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Personal Essence

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Personal Essence?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Personal Essence

A Radical Expansion and Individuation of Autonomous Functioning

In general, the presence of the Personal Essence brings about a radical expansion and individuation of autonomous functioning, indicating the greater development and integration of the apparatuses of autonomy. Its realization brings about an increasingly radical movement towards autonomy and individuation, leading to greater actualization of one’s potential. One becomes more creative, more productive, more original and more fulfilled in personal involvements. Accomplishments and developments manifest externally in one’s work and in personal relationships. One begins to become clear about one’s place in the scheme of things, more definite about roles and functions. The meaning and purpose of one’s life become clear, definite and actualized. One’s potentials develop and expand in a meaningful way, in accordance with one’s real aims. A sense of confidence in one’s capacities develops speedily, along with a certainty about who or what one is. One increasingly values one’s real presence, and the capacities and manifestations of this presence. The confidence, certainty, and value are not mental or emotional, but are more in the nature of a recognition of facts.

As Being, One is Beyond Life and Death

When one is the Personal Essence then one is a person supported by, and is an expression and extension of, Pure Being. When one is Pure Being then only nondifferentiated Pure Being is. In the world of differentiation Being exists as the essential person. There is no human life, nor any life at all, when there is no differentiation. As Being, one is beyond life and death, form and formlessness.

Being a Person Independent of Ego

The Personal Essence, in contrast, is the sense of being a person independent of ego structures. It is the awareness of presence qualified by personhood. This sense of personhood is independent of one’s personal history; it is a direct recognition of a pure form of Being. This form of Being feels personal, and gives the self the capacity for immediate personal contact. It is an individuated experience of presence, arising from the unique development of the self into a person with essential qualities that provide the self with various capacities, skills, and talents. It is the integration of the development of the self on the essential dimension. The Personal Essence, then, is the essential counterpart to the sense of individuality that Mahler describes as being established through ego development.

Birth of the True Personal Essence

Who we truly are, our personal beingness is born in a bed of tenderness, kindness, and value. When the true Personal Essence is born, it is born in a golden cradle covered with a sheet of green.

Change and Transformation of the Personal Essence

The next step in essential realization is the shift of identity from ego to Being. This is a long and arduous process and, in some sense, much more difficult than anything before it. It deals with the deeper, more subtle and more fundamental identification systems, mostly ones that have been ego syntonic until this point. In this process the Personal Essence goes through a change and transformation, a development. So the development of the Personal Essence is not a matter of its being experienced more of the time or more fully; it is rather that the Personal Essence itself goes through a transformation. It grows and develops, attains more qualities, more capacities and wider ranges of experience. It is like the body, which matures and actualizes its potential as it grows. The Personal Essence develops and matures as more experiences are metabolized. The metabolism can be seen, from the inner point of view, as the experiences of essential realization themselves. All aspects go through a process in which they become more closely integrated in the individual consciousness into the Personal Essence.

Development that is Equivalent to the Integration of All the Dimensions of Reality

From the vantage point of each dimension of Being, the more differentiated dimensions appear to be less real. Each dimension both includes the more differentiated dimensions and transcends them. This is experienced from the first dimension of Essence, going through its various levels, to the dimension of the Supreme Reality, and then to that of the Transcendent Absolute. However, all these dimensions make up the true potential of the human being. The human being is incomplete if he identifies with one dimension, regardless of how “high,” to the exclusion of others. The complete man is the integration of all dimensions of reality. We will see in subsequent chapters that this integration is possible only with the Personal Essence. We will see that the Personal Essence undergoes a development which is equivalent to the integration of all dimensions of reality. It is still not the highest experience; nevertheless, it is the highest development. One who has integrated the Personal Essence completely is able to experience any dimension of reality, depending on the requirement of the moment. One who is identified with a particular dimension may be realized on the Being level, but is still not complete in his development, for he is unable to move to different dimensions.

Integration of Essential Aspects into the Personal Essence

Integration: The feeling of the Personal Essence is a sense of being integrated, together, whole and complete. So its presence is itself experienced as an integration. From the understanding we have developed so far, it is clear it is the integration of all that the individual has experienced and learned. At the beginning, as we have described, it is a definite sense of a personal presence that feels whole, balanced and able to make contact. Then this personal presence is seen to integrate into itself the other aspects of Essence. At the beginning these aspects of Essence, such as love, compassion, clarity, understanding, intelligence, will, joy, pleasure, empathy, truth, intuition, strength and many others, exist as Platonic forms, as absolute aspects of true existence. After the Personal Essence is realized, they become integrated into it through a process of absorption, in which they become personalized. They continue to exist in their original forms, but now they also exist in another form, as a part of the very substance of the Personal Essence. We will discuss this process in more detail in the section on the development of Essence. The Personal Essence, then, becomes the integration of all aspects and dimensions of Being, and is clearly experienced as the integration of one’s experience and learning. It is not only an integration, but it is also a capacity for integration. The fact that it is an integration gives it this capacity. This is like the function of crystals. If one drops a small crystalline structure in an appropriate chemical solution it acts as a kind of seed, starting a process of crystallization, replicating itself. The Personal Essence is the presence of an integrating consciousness which brings about more integration like itself, and into itself.

It is Possible to Experience Egoless Beingness

Thus it is possible to experience egoless beingness, to be, as a substantial presence that is not a mental construct, and still live a human, personal life, in which love, work, knowledge, creativity and accomplishment make sense, a human sense. This true existence, this presence, this being beyond time that makes sense of human and personal life, is the Personal Essence. It is the reality of which ego is only a reflection. It is the truly integrated and developed human being. This is the beautiful presence that the traditional literature of work schools calls the “pearl beyond price.” The experience of universal impersonality of ultimate reality occurs when the separate individuality is transcended, when the separate individuality is seen not to be our true self. But this is the result of transcending the personality in its totality. Something different happens when we investigate the personality’s manifestations in more detail, exploring the hidden essential truth within it. The ego is a reflection of this true element of Being, the Personal Essence, and exploring the characteristics of the reflection can lead us to the reality being reflected. By isolating and understanding the elements of the false, we can begin to approach the elements of the real.

Primary Characteristics of the Personal Essence

The Personal Essence has four primary characteristics: autonomy, beingness, personalness and contact. Investigating these characteristics will allow us to contrast the Personal Essence with the personality of the ego and also with the impersonal essence or Being. In the process of essential development, exploring these four characteristics can precipitate the experience of personal Being. As our case histories will show (and as is discussed at length in our book The Void), these characteristics usually announce themselves to one’s consciousness through an acute feeling of their absence or lack in one’s sense of self or in one’s personal life. By following the thread of the quality that one feels is missing, given the right circumstances and the right guidance, one comes to experience the missing element, and then to recognize it as a characteristic of one’s sense of Being. Encountering this experience of personal Being, we have a precious, peaceful sense of self-recognition, sometimes of “coming home.” However, the experience is not generally permanent, and students usually must repeatedly experience this sense of Being, each time exploring a different characteristic, until the sense of Being is a permanent attainment.

Resistance Against the Full Presence of the Personal Essence

One’s ego boundaries are so much a part of ordinary perception that one never questions them; the sense of oneself as a separate entity is taken to be an objective and absolutely necessary characteristic of being a living human being. However, the ever-expanding development of the Personal Essence gradually puts pressure, by the mere fact of its presence, on the sense of being an ego individual, exposing the ego individuality as unreal. Ignorance of this fundamental difference between Essence and ego in terms of the sense of being a person creates a subtle contraction in the psychophysical apparatus that becomes increasingly obvious as one becomes more familiar with the Personal Essence, This contraction becomes a pressure, a resistance or a sense of constriction against the full presence of the Personal Essence. The lack of clarity causes a confusion in one’s mind between the Personal Essence and the ego individuality; one sometimes takes one for the other. One typically attributes to the Personal Essence characteristics that do not belong to it, but to the ego individuality. Eventually one realizes that he has been attributing to the Personal Essence a sense of boundaries, which separate him from others and from the whole environment. It gradually dawns on him that the Personal Essence has no sense of boundaries at all, no sense of separateness whatsoever; and that the separateness one attributed to it belongs to the ego individuality. One starts to see that there has always been a subtle identification with the sense of separateness with respect to being a person.

The Capacity for Personal Contact

The personal element is most palpably discerned in human contact. The ability to make contact with another person is the hallmark of the Personal Essence. Only the Personal Essence has the capacity to make such contact; in fact it is the capacity for personal contact. Neither the ego with its intrapsychic structures, nor the nonconceptual state of Being with its impersonality, has this capacity, a distinguishing characteristic of being human. The ego cannot truly make contact, because of these characteristics which we have noted:
1. It is based on identity with self-image or images . . . . .
2. Interactions of the ego are basically the reenactments of past object relations . . . .
3. The other person is seen either as an image, one pole of a past object relation, or through a structure of images . . . .
4. The individuality of ego has a sense of separateness that is based on the building of self-boundaries.

