feel incomplete in your lack of love and you will long for the Love aspect. But you will also long for the completeness because the loss of Love destroyed the completeness. Likewise, the loss of Will destroys the completeness, the loss of Peace destroys the completeness, and so on. I think it is a beautiful thing to recognize that the human soul has the potential to feel and be utterly complete. You see, the Brilliancy is our nature, the brilliance of who and what we are. That completeness, that contentment, that sort of complete deliciousness, happens by completely abiding in our nature, our Being, by not going out of ourselves. We find it by realizing presence itself. It is not found by trying to get pleasure or presence, or by trying to enjoy the presence. It is just being the presence.

Brilliancy, pg. 57

Filling Holes Brings Only Temporary Relief

But the fullness of the Work is not the same thing as the fullness that people experience by filling their holes. The experience of filling a hole is not usually experienced as a fullness, really. You don’t experience fullness when somebody is filling your holes. It always feels shaky, and doesn’t feel really satisfying. It feels like a temporary kind of relief. There is a sense of grabbiness, of holding: you don’t want the other person to leave. You don’t want them to change the way they behave toward you. At a deeper level, it is actually a blockage, not an openness. While the fullness of the Work is the absence of blockage.

Filling Holes with Others

When we relate to someone else in a deep way – the deeper it is, the more this happens – we fill those holes with the other person. Some of our holes get filled with what we believe or feel we’re getting from the other person. We feel valued because this person appreciates us, and this fills our holes. We don’t know consciously that we’re filling it with their appreciation, we just feel full when we’re with them; we feel valuable. So, when I am with that person, I really feel I am valuable, but unconsciously I feel the other person has my value. The other person not only makes me feel valuable, but whatever the other person is giving me, is part of me, is part of that fullness that I experience.

Following the Threads from the Suffering in Our Lives all the Way Back to Essence

AH: No. Part of understanding is understanding the resistance to understanding. Part of the Work is to learn how to disidentify, to not believe your resistances and not identify with your emotional conflicts, but to see that they are a symptom of what is more fundamentally wrong. People take their deficiencies, their holes, as something wrong with them. Because they believe that something is wrong and nothing can be done about it, they’re always trying to fill the hole. What else can they do? But we see here that the hole, the deficiency, the sense of need, is not the problem. What is wrong is a loss of a certain aspect of Essence. We can take the knowledge that was arduously developed by Freud and his followers and use it for our Work. We will also continue to use certain of the old techniques: meditations and ways of paying attention to ourselves. And we have this very effective Diamond knowledge to remove the barriers with no detours, no going around, but going straight through to direct and complete understanding of ourselves. You have to see through all your conflicts, your fears, your guilt, your anger, your love, everything, so that in time, more and more essential qualities will be realized in you. If you can do this work thoroughly and completely, in time you will be complete. No holes, just solid Essence. The Diamond Approach is following the threads from the suffering in our lives all the way back to Essence.

Holes are Filled by Various Emotions and Beliefs and this Material Becomes the Content of Our Identity

Connected with the hole are the memories of the situations that brought the hurt and also the memory of what was lost. It is all there, but repressed. Since we do not consciously remember what happened or what we lost, we are left with the sense of emptiness and the false qualities or ideas we are trying to fill the hole with. In time, these holes accumulate. They are filled by various emotions and beliefs, and this material becomes the content of our identity, our personality. We think we are those things. Some people are left with a bit of Essence here and there, but in those whose childhood problems were most severe, everything is repressed, resulting in a subjective sense and look of dullness, almost deadness. It is the knowledge of these processes that makes the work we do here, the Diamond Approach, possible. Now we are able to be very clear, very precise. We have an obvious way to lead people back to themselves. First, people must learn to sense themselves, to pay attention to themselves, so that the necessary information is available. Most people go through life without this self-awareness because they are trying to avoid feeling the emptiness, the falseness, the something-is-wrong feeling. You can’t avoid self-awareness and do this Work.

Holes of the Various Essential Aspects

Whenever we are experientially cut off from an essential aspect, the sense of a hole will manifest both physically and psychologically. Physically, there will be the actual sensation of an emptiness or a void in the particular part of the body associated with that aspect. Psychologically, the sense of a hole will manifest as a sense of deficiency, as though a part of our soul is missing. For this reason, we speak in the Diamond Approach of holes of the various essential aspects.

