Main Pages

By Region



Psychodynamic Issues

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Psychodynamic Issues?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Psychodynamic Issues

All Psychodynamic Issues are Based on Concepts

I have discussed before that there are two complementary approaches in our work, the psychodynamic and the phenomenological. Psychodynamic work deals with personal issues that are generally determined by conditioned patterns from early childhood. The phenomenological approach involves exploration of perception and cognition. This means confronting and seeing through limitations on our awareness that are not dependent on personal issues. The phenomenological barriers ultimately reduce to the barrier of making reality mental, taking concepts to be truth, to be reality. All phenomenological issues finally dissolve into a consideration of conceptual reality. Psychodynamic issues, the personal patterns, are based upon images, memories, and events (and constellations of these) but each image, memory, or event is based on words or concepts. All psychodynamic issues are based on concepts; so if you have an issue of difficulty in separating from your mother, we can deal with that psychodynamically in terms of what actually happened between you and your mother. But that issue is not determined only by what happened between you and your mother; more fundamentally, it is based on the fact that in your mind there is such a category as separation. The concept of separation has to be there before there can be any issue about separation from mother. And the concept of separation implies the concept of mother and the concept of self. The whole issue of separation would not exist if there were no concepts. All psychodynamic issues ultimately are based on concepts, and so finally reduce to phenomenological considerations, which ultimately reduce to the question of the conceptual mind. So the ultimate or most direct method of work is phenomenologically working through concepts. 

Barriers and Limitations Due to Past Experience and Its Repression

These are the barriers and limitations due to past experience and its repression. Conditioning is the result of impressions from the past, and tends to remain outside of consciousness, functioning automatically. Exploring psychodynamic issues reveals to the soul how many of its experiences, attitudes, and actions are influenced by unconscious conflicts, beliefs, and feelings. When one inquires into them, they reveal the related unconscious material. The soul then might recall various events in her early experience, including traumas and abuses, wounds and rejections, intolerable conflicts and deprivations. Sigmund Freud discovered that the human individual manages to develop in spite of early intolerable difficulties by avoiding awareness of them through various methods of repression. This repressed material does not disappear but remains hidden in what he termed the unconscious, exerting a powerful force on conscious experience, actions, and dreams. One of the momentous discoveries of modern psychology, this made it possible to engage in therapeutic psychodynamic work, which is the retracing of conflictual and painful manifestations and symptoms to their unconscious roots, and then releasing the early conditioning. The ancient wisdom traditions did not have this understanding; hence their psychologies and methods could not and did not deal with this level of barriers to the soul’s liberation and realization.

Difficulties Connected with Psychodynamic Issues

These difficulties are usually considered a natural part of the spiritual journey, which will pass in time if one perseveres in his practice. If we observe closely, however, we will see that these difficulties are actually produced by his spiritual experience. They are usually connected with psychodynamic issues or structural conflicts and disharmonies that result from the fact that experiencing essential presence has taken his experience beyond some of his psychic structure and its object relations.

Our Own Psychodynamic Issues Create Veils About Union and Our Movement Toward It

Each of us has our own psychodynamic issues that will create veils about union and our movement toward it. These obscure the longing and love for union, the movement toward union, even the meaning of union. They are generated by both positive and negative experiences of union, including any lack, inadequacies, or feelings of loss or separateness. All of these will imprint themselves on our psyche, impressing the soul in such a way that veils are created. The most important determining factor in the development of these veils is the nature and quality of our early relationship with the first human being in our life, which in most cases is our mother. Very early on, during the first six to eight months of life, our experiences of union and its qualities, and the issues around union, imprint our soul in a way that determines a great deal about the veils surrounding the movement toward union.

Love Unveiled, pg. 150

Psychodynamic Issues are Not Affected Directly by Enlightenment Experiences

First, experience and recognition of true nature, regardless on what dimension of subtlety and completeness, do not automatically dissolve all ego structures. It is our observation that ego structures, and for that matter psychodynamic issues, are not affected directly by enlightenment experiences. This is due to the fact that these structures and issues have mostly unconscious underpinnings. Unconscious elements of the psyche are not impacted by conscious experience directly, except maybe in exposing them to consciousness in some occasions. These structures are impacted only by awareness of them and complete understanding of their content. The enlightenment experience may give the individual a greater detachment and presence that makes it easier for him or her to confront these structures and issues without becoming overwhelmed by them, and hence have a better opportunity to work through them. The greater presence that may result might make it easier for the individual to abide more in true nature, and this way have a greater detachment from the influence of the structures. But the structures will not self-destruct simply because the soul has seen the light. We understand that this view is counter to the claims of many individuals who profess enlightenment. The actions of many of these individuals should speak for themselves.

Psychodynamic Understanding Allows Us to Work Directly with Present Experience

Psychodynamic understanding has, then, an extraordinary power and potential far beyond its therapeutic uses. The existing body of knowledge in the field of psychology, and especially in psychoanalysis, can be very effectively used for essential development. And the nature of psychodynamic understanding allows us to work directly with the present experience of the student without following any particular progression or gradation. We can simply understand what is there in the moment, and this will lead us naturally to a particular aspect of essence: space, the personal aspect, the universal aspect, or any of several others. Using understanding in this way, we can avoid the awkwardness and inefficiency of many traditional techniques, such as giving all students the same meditations, the same physical exercises, or the same advice on the value of surrender regardless of the specific situation or state of the student. Psychodynamic understanding deals exactly with whatever situation the student presents, with what is actually of vital interest to him and his life. And from this real situation, understanding will lead him to the particular aspect of essence that is actually relevant to him at the time.

The Void, pg. 77

Psychodynamic Work Relieves the Issues of the Pressure to Remain Unconscious

Continuing the inquiry, with the help of essence and its aspects, the student will begin to question the more fundamental sources of this content. This will at some point reveal the structures underlying the content; for example, one discovers that one’s various psychodynamic issues are related to specific self-concepts. There is another reason the psychodynamic, emotional, and psychological work tend to reveal the underlying structures: Psychodynamic work relieves the issues of some of the pressure to remain unconscious, and releases much of the emotional charge associated to them through the history of their development. This makes it easier for the individual to become directly aware of the related structures. In addition, the soul has a new motivation for inquiry resulting from recognizing that the painful content does not simply go away; it has still deeper sources. At some point, inquiry will reveal the particular structure or structures underlying the issues. The soul will be able to see her conditioning. She can see that there is a rigid impression, a fixed structure that gives her identity, individuality, and functioning. It is then a short step to discerning the self-representation that patterns the particular structure; that is, she will become consciously aware of holding a particular self-image. By seeing the self-image while retaining the curious attitude of inquiry she may begin to see more precisely the history of this self-image, the specific object relations and their associated feelings that constituted its history. This will relieve her further from believing it is a fundamental truth of who she is. This can go as far as recognizing it as a mental image created, or remembered, by her mind. When she reaches this stage of understanding, the soul is open to who and what she is.

Resolution of Psychodynamic Issues Needed for Realization of the Absolute Dimension

This case illustrates the relationship between the world and the dimension of the Absolute, but it also shows how the realization of even this absolute dimension requires working through some object relations and psychodynamic issues. We find that even after the discovery of this dimension, its complete realization is mostly a matter of freeing one's consciousness from very deep object relations and self representations.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach