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Psychic Structure

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Psychic Structure?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Psychic Structure

An Object Relation is a Psychic Structure

An object relation is a psychic structure consisting of a self-image, an image of the other, and the feeling that connects them. These units, established early in life, are the building blocks of the ego and the psychic determinants of most personality patterns.

Boundaries in the Mind Space are What Constitute Psychic Structure

We have seen so far that awareness of the self-image brings about the experience of space, or of the mind as openness. In other words, dissolution of boundaries imposed by the self frees space. It literally expands the mind. Understanding this dynamic relation between self-image and space, we can theorize about the development of psychic structure: The development of the self-image simply represents a gradual building and structuralization of boundaries in the mind space. Here we see the relationship between mind as content and mind as ground. Space is mind as ground. Mind as content is a result of boundaries in this space. In fact, these boundaries are the mind as content, are what constitutes the psychic structure. The neonate is born with no boundaries in its mind space, i.e., with no psychic structure. Its mind is just space, openness with no boundaries, physical or mental. This assumption is consistent with the notion of the undifferentiated matrix in object relations theory (Hartmann), with some difference: The absence of boundaries in the neonatal matrix is usually considered a state of nondifferentiation, whereas our perspective sees the matrix as the lack of boundaries.

The Void, pg. 33

Psychic Structure Seen as Structuralized Space

Given our understanding of mind as space, we can see then that the separation-individuation process that Mahler speaks of not only builds the psychic structure and gives the individual his sense of identity, but more fundamentally, it accomplishes this by erecting boundaries and fixing them in space. In other words, the process of ego development is a process of bounding space, of building static boundaries in the openness of the mind. It is the carving of structure out of space, and the resulting psychic structure then is simply a structuralized space. This explains very clearly why when self-boundaries are dissolved, space appears. What happens is that the structuralization is dissolved, the boundaries are “melted.” When the structure is melted, the nature of the mind with no structure is revealed, and this is space.

The Void, pg. 35

Representation of Psychic Structure

We have tried to clarify the difference by understanding psychic structure as a structuralization of the substrate of the self by the imprint of a representation. The relationship between a structure and a representation that gives it its particular characteristics is like the relationship between a sculpture and the form of the sculpture, or between a building and its blueprints... In this way, the structure and the representation are inseparable, although they are not identical.

Spiritual States, in General, Require Disidentification from Psychic Structures, Normal or Neurotic

It is our understanding that spiritual states, in general, require disidentification from psychic structures, normal or neurotic, and that self-realization, in particular, means the absence of these structures, at least in the duration of the experience, as we have discussed in very specific details. Full self-realization—enlightenment—requires the complete and final dissolution of all psychic structures. There cannot be neurotic manifestations in full self-realization, because any neurotic manifestation must be the expression of some psychic structures, which, by their representational nature, will limit the realization. So what is called a “sick guru” must be an individual who is spiritually developed but not fully realized or enlightened. This understanding, besides illuminating the nature of spiritual realization and protecting its purity, may help us to see the imperfections in a spiritual teacher’s realization without having to rationalize them away or to devalue him or her completely. This way, we may retain the objectivity that we need to help us appreciate what we can learn from a particular teacher and what we cannot. The situation of spirituality in the world is not such that we need a fully realized and enlightened master—a Buddha, a Lao Tzu, or a Christ—for us to receive guidance in our spiritual quest. The situation is not unlike others, in most fields, where we find teachers of various degrees of competence and maturity, and the student needs to find the ones who can help him or her best.

Structuralization of Consciousness Under the Impact of Images

Psychic structure can be seen, then, simply as the structuralization of the substrate or consciousness, the ground of experience of the self, under the impact or imprint of the organized systems of images. Image is a content of organized memory, but structures the substrate of the self in the present.

The Personality is a Psychic Structure Based on the Process of Identification

As we have seen, the personality is a certain structure, more or less rigid, that organizes our experience under the aegis of a sense of identity. This psychic structure is based on the process of identification. When a person believes he is an angry person, he is identified with anger. He cannot see himself as separate from the anger. The personality is nothing but a particular organization of very basic identifications of early childhood, or as Freud puts it, “The ego is formed to a great extent out of identifications which take the place of abandoned cathexes by the id.” Essence, on the contrary, has nothing to do with identification. It exists purely as itself. There is no identification with past experience or any self-image at all. In fact, its presence is concomitant to the absence of identification with any self-image or psychic structure. When we are identified with a self-image we acquired in the past, we are not being our true nature. This means that for the realization of essence the first step is to disidentify, to see that we are not whatever self-image (self-representation) we have, that we are not whatever content we find, physical, emotional, or mental. This loosening of identification will loosen the rigid structure of the personality. More space will be created within us.

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