Main Pages

By Region




Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Possessions?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Possessions

Being Truly Poor

If you give up that longing for the good object then you are truly poor. If you are truly poor then you live in sacredness. If you are truly poor you won’t feel it is not worth it or it is worth it. None of that exists. You don’t give up out of hopelessness. You give up because you know that is the way. No one can do it any other way. It's the objective truth, and you see it. Along the way you fight, you get mad, you disbelieve your teachers, you misinterpret the teachings, and so on. At this juncture of the inner journey many people begin to doubt the teacher and teachings; in reality, they simply don't want to let go. So they may think that when it comes to this point the teacher is possibly not right. That is one of the last doubts. In reality, unconsciously we are asserting: “I prefer mommy over God.” We pretend that we want God, but what we really want is mommy.

Can Your Mind Empty Itself of All Your Possessions?

Can we let this inquiry deepen in us, in our hearts, in our bellies, in our being? Can we let our being be a question mark, a yearning? It is a motiveless search, a search that does not depend on any ideas about going somewhere. There is no goal in sight, so it becomes a flame that continues to burn and deepen with time. Don’t cover it up, put it out, or let it go; just let it be. Let it consume you. Let it burn away all your ideas and beliefs about how things should be. Let it burn away all your concepts about good and bad. Let that inquiry deepen and expand, so that you can forget. Let go of all you have learned . . . for a while at least. Can you exist as an inquiry, an inquiry into the truth? Are you here just to live, work, eat, love, hate, have children, and die? Can you let go of what you believe you have? Can your mind empty itself of all your possessions, beliefs, theories, knowledge, understanding, and simply remain as a search, a pure inquiry not influenced by anyone or anything, even your own past? Even if you felt love and freedom and relaxation and so on in the past, what makes you think these things are what you need at this moment? The insights you had in the past might have been right, but how do you know they are what you need now and in the future? In order to find out, all you can do is let them go. Can you remain completely ignorant, unknowing; can you let your mind go, not impose anything on your mind, and at the same time not go dead, not become unconscious? Can we rid ourselves of all influences, of the influences of others’ ideas and of our own past, and remain in the now, as an inquiry? You can observe that every time someone says something that sounds true, or every time you have an insight, you say, “Oh, wonderful, that must be it.” You want to put out the flame. You want the first answer that comes to silence the questioning.

Havingness is a Psychological Attitude

In any case, this is not the meaning of being poor in spirit. Being physically poor does not necessarily lead to spiritual poverty; otherwise, all the poor people in the world would be saints. Havingness is not only about physical possessions. It is a psychological attitude, and the nature of the object is not what matters. We can have literary or artistic accomplishments, opinions, judgments, ideas, preferences, feelings, states, experiences, also family, friends, acquaintances, activities, interests, hobbies, and so on. All these can and do become objects of havingness. We are all rich with these things, even the materially poor among us. It is true that abundance of physical possessions tends to predispose us to an extreme attitude of havingness, but the tendency towards havingness is not fundamentally connected to the physical. Thus, the way of poverty includes nonattachment to all levels of inner possessions too. We can experience all the rich phenomena of our human, essential, and spiritual lives, and we can learn not to be attached to them, not to need them for our sense of self and value.

Possessions Lead to Possesiveness

However, having possessions naturally tends to become possessiveness, an important support for the sense of self, which is ultimately false. The more a person is selfish or egoistic and the less he is in touch with deeper reality, the more it is important for him to have things. Havingness is important for ego; having things gives us the illusory sense of safety without which the ego-self cannot live. Having things makes us feel protected, secure, more permanent, successful, important, and so on. Just knowing we have things—we don't even have to see or use them—gives this sense of security and permanence. It gives us a sense that we can fall back on them. Having things gives us a deep feeling of support that connects with the preservation instinct. The havingness, the possessiveness, doesn't only manifest on the physical level, but extends to the mental and emotional levels, even the spiritual level. When people begin doing inner work, they come with the same attitude of possessiveness, wanting to have things and accomplish things that enhance the sense of self. They simply swap material objects for spiritual objects and are basically still functioning in the mode of possessiveness. The desired objects become experiences and insights, grace and realization.

The Poverty that Brings Complete Freedom

If you have deficiency, you are still rich. Poverty is complete freedom. Poverty ultimately becomes completely pure, completely empty. This turns out to be the absolute state, the state of having absolutely nothing. Nothing is yours; you are beyond everything. The clothes are not yours, the feelings, the body, essence, God—nothing is yours. When you have nothing and you are absolutely poor, then you go beyond it all. But then you can have it all, since you don't need it anymore. So, ultimately, the letting go is of the center that possesses. If the center that possesses is gone, then there is no you that has something, then you experience everything. Possession involves an entity that restricts you in space and time. If you have an experience or a state or a possession, then you must exist somewhere in space and time, which is a limitation. By being rich you define yourself and make yourself exist in a limited way: “I am here now and I have something.” And when you have nothing, completely, absolutely, then you are not in any place or in any time. If you are not in any space or any time, you are not a local phenomenon. You have all space and all time available to you. You are then an openness, a nothingness that has everything with no barrier.

There is No Inherent Conflict Between Loving Truth and Loving Other Things

Most spiritual literature takes the position that there is a conflict between loving the truth and loving the world in the form of possessions, pleasure, comfort, fame, and so on. This is an important truth, but in fact, there is no inherent conflict between loving truth and loving other things. The literature refers to the fact that most spiritual aspirants experience a big struggle when they recognize that not only do they live in the world and interact with the various things within it, but they also love all these things of the world. At some point, that love of worldly things can become a barrier to loving the truth. This happens when you want to preserve your possession of or connection to the things of the world at the expense of recognizing the truth. That’s when you experience the truth and the objects of the world as competing for your love. You don’t have to go very far to see this conflict. When you’re a parent, for example, it is very difficult to see the truth about your relationship with your children because you are afraid the truth is going to disrupt that relationship. You’re afraid of losing what you have. So to love truth requires that you recognize that truth is your primary love.

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.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach