Main Pages

By Region




Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Inferiority?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Inferiority

A Sense of Mastery and Accomplishment Will Not Resolve the Issue of Inferiority

As long as we look for causes and solutions on this superficial level, we cannot resolve our inferiority complex. A sense of mastery and accomplishment will not resolve the issue. It may diminish it a little, but it is only a compensation. The issue is not helplessness. The resolution is a sense of preciousness and inner beauty, which, when we contact it, is so powerful and radiant that it makes all else insignificant. As we mentioned earlier, the phenomenon of social discrimination is closely connected with this specific difficulty of inferiority. When you discriminate against someone else, you are compensating for your own sense of inferiority; this is obviously a rejection of another person. Discrimination is based on value judgments of inferiority and superiority, and is rampant in our society.

Facets of Unity, pg. 228

Ego Intrinsically Feels Inferior

This conviction that you are inferior is much more subtle and comprehensive than the sense that you lack a particular capacity, such as Will or Strength. It cannot be traced to any particular deficiency, and so it cannot be eliminated by recognizing within oneself any essential aspect connected with capacity. Also, experiencing Essence does not necessarily eliminate this sense of inferiority. You can fill all your holes and still feel inferior, because the actual substance of the soul—what is experiencing the holes—feels bereft of its positive quality. Ego intrinsically feels inferior. No matter what it owns, what it has, what it does, or what it can do, it will continue feeling itself to be inferior. As long as you allow the possibility that intrinsic goodness can be located in one place and not another, you allow the possibility that it can be located somewhere else. If you are identified with the ego and anything goes wrong, you immediately assume that it happened because what is good is not inside you. The slightest criticism, the slightest negativity, and right away you believe what is good is located somewhere other than inside you. This is why all children begin to believe that there is something wrong with them as they come to identify with the ego.

Facets of Unity, pg. 219

Everyone Has this Sense of Inferiority

Everyone has this sense of inferiority, but most people keep it to themselves because it is accompanied by a feeling of deep shame. You feel deeply ashamed of yourself because you really believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with you, and you don’t want other people to know about it. If they did, they would see that you really don’t deserve love. So everyone keeps this secret to themselves and suffers over it privately. Teenagers, again, especially suffer with this sense of inferiority, and are continuously comparing themselves to others, showing themselves exactly how inferior they are, and feeling deeply ashamed of themselves but not saying anything about it.

Facets of Unity, pg. 221

If You Really Understand Holy Love You Cannot Believe that You or Anyone Else is Inferior

So the state of inferiority is the lynch-pin; if you don’t deal with it, it is difficult to integrate the perception and the understanding of Holy Love and conversely, the inferiority cannot be dispelled and dissolved if you do not truly understand Holy Love. If you really understand Holy Love, if you see it as a fact, you cannot believe that you or anyone else is inferior. The knowledge that the intrinsic quality of who you are is love, wonder, and preciousness, eliminates the inferiority. Even if you perceive the beauty of Holy Love but have not dealt with the inferiority, you remain identified with that inferior sense, and will explain away your perception of Holy Love as not yours, or as being somehow incidental. So if the inferiority is not worked through, your understanding of Holy Love will remain partial and distorted.

Facets of Unity, pg. 226

The Sense of Deficiency

Since each delusion is an intrinsic property of the nature of ego, the ego could not be an ego without believing that it is inferior. In a sense, this sense of inferiority is true, because when the soul is formed by the ego, it does not experience all the qualities of Being as part of itself. This sense of deficiency is not a sense of emptiness, the sense that a particular quality of Being is missing. It is more a deficient feeling, tone, or affect, that shapes the whole soul. This deficient tone is the sense of worthlessness, of not being good enough, or of just not being enough, along with the sense that something is not right, and a consequent loss of self-esteem. Most specifically, it is a feeling that you are intrinsically inferior, regardless of what you have, what you do, what you know, what you develop, or what or who you are. One of the associations people frequently have with this feeling is of being a second-class citizen, of being lower class or of a peasant class, and so it is directly related to social discrimination. It is a diminished sense of who you are, as if your very being, your very soul, is less than it should be, that what you are is second-class.

Facets of Unity, pg. 219

The Sense of Inferiority Acts as a Barrier Against Seeing that Being is You

This is why when many people experience Essence or Being, their reaction is something along the lines of, “This is nice, but what’s it good for? Will it help me at my job? Will I have better sex from now on?” Such responses indicate that one is not perceiving its real beauty. This is because the sense of inferiority is acting as a barrier against seeing that Being is you. Often people have essential experiences, but because they don’t see that it is themselves that they are perceiving, they think that their teacher is transmitting the state to them, or that God is visiting them, since they feel their own nature is sinful or not holy. In these cases, they are projecting their true nature outside themselves. Sometimes, even if you do see that the Being you are experiencing is you, the lack of integration of Holy Love prevents you from experiencing this revelation as wonderful, as precious.

