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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Incompleteness?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Incompleteness

A Split, a Gap Between what You Think You Are and what You Actually Are

So if who we actually are is a completeness, and we have always actually been complete, why do we experience ourselves as incomplete? One way to see it is that the experience of incompleteness is actually the experience of a distance from your completeness. To be incomplete means to be separated from your completeness. There is a split, a gap between what you think you are and who you actually are. This split, this chasm occurred for some reason at some point in your history. You have abandoned yourself. You have become separated from your real self. You are taking the constructs of your mind to be you. The moment you take yourself to be anything in your mind, you are split from who you are, and you will experience insecurity, fear, and desire. The separation from your real self will bring wants and needs, the thoughts that accompany them, the feelings that accompany those, and the rest of the mess that most people call their lives. Once this chasm develops, what you take yourself to be is always based on it. How you experience yourself most of the time is based not on completeness, but on the absence of it, on a gap. So it is understandable that you’ll have all kinds of wants, needs, desires, thoughts, ideas, ambitions, plans, and so on. From the deficient perspective of incompleteness comes a feverish activity to accomplish, to fill, to acquire. The desire to acquire something—an object, person, emotion, more knowledge, experience, pleasure or Essence—is based upon this sense of incompleteness, which is itself based on an incorrect understanding of who you are.

A Vague Feeling of Incompleteness, a Gnawing Sense of Lack

We have shown how a segment of the personality is developed as an aspect if essence is lost. It is possible to follow the vicissitudes of each essential aspect and see exactly the specific childhood situations that universally cause its loss. We will see that as each aspect of essence is lost, a certain hole or deficient emptiness is created. This is then filled by the development of a certain sector of the personality, a part of the personality determined by the particular aspect of essence lost, and by the specific childhood situation or situations that led to its loss. In time, there will be no essence in the person's conscious experience. Instead of essence or being, there will be many holes: all kinds of deep deficiencies and lacks. However, the person will not usually be consciously aware of his perforated state. Instead, he is usually aware of the filling that covers up the awareness of these deficiencies, what he takes to be his personality. That is why this personality is considered a false personality by people aware of essence. The individual, however, honestly believes that what he is aware of is himself, not knowing that it is only a filling, layers of veils over the original experiences of loss. What is usually left of the experience of essence and its loss is a vague feeling of incompleteness, a gnawing sense of lack, that increases and deepens with age. However, this is true only for what is called the normal person, the adjusted personality, the standard of psychological balance in the culture.

As Long as there is an Itch for Something You Know You are not Complete

So being complete means being totally serene and unperturbable. You have no need to accomplish anything or achieve anything, even completeness. You’re too complete to think or reflect on your completeness at all. You don’t even need to know you’re complete. It is interesting that you experience either completeness or incompleteness. Your mind is either aware of one or aware of the other. There is nothing in between. You are yourself only when you are complete. When you are not complete, you are not yourself. If you need anything, absolutely anything, if you desire or fear anything, you are still not completely yourself. Of course, your body will have its basic biological needs, like food and shelter. You attend to these, but you are not dependent on comfort to be complete. If you experience yourself as incomplete, you remain unaware of your innate completeness, and behave like someone who needs to be filled. The behavior of someone who is incomplete is easy to recognize: the person always acts as if he wants or needs something. As long as there is an itch for something, you know you are not complete. If you experience interest in anything at all—an object, a person, an activity, or an idea—you know that, in that moment at least, you’re not complete. It will probably sound to your mind as if being complete would make for a totally uninteresting life. Such a state does not sound appealing or appetizing. Yet the mind will not be able to rest until there is completeness. Being complete doesn’t mean that you don’t do anything, that you just hang out and vegetate. When you are complete, your actions can only be loving. When you’re not experiencing the gap of incompleteness, there is no need and no fear, and then you are free to love. Love is a natural movement; it doesn’t need a desire to motivate it. Loving action is the spontaneous arising out of that completeness. And from that, all else comes.

As Long as You are Feeling Incomplete You are Not Completely Settled in Yourself

To confront the incompleteness, to explore it, means to acknowledge it, to let it be there, to feel it fully until you find out and understand what it’s all about, why there is a sense of incompleteness. In this process, you might find out all kinds of things about incompleteness and about this or that aspect that you are out of touch with; but usually the incompleteness will continue as long as you don’t realize the completeness itself. And if that incompleteness remains, it is fine to just feel that; it is better for you that you don’t forget by finding a substitute. As long as you are feeling incomplete, you are still not completely settled in yourself. You don’t want to pretend to yourself that you’ve got it when you still aren’t feeling complete. It pays to be honest—in other words, you lose by being dishonest. If you forget, or find a substitute for completeness, you might feel a little better for a while, but for the next ten billion years, you lose. Brilliancy is a complete presence, and thus it is a presence of completeness. The greatest lesson that the soul needs to learn is how to settle into itself, because all that it wants is there in itself. The soul is always seeking, always looking, always agitating, rejecting this, accepting that. All the traditional spiritual disciplines and practices are basically for the soul to learn the inadequacy and hopelessness of ego activity and to come to the point of saying, “Okay, I won’t do any of that. I give up, I’ll just sit here.” If you really do that, you’re done—the completeness is there. The treasure is there in the simplicity of Being, but we are not aware of it because we are ahead of it. It’s here, but we’re going over there, so we never get it. We just need to settle back and relax; only then do we wonder, “What is all this fuss about anyway?”

Brilliancy, pg. 58

Completeness Can Happen Only by Confronting the Incompleteness Head On

Just as the longing for Brilliancy can manifest as the longing for intelligence, so it can also manifest as the longing for completeness; and the absence of Brilliancy can be experienced as incompleteness. So when you feel incomplete, you usually try to get rid of that feeling by completing yourself, right? If I feel incomplete because I feel or think I am not smart, I go to school. If I feel incomplete because I am weak, I take up weight lifting, right? If I am incomplete because I’m not compassionate enough, I go about learning to help people. But all these activities indicate that you believe the completeness will happen by adding something to yourself. You believe that by putting things together and collecting all the necessary elements, you will then be complete. In reality that doesn’t work, because completeness is an affect, a feeling, of our true nature when we experience it completely and fully—and you can’t assemble your true nature from its different parts. The completeness can happen only by confronting the incompleteness head on, by recognizing it as incompleteness, and not by acting according to the delusion that we can complete ourselves by getting this or that. Completeness happens by being honest and truthful with ourselves, acknowledging the incompleteness, allowing it to happen, exploring it, going to its source: “How do I feel incomplete? Why do I feel incomplete?” So instead of saying no to the incompleteness and wondering how you can complete yourself, you can explore the feeling: “Well, I feel incompleteness; I wonder why.” You can be curious out of loving the truth, because you are interested in finding out what the truth is. You become interested in the exploration.

Brilliancy, pg. 58

Everybody is in Some Way Feeling Incomplete

And that’s really the background of everyone’s experience, for everybody is feeling in some way incomplete; but usually we don’t differentiate that state of incompleteness. For a while at the beginning of our work, we deal with the particular deficiencies of the differentiated aspects: “Oh, I’m weak,” “Oh, I am worthless,” “Oh, I am unlovable,” and so on. And these are true deficient states. However, the sense of incompleteness comes from the deeper state of the absence of completeness itself. Our mind cannot conceive of that at the beginning of our work, so we look for and find something that is missing. But we can deal with the underlying state only by dealing with the root of the problem—which is the sense of incompleteness itself—only by dealing with the incompleteness, without looking for a scapegoat in one of the aspects. We can discover that there is simply an incompleteness there. It might feel like something is missing, a lot is missing, or everything is missing, but usually it’s just more a sense of “I’m incomplete; for some reason, I’m incomplete.” Now, as is usual with any deficiency, the mind or the ego makes all kinds of attempts not to experience it. So there is a tendency to fill the hole or cover up the hole of incompleteness. We do that by taking actions within our mind, our feelings, and in the world physically, by doing all kinds of things to try to feel complete, to bring about completeness. Some people may say, “Well, I’m not complete until I have my ideal mate,” right? That’s one of the beliefs: If I find my ideal mate, I’ll be complete. They think that this single aspect will make them feel complete if it’s there. But that really won’t do it. Or some people say, “Well, if I just have strength, I will be complete; if I’m really smart enough, I’ll be complete; if this or that, then I’ll have a sense of completeness in my life.” People do all kind of things to try to not feel the sense of incompleteness. They do whatever they think will give them the sense of completeness.

