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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Metabolism?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Metabolism

Ego, On its Own, Cannot Complete the Metabolism of Experience

This interdependence between ego and Being can also be seen in the process of inner metabolism. Ego on its own cannot complete the metabolism of experience and hence cannot bring about complete human development; Being is needed for this process to take place. On the other hand, Being cannot accomplish on its own the whole process of metabolism; it cannot dislodge ego when ego is defensive. From the perspective of the mind, Being can be resisted easily with a slight movement of ego; thus ego must first cooperate by relinquishing its defensive posture. It is up to ego to cease resisting. When it ceases its defensive posture completely, then Being acts. This is an important understanding for methods of inner realization. The work on purifying or understanding ego will not lead, by itself, to transformation. Being by itself cannot do it either. The work must be done from both directions—the letting go of ego defenses and the development of Essence.

Failing to Metabolize Experience, We Retain Undigested Experience which, in Time, will Become Suffering

Our work of inquiry can be understood as a process of metabolizing experience—past and present experience. By being fully present in your experience you metabolize it and grow. When it comes to the past, our Work can be seen as understanding or metabolizing your unconscious mind, your ego, or personality. True metabolism doesn’t lead to deficiency or weakness, but to development, growth, and the functioning capacity of Being. Without experience Being cannot be in the world. Metabolism leads to the capacity to be in the world, and that is what it means to have a human life. However, if we fail to metabolize our experience—for example, by rejecting it and thus stopping the metabolic process—we retain undigested experience, which in time will become suffering. Because of the unmetabolized food in your mind, which is the influence of the past, your capacity to directly contact your experience in the present is severely reduced, so you cannot eat properly. There is already food in your system that has been rotting for years. First, you need to metabolize what is inside you to some degree, in order to have a greater capacity to metabolize your present experience. This has two results for our Work: One is the cleaning out of the past, and the other is that the more you have done that, the more capacity you have in the present. This allows events in the present to transform you. If you are really present and in present time, any impression or experience will lead to metamorphosis and maturity.

Human Development is Constituted by the Metabolism of Personal Experience

We come then to the understanding of what is required for inner transformation: impressions will be completely metabolized, to the point of absorption into Being, only when completely purged of falsehood. Ego is absorbed into Being only after it is completely purified. This is the original sense of spiritual purification, which has nothing to do with morality but involves separating the true from the false. This understanding is one reason the Sufis call the process of inner transformation the “purification” of the ego. We see here, too, the role of truth in this process: since human development is constituted by the metabolism of personal experience, and for this metabolism to be complete the true must be separated from the false—the former to be absorbed and the latter to be discarded—we can see that the specific requirement for growth, maturation and development is truth, the truth garnered from personal experience. In general, the process of eliminating falsehood is spontaneous; the mind generally lets go of an impression when it recognizes it to be false. Since it can no longer be used for purposes of identification, and cannot be absorbed, the false impression simply dissolves. An exception to this pattern is when a clearly false belief is part of a larger system, most likely unconscious, which the mind still takes to be true; then the mind will hold on to the falsehood until the larger belief system is revealed.

Metabolism is Complete and can Lead to the Personal Essence Only When it Reaches the Stage of Absorption

To see this coupling, to understand how the Diamond Consciousness is a guidance, and to understand the methodology of the Diamond Approach, we return to the process of psychic metabolism. We have seen that metabolism is complete and can lead to the Personal Essence only when it reaches the stage of absorption. We also noted that an identification system can become ready for absorption only when it is completely purged of falsehood. For an identification system which is an aspect or expression of one’s personality to be completely purged or purified, the following is required:

* To see psychological defenses, to understand them and to recognize that they are false and unnecessary.

* To separate the true, in this segment of the ego, from the false. This means to exactly see, and understand, what actually happened in the past, and to separate this from those things which one still feels and believes but which did not really occur. For this one must experience the segment of the personality, and look at the memories of the original object relations, without defenses and with complete objectivity. One cannot look at oneself with any prejudice, opinion, attitude, expectation or assumptions without losing objectivity. One must approach the experience wanting nothing and expecting nothing. The only motivation that can work is the innate and spontaneous love of truth for its own sake.

Question: Why is Complete Metabolism so Rare in Human Experience?

This brings us to another question raised by our model of metabolism: Why is complete metabolism so rare in human experience? The conditioning theory of learning and the findings of the various depth psychologies reveal that in early childhood defenses are necessary, partly due to environmental inadequacies and partly due to the incapacity of the yet immature human organism. The necessity for defense and the internalization of a lot of falsehood have another cause which is rarely noted in psychology: it is the omnipresent ignorance of Being in most human societies. This ignorance is taken in by the developing infant and becomes part of its ego structure. The identity of the personality develops in the absence of the awareness of Being. The presence of love helps in the process of metabolism, but it does not have much power when understanding is lacking. A great deal of knowledge of a specialized nature is needed for children to be raised in a way that will steer them towards complete human development. The psychological and spiritual knowledge now available to most human societies is insufficient for this task, because Being is almost completely ignored in the normal social perspective.

The Development of Consciousness

The development of consciousness has to do with living in this life from the perspective of the Absolute. The Personal Essence, the Pearl Beyond Price, has to do with being a human being and still being the Absolute. If you’re just the Absolute, you are not a human being. But you live in this world, you have a physical body and a mind, you have work and relationships. You need the Personal Essence in order to be able to live personally as a human being and still be the Absolute. So the development of the personal aspect has to do with integrating all of these things that are important for our life into the various levels of consciousness, and then into the Absolute. This is an actual process that has to do with the metabolism of the Absolute into the Personal Essence. Although it is rarely mentioned in spiritual literature, the integration of the person into the Absolute is vital because we live in the world and not in a monastery or cave. 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.

The Essential Person is the Product of the Complete Metabolism of Identification Systems

Just as the sense of a separate individuality is the main outcome of the separation-individuation process, integrating into itself other parts of the ego, so the Personal Essence is the main development in essential realization, which integrates the other aspects of Essence into itself as it develops, as well as integrating the functional capacities of the various aspects. The Personal Essence is a central aspect because it is the real person, the essential person, which we have seen is the product of the complete metabolism of identification systems. Identifications, however, involve not only ego. There are superego identifications, for instance, that make up that structure of the mind. The metabolism of all identification systems leads not only to the realization of the Personal Essence, but also to the realization of all aspects of Essence. Each segment of identifications is connected to a certain essential aspect.

Through Metabolizing Her History the Soul Individuates Her Essential Presence

The structures are based on memories and impressions that constitute the history of the life of the soul. By becoming aware of this history, recognizing its content as it actually was, and understanding instead of identifying with it, the soul can metabolize the important experiences in this personal history. The soul digests the truth and learning in this history rather than using it to define herself. This metabolism, which can happen only if the process of inquiry occurs in the presence of essence, integrates one’s personal history and learning into the ground of the soul. The structures lose their structuring power and the learning and skills synthesized in them now become integrated into the soul directly, instead of indirectly through images and identifications. This process of essential metabolism develops the soul into an individual of essence. The sense of being an individual with unique qualities and skills does not disappear, but appears in the soul now as an essential presence that has a personal quality. (See The Pearl Beyond Price, chapters 11–15, for a detailed discussion of this process of metabolism.) Through metabolizing her history, the soul individuates her essential presence. She now experiences herself as an ontological presence, but this presence is at the same time a well-rounded individual, a person of presence. The presence is characterized by the quality of personalness. The soul continues to experience herself as a person, but this person is presence, a true and essential structure. The soul is now structured by her own essence, rather than by images from the past.

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