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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Image?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Image

Archetypal Images are Not Essential States

The second form of knowledge, the spiritual knowledge, is the knowledge of states, psychic powers, occultism, and the like. However, the true knowledge of reality is much more basic and much simpler than that. It is the direct perception of being, our nature. And it is not emotional or intellectual. Visions fall within the second category of knowledge. They are not yet the true experience of reality. Here we understand how the psychologist Carl Jung fell short of understanding essence. He got closer to the experience by his formulation of the archetypal images, but images, as we see, are not the essence. He saw essence, in all of its archetypes, as images that came clearest in visions and dream images. His own experience was from images in dreams and visions in his waking hours. In fact, all of his archetypes are images of certain essential states but are not the essential states. He saw the self, for instance, as a very deep archetypal image that gives us certain deep experiences and impels us toward certain actions. But in reality, the image itself is a production of essence, or more accurately, the response of the mentality of a particular person to the presence of the essential experience of self. A person might have deep emotional feelings about the archetypal image of self, but this is not the same as experiencing the essential self.

Elimination of Images

The aspect of Space is related to the Personal Essence in yet another, more specific way. It is one of the aspects needed for an important part of the process of psychic metabolism, i.e., that of elimination. We have seen that for metabolism to proceed to its completion, which is absorption, the false in any experience must first be eliminated. The greatest falsity, in any identification system, is the central belief that the image defines who one is, The content of identification systems is either part of an image, or used to build and fixate an image. So the elimination of image amounts to dissolving all of what is false in the mind. The truth contained in the mind becomes absorbed into Being, and does not remain as an image, which is a mental content. And since Space is what dissolves, or what accompanies the dissolution of, any image, then it can be regarded as the aspect needed for elimination. When an image is eliminated the mind becomes empty (of its content), clear, spacious and light. This is the experience of Space, mind with no content, the nature of the mind. The dullness of mental content dissipates as the lightness and clarity of Space penetrates it.

Importance of Images for Discrimination in the Mind

When one is familiar with nonconceptual Being, it becomes clear that the development of the mind cannot be divorced from the creation of images, since mind deals with images. There is no knowledge without images, for knowledge is composed of concepts, which are various sorts of images; the creation of these images is indispensable for discrimination in the mind.

Projecting Mother's Image

The mother inside you is not a physical thing; you have her emotionally in your unconscious. You behave like her, and you seek out people like her. You feel the way she felt, or you find people who treat you the way she treated you. In these ways, you always have Mother around. The ego or the personality of an adult is really a baby, except that now the mother is in a different form. Even those who deny they want mother, who had a negative experience of mother, continue to unconsciously seek the negative mother while consciously feeling the opposite. The mother is still pretty much the same mother you had before. You project that image outside and want other people to be like her, or you look for other people to perform those mothering functions for you, or you look to society for security, or comfort, or sustenance. So emotionally, the personality continues to have a symbiotic relationship with mother. We grow up physically, but not emotionally. We continue to unconsciously believe we are dependent in ways that an adult human being doesn’t actually have to be. You see yourself as dependent on others for love, approval, recognition, support, nourishment, contact, pleasure. Most people think that’s the way it is. They think, “How can you be a grown up person and have a career and a good life unless you have a mate or at least a lover?” That’s how most people think. They don’t question it. They think they need love, and it is true—they do. But what they are seeing is the personality. The ego functions through emotional dependency, and you call it love.

Relating to the Intelligence of the Universe

Your unconscious image of God determines how you relate to the intelligence of the universe, that which is beyond you as an individual and beyond your parents as individuals. Thus, to some extent, this unconscious image of God affects your sense of the world, which is the entirety of the holding environment. To have a correct relationship with what actually exists, with the Intelligence beyond all appearance, you have to rend the veils that obscure your vision of it. One of these veils is your projected images, and the primary one is your unconscious God representation. From the beginning, God is usually presented to us as whoever or whatever it is that is taking care of and looking after us and the whole universe, so our sense of basic trust and of holding are intimately connected with our idea of God. The image that we have formed of Him determines our degree of basic trust. The more that that image is loving and holding, the more we are able to relax, resting in the knowledge that we will be taken care of. The less our image of Him has those qualities, the more frightened we are, believing that we have to struggle, that we have to be good or somehow different, and that we have to manipulate others and ourselves to get what we need.