Facets of Unity, pg. 131 (footnote)

Loss of Essence

A hole refers to any part of you that has been lost, meaning any part of you that you have lost consciousness of. What is left is a hole, a deficiency in a certain sense. What we have lost awareness of, is of course, our Essence. When we are not aware of our Essence, it stops manifesting and is lost. Then we feel a sense of deficiency. So a hole is nothing but the absence of a certain part of our Essence. It could be the loss of love, loss of value, loss of capacity for contact, loss of strength, the loss of will, loss of clarity, loss of pleasure, and any of those qualities of Essence. There are many of them. But when they are lost, they are not gone forever; they are never gone forever. You are simply cut off from them.

Only Seeing and Understanding the Lack, the Hole Itself, Will Lead to Transformation

The individual feels worthless, for instance, not because he or she was treated badly and not valued in the past. The worthlessness is maintained in the present by the deficient emptiness, which is due to a loss of an aspect of one’s Being. This loss is the primary event, not the events which led to it. Understanding one’s worth in terms of one’s relations to others in childhood can be useful and is often necessary, but it is not what will lead to transformation. Only seeing and understanding the lack, the hole itself, will lead to transformation, to the retrieval of what was lost. Seeing and experiencing the empty hole will shed light on all the reactions and associations at once, and put them within a unified perspective. The feeling of weakness, of passivity, of inferiority, of dependency, of castration, and the defenses against all of these, like feelings of superiority and attempts at getting recognition and approval, are all mere reactions to the empty hole. In this perspective, there is no psychology apart from spiritual questions. It is one field. Man is one; his psychology is not separate from his spirituality. Making a separation and a distinction is false; it leads to more falsehood or illusion. Illusion, then, leads to conflict, and to suffering. The way to space is obvious and easy: The self-image must be uncovered and understood. All defenses against the empty hole must be recognized and understood.

The Void, pg. 94

People Feel Threatened if You Don’t Try to Fill Your Holes in the Same Way they Do

AH . . . . . . The more mechanical we become, the more culture is a matter of filling holes. Many people say that in the past there was more love and presence, more recognition of reality, and that people were more in touch with their essence than they are now. You’ve heard of the Golden Age? In the Golden Age, people experienced their essence, no holes. The Silver Age began as Essence diminished and the holes began to appear. Then came the Bronze Age. Now we’re in the Iron Age. It’s the darkest and heaviest. Iron is nothing but defense. We can sometimes feel the quality of iron in our hardness and determination to protect ourselves. So this is one way of viewing the present time—all defenses against holes. Allowing ourselves to tolerate the holes and go through them to the other side is more difficult now because everything in society is against this. Society is against Essence. Everybody around you, wherever you go, is trying to fill holes, and people feel very threatened if you don’t try to fill your holes in the same way they do. When a person is not trying to fill his holes, it tends to make other people feel their own holes more. It’s becoming more and more difficult to do the Work, and the Work is becoming more and more needed. That is why it is important to have a group like this where there is a community of people involved in the task of self-understanding. You have the support of many people who are allowing themselves to feel the holes instead of filling them. It is very difficult—almost impossible—for one person alone to do this because everything in her environment is against it.

Society is Busy Filling Holes

Allowing ourselves to tolerate the holes and go through them to the other side is more difficult now because everything in society is against this. Society is against Essence. Everybody around you, wherever you go, is trying to fill holes, and people feel very threatened if you don’t try to fill yours in the same way. When a person is not trying to fill his holes, it tends to make other people feel their own holes. So, it’s becoming more and more difficult to do the Work. And the Work is also becoming more and more needed.

Source of Discontent, Pain and Discomfort

Most of our discontent, pain and discomfort is the result of losing a part of ourselves. It's not because of the economy; it's not because we are ugly or fat or this or that. These are not the real reasons. So trying to get fulfillment by solving these supposed problems doesn't work. The dissatisfaction comes from not allowing ourselves to experience a part of us. We are full of holes, and the only way we can be fulfilled and complete is to stay with those holes so that part of us is allowed to manifest and function. This cannot happen as long as we try to fill our holes with something else.

