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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Person?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Person

A Different Kind of Personhood

It might seem paradoxical that the initial process of working to liberate ourselves at the personal level—freeing ourselves from our object relations and our personal relationship to the divine—ultimately leads to the personalization of our realization. But this is now a different kind of personhood, when the beingness that is our true nature becomes a person in the world without the loss of its inner identity with true being. This is what makes self-realization relevant for humanity, relevant for human beings living a normal life. And that is our approach, to live a normal life. It’s no accident that the Western traditions tend to value personal life more than the Eastern traditions, because the West places more emphasis on the personal approach to spiritualization.

So there is this evolution of our personal approach to being. First the relationship has a personal feeling of love for and connection with being. At some point there is a feeling of union. And then ultimately, we become an extension of being, an individual expression of beingness. But remember what I said: being is not one thing in particular. We’re exploring it from the perspective of divine love at the moment, so we’re calling it divine being. But that doesn’t mean that every time we relate to or experience ourself as being, well, that’s the way it is, and there is no more to the divine or to being. Because being doesn’t have an end in that way. It doesn’t have a final form.

Being a Person is the Most Difficult of the Essential Aspects to Understand

We can manifest as a person, or as love, joy, or compassion. The person is just one of the essential aspects. Being a person is the most difficult of the essential aspects to understand because we have lived an imitation of it which is the false person, the personality. In being a person, there is a true person, and the true person is what I call the Personal Essence, an expression or manifestation of your true nature. Just like love is an expression of who you are. But if we believe that ultimately we are the person, then we form a false personality. We form boundaries. So the person is not something to be rejected or put down or hated. The person is as precious as love is. The person is the way that who we truly are manifests on earth. Who we truly are cannot live on earth because we are nonphysical and have no form, so for true nature to have a window on creation, it manifests as a person. When you realize the true person, the essential person, then you realize one of the essential aspects. This means that sometimes you are person and sometimes you are not. Just like when you experience your true nature as love, you don’t have to have love all the time. Sometimes there is love, sometimes there is compassion, sometimes there is will. You can’t say, “I have to have love all the time. I have to have will all the time.” The same thing is true of the person: sometimes there is a person, sometimes there isn’t a person. This is also true of the true self. Sometimes there is a true self; sometimes there isn’t a true self, depending on the need because you are the source of all these things. If the true person which is made of consciousness and essence is not being protected, then the true person does not feel itself separated and isolated from other persons. There is a sense of true contact and true concern.

From the Perspective of Essence, the Person is a Pure Aspect of Being

From the perspective of Essence, the person is a Platonic form, a pure aspect of Being. It is as much a definite reality as love, compassion, will, consciousness and awareness. These aspects of Essence are universal, in the sense that all human beings have the capacity to experience and know them. They are like the Jungian archetypes, except that they are states of presence and Being. They are independent of one’s personal mind and its creations. They are experienced the same by all human beings. Love is love, whether one is American or Chinese, man or woman, old or young. This universality is also true of the aspect of the person, the Personal Essence.

The Memory of a Person is Not the Same as a Person

The sense of oneself as a separate individual, which as we have seen depends upon the development of a cohesive self-image, can be seen as composed of memories, and in fact cannot exist without its connection to memories, to personal history. But the memory of a person is not the same as a person. The memory is of something that supposedly existed at some point in the past. This is another reason traditional teachings say that the individual or ego does not exist. A memory exists as an idea, but not as a presence independent of the mind. In other words, the separate individual has no beingness, no substance and no true existence. Our true nature is an existence which is not based on memory or on time at all. Being is eternal and timeless. We are not referring here to what people call “being in the present,” but are pointing out that we are timeless presence, that our nature is not time bound, as ego is. “Timeless” means that the sense of time is irrelevant to our true nature. “Eternal” means that there is no sense of memory or future in it. There is no concept of time, so there is no sense of present time. When the mind is still, there is just presence, just Being, unqualified by ideas or concepts of time or individuality. Thus when we cease to construct entities in the mind, we see that the ego does not exist. We then simply are.

The Personal Essence is Being but Also a Person

The Personal Essence is the true integration of the ideals of both the man of spirit and the man of the world. It is Being, but it is also a person. It is a person that is completely spiritual, made out of spiritual substance, but at the same time living in the world a personal life. He is Being, and he is a human being. He is both the man of spirit and the man of the world. For the one who has integrated the Personal Essence there is no separation between the world and spirit. There is no separation or difference for him between the life of the spirit and the life of the world. He is spirit in the world, living the personal life of a human being. This is clearly a greater development than either living the life of the man of spirit or the life of the man of the world. The complete man lives both, as one integrated life. He can be impersonal spirit and he can be an embodied person. He is the integration of both. He is both as one.

The Personal Essence is the Real Person, the Essential Person

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. The identifications responsible for the sense of individuality are the ones specifically connected to the Personal Essence. Other identifications are associated with other aspects. For instance, the identifications responsible for the sense of self or identity lead to the aspect of the true self, which is not the same as the Personal Essence. It is a sense of identity and not of individuality.

The Thoughts that go Through a Person's Mind are Not Really Accidental

Self-boundaries determine even what one is able to think. While it is true that different impressions stimulate different thoughts in the same person, still these thoughts are pretty much determined by the person’s sense of who he is, that is, his self-image. So the thoughts that go through a person’s mind are not really accidental, chaotic, or disconnected, although they may sometimes appear so. They appear chaotic because a large segment of the self-image is unconscious or preconscious, and thus shapes thoughts and experiences in a way that the conscious mind cannot be aware of. This fact makes it possible for a person, by careful observation of the patterns and trends in his thoughts, to gain much information concerning his sense of identity. We usually think of a positive or negative self-image. Indeed, some boundaries can be seen as “good,” as healthy or useful; others are more obviously limiting or false. But they remain boundaries, whether we call them good or bad. Some boundaries allow more freedom than others, but every individual has specific boundaries which limit his particular experience and action.

The Void, pg. 15

The Uniqueness of Each Person

True nature is the same in all of us, but the way it comes through, the way we integrate it, what we learn from it, and what we become because of it is different for each one of us. Our true nature has so many qualities, so many capacities, so many skills, and so many possibilities, that each person turns out to be a unique manifestation of that ground of reality, that underlying ocean of Being. It is an ocean that has no shores, no beaches. It doesn’t have an end. But it has many waves, and every one of them is a being—and each being is different from every other. What do we need in order to learn about love and eros—divine eros—and about the role of love and wanting and desire? How can we embrace the excitement of life with all its pleasure and enjoyment? We need to experience and express all of these things, and this happens mostly in relationship with other people. You can definitely have an enjoyable experience with your cat or your dog. Many people have wonderful experiences with nature and with animals. But with human beings, relating is more difficult, though the potential is far greater.

We Have Lived an Imitation of the Essential Person

We can manifest as a person, or as love, joy, or compassion. The person is just one of the essential aspects. Being a person is the most difficult of the essential aspects to understand because we have lived an imitation of it, which is the false person, the personality. In being a person, there is a true person, and the true person is what I call the Personal Essence, an expression or manifestation of your true nature. Just like love is an expression of who you are. But if we believe that ultimately we are the person, then we form the false personality. We form boundaries. So the person is not something to be rejected or put down or hated. The person is as precious as love is. The person is the way that who we truly are manifests on Earth.

What a Person Needs to Learn Over and Over Again

Experiencing an essential state affects some people in such a way that the experience deeply transforms their life, shifting their whole orientation and perspective. Whether this happens seems to have to do with expectations the person has, or what the person is already valuing and idealizing. It has to do with the person’s focus. Some people are looking for a certain thing; other people are looking for other things. Also, it depends on the depth of a person’s interest and love for the truth itself. Many people are not interested in the truth. Many people are interested in experiences of security, or simply the pleasure or the comfort of these realizations. In traditional schools, in some of the old schools, people are not allowed to have these experiences because it is seen as a waste. The least that could happen is that it could be a waste. The worst that can happen is an imbalanced development. If we look at understanding from a perspective that will tend naturally and spontaneously to go towards balance and harmony, we find that understanding needs to be motivated by love of the truth for its own sake. The experience, or the beingness, is the experience of the truth. That’s what a person needs to learn over and over again. When you are in a state of being, what you are experiencing is the truth: the truth of who you are. Your experience is not a candy, or a goody, it’s not a reward for being good or for having done your work. No; you are experiencing the fundamental truth, and that needs to be seen, understood, imbibed and absorbed; then action will come from the place of this truth.

When the Person Knows Only the Personality

This leads to an overall desensitization and deadening of the body and its senses and to the narrowing and rigidifying of the mind and its activities. The person who knows only personality is not aware of how insensitive and callous he is. This is because he is not aware of how sensitive and refined he could be. He is not aware of how subtle, delicate, and clear his perceptions and actions could be. From the perspective of essence he is a brute, without sensitivity. The loss of essence, the repression of the subtle organs and capacities, the shutting off and distortion of the subtle and energetic centers, and the overall resulting insensitivity, all lead to a general but devastating loss of perspective. The individual no more knows the point of life, of being, of existence. He no longer knows why he is living, what he is supposed to do, where he is going, let alone who he is. He is in fact completely lost. He can only look at his personality, at the environment that created it, and live according to the standards of his particular society, trying all the time to uphold and strengthen his ego identity. He believes he is not lost because he is always attempting to live up to certain standards of success or performance, trying to actualize the dreams of his personality—yet all the time he is missing the point of it all. It is no more the life of being; it is only the life of the personality, and in its very nature it is false and full of suffering. There is tension, contraction, restriction. There is no freedom to be and to enjoy. The true orientation toward the life of essence, the orientation that will bring about the life of the harmonious human being, is absent or distorted.

When You Realize That You Are Not a Person

As you go about exploring who and what you are, experiencing various qualities of essence, one day you realize that you are not a person at all. You walk around like an automaton, unable to make personal contact with anybody. Everyone seems like an object to you. You can even feel loving and compassionate without feeling like a real human being. Experiencing inner states does not necessarily make you a real human being who interacts with others and who has a human life. Not feeling like a person, you might feel ashamed, terrified of being found out. It’s the last thing you would show anybody. You feel that you’re missing something very basic, that you lack something fundamental. Everyone feels this lack because it is the basic quality of ego, but no one wants to tell anyone else.

You Can be a Person of Being, rather than a Person Based on Ideas and History

That’s the subtle art that needs to happen. When you are an individual, you have a devoted, loving prayerful attitude toward the truth. The moment you become the truth, you need to acknowledge it: “I am the truth. I am the light. I am the true reality. I am here. I exist. I am the ultimate.” If you continue to think of yourself as a person, that will disconnect you from that. However, there is an important exception, which is that you can be a person of being, rather than a person based on ideas and history. This is when essential presence takes on the quality of personhood, but it’s not a separate person now, because the person is an expression of the same substance as being, or divine love. Being this essential person means that you feel you are a wave that is a part of the ocean of love or a cell in the cosmic body. So you are not separate from the substance of the ocean or from the other cells. I will say more about this in the next chapter.

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