Facets of Unity, pg. 52

Separation from Mother in One's Experience as Being

However, when one experiences oneself as Being, one is no longer the self-image. One’s sense of being a human individual is now based not on the internalized self-image, but on pure beingness, beyond all images of mind. This means that this new sense of oneself is not in relation to mother’s image. It is not dependent on past object relations, and is not a reliving of them. This is the autonomy of Being, that we discussed in detail in a previous chapter. The mother’s image is completely irrelevant to this sense of being oneself. It is in fact in a completely different dimension of experience. One is living on the Being level, while mother’s image and all mental representations are on the mind level. These representations are experienced as mere thoughts, concepts, images and of no fundamental reality. The disengagement from the mother in this experience is complete, utter. One feels no relation to the memories of mother or her image, in the sense that one’s sense of identity is completely independent from both. The experience of the mental representation of the mother is seen as completely alien to one’s experience of Being, as if from two different universes of experience.

The Feeling that Accompanies an Image in Relation to Another Image

Thus the supposed autonomy of ego is, from this perspective, nothing but the feeling that accompanies an image in its relation to another image. It is striking that this is exactly what object relations theory states: that autonomy is based on the establishment of a self-image. We wonder how one can know that what he believes he is, is simply an image, and stop at that, without feeling that something is not right? The answer, of course, is that as long as one identifies with the self-image, the implications of the theory are not suspected, or if they are suspected they cannot be clearly seen without an experience of Being. One must go through a very deep process of inner transformation to see the profound implications of this apparently simple understanding of ego identity. Another reason most people cognizant of object relations theory do not see its deeper, shocking implications is the fact that they are usually focused on mental disorders, and that normality and health are generally viewed in relation to pathology. Since the pathologies are in general ultimately due to the absence of complete ego autonomy, ego autonomy has come to represent health or normality.

The Soul Develops an Image of Itself and an Image of the World

But as we’ve seen, it is also known from developmental psychology that in the development of the ego, we don’t only develop an image of ourself through our object relations; we also develop an image of the other—initially the primary caretaker, the mother for instance, and also the father. We develop these images of the other—the object in object relations—and as we grow up, they include an image of the whole world. We develop a representation of ourself from our early experiences, and along with the development of our self-representation, a world representation is developed as well.

So from all our early experiences—of our holding environment and the adequacy or inadequacy of it, and the interactions with the people around us—we develop certain memories that coalesce. This creates a structure in the ego that is usually referred to as the representational world. What this term reflects is that in our mind we have an image of ourself, but we also have an image of the world, of reality “out there.” Each one of us has such an image, each slightly different, but there are some basic elements common to everyone’s image of the world, just as the basic image of being a separate individual is common to all of us.

The soul therefore develops an image of itself and an image of the world. When it looks at itself through its image of itself, it becomes a personality. When it looks at the world through its image of the world, the world becomes the conventional one. In other words, the world that most people experience is a representational world; it is reified, meaning a world that has been fixed within certain concepts, within certain images, or rather within a certain constellation of images. This conventional world is a constellation of images, impressions, ideas, concepts and beliefs that make up our whole world view.

Your Image of Yourself is Closely Related to Your Image of the World

The same thing happens with the world. The way that we see it is a reflection of our early environment, and we see it pretty much according to how we experienced our environment early on. Just as we formed a God representation, we formed a world representation, generally referred to as the representational world. And just as you develop an image of who you are that is essence-blind and therefore incomplete, the same thing happens with your internal representation of the world. In actuality, your image of yourself is closely related to your image of the world, since they form out of your experience of yourself in your early childhood environment. We see ourselves and the world through these images that formed many years ago, and so we experience ourselves and the world according to images from our childhood. This is related to the well-known psychological phenomenon of transference, in which we project images of people from our early childhood onto people in our present lives. We unconsciously see this person as mother and that person as father, with the corresponding image of ourselves in relation to them, recreating these early relationships. Likewise, we project an image of the world onto our present-day experience of it, based on our early experience. This world representation is a synthesis of many images. It is based primarily on our early experience with mother, since she was the central figure in that environment, but also includes the totality of the environment that we experienced as a child.

Facets of Unity, pg. 56

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