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Infant Soul

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Infant Soul?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Infant Soul

Absence of Constructs Allows the Infant's Soul to be in Touch with Her True Nature

Our main reason for believing that the infant's soul is in touch with her true nature, but without recognition, is that we know from experience that when the soul is not perceiving through a construct, a construct that normally develops by the third year of life, her experience of herself is immediate. We also know that when the soul is experiencing herself immediately, without the intermediacy of such constructs, she experiences presence. Actually, this is true almost by definition: the experience of presence is nothing but the soul experiencing herself with immediacy. What else will the soul experience herself as but as presence, when she is experiencing herself immediately?

Coemergence of the Infant Soul with Her True Nature

At infancy the soul is coemergent with her true nature, but her discriminating and cognitive capacities are not developed enough for her to recognize her true nature. Such innate ignorance seems to necessitate some kind of development where the cognitive capacities can mature to the extent of being able to recognize the ground of the soul in a conscious and discriminating cognition. This development turns out to include the normal ego development of the soul, in which not only does the soul differentiate and dissociate from its essential ground, but such differentiation and dissociation also seems to be an integral part of the process of developing the cognitive and discriminating capacities of the soul. More specifically … the dissociation of soul from essence occurs primarily by, and parallel to, the development of normal representational knowledge, which is conceptual discrimination divorced from the ground of Being. Ordinary knowledge develops by the soul abstracting out the outlines of concepts from basic knowledge, and holding their reifications in the mind.

Dominance of Forms in the Field of the Infant Soul

However, our observation is that the infant’s soul, though immersed in true nature at times of psychophysical equilibrium and feeling its characteristics, not only does not recognize it for what it is, but also her direct awareness of it is dim and tends to be obscured by the dominance of the forms that arise in her experiential fields. Some of these forms are aspects of essence, of various colors and textures; but even though perceived and felt, they are not recognized for what they are. Some of the arising forms, mostly not aspects of essence, become gradually integrated into her sense of self, an identity that begins to function as a lens through which consciousness looks, further obscuring her ground true nature. The final result is that she is prevented from recognizing her true nature, and also from directly experiencing it, due to the duality arising from the development of ego structures.

The Infant’s Experience, at Least at Times of Rest and Satisfaction, Must be that of Simply Being

Even though the self of the early infant must exist in a state of wholeness similar to that of self-realization, we do not assume that the infant’s experience is the same as that of the self-realized adult; in fact, this is most unlikely because, as we will discuss further, the infant has not gone through the developmental stages necessary for conceptual discrimination. However, it is safe to assume that the infant lives initially in a condition that we will term “primary self-realization,” since in the absence of significant disturbances there must be some awareness unmediated by memory, images, or ideas. We can assume that experience is not yet conceptualized, the self is not yet self-reflective, and the consciousness is not yet divided by defensiveness. Even if there is some contraction in the body or nervous system as a result of less than optimal conditions, or, say, a difficult birth, the infant’s experience—at least at times of rest and satisfaction—must be that of simply being. The actual self, the experiencing consciousness, must be abiding in its true nature, since it is simply and spontaneously being, with its innocence intact. We have seen that this wholeness is part of the condition of self-realization. We have also seen that self-realization is not a matter of intellectual understanding or even emotional maturity, but rather, a matter of spontaneously and naturally being—simply being, without conceptualizing oneself. And since the central element of self-realization is presence (which is free, pure, and devoid of mental elaborations), we must accept that at least one component of the infant’s experience must be presence. How else can it be? If the self is being itself spontaneously and naturally, there is something there, some actual ontological phenomenon. Remember, too, as discussed in Chapter 2, that the nature of the presence is consciousness. There is no doubt that the infant has an open, intelligent, and sensitive consciousness.

When the Environment is Adequate Enough the Child's Soul Feels Held

By adequate we mean that the environment needs to be, especially in the persons of the primary caregivers, not only welcoming and loving, but also caring, appropriate, empathic, responsive, and capable. When the environment —which includes the physical environment, the primary caregivers, and the social field surrounding them—is adequate enough, the child’s soul feels held. Feeling held is a multifaceted state, but it includes feeling loved and cared for appropriately and adequately to the moment and to the stage of development of the soul. When the soul feels held this way she manifests and actualizes one of her basic potentials, a preconceptual state of trust. This state, which we refer to as basic trust, is inherent to the soul by the mere fact of her original innocence. She does not yet know of trouble, and hence she possesses a carefree and naturally relaxed attitude, an attitude that is not differentiated yet into a feeling. She is then in a state of nondifferentiated, nonconceptual trust, basic trust.

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