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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Otherness?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Otherness

All that Is Extrinsic to Our Basic Nature

Not being empty of other refers to the predicament in which we experience ourselves with all sorts of added accumulations that are not part of our true nature. For instance, our love is not other, but our belief that we are unlovable is. It is a learned construct that we have come to believe. Our ideas and beliefs are not intrinsic to us. What is other to us is the identification with the constructs and the ideas that pattern our experience, that are not part of the presence of true nature. And those beliefs and identifications are part of what we work with when we investigate the self. They are memories and impressions from the past, patterns and dynamics that recycle and repeat old object relations and tendencies. In time, we learn that they are extrinsic to our basic nature and that we can be without them. This is why, at some point, we experience them as obscurations, obstacles, contaminations, or impurities. When we experience ourselves empty of other, empty of those accretions, we are free to recognize the immaculate quality of our nature—its presence, its luminosity, and its stainlessness.

An Approximation of Real Personal Interaction

In other words, one has to be a real person, and perceive the other as a real person, as who he actually is, for there to be a real personal interaction. Otherwise, the interaction, although it feels personal and even intimate, is but an approximation of real personal interaction. And when one sees through one’s identifications with past object relations one becomes acutely conscious that this approximation is fake. One is shocked into the realization that his personal contact and consideration have always been vacuous, constituting nothing but the replay of past object relations, or the replay of an organization of those object relations. One was not making contact with the other person, and was not really considering the other person. He was considering somebody else, in fact, only an image of a person, an image which is not even an accurate image of the person he is interacting with.

Dancing with Our Essential Nature

A deep understanding of reality can follow from such a realization of desire. We can see that dualism arises when we are separated from our nature, for it is then that we experience the desire to fill ourselves. We believe there is something external that we need to have, and we deeply believe that we don’t have that something. However, with the energy of desire, when we feel it as the blissful wanting of another—but with a sense of sufficiency, not from lack —we don’t feel the same kind of otherness we do when we have a dualistic perspective. We feel that the other is arising from the same ground as we are. There is a sharing of a blissful communion, and that communion is a recognition that both of you are one reality. We can also feel a loving desire toward our essential nature as the Beloved. Then we are in a dance with that nature, an ebb and a flow with it, and we are not separate—nor are we one. There is enough differentiation for us to feel the excitement of moving toward the Beloved again. We feel that we are, in a sense, ourselves in union. It is nice to appear as two, but it doesn’t mean that there are two. So the appearance of two is what allows the love to have that vigorous feeling of wanting another and the enjoyment of wanting. There is a fullness to this desire, and you know that within each other, you are the same. A dualistic or a monistic view alone keeps us from the recognition that our nature is a continuous unity within which we can view and appreciate one another as a manifestation of reality, recognizing that the Beloved is what you are in union with.

Emptiness of Other Leads to the Disappearance of the Other. Emptiness of Self Does Not Lead to the Disappearance of the Individual Soul

Whereas the emptiness of other leads to the disappearance of the other—the evaporation of the constructs, the beliefs, and the ideas that are not intrinsic to the self—the emptiness of self does not lead to the disappearance of the individual soul. Rather, we recognize that the individual consciousness doesn’t exist in the way that we usually think it does. Its beingness is totally wedded to its nonbeingness. Furthermore, it becomes clear that emptiness of self is true not only about the individual self but also about the perceptions of the individual self. In other words, it is not only the individual self that is empty. Nonbeingness is fundamental to the truth of the individual self and also to the truth of all that it perceives. So everything that we perceive can be liberated as it becomes empty of other and empty of self. I’ve been using the individual soul as an example of how we can understand emptiness of other and emptiness of self, but these kinds of emptiness are also true of everything else. All manifest forms, all of the world, all of the universe, can be seen in terms of what is extrinsic to it—namely, our various beliefs and projections. And when manifestation is free from what is extrinsic to it, we can say that it has attained the freedom from other. We are able to see the universe in its beingness. We are able to see that everything is a manifestation of beingness in its purity and presence and luminosity.

In Most Relationships the Other Person is Someone to Make You Feel Good

Then we proceed to project mother onto others, and try to get their approval so they will love us and help us. That is one of the main motivations for sex, for example. Sex is a physical discharge. We charge up and then discharge; so sex mostly becomes an attempt to discharge our tensions and pain. We can see how deep the motivation for sex is, rooted in the beginning stages of life. It is like wanting your mother to come and feed you and make you feel wonderful, or wanting her to help you spit up your milk. By now you have no confidence that you can do it yourself because of all your blockage. So, it’s always, “If I can just find Prince/Princess Charming, then I can discharge all my tensions and everything will be fine.” In most relationships, the other person is someone to make you feel good. If they make you feel good, you love them. If they make you feel bad, you reject them. Usually we want the other person to regulate us. When you build up tension, you say, “I love you, let’s make love.” It doesn’t mean that sex can’t have other motivations like true love and appreciation, but most often there is a compulsion from accumulated tension and a desire for discharge.

Seeing Self and Others as Islands

There are as many islands as there are people in the world, and you believe that your self, your island is separate and distinct, not just from other islands, but from the rest of the universe. If you examine what you do, won’t you see that you are continually involved in this island, modifying it, rearranging it, reorganizing it? How aware are you of other islands? Not very. Your awareness of other islands is colored, even determined, by your concerns about how to protect and enhance your island. There is no true interest in the other islands for themselves. When you think of another island, it’s how to get something from it, or how those other islands are blocking your view. The reference point is always the self. Every feeling, thought, every action, every decision, every plan, every complaint is related to that self. This point of view is so common that most people don’t think about it—what else could it be? That’s how life is. Life is all these islands trying to be the best or the worst, depending on what plans you have for that island. Sometimes there are wars between the islands. Sometimes there are friendships. But both wars and friendships happen from the perspective of the island, with reference to you—what you’ll get from it and what you won’t get, what you like or dislike about it, how it makes you feel and your opinions about it.

When There is a Sensitive Consciousness of the Other

So contact involves not only openness and vulnerability, but, also, the presence of a sense of Being. One is open, vulnerable and present. However, the reader might object that this is the condition of the presence of any aspect of Essence. Whenever Being is felt as presence there is necessarily some openness, and a measure of disidentification from ego and its defenses. This is true, but this does not yet make for contact. The presence of a state of Being means the presence of pure consciousness, in any of its absolute forms. This means there is awareness, sensitivity and openness. There is a sensitive consciousness of the other, an empathy and an appreciation of the other’s existence. In these states, one might be very accurate in one’s perception of the other, and observant of his state. There might be tender love, warm kindness or even joyful interaction. But this is not necessarily contact. Consciousness is not necessarily contact, although it can make possible sensitivity and empathy with the other. Although Being is necessary for contact it is certainly not sufficient for contact in its unqualified form. For there to be contact, the Personal Essence has to be present. Contact implies personal contact. It implies a being in contact with another being.

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