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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Ideals?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Ideals

Action Based on Ambitions and Ideals Disconnects the Self from It's Dynamism

Action based on ambitions and ideals disconnects the self from its innate dynamism. The activity is bound to be somewhat unauthentic, for regardless of how near the ideals and ambitions are to the actual condition of the self, they cannot be identical to its condition in the moment because they are based on structures most likely laid down in early childhood. In fact, activity based on ambitions and ideals is a kind of substitute activity, reflecting our inability to contact the real dynamism at the center of the self. This is the sense in which the tension arc of ideals and ambitions is a false dynamism, an impostor that takes the place of the real thing. The unrealistic ideals and grandiose ambitions of narcissistic individuals are exaggerated manifestations of the fundamental narcissistic condition. So we can see that in narcissistic pathology, just as the unrealistic self-images and ideal images are distorted and exaggerated manifestations of fundamental narcissism, which is disconnection from the core of the self, the tension arc of the unrealistic ambitions and ideals is the distorted and exaggerated manifestation of the disconnection from the dynamism of Being. Our discussion indicates, also, that the normal tension arc of ambitions and ideals is the normal manifestation of the disconnection from the dynamism of Being.

Facets of Unity, pg. 88

Attempting to Fill Deficiency with Goals and Ideals to Create Significance and Meaning

You set goals to accomplish certain things or to be a certain way because you believe that the way things are and the way you are at the present time are not good enough, and won’t get you what you want. You also think that having no goals would mean that you would be bored or lazy or half-dead, or that there’s something wrong with you. Having goals in this way is one way to live your life. A second way is to live in the present, to be who you are at the moment, as a completeness and a fullness. This means actualizing who you are. At any moment you are who you are, and there is no need to be anything or to go anywhere. It is because you are not who you are that you want to be something, and you create all these goals and aims. Because who you are is missing, you have no true direction; your life feels meaningless, insignificant, with no value and no orientation. You attempt to fill this deficiency with goals and ideals and aims in order to create a sense of significance, meaning, fullness, importance, orientation, direction. However, when you let yourself be who you are instead of trying to be something different, you experience everything in your life as significant and important without even thinking of things as significant and important, by virtue of just being, just living. This kind of living does not exclude goals. A person living in the present can have goals, but the goals are not to be something; the goals are an expression and the result of who the person is at the moment. The person is already fulfilled, and that fulfillment can then manifest as certain goals.

Belief in the Need for Ideals, Morals and Rules

This is obviously because the Weltanschauung, the world view of the analyst and the psychotherapist, does not include the fact of essence. The presence of essence, with its direct and objective perception and its balanced human nature, is not known, so the possibility of a life without the superego but instead with such an objective perception is not envisioned. The capacity of the essence to know and to act according to knowledge is not seen. So there remains always the belief in the need for ideals, morals, and rules to govern one's life. From our perspective, the superego is the inner coercive agency that stands against the expansion of awareness and inner development, regardless of how mild or reasonable it becomes. It is a substitute, and a cruel one, for direct perception and knowledge. Inner development requires that in time there be no internal coercive agencies. There will be instead inner regulation based on objective perception, understanding, and love. The best approach is to decrease the power and influence of the superego and to replace it with awareness as much as possible, all the way to the final and complete dethronement of the superego.

High Ideals in the State of Self-Realization

Our argument that identification with ambitions and ideals constitutes and perpetuates narcissistic disturbance may be easy to see in the case of ambitions, but harder in the case of ideals; in most societies high ideals are a sign of maturity, even of spiritual refinement. However, having high ideals is not the same as having ideals based on ideal images of self and objects. We might have high ideals in the state of self-realization, but they do not originate from psychic structures that define who and what we are. These high ideals are the influence of the qualities of Essence on the self. It is difficult not to develop ideals into psychic structures that define the self. In fact, it is difficult even to engage in spiritual practice if we are not inspired by ideals. The inevitable presence of ideals based on psychic structures, however, simply reflects the limitation of our self-realization. As long as we are not fully self-realized, some psychic structures define the self, and ego activity is based somewhat on ideals. The more we are self-realized, the less we rely on ideals because we experience a growing trust that the dynamism of Being will manifest what is needed. Ultimately, we do not need high ideals because we have integrated into our being their very source. Our actions might appear from the outside as if they are inspired by high ideals, but in fact, we are merely manifesting our true nature.

Ideals as Part of the Thick Veils Through Which We Experience Ourselves

Under normal circumstances we experience ourselves only partially. We do not experience ourselves as we are in ourselves, in our authentic reality or essence. Instead, we experience ourselves through thick veils of ideas, ideals, beliefs, images, reactions, memories, desires, hopes, prejudices, attitudes, assumptions, positions, identifications, ego structures, labels and accumulated knowledge—in other words, through the influence of all of our past experiences. We literally experience ourselves through the past, through the totality of our personal past, instead of freshly, in the present moment. Only when we have experienced another way of knowing ourselves is it possible to appreciate the enormous effect all this mental baggage has on our normal experience of ourselves. We see, then, that our awareness of ourselves has become so fragmented, so indirect, so burdened by mental accretions, that even what we take to be authenticity is only a reflection of a reflection of our innate and fundamental authenticity. The mental images and attitudes that determine how we experience ourselves form the basis of a whole implicit world view. We also experience ourselves only indirectly, as a subject experiencing an object. We are aware of ourselves as an object like other objects, seeing ourselves in the world as one object among others. Even when one is aware of oneself as perceiver or subject, this perception is different from the direct sense of our facticity, from the fact of our existence. We still know ourselves through the veil of memory.

