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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Integration?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Integration

A True Experience of Integration

This process usually continues of its own accord if the individual is committed to the truth. The essence keeps extending its territory, displacing the personality, until it reclaims the totality of the body. Then the essence fills the whole body, the totality of the organism. Each cell is then full and vivified by the presence of essence. The whole organism is then unified and integrated. This is a true experience of integration. It is not only that the individual experiences his body as a whole, as one unit, but he experiences himself, all of himself, as a unified, integrated, homogeneous presence. There are no barriers, no partitions inside. There are no parts experienced together, as integration is usually understood. On the essential dimension, integration is actual and literal. The individual experiences himself as one homogeneous medium, which is the substance of essence. It is truly being one. Many people consider the experience of unity or integration as the experience of all the parts fitting together, working together, and in harmony with each other. This experience is still mechanical from the perspective of essence. When an essential aspect is completely integrated, when it is a station, then it is experienced as one homogeneous substance without partitions. Instead of parts integrated, it is like a pool of water. And the individual experiences himself as this pool—complete unification and true integration.

Basis of the Sense of Self

Thus the sense of self, based on the cohesive self-image, is the result of an integration of the very earliest object relations. This ego organization is modified constantly as more object relations are internalized, but later identifications, after the age of approximately three years, add little in terms of the basic structure. This contradicts the popular belief that people change as they grow in years. The fact is that the passage of time only solidifies the already established structure. This is one reason why change in psychotherapy is not easy. Whether he is in psychotherapy or not, an individual merely lives out an already established structure, expressing an already formed individuality, with its previously established roles. New situations may appear to bring changes, but these changes are rarely fundamental, in general merely bringing out in behavioral manifestation other roles from the unconscious repertoire of the self. These roles or identifications are what the person takes to be the content of who he is. The more harmony these roles have with each other and with the environment, the more normal and healthy the individual is. Failure of the process of integration to create such harmony results in mental disorder.

Integrated Identity

This is what I call then integrated identity. Personality, Essence, Supreme, body, mind, are all one identity operating without a split. Then you are simply ordinary. You are not someone who is working on himself. You are someone who is just living. You do what you do without feeling that there is something wrong with you, that some part of you needs to be rejected.

Integrating the Person Into the Absolute

Integrating the person into the Absolute is more difficult than experiencing the Absolute. Integration requires that you deal with and metabolize your unconscious and your personal history. You have to really let all of the unconscious come out, to face all of your specific issues and areas of conflict and ignorance. Many traditions don't care about integration, but strive only to reach the Absolute. They don't care about the personal life. The point for them is to know the Absolute and leave. In other traditions, and in our work, the point is to know the Absolute and live in the world as an expression of it. So, how can you live a human life from the perspective of absence? That is the realm of development, change, and transformation within consciousness.

Integration of Life Into True Nature

In our work, we address both sides of human evolution: the realization of true nature and the integration of everyday life into that true nature. For the Far Eastern religions, the integration of the world of appearance into true nature results in nondual experience. This is still an impersonal and universal perspective, where all that appears to perception is experienced as inseparable from true nature. This is not what we mean by integration of life into true nature. The Diamond Approach supports living a personal life in relationship to other human beings and engaging in other human activities besides spiritual practice. Integration of appearance into true nature functions as the ground of this personal integration; it does not stand on its own as the only value. Being manifests not only in the transcendental, but also in down-to earth, practical, and personal forms that are relevant to everyday life. And daily life itself can become spiritual realization.

Integration of Mind and Heart is Vital for the Revelation of Our True Being

The path of the Diamond Approach—sometimes referred to as Diamond Heart—is a love affair par excellence, where the mind and heart are bonded from the start, although this is not so apparent at the beginning of the journey. Both heart and mind are necessary for opening to truth—the deep desire to know the truth for its own sake and the love for the truth beyond all else. And as our practice of inquiry and meditation is refined over time, it becomes more obvious that the interdependence of mind and heart, and their integration through embodied experience, is vital for the revelation of our true being, for the wisdom of knowing and expressing its true nature. And with the wish to know and the desire to become one with that which we discover, the journey—the love affair—gathers momentum. We increasingly feel as though we were being taken over by a great brilliant force of energetic propulsion, with a direction and fortitude that we could not have imagined from our limited point of view at the start. Our starting point for this seminar was the understanding that any spiritual work involves the element of love, whether explicitly or implicitly. What we wanted to explore during these days was how the energy and quality of love explicitly open the door to reality and to our deeper nature. The process of discovery in the group revealed that the portal is there for every human being to open; each of us can be fully real and alive in all our interactions. And the erotic, as it is felt and experienced in the body, is a part of that openness, whether it becomes sexual or not. For many reasons, eros has become separated from the pure and the holy, and as a result, it is usually relegated to the domain of the gross and unrefined. But eros is the energy of the divine. As such, it is always divine and pure.

Integration of the Five Boundless Dimensions of True Nature

We can view the inner journey home as comprising two parts, the journey of ascent and the journey of descent. The journey of ascent includes the journey to presence and the journey with presence, as described in chapter 15. These two journeys include the discovery of the soul, that of essence in its aspects, and finally of the diamond vehicles. The last part of the journey of ascent is the revelation of the five boundless dimensions. The integration of each of the five dimensions is like a journey on its own, similar to the two first journeys. It includes understanding the body, emotions, and thoughts on this dimension. It also includes the integration of the soul, essential aspects, and diamond vehicles. The essential development of the soul proceeds all over again, now within a new ground and attaining a new identity, the boundless true nature itself. The journey in presence includes this part of the journey of ascent, i.e., the integration of the five boundless dimensions, but also the journey of descent. The journey of descent includes the integration of the five boundless dimensions into a unified whole, recognizing and understanding them as dimensions of the same true nature, coemergent in such a way that they simultaneously structure the full experience of nondual self-realization. In the journey of ascent the soul climbs up the ladder of Reality until she reaches the most subtle dimension of true nature, the absolute. Then she descends by going back and integrating the various dimensions she has passed through in the journey of ascent into this most subtle dimension.

Lack of Integration of Suppressed Parts of the Personality

Many spiritual teachers describe their experience of realization as if they suddenly became realized and the personality just died, or fell away. So it is understandable that you might fantasize that one day you will finish your meditation and there will be no personality left. This idea of enlightenment or self-realization is misguided, although it is true that you can experience sudden revelations or insights that can change the rest of your life. My perception of what happens with people who claim to have lost their personality totally and spontaneously is that there often remains a split-off or suppressed part which will manifest as a distortion or a lack of integration. This means that there has been an essential realization, but the realization has not clarified the personality. It is, rather, a state of transcendence of the ego personality. If the personality is abandoned rather than integrated, the totality of life cannot be lived. We can look at the process of realization from the perspective of transcendence or from the perspective of embodiment. When people talk about getting rid of the ego, they’re talking about a transcendent experience. It is possible to transcend the personality or the ego, or even physical existence. However, there is a more difficult process which leads to the state of embodiment of reality. Rather than simply transcending the personality or physical existence, this state involves actually embodying essential existence in one’s life.

Personal Essence Seen as the Prototype of an Integrated and Integrating Reality

So it is possible to conceive of the process of inner realization as either a development or a discovery. Some spiritual teachings say that it is a predetermined process, that Being is already there, in our depths, and it is always influencing us, in one way or another, as if it is beckoning to us to pay attention to it. The fact that it is the very depths of us makes us see its influence on us as messages from it, and if we follow such messages we will come upon its reality. Although this description sounds rather mystical, it is exactly how psychologists view the nature and influence of unconscious material. The Personal Essence itself can be usefully seen from this perspective: it is the prototype of an integrated and integrating reality, which is present in the depths of our being. It influences us through this quality of integration, affecting the mind by exerting an integrating influence on its content. This content becomes increasingly integrated as it is affected by the Personal Essence, or as it gets closer to it. In other words, as the integration becomes more complete it approximates the state of integration of the Personal Essence, and hence the consciousness becomes more able to reach the latter. When the process of integration reaches a certain stage it arrives at the Personal Essence itself, at which point one becomes conscious of its presence.

The Complete Man is the Integration of All Dimensions of Reality

From the vantage point of each dimension of Being, the more differentiated dimensions appear to be less real. Each dimension both includes the more differentiated dimensions and transcends them. This is experienced from the first dimension of Essence, going through its various levels, to the dimension of the Supreme Reality, and then to that of the Transcendent Absolute. However, all these dimensions make up the true potential of the human being. The human being is incomplete if he identifies with one dimension, regardless of how “high,” to the exclusion of others. The complete man is the integration of all dimensions of reality. We will see in subsequent chapters that this integration is possible only with the Personal Essence. We will see that the Personal Essence undergoes a development which is equivalent to the integration of all dimensions of reality. It is still not the highest experience; nevertheless, it is the highest development. One who has integrated the Personal Essence completely is able to experience any dimension of reality, depending on the requirement of the moment. One who is identified with a particular dimension may be realized on the Being level, but is still not complete in his development, for he is unable to move to different dimensions. The Personal Essence, although it is not as universal or final an experience as the Supreme or the Absolute, is actually a greater miracle. The Supreme is an unknowable reality because it is nonconceptual. However, it is easily recognized when experienced. It is easily understood, though not by the mind. The Personal Essence, on the other hand, is a much more mysterious experience. It is much more difficult to understand or grasp. It is quite a mystery, a miraculous mystery, that Being can feel personal. None of the aspects of Essence, not even the Supreme and the Absolute aspects, feel personal, except for this one aspect.

The Full Integration of an Entire Dimension of Essence

The idealizing transference is only one of the issues associated with the Diamond Will. The full integration of an entire dimension of Essence requires the resolution of many fundamental issues. Other issues which affect the integration of this aspect are ego activity and our various strategies for getting support. The student faces issues of aloneness and autonomy and must work through many epistemological and cognitive questions. The realization of the Diamond Will involves many experiences and insights, and ultimately gives birth to a profound transformation of our view of ourselves and the world. This full integration is not an easy feat. It requires a great deal o commitment and confrontation with the situation of the self. The wisdom of nondoing is rarely attained in a complete way; most students develop it only partially. To fully develop the wisdom of nondoing, which is to absorb all the wisdom of the dimension of the Diamond Will, is to attain permanent self-realization. Kohut’s belief that the self never becomes independent of the need for external sources of support comes close to the truth, for it is rare that an individual attains fully the wisdom of nondoing. Idealization, and the dependence on external sources for narcissistic support, do not involve only other individuals; we also use institutions, ideas, spiritual notions, ideologies, situations, and activities as objects of idealization. Only the truly self-realized individual can be herself while still perceiving everyone and everything in their true condition. Only she is sufficiently comfortable with truth for it to be her only support.

The Presence of the Personal Essence is Experienced as an Integration

Integration: The feeling of the Personal Essence is a sense of being integrated, together, whole and complete. So its presence is itself experienced as an integration. From the understanding we have developed so far, it is clear it is the integration of all that the individual has experienced and learned. At the beginning, as we have described, it is a definite sense of a personal presence that feels whole, balanced and able to make contact. Then this personal presence is seen to integrate into itself the other aspects of Essence. At the beginning these aspects of Essence, such as love, compassion, clarity, understanding, intelligence, will, joy, pleasure, empathy, truth, intuition, strength and many others, exist as Platonic forms, as absolute aspects of true existence. After the Personal Essence is realized, they become integrated into it through a process of absorption, in which they become personalized. They continue to exist in their original forms, but now they also exist in another form, as a part of the very substance of the Personal Essence. We will discuss this process in more detail in the section on the development of Essence. The Personal Essence, then, becomes the integration of all aspects and dimensions of Being, and is clearly experienced as the integration of one’s experience and learning. It is not only an integration, but it is also a capacity for integration. The fact that it is an integration gives it this capacity. This is like the function of crystals. If one drops a small crystalline structure in an appropriate chemical solution it acts as a kind of seed, starting a process of crystallization, replicating itself. The Personal Essence is the presence of an integrating consciousness which brings about more integration like itself, and into itself.

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