The Hole Specific to the Merging Essence

When these ways of acting out are seen as expressions of the deficiency and not of fullness, as the person would like to believe, he will have the chance to be free from indulging in this wasteful and defensive acting out. He will experience the deficiency itself, the emptiness, the hole. This is the content of one of the main dark spots. The individual will start feeling impoverished, dependent, needy, cold, and empty. This emptiness will actually be experienced as a cavity, an absence of fullness, if the person succeeds in not defending against it. The person will experience a hole, a cavity in the energy system of the organism, usually centered in the lower part of the chest. This particular hole, specific to the merging essence, is connected with a subtle center located in this area at the place where the diaphragm meets the sternum. At this point the person might go on to experience himself as an empty space, devoid of any fullness or quality. If he deals with the associations he has to this emptiness—such as those of dependency and need—and the fears produced by them—probably the fears of disintegration, disappearing, and so on—then he will remember the old hurt that cut off the essence. This is another big dark spot. The person will unearth the painful situation or situations that ultimately led to the loss of this particular aspect of essence.

When a Quality of Essence is Blocked from Experience What is Left in Place of that Quality is a Sense of Emptiness, a Hole

Everyone is born with Essence. Just as as your physical body follows a certain pattern of growth, so does your essence. The newborn baby is mainly in the state we call “the essence of the Essence,” a nondifferentiated state of unity. At about three months, the baby is in a “merged” state which is necessary for the development of the relationship with the mother. After the merged state, Strength develops, then Value, Joy, the Personal Essence, and so on. But because of interference from, and conflict with, the environment, this development is only partial. Every time there is pain or trauma, there is a lessening of a certain quality of Essence. Which quality is affected depends on the nature and the time of the trauma. Sometimes our strength, sometimes our love, sometimes our self-valuing, compassion, joy, or intuition is hurt and eventually blocked. When a quality of Essence is blocked from a person’s experience, what is left in place of that quality is a sense of emptiness, a deficiency, a hole, as we saw in our discussion of the Theory of Holes. You have seen in your work here how you actually experience that emptiness as a hole in your body where a quality of Essence is cut off. This creates the sense that something is lacking and, therefore, something is wrong. When we feel a deficiency, we try to fill the hole. Since Essence has been cut off in that place, we cannot fill the hole with Essence, so we try to fill it with similar, false qualities, or we try to fill it from the outside.

When Essence Begins to Flow Again

A hole is usually filled with part of our personality that has the memory of what was lost, the memory of the situation that brought about the loss, the memories of the hurts and conflicts. We have to go through the hurt at the deepest level, get close to the hole itself, and then we will see the memory of what was lost. When we see the memory of what was lost, the Essence that was lost will start flowing again. So, any deep loss is an opportunity to grow, to understand more about yourself, to experience holes you believe can only be filled by someone else.

When We Allow Ourselves to Feel Our Holes

When we stop defending against feeling a hole, the actual experience is not painful. We simply experience empty space, a feeling that there is nothing there – but not a threatening nothingness – a spaciousness, an allowing. This spaciousness allows Essence to emerge and it is Essence and only Essence that can eliminate that hole, that deficiency from the inside.

When We Stop Defending Against Feeling a Hole the Actual Experience is not Painful

So, any deep loss is an opportunity to grow, to understand more about yourself, to experience holes that you believe can only be filled by someone else. Unfortunately, people usually defend like crazy against deeply feeling these losses. This is primarily to avoid feeling the hole. People don’t know that the hole, the sense of deficiency, is a symptom of a loss of something deeper—the loss of Essence, which can be regained. They think the hole, the deficiency, is how they really are at the deepest level, and that there is nothing beyond it. They think something is wrong with them, but this feeling that something is wrong is an unconscious knowledge of the presence of the hole. People will do anything to not feel the hole. They believe that if they get close to a hole, it will swallow them up. If they are coming up to the hole of love, for example, they might feel threatened by a devastating loneliness or emptiness. Other holes will bring up what feels like a threat of annihilation. No wonder we don’t want to go near these holes! But in our work here we have seen a surprising thing: when we stop defending against feeling a hole, the actual experience is not painful. We simply experience empty space, the feeling that there is nothing there. Not a threatening nothingness, but a spaciousness, an allowing. This spaciousness allows Essence to emerge, and it is Essence and only Essence that can eliminate the hole, that deficiency, from the inside.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach