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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Indulgence?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Indulgence

Any Attitude, Feeling or Unconscious Tendency of Your Personality Can be Used as an Indulgence

Here is another example. Let’s say you always have a tendency to be busy, and you know being busy helps you avoid certain things. You’ve seen it thirty times. You’ve had sixty-five insights about it. Five minutes after your sixty-fifth insight, you’re doing the same thing. Busy, wasting time, fooling around. What happened to the sixty-five insights? You’re waiting for the sixty-sixth. Or take meditation. You know that meditation is one of the things we do fifteen to twenty minutes a day, and you know it’s useful. You know that every time you do it, you benefit from it. But instead of getting up and doing your meditation, you stay in bed. Or a friend calls, and you go out for breakfast. Or you’re actually meditating and the phone rings, so you interrupt your meditation to answer it. This is going along with your habitual patterns; it’s indulgence. You might even be indulging in something you know is actually harmful. You know you might die the next day from doing it, and you still continue doing it. Or maybe you take an aim, and you do it sometimes but not other times. When you do it, you do it half way. You know you could do it well, but you don’t do your best. Indulgence can be indulgence in anything. You could be indulging in your laziness, indulging in your depression, your fear, your paranoia, indulging in being busy, indulging in attacking yourself or other people, indulging in self-criticism and criticizing other people, indulging in avoiding things, indulging in postponing things, indulging in gossip. Any attitude, feeling, or unconscious tendency of your personality can be used as an indulgence. That is one of the qualities of the personality: to keep on indulging. Even when you know it really is just your personality, even when you know it’s something you picked up along the way and serves no good purpose, you continue doing it. You know, for instance, that your fear has no foundation in reality, but the next time a situation presents itself, you act according to that fear. You act in the same way, following the same pattern.

Confronting Your Indulgences

As you confront your indulgences, you will see that to continue to be really impeccable and not succumb to your indulgences will mean letting go of all kinds of things. The way of impeccability can be taken as a path on its own. You could attempt to be impeccable all the time. All your indulgences would arise, and these would reveal all your attachments. Impeccability means letting go of those attachments. The way of the impeccable warrior is complete in itself. It is a path to a certain knowledge. In our Work here, we’re not taking that path by itself, but we’re using it. We’re taking that attitude as an aid. That aspect, that perspective, that facet, has a certain point of view, a certain way of looking at things that is needed for our Work to be effective. As we have described, being impeccable is to be and do your best at every moment. At those times when you feel you cannot do your best, you can still do your best by impeccably deciding you will take some time off. This applies to everything you do. To live impeccably means to live impeccably in all tasks, in all aims, in all undertakings, whether you’re learning to defend against your superego or learning to be present all the time. Each one of these needs to be done impeccably for it to actually work. It is the perspective of a certain aspect of Essence that is needed for all the other aspects. As we have seen, indulgence will arise along with uncertainty, and your indulgence and uncertainty will try to stop you from being an impeccable warrior.

Indulgence Covers Up this Deficiency in Self-Regulation, Including Autonomic Regulation

So what can we do? What is the best way to go about dealing with indulgence? Essentially, what indulgence amounts to is that you’re not taking responsibility for the regulation of your own system. You expect somebody else, or time, or God, or whatever, to do it for you. It is the same attitude as the infant who does not know how to regulate itself and depends on something external—the mother in this case—to clean it and feed it, to release its tension, comfort it, and all that. For a baby, it is not an indulgence because a baby cannot do it for himself. The mother has to do it. But being an adult means taking care of yourself, doing what you know is best for your system. Indulgence covers up this deficiency of self-regulation, including autonomic regulation.

Indulgence is Going Along with a Tendency or an Attitude that You Know is Detrimental to Your Freedom

You have come here to work on yourself. At least you tell yourself you’re here to work on yourself, to free yourself. But how can you free yourself when you keep indulging yourself? Freeing yourself is not easy. It may be the most desirable undertaking in the world, but it’s also the most difficult. It requires a lot of sustained, continual work. When I say work, I don’t mean sustained, continual seriousness. I mean really doing what you need to do to free yourself, to understand yourself and your patterns—including your patterns of indulgence. Some of you may use what I’m saying now as ammunition for the superego to bombard you more. “Hah, indulgence! Bad, bad, bad!” You keep indulging in attacking yourself. I’m not telling you this so you can use it to beat yourself up. So indulgence is going along with a tendency or an attitude that you know is detrimental to your freedom, your health, or your development. The result is that you don’t take responsibility for yourself. You don’t take your life in your own hands. Implied in this is that you are waiting for a savior. A savior could be any number of things: an insight, a blessing, a person, or the attitude that things will change in time. Time becomes a savior. But that belief is an indulgence, and you will know it’s an indulgence just by looking around at some of the people who are in their seventies and eighties. Has time changed them? Usually it does change them—in the wrong direction. The patterns don’t dissolve; they calcify.

Indulgence is what Permits the Weak Part of You to Run the Strong Part of You

In the Diamond Approach, each facet, each essential aspect, has a corresponding deficiency or “hole.” Today we’ll talk about one of these holes which is usually present all the time, to see how we can best deal with it. This hole is revealed when you confront your indulgence. Indulgence is what permits the weak part of you to run the strong part of you. Indulgence is allowing what is unhealthy in you to control your life even when you know it is unhealthy. Indulgence is being lazy about what you know you need to do, allowing the usual automatic tendencies to dominate and run your life. Indulgence is the enemy of certainty. So, let’s start from the beginning. Obviously, you have come here to do certain work. You know that something is missing in your life, or that your life is not going the way you want it to go or think it should go. For reasons which are conscious or unconscious, you come here because you know there is something that needs to be done, something that needs to be understood, something that needs to be changed. This is an accurate perception. Almost everybody needs to do some work because everybody’s life is, in a sense, a mess. The more you work on yourself, the more you see how much of a mess it is. Usually, in the beginning you won’t let yourself see how much of a mess you are in because the impact would be too great. So you take little peeks. You see a little mess here, a little mess there. You discover that almost all the corners are quite a mess. Of course, the more you see that your life is a mess, the more there is an impetus, an impulse, to do something about bringing in order, cleanliness, room for clean air.

Resistance Manifests in Many Ways, but Especially as an Indulgence in Conditioned Experience

Of course, the way you want to live your life is up to you. There is no general rule for everyone. It depends on the person and the situation you find yourself in. It depends on what you want to do in your life. So there is no spiritual rule about ownership or non-ownership, relationship or no relationship, marriage or no marriage, business or no business. It depends on what you want. It depends on what your work is, what happens to be your contribution. Living your life, then, and taking all these things into consideration, is where grace happens, where beauty happens. You need to understand how to take action, how to arrange the situation, how to arrange your life in a way to reflect the truth that you already know and experience. If your work requires a lot of action, a lot of strength, you need to live your life so that will happen. If your work requires a lot of subtlety and refinement, how do you live your life to make that more and more possible? It won’t just happen. When a person truly begins to work on the embodiment and actualization of their knowledge and understanding, a great deal of resistance comes up. This resistance manifests in many ways, but especially as an indulgence in conditioned experience, even after it is recognized as such. Once a person has a certain amount of understanding, a certain amount of experience, at some point they need to start to take action. That knowledge and experience has to come out in life; it has to manifest. If not, the imbalance will increase. The imbalance will be exaggerated and as a result you will experience more dissatisfaction and more frustration, even though you might have had wonderful experiences and insights. But if you continue to live your life from an imbalanced perspective, all those experiences and insights will only enhance the state of imbalance. If you do not learn from these experiences, and you merely take from them exactly what you have already decided you want to take, rather than allowing the complete impact of the experience, you will tend to increase the imbalance. Anything you do can increase your imbalance, even experiences of self-realization, enlightenment, being, and insight. I think many people already know this.

To Really Do the Work

We see now how indulgence can be an obstacle, a barrier to your work and to your freedom. The work of freeing yourself needs a lot of dedication, a lot of determination. It needs your best effort. If you’re not doing your best, you’re indulging. If you’re indulging, your personality has the upper hand. So what do we do about our indulgences, about our tendencies and attitudes and actions that we know are not good for us and that keep us trapped in our personality? Learning how to deal with indulgence means you must have a certain perspective, a certain attitude toward your life and work. It has to do with how you take action, what you do at any given moment. This brings us to a method that deals primarily with indulgence: the path of the warrior. When you are working on yourself, you need the attitude of the warrior. Not the worrier, the warrior. You need to live the life of the impeccable warrior. To really do the Work, to really be able to succeed, you need to live and work like an impeccable warrior. Everything needs to be done with impeccability. Every attitude, every task, every aim needs to be done impeccably. Now what does that mean? To do something impeccably doesn’t mean to do it perfectly. Let’s look at some examples of what it does mean. Suppose you know you need to work on a certain tendency; for example, you want to stop trying to please other people all the time. Perhaps you take an aim not to try to please other people. How can you do that impeccably? It means you do the best you can in terms of that aim, always, at all times.

We Have to Consciously Take Our Transformation Into Our Own Hands

It might take time for you to understand what the non-expression of automatic emotions entails, and that is fine. What is entailed in not indulging in your automatic emotions is being conscious all the time. We are not talking about suppressing the emotions, we’re talking about not expressing them. To express them discharges them, and that stops you from really understanding and going deeper. Expressing emotions stops the process of transformation, because a truly mature human being does not act on these emotions. This practice is most important; doing it will teach us a lot. It might be hard to understand what it involves, but you need to persist anyway. If you want to grow up to be who you truly are, you have to learn to do these things. Indulgence will not help you. Indulgence just feeds the elementary needs and values, and perpetuates them. To do this practice, we need to use all the awareness and all the will that we have developed. We have to consciously take our transformation into our own hands. A human being who has true self-respect does not declare his or her enlightenment, nor want to be seen. The more real you are, the more invisible you are, because you keep your realization to yourself. Desires to show it or expose it or impress others are desires to satisfy elementary and childish needs, and the true human being does not act according to those needs, and in time does not have them. A mature adult human being just goes about his or her business without trying to please anybody.

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