Brilliancy, pg. 259

Incompleteness is Just Some Kind of Ignorance; it is a Symptom and Not a True Thing

But when you understand that incompleteness has nothing to do with these things, you will have a deeper handle on your superego. Completeness happens by confronting and completely tolerating the incompleteness. So your superego, by attacking you for feeling incomplete, is really preventing you from getting closer to and relaxing into your own true nature, which is complete. Your intrinsic nature is complete, though you might not believe it now. If and when you recognize yourself—when you are really being yourself—you will find out that you are completeness. So, if you are feeling incomplete, that does not mean you are incomplete. All it means is that you are not resting in your nature. Everybody is complete. Completeness is the deeper nature of the human soul. The more you recognize that you are really complete, the easier it becomes to accept and to experience incompleteness; for you then know that incompleteness is just some kind of ignorance. It is a symptom, it is not a true thing; it is not a true description of what and who you are. Completeness is the true description of who you are. It is not enough, however, to believe what I say. You need to have that direct experience for yourself. Incompleteness is your path toward completeness. It is a treasure—or, more accurately, a window—that you have in your psyche. It is important to recognize the various ways you personally use to avoid the feeling of incompleteness. This may include denying your incompleteness or trying to become complete. Your spiritual search, for example, might be an attempt to cover up your incompleteness. In fact, people say that they are searching because they are incomplete. Searching for what? Completeness is not something to be sought after. Completeness is something to be relaxed into. It’s like when your muscles are tense: They just need to relax, let go, and settle.

Brilliancy, pg. 60

Incompleteness of our Self-Representation Leaves Our Identity Vulnerable to the Truth of Our Actual Self

The self-representation can be false in some respects, or incomplete, or both. If we identify with a self-concept that does not reflect the true self, then the identity is false; in other words, we are mistaken about who and what we are. This alienates us from ourselves and exposes us to continual challenges from our environment which threaten our identity. False aspects of the self-image cannot be completely supported by either our internal or external environment. When the self-representation excludes aspects of the self, this incompleteness will cause the sense of self to be weak, distorted, or both. This is partially due to the pressure of the actual self on the identity. Any real part of ourselves that is excluded by what we take ourselves to be will create conflicts in the sense of identity, since its mere existence threatens the identity. For example, if our identity does not include our anger, or our love, then our identity will be threatened when anger or love arise forcefully in consciousness. Hence, the incompleteness of our self-representation leaves our identity vulnerable to the truth of our actual self, just as the falsehood of the representation leaves our identity in an untenable position in relationship to all of reality.

Just to be in the Spiritual and Forget the World Will Feel to Most People Not Completely Satisfying

In fact, as we move through the inner journey, we feel a pull, a movement, a love, toward the spiritual pole, which makes us feel that we are going away from the world and from the people in the world. This will bring up our attachment and, underlying that, the love of the world and beings of the world and things of the world. But, again, just to be in the spiritual and forget the world will feel to most people not completely satisfying, regardless of how blissful their spiritual experience. Even the experience of the spiritual ground—when we get to our spiritual home and are living in that intimacy—is beautiful, but at some point, it feels like something is not right, not complete. And we begin to be aware that “Yes, I love the spirit—but I also love the world.” Whenever we emphasize one part at the expense of the other, we begin to feel a state of incompleteness. Many of us do a lot of things to attempt to bring the two together, to harmonize the two loves. And some of you have seen how, when you really feel the love, it is not two loves. But our heart is divided mainly because of our mind. Our mind believes that there are two worlds, two realities. One is the physical world—the everyday world of me, you, everybody else; the houses, cars, planets, and galaxies. The other is the world of spirit, the world of mystery—the unseen, invisible world, the world of total harmony, the world of purity, of pure light, pure radiance, perfect presence, the world of the divine.

The Door to Knowing what It Is to Be Oneself

When a person learns what it is to be oneself, the process of inner development, realization and understanding of truth involves continual discovery and expansion, with surprises and celebrations during the whole process. There is no end to the exploration and discoveries. Many of you can feel a very deep yearning, a subtle flame, a longing for that true life—to live our life as a continual celebration and freshness. In some part of us we know this is possible, and that it is the way life should be. If we don’t live this way, there is always a feeling of incompleteness. The understanding of what it is to be oneself unifies the spiritual and the mundane. It unifies the teachings of people like Christ and Buddha with the yearning of the ordinary person. The enlightened masters and teachers talk about renouncing the world, about being free of ego, and about their desire to live a true life. But an ordinary person is always wanting such things as pleasure and the fulfillment of his desire. We want the experiences of the physical world. Why do we have all these desires and dreams? If there is no such thing as a life of abundance and celebration in a personal, ordinary way why do we desire them? These desires must come from somewhere. There must be some truth to both the universal spiritual teachings and the personal longing experienced by the majority of people. There must be something which unifies these so that they are not in contradiction. And to really make that unification, not theoretically or mentally but experientially, to see the two as one, is the door to knowing what it is to be oneself. Without this unification of spiritual and personal, even cosmic and divine experience lacks the aspect of celebration.

Transitory Incompleteness of Realization

Clearly, the capacity for discrimination can operate in all dimensions of experience, including those usually relegated to the “spiritual.” This is contrary to the view that spiritual experience is incapable of precise discrimination. The capacity of the self for discrimination originates from the dimension of full self-realization. The experience of primordial presence, the primary experiential element in full self-realization, is not an experience of something vague or unrecognizable. When a person has any deep spiritual experience for the first time, it is not uncommon to experience a sense of vagueness, a lack of recognition, and the sense that one can’t label or communicate the experience. This condition is transitory; it reflects both unfamiliarity with the new experience, and the incompleteness of the realization. The full realization integrates all dimensions, as we have already described, including one’s thoughts and emotions. In this state, the consciousness is operating simultaneously on the nonconceptual and conceptual dimensions, except that the latter is not the familiar conceptual world. It is rather a dimension of experience that is intrinsically discriminated, a clear and sharp discrimination of the phenomenological characteristics of experience, as the precise and crystal-clear delineation—in the felt experience—of patterns, qualities, colors, and meanings. This clearly perceived discriminated pattern of experience arises in coemergence with a non-conceptual dimension of pure presence. This experience of self-realization is more complete than the experience of nonconceptual consciousness alone.

What Causes All the Trouble is that We Take the Individual Consciousness to be All of what We Are

In other words, the delusion of the ego perspective is that Being identifies itself with the organ of its experience. That is to say that Being, in its mystery and vastness and magic and indefinable and immeasurable qualities, constrains itself by taking itself to be the organ through which it experiences and perceives. Being mistakes the individual consciousness to be all of what it is, to be its only identity. So the problem is not that there is an organ of perception, that there is individual consciousness. What causes all the trouble —the suffering and discontent and incompleteness and meaninglessness and dissociation and headaches and heartaches—is that we take the individual consciousness to be all of what we are, now and forever. But in reality, we are Being in its vastness at the same time as we are the individual with its uniqueness. This mysterious unity of Being and the individual manifests in infinite kinds of experience and realization, which signal the freedom that is possible for human beings. We don’t attain our freedom by becoming independent of Being. Freedom, our freedom, human freedom, is the same thing as the freedom of the dynamism of Being to manifest whatever its intelligence wants to manifest. Our liberation is the liberation of the dynamism of Being to display the possibilities and forms and dimensions of experience appropriate to the situation. We realize our freedom when we live as individuals who have a personal life that is true and authentic and that, at the same time, expresses the infinite vastness of Being manifesting its possibilities and its nature freely and without constraints.

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