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Inner Development

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Inner Development?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Inner Development

Allowing the Unfolding of the Process

What I’m doing is opening your mind so you can allow and perceive a certain attitude, a certain way of being. The freest attitude for the process of growth is the attitude of complete allowing. You are not passive, and you are not active. You are allowing. We will see that the process unfolds from one thing to the next. The process emerges if you give it the space to emerge. Your most important work is to understand the barriers you have against the unfolding. Wherever you are, you look at yourself and understand what your barriers are, what the things are that are stopping you from fully experiencing what is there. When you do experience fully, you don’t try to hold on to the experience or determine what direction it will take. You just experience it fully and that’s it. Your mind is open for anything to happen. This requires a certain trust in the process, a trust that there is such a thing as transformation, and that it will be good, that it will be the best thing. The attitude of trusting without knowing what will happen, of allowing things to emerge, is needed at all levels and stages of the process of inner development. It applies to the external level, the emotional level, the subtle levels, essential levels, all of them. Any idea of how things are going to be will only work as a boundary. The moment you have an idea of how things should be, you’re creating walls and sitting inside them. There is no trust in yourself, there is no trust in reality, and there is no trust in the process of transformation and growth. What is there is restriction, and you’ll suffer and complain as usual. When we allow the natural process of growth, there is expansion, happiness, and joy.

Approaching the Inner Child

In other words, a deep and central part of you thinks like a child. Rational things neither reach nor touch it. We need to approach this part of us with love, gentleness, kindness, and understanding. We need to understand its helplessness, fear, vulnerability, hatred, anger, dependence, and ignorance. Ultimately, the inner child isn't real, but it doesn't know that. You know that but it doesn't. The inner child takes for granted that it is you. It feels terrible about itself, angry, guilty, but it doesn't know how else to be. This is a real dilemma. We each have an inner child that is ignorant, scared, and disconnected from the real essence, that is not touched by our lofty and transcendental experiences, that still needs to be cared for and loved

Discipline in the Course of Inner Development

Another category of action connected to inner development is that of discipline. Discipline is a basic ingredient in almost all schools of inner development. This is for several reasons. One reason is that the emotional, false personality tends to act and behave in a haphazard way, mainly in whatever way seems to help avoid any unpleasant truth. So without discipline it will tend not to do the work necessary for inner development because this work is largely a process of confronting unpleasant truths, at least at the initial stages. Discipline will force one to confront, and not avoid, the unpleasant truths and sensations necessary for the work of inner development. Discipline is necessary for developing certain attitudes and capacities needed for the work on inner development. For example, it is needed to develop the capacity for paying concentrated attention. In addition, discipline is necessary to carry out the practices that a particular school or system prescribes. Many systems require the discipline of regular meditation. Thus, many people end up with the conviction that discipline is necessary and useful for everybody at all times. This is obviously false; very often we find that a person is disciplined not for the work on inner development but because of the inner authority of the superego. The case of the obsessive-compulsive neurotic who rigorously and ritually disciplines himself and his time is well known. This is an extreme case that well illustrates how discipline can serve the false personality and therefore hinder inner growth. So discipline needs to be exercised with understanding of the individual personality and the person's specific, true, inner needs.

Inner Development is the Expansion of Awareness

The personality's fear and avoidance of death creates a gap (a hole) in awareness around which the personality is structured. This gap is the kernel of the unconscious. Unconsciousness develops as the personality develops and is structured around this hole. Unconsciousness is ultimately unconsciousness of death, which is necessitated by the lack of understanding of what death is. So we can say that inner development is the expansion of awareness. Complete awareness is just that. It excludes nothing, not even the direct awareness of nonexistence (death). The Work is the expansion of awareness until the personality becomes aware of its most hidden secret, death. When this is revealed, there will be no fear in the personality; fears start dropping away. And then the deepest contraction and tension in the personality, which is the avoidance of the awareness of death, is loosened. This leads to the loosening of identification with the personality, because the identification is based on this deepest contraction within the personality. This in turn helps the essence to attain its true position as master.

Inner Work is About Recognizing Distractions

We need to see that all of our inner work, all the understanding and insight we gain, is a matter of recognizing what distracts us. Each time we understand something new we need to sacrifice it, to let it go. We need to learn not to be attached to any object, any form, any insight we can know in our minds. We need to learn not to be attached to anything we can remember, whether it's an issue we're exploring, part of our personality, or an essential state. Everything is to be explored, to be understood objectively, and, at the moment it is understood, to be sacrificed completely, absolutely, and willingly at the door of the heart.

Integrating the Inner Child

Understanding the ignorance of the ego, the ignorance that results from what we have forgotten, is necessary in order for the immature to mature. The soul, our individual consciousness, is much larger than this immature ego part of her. However, she does not grow, or grows with various imbalances, when we do not deal with this immature part of us. In most cases, she does not grow because she identifies with this immature part and believes it is the totality of her. Only by becoming liberated from this inner child and integrating it into a larger context can she grow. She grows then as this part grows, with it and inseparable from it. In those rare cases when the soul develops without dealing with this immature part, the development is askew, not balanced, and usually leads to oddness and strange behaviors and attitudes, common in many spiritual circles. There is no real maturity here. The only way for the soul to move towards true maturity is by coming to terms with this immature part in a genuine way, integrating it, and including it in her development. Then the soul grows as a whole, with balance and grace.

The Chakra Level is a Stage of Inner Development, Not the Destination

So the chakra level, the realm of the kundalini, is a stage of inner development, not the destination. It can be used to go further. The open heart chakra can be used to go to the experience of essential presence if the individual allows himself to look further, beyond the glitter and excitement, into the deeper, more tranquil, and subtler presence in the heart. In fact, it can happen that the experience of the heart opening results from a contact with essence in the heart. The presence of essence might, by itself, open the heart chakra. The ecstatic experience is not only emotional but also essential—in some cases, the essence is flowing out but is experienced emotionally. In other cases, the flow of essence is mixed with the emotional, chakra-level energy. When a person is captivated by the emotional aspect of the experience, he tends to miss the presence of essence and so misses the opportunity to go on to the deeper and richer realm of essence. However, if he stays present in the experience and objectively looks at its constituents, he might stumble on the essential presence. He then has the opportunity to experience the essential realm in its purity, without the diluting presence of emotions The quality of experience in the heart will be now very different from that of the chakra level. The first deeper level beyond the heart chakra might be the first essential experience. This is one of the centers that the Sufis call lataif. These centers are sometimes called “organs of perception.”

The Desire for Inner Development

The desire for freedom, liberation, enlightenment, self-realization, inner development, or whatever it is called is not a response to a call from outside you. It is not that you hear of enlightenment, and then you want to be enlightened. It is not embarking on the journey because others, people you know, are on it. It is not a fad. It is not a desire for self-improvement. It is not an attempt to be some kind of an ideal model you have in your mind. It is not doing something according to some beliefs and opinions you have picked up someplace, recently or in the far past. The search is a very personal concern, an intimately personal interest in your situation. It is a response to a call deep within you. The call at the beginning is a vague, almost imperceptible and mysterious flame. It shows itself as a questioning of the disharmony you live in. It is your disharmony, as you experience it. It is your own questioning. And it is your personal yearning. If you want to be enlightened or realized like somebody else, who you heard was able to attain, then the search is not yours yet. It is somebody else's, Buddha's or Mohammed's. The stirring must come from you, from your depths. The questioning must be of your situation, your mind, not of some system that somebody else has set up. You can use the system to help you, but ultimately it is your life, your mind, your quest. Enlightenment cannot be according to any system. It has to resolve and clarify your own situation. The realization must satisfy and fulfill your heart, not the standards of some system. The liberation must be of you, you personally. The path is you, your mind and your heart. The call is your call, relevant to your life, and it speaks intimately to you. The call, the path, and the realization are all a very intimately personal concern. Everything else is not yours, and you cannot use it for yourself or for others. But the complete resolution of your personal situation is yours, and that you can use for others too. The quest does not bring about improvement or perfection. It brings about a maturity, a humanity, and a wisdom.

The Inner Vessel Required for Inner Realization

The work of inner realization requires not only an external supportive context and environment but also the development of an inner vessel, the internal context for the journey. Some Eastern traditions conceptualize this as the inner mandala that constitutes the totality of the personal field of experience; the corresponding notion in the Western tradition is usually seen as the soul.

The Need for Awareness

Therefore, as in all systems of inner development, to apply the Diamond Approach, the individual cultivates awareness. The main method is to erase unconsciousness through psychodynamic techniques. However, even to start this process, the person must learn how to pay attention, how to be aware of inner and outer happenings. Awareness is needed to collect observations that can then be used for the psychodynamic understanding. Without awareness, the person will not know what thoughts go through his mind, what emotions fill his heart, or what sensations there are in his body. So there will be no impression, no material for understanding, if there is not enough awareness. The ordinary person has awareness, but it is very restricted, confined, and selective. In awareness training, the individual learns to expand his awareness, to let it not be confined by his habitual and compulsive patterns. As awareness is freed more and more, the powers of observation expand, and the material for understanding becomes more available. Awareness is necessary not just for collecting observations for the process of understanding but really for all aspects of the work of inner development. It is also, of course, necessary for everyday practical living. Awareness is a characteristic of life itself, of all living matter.

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