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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Rapprochement?

"We find that every individual, regardless of how integrated he is on the ego level, has an unconscious rapprochement conflict.” 

— A. H. Almaas

Rapprochement is the conflict in a child between having his own way or submitting to mother’s wishes. This manifests in approach-avoidance behavior. The child wants to go to her, be with her, even merge with her, but he is afraid of losing his boundaries and autonomy. So he reacts by avoiding her or pushing her away. This behavior dominates this important subphase, which can last up to 18 months. 

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Rapprochement

Child’s Conflict Between Having His Will or Having the Merging with Mother

The third form that the conflict is observed to assume in essential development is that between the Merging Essence and the Will aspect of Essence. In childhood this manifests usually at the beginning of the rapprochement phase, in the behavior of the child when he realizes that his omnipotence is not real. He tries to coerce his mother back into the dual unity, by all kinds of attempts at control. He tries to control his distance from her. He wants to have the control of the situation in his own hands, and it is very important for him to have his own way. Attempts at control and wanting to have his own way can be seen as a reflection of the child’s need to assert his own will. The rapprochement conflict is between having his own way or submitting to mother’s wishes. This is obviously dependent on perceiving mother’s wishes as not identical to his own. His wish to assert his own will can manifest as a negativistic behavior and a need to control because such behaviors imply separation and autonomy for him. However, when his wishes are different from those of mother, he feels he has to submit to her wishes if he wants her love and wants to be close to her. But this means abandoning his own will, and hence his autonomy. So he sees the situation as a conflict between having his will or having the merging with the mother. This is actually a reflection of two desires, both important, but often experienced by the child as antithetical: the desire for merging and the desire for autonomy. Autonomy is seen here as the capacity to assert his will, by having his own way. On the essential level, this manifests as a conflict between the Merging and the Will aspects of Essence.

On the Other Side of the Rapprochement Conflict is the Fear of the Loss of Autonomy

On the other side of the rapprochement conflict is the fear of loss of autonomy. This manifests as threat of loss of independence, separateness, individuality, boundaries, being, self and so on. The student experiences the Personal Essence for some time, minutes or months, feeling happy and expanded. Then a longing manifests. By understanding the longing he reaches the state of the Merging Essence. He then experiences contentment, love, pleasure, security and boundlessness. This happens until the longing for autonomy surfaces again. This process does not stop; there is no such thing as compromise here. Autonomy is total and merging is total. One is either one or the other. When there is compromise then there is no essential experience, for compromise is possible only for ego. The student’s immovable conviction is that it is not possible to experience the Merging and the Personal Essence together. This is a reflection of remaining identifications with ego. This conflict manifests in an individual’s life in many forms. It can be a conflict between love relationships and freedom or work. It can manifest as conflict between security and autonomy. It can manifest as a conflict between marriage and free sexual life. The well known midlife crisis is an expression of this conflict, as are many of the conflicts of adolescence. It takes long and deep work, mostly working through one’s relationship to one’s mother, before the experience of a final resolution becomes possible. Each student works through differently, depending on his particular relation to his mother. But the resolution is always the same, and it is only on the Being level.

Rapprochement Conflict

Both mother’s reaction to his new behavior, and the child’s fear of losing the separateness and autonomy that he has gained so far, lead to a conflictive relationship to her. This manifests in approach-avoidance behavior. He wants to go to her, be with her, even merge with her, but he is afraid of losing his boundaries and autonomy. So he reacts by avoiding her or pushing her away. This behavior dominates this important subphase, which can last up to 18 months. This rapprochement conflict is usually reenacted in our work, after the Personal Essence is experienced in a sustained manner. The student goes back and forth, from feeling individuated and autonomous, to feelings of longing and yearning for closeness and merging, indicating the wish for mother. It is possible to recognize the conflicts, the feelings and behavior of clinging and demanding, on one hand, and those of separation and avoidance, on the other, in love relations, and in the transference with the teacher, and even with the group We find that every individual, regardless of how integrated he is on the ego level, has an unconscious rapprochement conflict. The conflict is usually resolved in childhood by the child ultimately finding some kind of a compromise between the wish for individuation and the wish for closeness with mother.

Resolution of Rapprochement on the Being Level

The resolution of rapprochement on the Being level indicates the simultaneous capacity for both inner regulation and external functioning, which is, obviously, a balanced, efficient and mature capacity for adaptation, and hence, growth.

The Child's Recognition of His Limitations

On the Being level the Essential Self has no limitations, but the child comes to believe that his body and mind have no limitations, which is obviously a delusion. The delusion is not the feelings and attitudes of grandeur and omnipotence, for these are the actual feelings of the Self of Being. The delusion is in attributing them to the body-mind. We can see from this that the Essential Self has no physical-mental wisdom. The grand qualities belong to the Essential Self, but they become grandiose when attributed to the body and the mind. The child’s imperviousness to hurt is an expression of his solid identity with this Self of Being. It takes him a long time to become aware that these feelings of grandeur and omnipotence are false. When this happens he is thoroughly disappointed and deflated. This usually occurs in the rapprochement subphase, third subphase of the separation-individuation process. This is the big fall, the great narcissistic wound that shows him his limitations and dependency.

The Issue of Rapprochement Surfaces Each Time a Dimension of Being is Disclosed

This issue of rapprochement surfaces each time a new dimension of being is disclosed. It appears as a conflict between the presence of Being and the appearance of the world, between Being and the world. The conflict is the position that it is not possible to have both, not imaginable to experience both simultaneously, because of an apparent polarity. This polarity stems from the early relationship with one’s mother, where one’s sense of self was seen as antithetical to merging with her. So the individual soul grows up firmly believing that one can be either separate and independent, or merged and absorbed. In time, as the process of inner unfoldment deepens, the mother becomes the world and the sense of self is the presence of Being. At the level of the absolute the dichotomy appears as between the world as appearance and the emptiness of the absolute.

The Shifting of Cathexis from Being to the Body and Its World

So the presence of the Essential Self, with its sense of omnipotence, helps to give the child the opportunity of having an immediate and repeated experience of both the physical world and his body, in relationship to each other. This happens as self-representations form, as we have already discussed. The outcome is the formation of many self-representations which include experience of the body, the physical world and the relationship of the two. The disappointment and deflation at the beginning of rapprochement is a result of this experience, as is a greater and more realistic appraisal of the body and the world. It also marks the shifting of cathexis from Being to the body and its world. Consciousness becomes increasingly anchored in physical reality, and in the mind, which is closely allied to the latter. It becomes less aware of the dimension of Being and, in most instances, loses its contact with it. The unity of Being is lost, and the world appears more and more fundamentally physical. We see then that both childhood self-realization and shifts of identity from Being to the body-self serve the purpose of cathecting the body, and physical reality in general. What happens in ego development is that this experience of the body (and its world) becomes integrated into the structure of ego. The final outcome is the establishment of a separate individuality, with a sense of self based on the body-image, which includes physical-emotional-mental knowledge.

When the Child Becomes Conceptually Aware of His Separateness from Mother

The rapprochement subphase of ego development in childhood begins when the child becomes conceptually aware of his separateness from his mother. This coincides with the deflation of his grandeur and omnipotence. He becomes actually aware of his vulnerability and dependence. One possible recourse for him is to defend against the perception of vulnerability and dependency by continuing to believe in his omnipotence. In this case he develops a self that is based on this defensive sense of grandiosity, an inflated sense of self that covers up emptiness and deficiency. The result is what is called the narcissistic personality. Or he can defend himself by withdrawing inside, and isolating himself from the difficulties of object relations. He becomes detached, and does not feel needy, vulnerable or dependent. By cutting himself off from the world of love objects, he cuts himself off from his own inner resources. This results in the formation of a schizoid character.

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