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Personal Mind

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Personal Mind?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Personal Mind

Essential Aspects are Independent of the Personal Mind

In our work here one way we address this vicious circle of reification and reactivity is to work on the qualities of the soul, the essential aspects. So far we have talked about the noetic forms of manifestation on the level of physical reality. Another realm of discriminated manifestation which exists independent of personal concepts is the realm of noetic forms which we call essential aspects. The aspects are universal concepts in that their form of manifestation is independent of the personal mind of the person who experiences them. For example, when you experience essential Compassion, and I experience essential Compassion, we experience the same thing. To say that the form is the same is not to say that you and I might not call it something different. But the quality itself is the same thing. It is not dependent on what I know from the past. It is not dependent on my personal mind. Compassion truly, objectively exists, independent of my personal historical mind. That is what Essence is. When we experience Essence as Value, someone who does not know about the realm of Essence might say, “But that’s your subjective experience.” However, Essence is not simply a subjective experience; it is an actual, specific, discriminated presence in the soul. It exists on a level more fundamental than, for example, my idea of myself as a little kid who is hurt. This self-image affects how I see myself, how I feel emotionally and how I react, but it does not exist on the level of presence. It is not an experience of my actual state at the present moment. It’s an idea in my mind. But if I experience myself as Value right now, that means that right now I am actually valuable. And the presence of Value is as palpable, as substantial, as anything physical.

Internal Experiences are Limited

At some point, we need to begin to see things more objectively. We need to question our assumptions about inside and outside. We need to wake up at a more fundamental level. We need to stop running after the illusion that truth is inside, and start waking up to the objective truth that is everywhere. For a long time, for many levels and dimensions, the Work of the truth has to do with experiencing things within you—Essence, essential aspects, spiritual experiences that are transforming, exciting, intriguing, and fulfilling. These experiences can bring a lot of excitement and joy into your life, which is very good. If we allow this process to continue, and if we are truly interested in the truth, whatever the truth is, it won’t stop there. Unfoldment won’t just stop at any realization that remains internal, because internal experiences are limited. They take place within the mind, as part of your knowledge. Thus your experience remains governed by the perspective of personal mind, rather than by the perspective of the truth. So even though our inner experience might become more full and rich, without the perspective we are working on now, the world we look upon, our reality, will remain plain, ordinary, drab. We look around and see people, the sky, the trees, the cars, the street, and we feel, “I’ve known this for years and years. This is not the spiritual world. This is not what I want.”

Questioning the Content of the Personal Mind

Mental concepts can be more or less aligned with true noetic forms. As you know, the process of becoming objective in our perception of ourselves and the truth of reality is a long and arduous one. It involves an orientation toward truth and objectivity, in which we consistently question the content of the personal mind with its beliefs and reactions, and attempt to see what is actually true and real in our experience. This process involves not assuming that we know the truth, which supports our experience of space and openness. The process continues into the realm of nonconceptual reality, in which the concepts of personal mind no longer determine what we perceive. Here we see the significance of our work on essential aspects: we are working with a knowledge of discriminated reality in realms independent of the personal mind. This work eventually brings us to the realm of the Universal Mind, or what the Greek philosophers called the Nous. At the level of the Nous concepts are more fundamental than ideas in the mind. Awareness of concepts at this level makes it possible for us to communicate and function without relying on the content of personal mind.

The Nous is a Pure Perception of What is There

The personal mind includes our own perceptions and beliefs, evaluations, judgments, preferences, reactions, and philosophizing based on perceptions that originate from the Universal Mind. These beliefs, evaluations, and stories are generally based on our personal history. The personal mind, as we have seen, developed in time with the growth of our organism, and carries the past with it. The Nous does not depend on the past. It does not depend on time because it is a pure perception of what is there. If you see people sitting in a room, you might not call them people, but you definitely know they are there, and you are probably aware that the people and what they are sitting on are not the same thing. So you might not call the different things the same names, but you know there is a difference, unless your senses are flawed in some way. And even if your discrimination accurately reflects the forms of the chair and the person, your personal mind is certain to evaluate—to say, for instance, that the person is more important than the chair. That evaluation is the personal mind. The fact that we can tell the person and the chair apart is a function of the Universal Mind.

The Personal Mind is Based on the Nous

The personal mind is based on the Nous; it couldn’t exist without it. It is based on the actual differentiations and the objective concepts or forms that appear in the Nous, but distorts these forms, reifies them, and renders them opaque. And the distance between the content of the personal mind and reality is further increased and maintained by judgments, reactions, and preferences, which lead to emotional reactions. “I like this, I hate this. This makes me jealous. This makes me uncomfortable. This makes me comfortable.” As we have seen, the origin of these evaluations is the differentiation between pleasure and pain. Then we build on that differentiation: “This is good, this is bad. I like this, I don’t like that.” This pattern develops into the whole story of the personal mind, and can include enormous elaborations about right and wrong—whole philosophies developing out of our personal perspectives. The personal mind focuses on certain segments of the Nous and takes these to be the totality of reality. Mostly, it focuses on the physical universe. We have seen how the nature of childhood development tends to lead to this orientation. Because of this physical orientation, the personal mind normally is not grounded in the essential dimensions. It is based on and prejudiced towards the most concrete and localized level of Nous, rather than the dimensions which include more refined awareness. The personal mind perceives mostly from the perspective of the pleasures and pains of the body, even when it is affected by Essence. The self-images that determine ego reactions and feelings, even perceptions, are based on identification with the body. Thus the personal mind doesn’t attend to deeper elements at subtler levels of the Nous or Universal Mind, such as Essence and Beingness.

The Personal Mind is Not What Exists in Reality

The personal mind or the realm of personality is not what actually exists in reality. The content of the personal mind is determined by one’s particular history and conditioning, including all kinds of cultural forms and values in addition to concepts formed by one’s individual situation. The process of constructing and reifying concepts leads us to perceive the world and even ourselves through – actually as – these concepts in the mind. In addition, the personal mind contains evaluations of all this content: judgments, emotional associations, preferences, and reactions.

Through the Work the Soul Can Become Free of the Personal Mind

So through the Work the soul can become free from the personal mind. The work for the soul is to go through the personal mind, which we have been looking at as object relations, images, reactions, patterns, and beliefs, as well as ideas, dreams, and identifications. In our Work the soul can become aware of the specific details of the personal mind, with the prejudices and the beliefs it has adopted, and discover that the soul’s reality does not have to be determined by that historical mind. The real concepts—the noetic forms of the essential aspects—correct the distortions. Thus, the more we experience the realm of Essence and integrate it, the more the personal mind is corrected through being influenced by the perceptions of the Nous, objective knowledge about how reality is and how it actually functions. This process is what I call the clarification and development of the soul. The soul is then governed not by the personal mind, but according to the Nous. We begin to live our lives according to the truth of Essence and the truth we experience in the Work, not according to what we learned from our conditioned existence. The more we see the Nous and allow it to function, or allow ourselves to see that it operates, the more we experience a sense of harmony, beauty, love, and all the essential qualities. We then experience an expansive sense of release, a lack of constriction. Constriction comes from trying to oppose the Nous, from believing that we are separate and independent from it, and from operating according to beliefs that have nothing to do with what actually exists.

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