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Naming

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Naming

Discrimination of Aspects, and Naming them, in a Sense Concretizes Them

Seeing essence in its various aspects, seeing these aspects as different and distinct, and giving each one a specific name, can lead to some difficulties for the student. This discrimination of aspects, and naming them, in a sense concretizes them. This specificity and delineation can lead to a certain form of attachment. It becomes easy for the personality to be attached to some of these aspects. The individual might want to experience the same aspect over and over. He might try to hold onto it and become afraid of losing it. He might develop the attitude of hoarding, of collecting more and more substance, or collecting various kinds of aspects. Essence is then being treated like any material possession. In other words, the objectification of the aspects can and does lead to spiritual materialism. This materialism, this attachment can then strengthen, instead of weakening, the rigid grip of the personality. This is counter to what is needed for inner work, where the personality must learn to let go, especially of its attachments. In fact, the personality's basic characteristic is attachment, which is the main cause of suffering. Systems that are aware of this fact are usually very cautious—in fact, paranoid—about the possibility of spiritual materialism. Essence is referred to very vaguely. The aspects are not mentioned nor even conceived of. The whole thing is left formless, vague, and even referred to as unknowable. 

Experience, Arising First, is Followed by Differentiation, then Discrimination, then by Labeling

As we recognize the subtle, precise discriminations that the Guidance shows us, we see that we’re arriving at truth. But the truth is not a particular conclusion, such as an answer we have been seeking. Recognizing the truth means that we’re seeing the discrimination in our experience accurately, that our soul is unfolding exactly as it is. And when that occurs, we say we understand our experience. Our consciousness also has the capacity to name the specifics of the discrimination. But the discrimination itself precedes the naming. When we give names to the specifics, it becomes easy to remember them; we can write them down and store them as knowledge. But the experience itself comes first, then the differentiation, and then the discrimination, followed by the labeling. Of course, most of the time, these steps happen so quickly that they seem to be occurring at the same time. So we can’t tell them apart.   

Objectifying Aspects of Essence Can be Seen in a Positive Light

But the belief that experiencing and naming the aspects of essence must lead to spiritual materialism is not completely accurate. It reflects a lack of complete trust in the nature of essence. When we talk about essence as the elixir, as the agent of transformation, we mean it literally. It is what catalyzes the inner transformation. It is true that objectivizing the aspects can lead to attachment and spiritual materialism. But this is not a negative development. In fact, we can see it in a positive light. As long as an individual can be attached, then nothing will stop him from being so. Trying to avoid this attachment, as some systems do, will only keep it and its possibility repressed, still living in the unconscious. The personality will find any object to be attached to, if it still needs to. So the best approach, if the individual is interested in pursuing the truth all the way, is to bring this attachment to the surface so that it can be observed, understood, and truly resolved. 

Through Naming We End up Living in a World that is Itself Our Own Mind

What we are seeing here is that the world we live in is so linked with our concepts that we cannot separate who we are and the world we live in from the content of our minds. The content of your mind has developed in the context of naming the world. The development of your mind progressed through your knowing the world. And you know the world by developing the mind. The two things happen at the same time, as one process. These concepts quickly become specific and rigid. Along with that, what we are becomes fixed and rigid. The objects in the world are very fixed, just as the alphabet is very specific. An A is an A is an A. Laurie is Laurie is Laurie. In some sense, no changes can happen in this world. In the process of conceptualizing and naming the world, we forget that these elements didn’t exist for us until we differentiated them, separated them, isolated them, and named them. We don’t remember what happened before that, because there wasn’t enough conceptual capacity to remember things before that. What we remember is the notions we have developed. We cannot remember things that had no concepts associated with them. Finally, we end up living in a world that is itself our own mind. What we call our world is nothing but the content of our knowledge. And our world becomes as fixed as the content of our knowledge. If that content is definite and set, then what you are is definite and set, people are definite and set, and life is definite and set. The more it is like that, the more your experience is fixed and unchangeable. And the more that happens, the more the world that you live in is the world of yesterday. It’s no longer a fresh world. Life is not fresh. You are not fresh. The world is not fresh. You don’t learn anything new. You don’t grow or develop. There is no expansion, no deepening. Your world becomes more narrow, and increasing complexity is further narrowing, adding to the rigidity of the world you inhabit.  

When You Look at what Exists from the Level of the Nonconceptual You do not Give Things Names

Here I am referring to the level of discriminated perception before you give things a name. It is difficult to understand this realm, because we are not used to discriminating the forms of things separately from naming them. And only when there is some capacity to see the forms from the dimension beyond forms is it possible to perceive forms or “divine ideas” which are not influenced or determined by personal mind. When you look at what exists from the level of the nonconceptual, you do not give things names, you do not separate one thing from another. There is just one existence. You do see variations; you just do not recognize or mentally conceptualize what the variation is. If you look at things from the perspective of noetic forms, then it is possible to articulate the differentiation. The idea here is that the existence of the table is different from the idea of a table. 

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