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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Limitations?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Limitations

Limitation of Psychotherapy in Fulfilling Man’s Deepest Longing

Thus, we see that psychotherapy, from the perspective of the Work, stops short of essential realization. In a very fundamental way, it is unable to fulfill man's deepest longing. It can, when successful, help the personality to function more efficiently and more harmoniously. But from the perspective of the Work, we ask: To what end? The most worthy undertaking is still not attempted. The human essence still remains a potential, unactualized. As Idries Shah puts it, “It is impossible, from this point of view, to attempt to restore a mere equilibrium without a dynamic forward movement. The psychologist tries to make a warped wheel turn smoothly. The dervish is trying to make the wheel turn in order that it may propel a carriage.” It is not only that psychotherapeutic endeavors don't lead to essence; they are, contrary to all assertions, rarely ever effective in completely resolving any of the deep conflicts of the patient. The deepest and most fundamental human conflicts can be resolved completely only when the corresponding essential aspects are regained and established.

Limitlessness of Space

Space is the inherent natural openness of experience, which has no bounds, no limitations. It is open through and through, in infinite ways and all dimensions. Being is not only open in three dimensions, it is open in all possible dimensions, to all possible experiences, which include the usual time and space. What we see as physical space is only the most obvious manifestation of this openness. This is the dimension of space which is the openness that allows physical objects to be. This understanding leads us to the unity of Being, in which all manifestations are displays of Being, expressing and manifesting the same indivisible reality. Space is the openness of this nondual reality, acting to expose and dissolve the representations that usually occlude our awareness and prevent us from objectively perceiving it.

The Void, pg. 157

Limitlessness of the Essential Identity on the Being Level

What does it mean when we say the Essential Identity has no limitations on the Being level? This is not an easy point to grasp if one does not directly experience the Essential Identity. One way of describing it is that the Essential Identity is an element of the self that shares with Being-as-such the characteristics of being indestructible, eternal, and absolutely positive. Its truth transcends our common sense of time and space, so it is a timeless reality. This timelessness makes it something to which we cannot apply the concepts of destruction or limitation. It is also the self ’s true ontological source of love, goodness, intelligence, compassion, power, and so on, and hence, one feels the limitlessness of these qualities when one is the Essential Identity. This limitlessness is usually attributed to God in the various theistic traditions, and to the enlightened person in the Far Eastern religions. These characteristics are really the attributes of pure Being, and the Essential Identity is the reflection of this pure Being in the human self. However, we cannot say that the self in general possesses such attributes, for the self has mental and physical manifestations that definitely do not possess such attributes. The degree to which an individual truly possesses such attributes, meaning the degree to which he can actually feel and express them, depends on his level of self-realization.

Part of Being Impeccable is Taking Limitations into Consideration

Being impeccable means you’re not thinking of being something in the future. It means you’re doing something right now. You’re sitting. How do you sit impeccably? How do you listen impeccably? How do you ask questions impeccably? Impeccability is concerned with now, with complete presence at every moment. You are either impeccable or you are not. Part of impeccability is taking limitations into consideration because if you don’t, you’re indulging. You take your limitations into consideration as much as you can. Impeccability is not judged by superego. It is judged by reality, what’s really there. If there is something that can be done, you do it. You do your best at every moment.

Personal Limitations in the Realization of the Personal Essence

The realization of the Personal Essence, the personalization of aspects, and essential development in general, are processes of radical expansion. One experiences a steady expansion, in continual tiny increments, in one’s experience, consciousness, capacities and life. One’s mind is almost constantly being stretched, its limits pushed farther out. The changes are profound and deep, and affect the organism even at the cellular level. In fact one finds oneself always changing one’s mind about who one is and what life is all about. The experience of expansion involves delight, beauty and a sense of adventure. But sooner or later one does come upon one’s personal limitations. When an individual is experiencing expansion in a certain realm, a part of him that feels he cannot do it, that the expansion is too much, comes to the surface. He starts feeling a sense of deficiency, smallness, weakness and inadequacy. This inadequacy is rarely felt as directly related to the process of realization itself, but manifests in some situation in the student’s life. The root of this inadequacy is the sense of smallness and incapacity that keeps one at a certain level of development. We find that each individual functions at a certain level of capacity or expansion, and in general does not go beyond an unspecified limit, in terms of range of experience, depth of understanding, capacity for perception and ability for functioning. On the level of work or in social relations, one must deal with limitations, which can manifest as a feeling of inadequacy or the fear of it.

The Child’s Belief that Her Body and Mind Have No Limitations

On the Being level, the Essential Identity has no limitations, since the identity is directly in touch with the timeless, vast, ontological ground of being; but because she is experiencing these qualities intuitively while aware of the body-mind objectively, the child comes to believe that her body and mind have no limitations, which is obviously a delusion.26 The delusion is not the feelings and attitudes of grandeur and omnipotence, for these are the actual feelings of the Self of Being. The delusion is in attributing them to the body-mind. The limitless qualities become grandiose when attributed to the body and the mind. The child’s imperviousness to hurt is an expression of her identity with the Essential Identity of Being. It takes her a long time to become aware that these feelings of grandeur and omnipotence are false, in the sense that they are not true about her body and mind. When this happens, she is thoroughly disappointed and deflated. This usually occurs at the beginning of rapprochement, the third subphase of the separation- individuation process. This is the big fall, the realization of limitation and dependency.

The Deepest State that Can Be Perceived When there are No Limitations

The deepest, most objective state one can experience, in the sense that there is nothing that you can experience beyond it, is what we call the Absolute. The Absolute is absolutely unchangeable, absolutely itself, absolute in the sense that it’s ultimate. You cannot experience anything beyond it. It does not make sense that there could be anything beyond it. Some traditions call it the “mystery,” or the “unknowable.” The dimension of the Absolute is the peak, but it is not a peak in the sense of the peak of a mountain. It is fundamental. If you consider physical matter, for instance, and go deeper and deeper, until you get to the most elementary element, what is the farthest you can go, where you can’t go any further? Without limitations on what levels can be perceived, what will you finally reach? The Absolute. The experience of the Absolute here is actually the Absolute experiencing the Absolute in itself; we could say experiencing itself as the Absolute, but it is not really as, since there is no separation or mediation in the experience. This is the only way it is possible to experience the Absolute completely, as the Absolute experiencing the Absolute. If the Absolute is experiencing the Absolute, the experience is that there is no experience. Absolutely That’s why it’s called the Absolute! It’s absolutely empty of anything you can call experience.

The Effect of Physical Disability on the Soul’s Experience of Her Potential

For the soul to live in our world she needs an adequate body, for the body is her immediate environment, and she needs to feel held by it. When the body has limitations in its functioning, the soul is constrained in her ability to experience herself and in her range of functioning. In other words, the soul requires an adequate physical organism for her to fulfill the richness of her potential. The possible limitations of the body are myriad, and their influence in the soul happens in many ways. We discuss briefly only a few of these: The most obvious is the effect of gross physical limitations, as in the case of physical disability or chronic injury. The soul will simply not be able to experience some of her potential. However, this is not the most serious physical situation for the soul, for her potential is unlimited and she can, as frequently happens, develop alternate areas of potential. In fact, some individuals seem to use their physical infirmity to an advantage, by compensating in ways that make their lives even richer than the average physically able individual. Yet many individuals are greatly affected by their physical handicaps, and experience severe limitations in their development, due to the physical limitation itself and the emotions and attitudes about it.

The Soul’s Potential Has No Limitations

The soul’s potential includes all of our human capacities, functions, possibilities, and experiences. It includes all the dimensions of experience and consciousness. The potential has no limitations; it includes all that we think of as positive and all that we think of as negative. It is the potential for ego and its development, but also the potential for essence and its realization. It is the potential for ignorance and violence, but also the potential for maturation and enlightenment. In this book we will study many of the important elements of this potential. Many of these elements are well known, like the potential for thinking, learning, emotional life, and so on, so we will not explore them in any detail. Many are explored by other researchers, as the potential for ego development, cognitive development, cultural and artistic development, and so on, so we will have little to say about them. We will focus on the basic properties of the soul, her essential potential, and her potential for knowing and connecting with Reality.

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