Ideals Seen as Compensations for the Absence of the Essential Self

The ego ideal is a compensation for a certain loss. Goals are also a compensation, an attempt to fill a certain hole. Society is primarily structured around these compensations. Everybody has goals and ideals and plans, and they’re all compensations for the absence of the essential self. Everyone is living his life as a compensation. That is why in time, when you become more in tune with yourself and know yourself better, the roles you perform in your life, along with your capacities, become different. Ultimately, your gift to the world is being who you are. It is both your gift and your fulfillment. You can then exercise your capacities and abilities, attaining pleasure, joy, and fulfillment in your life.

Refraining from Using Our Various Roles, Ideals, Activities to Fill Our Sense of Emptiness

When we want to explore our true identity, we have to allow ourselves to refrain from using our various roles, activities, ideals, and images to fill our sense of emptiness. Then we can observe whether any of these things actually satisfies our deep need for meaning. If you observe yourself, you will probably discover that you have become disappointed in one thing after another. You will see that you are disappointed in your career, the relationship with your lover or spouse, your own mind, everything. You’re disappointed because they don’t do what you hoped they would do for you. You are expecting the wrong thing from each area of your life that disappoints you. There is one disappointment after another until you allow yourself to fall into the great chasm, the great split. You need to allow yourself to exist in that vast emptiness. We must go through this non-existence. There is no other way. To become unified, we must go through the split in us, which is the same thing as the chasm. We cannot go over it or avoid it. We must allow ourselves to experience the chasm. We have to allow ourselves to feel the insignificance completely, without defending against it. When you recognize the feeling of being fake without trying to change it, and when you do not defend against it, you will feel complete nothingness, worthlessness, complete lack of support, complete helplessness. It is not that our process creates it; no, we have to go through it because it is there. This hole is there in our depths, and we are constantly avoiding it. When we allow ourselves to experience it, we might learn that emptiness is nothing, only peacefulness, and that the chasm is nothing but a boundless peace. It is an emptiness, and it doesn’t have a selfhood, but it is not as scary as we imagine.

The Completely Unselfish, Dynamic Flow of the Essential Nature of the Self

The dynamism of Being, as experienced in the deeper stages of self-realization, is a spontaneous and natural flow of presence. In the human soul the presence functions as the inspiring and motivating center of initiative, action, and creativity, and its intrinsic patterning functions as the guidance that directs the activity. This activity is totally spontaneous, and free from the constricting influence of psychic structures. The self is intrinsically intelligent, and this intelligence is part of the inherent intelligent structure of Being. This intelligence manifests as appropriate responsiveness to the needs of whatever situation one finds oneself in. When love is needed, the dynamism manifests presence in the aspect of Love, which guides us to act in loving ways; when strength is needed, it manifests Essence in the quality of Strength, guiding us to act with strength and vitality. Past experience is available to the intelligence without defining the truth of the self. The dynamic essence of the self, here, is not an ambitious activity trying to actualize a certain objective that fits its ideals; rather, it is a completely nonselfish, dynamic flow of the essential nature of the self as it unfolds naturally and authentically. Authenticity means that the inner flow and the external action are the matter-of-fact reality of the self being itself, just as the heart beats because it is its intrinsic nature to do so.

The Superego Loves Its Opportunity Around Comparative Judgments

The moment we posit a particular state as ideal, we also fall into the mode of comparative judgment. We are comparing where we are now with that ideal state. This becomes a fertile ground for the superego. The superego loves this position. This is exactly the gap it needs to enter into your experience. When you make a comparative value judgment, you become engaged in: “Here’s where I am, and over there is where I am supposed to be. Where I am is not as good as where I’m supposed to be, so where I am should change to be the other place.” When you say this, you are rejecting where you are at the moment. And when you reject where you are at the moment, not only do you disconnect from your personal thread, you also disconnect yourself from your true nature, from your beingness itself.

Value Beyond Mind, Concepts, Ideals, Hopes and Dreams

Value is truly nothing other than our heart’s intimate contact with the immediacy of the moment—with each moment, with where we are precisely. In that contact, in that being with and knowing reality as it is, we recognize the unquestionable rightness and preciousness of where we are and what we are. Nothing touches us more deeply than the implicit value of our own beingness. It is value beyond mind, beyond concepts, beyond ideals and hopes and dreams. This preciousness of simply being here now with awareness and understanding fills our heart with contentment and satisfaction. We realize that where we are, which is what we are, is also the most real and precious nature of life itself.

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