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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Objectification?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Objectification

Anything that Can be Objectified Becomes an Object of Desire

All attachments are in the end attachments to one thing. All our objects of desire are ultimately transferences, displacements from the original object of desire. Attachment is a misguided attempt to get to this oneness. You think you want something and you attach yourself to it. So you accumulate things—your clothes, physical appearance, boyfriends or girlfriends, husbands, wives, children, parents, art, creations, feelings, experiences, essence, personality, etc., anything that can be objectified becomes an object of desire. Attachments necessitate objectification; there has to be an object to be attached to, and by its very definition there is a loss of the oneness. When we see this we can see that even God becomes objectified and an object of attachment. If you look at your usual experience, everything in it is an object, and you are attached whether you like it or not. If you like something, it’s a positive attachment, you’re holding on to it. If you don’t like something, it’s a negative attachment, you’re pushing it away. There is attachment in the rejection; by trying to push something away you’re trying to hold on to something else in yourself. This is the external manifestation of attachment, what it looks like from the outside. But these feelings of wanting are not what the actual attachment feels like. You might feel that you can’t let go of someone or something, that you love it, that you would feel a great loss if it were gone. Most people can only focus on the object of attachment; if they really saw the attachment itself they would start falling out of love.

The Tendency to Objectify True Nature

One of the difficulties that can arise in our experience—not only in this teaching but in inner work in general—is the tendency to objectify true nature, the tendency to make it into a something. As we have encounters with true nature, whether we come into contact with it or we are it, true nature can appear as something different from other things, as a distinct particular. Its particularity and its difference give rise to the possibility of setting it apart; and by setting it apart, we objectify it, which begins a process of reification that feeds our sense of being an isolated self. As we objectify true nature, we both misconstrue it and support a sense of self that is disconnected from it. This tends to solidify the shell of the self, which means that we don’t recognize that true nature is what we are.

Treating Essence like Any Material Possession

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.

True Nature is Not a Self-Existing Object and Cannot be Reified

When we recognize that true nature is not a self-existing object and cannot be reified, we may face the pitfall of believing that we can actually stop or avoid reification by using our mind. This is yet another delusion because the mind, for the most part, cannot function without reifying. The ordinary mind is itself a process of reifying and using reification to think. Even though it has the potential to work differently, it develops through a process of objectification and reification from the moment we start learning. From childhood, our thinking develops by apprehending objects and the relationships between objects. This is a built-in mechanism of the mind. Our neural networks are completely set this way. We can’t try to not reify, because it is impossible to stop reifying using the ordinary mind. And the effort to stop reifying is also a misunderstanding of how awakening and illumination happen, how the diffusion of reification happens. The ordinary mind doesn’t have enough luminosity to even notice reification, let alone try to avoid it. Without the illuminating power of true nature, the ordinary mind faced with reification will just spin its wheels, which is what it’s good at.

We Cannot Try to Avoid Objectification

In other words, we cannot try to avoid objectification, delusion, or reification. The mind cannot try to be careful; the heart cannot try to be protected; the individual consciousness cannot try to get somewhere. All of these are based on the illusion that is already exposed in the boundlessness of true nature. We see from the nondual perspective that there is no separate self that has its own will or that can do anything on its own. Seeing everything as the same reality, the same truth, the same light, helps us understand how the illumination of these obstacles can happen. I’ve never tried to avoid reification, objectification, or delusion, because I never thought I could. It has always been clear to me that it is not possible. And I have never been afraid of these things, because I recognize that the true protector of practice is the philosophers’ stone. True nature protects itself through its liberating combustion, through its quality of red sulfur. By protecting itself from these dangers, it protects us because the philosophers’ stone is what we are.

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