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Life (Essential Life)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Life (Essential Life)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Life (Essential Life)

Contrasting Physical and Essential Life

We think of organs in terms of biological organs. Essence functions purposefully; it has a function, but it is not really like a physical organ. Physical organs are the closest analogue to an essential aspect that we know in physical life. That is one reason why I use the word “organic.” In contrast to physical life, however, essential life is more real, more alive, more energetic. There is more excitation, more of a living quality to an essential aspect than to a physical organ functioning in the body. And in the aspect of intelligence, the quality of being organic is even more striking. 


Brilliancy, pg. 14

Difference Between the Egoic and Essential Life is Not Absolute

We see that egoic life basically does not respect the autopoietic nature of the soul; it tends to make the open, living system that is the soul into a closed and isolated one, more like a machine. The difference between the egoic and the essential life is not absolute, for the soul cannot become completely a machine. She is inherently an open and dynamic system, and hence rigid ego structuring only limits this openness and constrains her dynamism; it cannot completely eliminate them. When the soul is extremely closed and isolated, she will generally move toward breakdown and disorganization. More accurately, the more rigid and fixed is the ego structuring of the soul, the more she will be subject to the second law of thermodynamics. In contrast, greater self-organization and autonomy are the natural outcome of dissipative autopoiesis, with its dynamic self-renewal. Therefore, inner work is a matter of liberating and expanding the autopoietic function of the soul, optimizing her capacity for self-renewal. This freedom is a central part of liberating the soul’s creative dynamism.  

Emotional Life is Not Essential Life

Now the capacity for emotional discharge is necessary for emotional growth and balance. Also, balanced emotional growth is necessary for finding and developing one's essence. However, the emotional life is still not the essential life. Here it is useful to look at the difference between the emotionally healthy, normal person and the realized person. We know how impoverished the life of the emotionally blocked person is in comparison to that of the normal person who enjoys a full and deep emotional life. From the perspective of essence, the person with the deep and full emotional life is just as impoverished in his experience, compared to that of the essential individual, as is the emotionally blocked person compared to the healthy one—impoverished, in fact, by many more orders of magnitude. In the experience of the essential individual, the emotionally developed normal person is superficial, incomplete, and still a child in terms of the potential of the human being. 

Fulfillment in Essential Life

Fulfilling desires that arise from the unconscious is not the same fulfillment as we experience in essential life. The unconscious believes that fulfillment has to do with what others give us, think of us, or feel toward us. The unconscious is rarely focused on being itself. It is focused on the mind’s desires, expectations, projections, and memories. When we look at the deepest level, what is actually there? Existence, presence. Existence and presence are not the focus of the unconscious or the ego. But Essence knows what is there; Essence knows what is real. When you feel happy, it has nothing to do with what others think of you or what you think of yourself, whether you’re good or bad, big or small, sexy, ugly, smart, stupid. If you’re happy, you’re happy—that’s it. If you’re valuable, you’re valuable. Your being is unconditional. The unconscious, on the other hand, works on the basis that in order to feel certain ways, certain things have to happen. “If you love me, then I’ll be happy. If you don’t love me, then I’ll be miserable.” Everything is conditional. When happiness is essential, it’s not like that. If you love me, I’ll feel one kind of happiness; if you don’t, I’ll feel a different kind. It’s just a variation. If I am by myself in my room reading my book, that’s a certain kind of happiness. If I am in bed with a woman, it’s another kind of happiness. If I am sleeping and not aware of any book or any woman, it’s yet another kind of happiness. If I’m working, it’s another kind of happiness still. They’re all wonderful, all good. 

Life Becoming the Richness, Profundity and Beauty of Essential Life

The realization of the Personal Essence is not the end of its story; in fact, its story does not have an end. It is a continual process of growth and increasing maturity. We divide this process into two major parts: realization and development. Realization means it becomes a permanent personal attainment; the Personal Essence is present whenever its mode of functioning is objectively indicated. One’s life becomes rich with the profundity, beauty and joy of essential life. However, this does not necessarily indicate the complete transformation of ego or the complete disidentification from its structures. At this stage the usual condition is that there is always essential presence, but there is still some identification with ego structures. The individual consciousness is alternately dominated by essential presence and ego individuality. Identity with Essence alternates with identity with ego. One feels there are two parts, in a kind of dialogue—the old, familiar personality with its ego states, and the ever fresh Personal Essence with its essential experience and perception. 

Life Increasingly Becoming Essential Life

That is the most profound level of the work. The particular activity that we do here on Sunday afternoons is to practice being fully present, as fully present as we can be, while we engage in physical activities such as gardening, painting, and so forth. You sense, look, and listen with whatever essential capacity you have, in whatever activity or task you are doing. This activity both facilitates the function I’ve just described and enables you to practice being present in an atmosphere and place where this is encouraged. The presence of many people engaged in the same task adds energy. This energy is not just additive. The presence of Essence is contagious, and since everybody is sensing, looking, and listening intensely while they are working on the tasks, it is possible to create a certain amount of honey in more concentrated form than is possible at other times. So sensing, looking, and listening will give each person an added capacity to be present and will help each person taste the honey. Each of you can then take this taste of Essence and the capacity to be present back into your life. In time, you can take it into your life more and more so that your life increasingly becomes the essential life. These methods are scientific. When you do them, you achieve precise results. If they are not followed, something else results. It is much easier for many bees to make honey than for just one bee to attempt it. One bee by itself won’t make honey. It will die very quickly. You never see a bee with its own hive making honey. This example of the ancient school of the Sarmoun Darq illustrates the kind of thing that we are doing here. 

No Conflict Between Living the Essential Life and Getting What You Want in the World

One reason we don’t want to see this truth is that we often believe that if we choose to live in accordance with the truth of Essence, we will lose all the goodies of life that we’re attached to. We are so accustomed to looking at our lives from the perspective of getting things from the outside, we believe that if we cease to count on this pattern, we will lose them all. This is not so. In fact, if all your actions and desires, all the aspects of your life are subordinated to the truth of Essence, you can have what you want in your life. You can be famous, rich, sexy, have a family, a career, all these things. And you can enjoy them in the fullness of Essence, rather than always trying to get more and fearing the loss of what you have. There is no conflict between living the essential life and getting what you want in the world. In fact, when we are living according to our essence, it is possible finally to love our lives and the things in our lives. But if we value external things over our essence, then we shut off the part that can enjoy these things. The heart of joy, what we call the yellow heart or the bright sun, becomes sunny when it is turned toward Essence. When it is turned somewhere else, it is dark. It’s that simple. 

Support for the Essential Life

The aspect of the Citadel provides guidance for how to live one’s life according to the Truth of Being. It is referred to as “objective conscience,” for it is like the conscience of Essence. It gives one support and protection, i.e., is present and available, only when one is living according to the Truth of Essence. In other words, its presence (realization) is equivalent to living according to the laws of Being. Realizing this aspect means many practical things. One must change one’s practical life in a way that supports essential life, rather than impeding it. One’s activities, interests, associations, relationships and so on, now have to be according to the Truth, in the service of, and in harmony with, Essence. Living the life of Truth is the true meaning of inner discipline. One actually must discipline oneself in a certain way. However, it is not the usual understanding of discipline. It is not according to rules one has in the mind—which is the control of the superego—and it is not according to someone else’s idea of discipline. It is very personal, and depends on the particular person and his situation in life. He has to find his own way, his own application of objective Truth in his life. And he can do this by realizing the Citadel, by using it as his true conscience.

True Protection for the Essential Life

So to recapitulate, we need objective perception to understand that Essence is the answer, Essence is the fulfillment, Essence is the Ridhwan. And from that will result the true value of Essence in yourself, in others, everywhere. Then, with that understanding and valuing, there will arise the true discipline, the true protection for Essence and for the essential life. The world we live in does not support this. People around us do not support this. There are pressures everywhere against this orientation. When you experience Essence, it needs to be protected. You have to find your own citadel, your own fortress. Your citadel has to do with the true discipline; it is the true discipline. There is an actual aspect of Essence that we call the citadel, which is the protection for your essence so that it will be preserved and develop and can be used for others. This is the right way of living. It has to be there. It’s not that you’ll experience your essence and automatically get out of the swamps. You have to take action, to live your life in accordance with the truth, the truth of your essence, the truth of who you are, your situation, what your limitations are. These need to be taken into consideration in the way you live your life. It’s not going to just happen—there are too many external forces against it. It is your responsibility to protect and guard and preserve your essence, your true nature. You couldn’t do that as a child because you were totally dependent, but now you have the chance to preserve and protect your essence as you experience it. 

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