The Essential Self is the True Source of the True Person

The development of the Personal Essence can be considered an outgrowth, a development, from the Essential Self. It is as if the Essential Self becomes filled out through the metabolism of personal experience. The understanding of the relationship between the Personal Essence and Essential Self is a certain realization in the process of inner realization, which occurs in its deepest stages. The relationship is seen as that of love and value, as the true and essential object relation. The Personal Essence is the true person, and the Essential Self is his true source. One experiences oneself as an alive and sensuous fullness, as the expression of the love, joy, pleasure, appreciation and light of the Self. One is Being but fully grounded in the world.

The Fullness of the Personal Essence

The Personal Essence fullness is the presence of consciousness in a unique sensation of firmness, strength, smoothness, dense fluidity and flexibility. One experiences oneself as a full and rounded presence, like a firm, strong and well-developed muscle, vibrant with robust life and sensuous pleasure. One is truly full for one is the consciousness of fullness itself. There is no deficiency or lack. One is the sensuousness, the smoothness, the firmness, the robustness, the aliveness, which are not characteristics of some object, but are the actual constituents of the beingness and substance of the Personal Essence itself.



The Natural and Spontaneous Outcome of the Development of the Personal Essence

The presence of the Personal Essence makes it possible to have direct contact with present-centered experience, to be present, open and vulnerable to experience. This capacity, aided by the operation of the objective understanding of the Diamond Guidance, makes it possible to absorb present experience readily. One’s life becomes the metabolism of the interaction of the essential aspects with the environment. This continuing and ever-expanding integration is the process of development of the Personal Essence. This ever-deepening and expanding individuation and maturity leads ultimately to the nonpersonal realms of Being, like those of Cosmic Consciousness, Nonconceptual Reality and Absolute Truth; this is the natural and spontaneous outcome of the development of the Personal Essence. It is part of the human potential, and if the process of maturation is proceeding in its correct path, then it is bound to occur. The presence of the Personal Essence is a sense of Being, of experiencing “I am.” There is presence without resistance. So it is bound to go deeper into more expanded realms of Being.

The Personal Essence is Experienced as One's Nature but Also as a Person

All aspects of Essence, both differentiated and nondifferentiated states of Being, are generally experienced as one’s true nature; this is because they are all recognized as the intrinsic existence and presence of one’s Being. The Personal Essence is experienced as such, as one’s own nature and Being, but it is also experienced as a person. One experiences oneself as a Human Being. The sense or perception of being a person, here, is not a feeling about oneself, nor a thought or idea about oneself. It is not an inference from looking at one’s body or one’s behavior. It is not a reference from past perceptions, taken as a continuity in time. It is not an image in the mind. It is not a conclusion, mental or emotional, that results from an image in one’s mind. It is not a feeling, thought or concept about oneself that results from memory or from interaction with the environment. The experience of the Personal Essence is independent from memories. This is because the Personal Essence, with its sense of being a person, is neither an image nor a feeling dependent on an image. It is independent from the mind and its structures, and hence it is independent from the memories of one’s personal history. It is direct perceptual recognition of a state of Being, in the here and now. It is direct and immediate knowing of one’s true personhood, that is inseparable from being the person. This kind of knowing is characteristic of Being in general. The usual kind of knowing is through inference. The knowing of Being is by identity. One knows oneself because one is oneself. It is knowing by being what is known. So it is an immediate, direct, and existential knowing, in which there is no duality of subject and object.

The Prototype for Integration

By contrast, the Personal Essence is the prototype for integration. It provides the soul with the capacity to integrate into a unified whole various elements of its reality. It brings the capacity for integration to whatever sphere of functioning we are considering—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and so on. This is because the Personal Essence is the integration of all essential aspects. Similarly, Brilliancy gives the capacity for synthesis because it is the synthesis of all essential aspects. It is the underlying unity. Brilliancy is in some sense the source of all aspects and qualities. It is the presence of the aspects before differentiation. Its synthesis is primal and not created, spontaneously existing as the complete synthesis and unity of all aspects and qualities of Being. It is similar to white light, in the sense that all the aspects are like the differentiated colors that we see when we pass white light through a prism.

Brilliancy, pg. 43

The Realization of the Personal Essence Requires the Realization of the Merging Essence

We can say then that the Merging Essence is in a sense the “inner mother.” In fact, all students in the process of inner realization relate to it as if it were their good mother. One of the main issues to be worked through is that of associating it with one’s mother. It is an independent aspect of Essence, a Platonic form. It has its own perspective, or rather, one can see all of reality from its vantage point. One can see the whole process of human development as the ever-increasing merging with one’s Being, as more and more boundaries are dissolved. Many associated issues and conflicts must be resolved for it to be completely realized. We are discussing it briefly only to understand its relevance to the realization of the Personal Essence. The reason the realization of the Personal Essence requires the realization of the Merging Essence is that the realization of the Personal Essence is experienced as a profound autonomy implying a radical separation from mother, which seems to threaten the loss of the capacity for inner soothing and regulation. So the ego hardens its defenses and identifications against the experience of the Personal Essence. However, when the Merging Essence is realized, the ego experiences the presence of all the soothing and comforting it feels it needs, and this disposes it to further surrender its defenses. However, this must not be taken to imply that one realizes the Merging Essence first and then the Personal Essence. The process is not so linear. The aspects become realized gradually together.

The True Birth of the Human Being

This brings us to the concept of rebirth in relation to the Personal Essence. Rebirth is a recurrent theme in the literature of inner transformation. Inner transformation is primarily a death and rebirth, the death of an old identity and the birth of a new one, on a deeper level of reality. While we can see the realization of each essential aspect as a process of death and rebirth, it is the discovery of the Personal Essence which is actually felt by many students as the birth of who they are. It is the true birth of the Human Being, and is recognized as such by the experiencer himself. If the development of the separate individuality of ego is the psychological birth of the individual, then the realization of the Personal Essence is his essential birth. The death, of course, in this process of rebirth, is the abandoning of ego identifications. In this sense the “birth” of the Personal Essence is fundamentally different from the birth of the ego, which is not preceded by a death but arises out of a state of nondifferentiation. There is no conscious identity preceding ego identity which needs to be dissolved to allow the birth of the ego. However, the birth of ego does mean the loss of contact with Being, as we will see later.

The Way Being Becomes Functional in the World

This indicates that the process of cathecting the body (and its world), if it continues to its completion, will result in the development of the Personal Essence. The Personal Essence contains all the true learning of the individuality of ego. The Personal Essence is the essential aspect that embodies the wisdom of living in the world. When the Personal Essence is developed, however, the identity is no longer connected exclusively with the body. The body is recognized for what it is: the external and physical manifestation of the Personal Essence. Thus the process that ultimately leads to the realization of the Personal Essence begins with self-realization in childhood; i.e., with the Essential Self, and ends with the Personal Essence, the essential person. Between these essential poles, the ego development makes up the rest of the process. In this way, Being acquires the wisdom of the world. It can now live in the world, although it is fundamentally not “of” it. Thus the realization of the Personal Essence can be understood to be the way that Being learns to be in the world. The Personal Essence is the aspect of Being that embodies the wisdom of the world. We have discussed the Personal Essence as the aspect of Being connected with functioning. We have seen it as an integration of the functions of primary autonomy, on the Being level. So the development of the Personal Essence is the way Being becomes functional in the world.

True Individual Autonomy

The Personal Essence is the personal experience of Being, and is therefore the true individual autonomy, undetermined by anything except one's true and essential nature.

True Integration of the Man of Spirit and the Man of the World

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.

Understanding What Object Love is on the Essential Level

We can understand what object love is on the essential level when we remember that ego development is a prelude to the realization of the Personal Essence. So essential (real) object love can be realized when we understand the relation between the Personal Essence and this aspect of Love. What happens is that when the Personal Essence is present with the Love one feels not only Love, but personal Love. This is the real object love, except that with the Personal Essence this capacity is not restricted or conditioned by one’s particular ego structure. Since the Personal Essence is independent of past object relations, it actualizes the capacity for personal love that is free from the past. The person who has developed the Personal Essence experiences personal love not according to his experience of the past, but. according to the objective requirements of the particular situation. So he can experience it towards any living being, in any situation, if that is what is objectively needed. The state of Love, which was not personal in early childhood, now has the added dimension of the personal element. So it is certainly a development, a gain.

Your Unique Work in This Life

So the Personal Essence is connected with your unique function, your unique work in this life. To actualize your particular unique work in this life means to be your Personal Essence. It is the Essence of all that you have developed and integrated in your soul as you live a real life. Everyone is born with the true self, with the point. Although we feel that the point is unique in each of us, the quality of the point is universal. Then how do people become so different in their personal lives? This is due to the particular development of their Personal Essence. Your unique contribution, your unique personal actualization of yourself, your unique understanding, your unique work, and your unique style of life all have to do with the Personal Essence. The Personal Essence is the person, actualized in his or her life, while the essential self -- the point -- is beyond this life and, in a sense does not need a body. It is always the same; it never changes.

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