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Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

What is Issues?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Issues

Egoic Issues Inhibit the Dynamism of the Soul

Essential aspects are states of presence so they cannot be contained in a representation. What happens is that the ego structures and issues function as barriers to the dynamism of the soul; by morphogenically transforming her field, they prevent her from manifesting these aspects. They structure the soul in such a way that her creativity flows within the forms allowed by these structures. When these issues and structures are made transparent, which sometimes require ego regression, the barriers are not there anymore, and the inherent dynamism manifests these aspects.

Existential Issues

Existential issues are related to the normal limitations of being a human being living in a world with others. These issues include questions, conflicts, and suffering in relation to desire and desirelessness, gratification and frustration, intimacy and isolation, relatedness and aloneness, love and aggression, instinct and morality, limitation and finitude, transitoriness and mortality, choice and accident, meaning and emptiness, being and nothingness, fear and dread, and so on. These issues reflect the fact that the soul has both animal and essential potential, that she is unrealized without knowing it or knowing that there is any alternative. The soul lives an embodied life with its normal limitations and frustrations, which are compounded by her ignorance of her true nature. These issues tend to arise naturally in life, especially during transitions and intense events, but they also are brought forth intensely due to the inner work. They arise especially as the soul learns to penetrate and transcend her ego structure. To follow our example, when the soul begins to see the limitation of structure and experiences herself as presence, the structure begins to reveal its nature as a mental construct characterized by past conditioning, ideas, memories, etc. The soul begins to experience an inner emptiness, a meaninglessness, a dread of falling apart, and terror of death and annihilation. These experiences of falling apart or being annihilated actually come to pass as the structures dissolve. The soul experiences disintegration and dissolution, disorientation and a loss of identity; she feels lost and despondent. These existential crises are actually elements of some stages of working through ego structures that then lead to deeper realizations of true nature, moving to timelessness and formlessness.

Growing by Resolving Issues

You see, when you have an issue in your life, the point is not to get rid of it; the point is to grow with it. The point is not just to resolve the issue; the point is to grow through resolving it. So, in many ways you can see that maturity has to do with this growth, this broadening, this depth.

Inquiry Exposes the Issues For the Soul

At some point, inquiry will reveal the particular structure or structures underlying the issues. The soul will be able to see her conditioning. She can see that there is a rigid impression, a fixed structure that gives her identity, individuality, and functioning. It is then a short step to discerning the self-representation that patterns the particular structure; that is, she will become consciously aware of holding a particular self-image. By seeing the self-image while retaining the curious attitude of inquiry she may begin to see more precisely the history of this self-image, the specific object relations and their associated feelings that constituted its history. This will relieve her further from believing it is a fundamental truth of who she is. This can go as far as recognizing it as a mental image created, or remembered, by her mind. When she reaches this stage of understanding, the soul is open to who and what she is.

Issues of the Soul

The process of liberation of the soul frees her from many issues and barriers. We can organize these into the following categories:

• The soul’s physical preoccupation and external orientation. This is attachment to the external, which is what the world promises her, at the expense of her depth, her true nature.

• The passions and appetites, drives and instinctual compulsions. These are the forms external orientation takes.

• Attachment in general, with its grasping and tight holding.

• Psychodynamic issues and conflicts with their repression, ego defense mechanisms, and blockages. This includes the difficulties of early experience as they survive in one’s personality and unconscious.

• Self-images and object relations. These constitute the content of the soul’s identifications.

• Fixation and rigidity, which tend to characterize her views and attitudes, but most importantly her ego structures.

• Narcissism, which reflects the soul’s alienation from her true nature.

• General ego structural issues, such as weakness and inadequacy. This includes schizoid defenses.

• Precocious development.

• Underdevelopment. Both this and precocious development may characterize some of the soul’s ego structures.

• Structure in general, more specifically the need for one.

• Underlying all these categories are the fundamental issues of ignorance and duality. These are the central spiritual barriers usually identified by the various wisdom traditions. In Facets of Unity, we discriminate this fundamental barrier into nine fundamental delusions about Reality.

Issues Related to the Personal Essence

However, since the Personal Essence is an aspect of Being, the issues have a different character and meaning than the purely emotional ones. The stages of ego development function in another dimension in addition to that of developmental psychology, or, more accurately, there are parallel stages in this deeper dimension, exposing issues of a different kind. These are issues and difficulties not of a structural or psychodynamic nature, but of an existential, phenomenological and epistemological nature. We will see that all these dimensions—structural, psychodynamic, existential, phenomenological and epistemological—are all involved in the issues, conflicts and perceptions relating to the Personal Essence. Most psychotherapeutic systems attempt to isolate the emotional dimension from that of Being. We will see, however, that all the dimensions of human experience are interrelated, and cannot be separated without the loss of objectivity. Of course, those who are not aware of the dimension of Being will be satisfied with the approximations they make in understanding the situation, believing they are looking at the whole picture, while they are in fact perceiving only the surface. Even for purposes of therapy, however, looking at the deeper dimension of experience is useful. The issues, conflicts and perceptions which are related to the Personal Essence that are characteristic of the phases of symbiosis and separation-individuation mainly involve separation and separation anxiety, fear of annihilation and abandonment, the question of alone-ness, rapprochement conflicts, issues of cohesion and integration, conflicts around self and self-esteem, questions of ego strength and ego inadequacy, and the like. We will examine them now in some depth.

On the Levels of Essential Reality and Identity the Issues are Universal

Now, what we take ourselves to be and what we take reality to be are linked with what happened in our childhood. A lot of what we believe has to do with our relationship with our mother and with our childhood environment. However, on the level of essential reality and on the level of identity, the issues that arise are universal; they don’t depend on childhood specifics. Wherever you go in the world, everyone has certain fundamental levels of suffering, regardless of how happy or miserable they might be. The very identification of oneself as an object among other objects makes us suffer at this deeper level. Fundamentally, we don’t suffer because our mother didn’t love us or our father was mad at us, although these things might have made it worse. The problem is much more universal. The fundamental notions about what a human being is and what reality is constitute a universal social phenomenon, although it does vary in different cultures. These notions lead to suffering because they are not true; if they were true, they wouldn’t lead to suffering. So again we notice that seeing the truth is the way to freedom from unnecessary suffering.

Psychodynamic Issues

These are the barriers and limitations due to past experience and its repression. Conditioning is the result of impressions from the past, and tends to remain outside of consciousness, functioning automatically. Exploring psychodynamic issues reveals to the soul how many of its experiences, attitudes, and actions are influenced by unconscious conflicts, beliefs, and feelings. When one inquires into them, they reveal the related unconscious material. The soul then might recall various events in her early experience, including traumas and abuses, wounds and rejections, intolerable conflicts and deprivations.

Struggling with the Issues of Life

Of course, it is very hard work to struggle with the issues of your life. But that work is what differentiates a baby essence from an adult essence. The value a baby embodies is something like amber, a light amber essence. Mature value is like a deep, thick, dark amber. There is no maturity without struggle. If you remain on the level of a baby, satisfied with a tit that provides, you continue to be a baby. You don’t grow up. A baby eventually grows into an adult by confronting his life and learning about himself through the process of struggling with the difficulties that are part of his life. When you have an issue in your life, the point is not to get rid of it; the point is to grow with it. The point is not just to resolve the issue; the point is to grow through resolving it. So, in many ways, you can see that maturity has to do with this growth, this broadening, this depth. In terms of actually doing the Work, what does this mean? I said earlier that struggle is the salt of the process. It is not insignificant that the personality can actually taste salty. When you are working on issues that have to do with the personality, you might actually taste the saltiness. When you experience Essence, the taste is sweet. Personality is the salt, and struggling with the personality is what will bring you in touch with Essence, with the sweetness.

The Need to See and Understand the Issues Around Identity and Selfhood

To understand and become free from the self-concept is to become free from instincts, from biological programming and evolutionary conditioning. This is made possible by coming to understand the relationship of life and death to each other and to essence. So to live the life of essence, the life of the pearl beyond price, the identification with the personality must end, through the discovery and the realization of the true and brilliant self. This does not mean, as some teachings have it, that the individual must experience the essential self all the time, that he must hold onto it as the most precious thing. Many systems of teaching focus on the true self, concentrate on it, identify with it, and glorify it. This will naturally bring attachment, and attachment is personality, even if it is attachment to the essential self. What needs to happen is to free this aspect of essence for it to become a station, to become permanently available, so that it is there when its mode of operation is needed. Therefore, all of the issues around identity and selfhood must be seen and understood, including the need for or attachment to identity. The true self exposes all misunderstanding and conflicts around identity and selfhood. Resolving the issues around the essential self eliminates all identification; or rather, identification becomes a free, conscious movement.

The Presence of an Essential State Allows You to Become Specific About Your Issues

Thus, the arising of each essential aspect will shed light on a certain element of the ignorance in the personality. When you are inquiring, the presence of an essential state allows you to become very specific about your issues. In the process of inquiry, the personality becomes clearer and purer each time a quality of essence is realized and the issues around it are understood. You let go of some old beliefs, old self-images, and old tensions. If you feel the state of the personality when it is somewhat relaxed, you realize that although it’s still dull and heavy, it is also comfortable or even warm and cozy. The felt sense of the personality is like the blankets that babies carry around with them. It reminds you of your blanket, your bed, of your mother when she took care of you when you were sick. It’s a protective device that has been doing its job. Then, when the actual essential states are able to arise —states that the personality has been unsuccessfully trying to recreate through such devices—there is a potential for a clarifying impact on the personality. Of course, sometimes essential states arise without a connection to issues, for instance, as a result of meditation or some spiritual practice. But when a person experiences these states without looking at the issues, which is a common occurrence, there is no clarification of the personality. The personality stays the way it is.

Two Sides to the Work We Do

Because of this, the work we do has, in some sense, two sides. One side is the discovery of true nature in the various ways it manifests, including the discovery of the laws of how experience happens and the laws of mind or consciousness. The other side of our work is seeing, recognizing, and learning how to work with the structures and the issues. As we are liberated from these constraints, the freedom of reality to keep manifesting its possibilities and its potential is enhanced. This dynamic manifestation and evolution of reality is our manifestation and our evolution. So the process of realizing true nature and the process of becoming free from the delusions, the structures, and the issues go hand in hand. They are not two separate processes.

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