Facets of Unity, pg. 220

The Sense of Inferiority Stems from the Fact of Not Recognizing the Precious Quality of Your Beingness

As we understand it, the sense of inferiority develops not because you are a child, or you happen to have some defect in your body or some social lack in your environment. Its origin stems from the fact of not recognizing the precious quality of your Beingness, and this lack of recognition is universal, with very few exceptions. Even if you felt loved by your parents, for instance, they didn’t necessarily love you because they could see the preciousness of your Being; they loved you for what you did, how you behaved, whether you were smart or cute or pretty, and so on. Because the preciousness of your nature itself was not seen and loved, you would still feel inferior. There are, of course, more traumatic reasons why children grow up with the feeling of inferiority beyond the fact that their preciousness was not seen and held. Some children are mistreated, unloved, neglected, and so on. Any lack of holding—physical, emotional or spiritual—will affect the child in such a way as to engender a sense of inferiority. The child does not see that its soul has that innate, intrinsic, and fundamental quality of being the most precious and wonderful thing in the whole universe. The child loses this sense of herself, and part of the resulting sleep is identifying with the consensus reality in which the parents live. Later, you explain the feelings of inferiority with whatever means you can find, such as physical appearance, behaviors, intelligence, capacities, and so on, with children of different ages emphasizing different things.

Facets of Unity, pg. 228

The Sense that You Were Deformed From the Beginning

As long as you do not understand Holy Love, you cannot know it as the nature of yourself and of everything that exists. Instead of feeling love for yourself and enjoyment of your life, you feel low in spirit, or bored with yourself. You feel that you are not good enough. When you deeply and clearly feel this state, you feel a sense of inferiority that feels as though your very soul is inherently ugly or deformed. Like a creature frequently seen in mythology, you might even feel like a twisted animal living underground—like a troll or like Gollum in J.R.R. Tolkien’s series, Lord of the Rings—that is utterly without any redeeming qualities. Just as inferiority is always associated with ugliness and deformity, beauty and the sense of being lovable always go hand in hand. This sense of inferiority is not a feeling that you were once pure and became contaminated, that you are inherently good and something got into you. It is, rather, the sense that you were deformed from the beginning, that God created you with a flaw. Because the ego-identity arises originally from identification with the body as being who we are, and because at the beginning of our work on ourselves, we don’t recognize that we are a soul, we usually decide that our body is what’s wrong with us. When people feel they are inferior, they think it is because their skin color is wrong, their nose is too big, their body is too fat, and so on. This is especially true during the teenage years when one’s sense of inferiority is completely focused on the body and physical image. Later, adults often shift their focus: If it’s not your body, it’s your mind; if it’s not your mind, it’s your heart—that’s what is wrong with you. But it is none of these things; it has nothing to do with them. We only use these things to explain the feeling of inferiority.

Facets of Unity, pg. 220

When the Ego is Crystallized Around Inferiority

With the ego crystallized around inferiority, believing that your soul doesn’t have this richness and preciousness, it naturally follows that you wouldn’t see any point in working on yourself, and this creates the deep inertia that confronts us until advanced stages of the path. The surface becomes all of life to egoic consciousness, and you get lost in the particulars and activities of everyday life as if they have intrinsic value in themselves. If the quality of Holy Love is missing in your everyday life, your activities are empty. But for the person who is convinced of his inferiority, the attitude is, “Well, at least I’m surviving.” Some comfort, some little bit of excitement, some stimulation or titillation, is available here and there. Basically, these superficial pleasures are distractions from being present with, and sensing yourself, and appear to be a better alternative than feeling as if you are a cursed soul. Therefore, distracting oneself with externals is a central and omnipresent characteristic of the ego.

Facets of Unity, pg. 226

When You Have Been Cut off from a Real Feeling, Something Else Tries to Take its Place: the Emotions

AH: Yes. If you lose your value, for instance, if at some point you get cut off from it, there will be a hole left. The hole will be experienced as a sense of inferiority or a lack of self-esteem. But that is not a real feeling. It is the absence of the real feeling of value or self-esteem. This inferiority will often be covered by an attempt to feel superior as a defense. But that’s not a real feeling either. It’s an attempt to hide, a pseudo-feeling. If you get angry when somebody does or says something and you feel inferior, that again is a pseudo-feeling. All these pseudo-feelings are coming up because you are not in touch with your real value. They are compensations. They are real in the sense that you do feel them, but they are not real in the sense that they are a consequence of losing what is real. This is an important difference. When you have been cut off from a real feeling, something else tries to take its place: the emotions. By feeling the emotions, you can see what it is you lost and experience it. When you experience real value, you see it is very different from the pseudo-feelings that covered over the loss. Emotions are reactions, while essential states like Value are states of Being. They are not reactions to anything.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach