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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Resistance?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Resistance

Any Activity of the Personality Can Only be a Manifestation of Resistance

Now, how does this situation change to a state of surrender? What actually happens? Remember that personality itself is fundamentally a contraction, a restriction of your experience. The experience of contraction, the tension itself is the ego at that moment, is itself the personality. If you go very deep into the experience of your personality, you’ll see that, ultimately, personality is a contraction, a restriction. If you go deeper, to the origin of the personality, you’ll see that personality begins as a defensive maneuver, as a need to defend against or resist something. At all levels, personality is a resistance to something, to some truth or some state. So any activity of the personality can only be a manifestation of resistance—a saying no, a rejection, a contraction. So how do you go from the tension, contraction and holding on to the state of surrender? If you look at your work, when it has actually happened, what do you see? What exactly has happened? This is where we have to observe with precision and subtlety, because this is the moment we usually gloss over and don’t notice. We don’t usually pay attention to this process. We notice after the fact that something completely changed, but we usually don’t ask why.

Brilliancy Dissolves Any Resistance in the Nerves with Its Smoothness and Flow

Brilliancy usually flows in the body through the cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal column. As such, it is directly involved with the nervous system and the brain, so it affects the functioning of thought. Imagine Brilliancy flowing through your synapses; imagine feeling it in your nerves. Imagine the sensation of exquisite smoothness and purity coursing through your nervous system, lighting it up, setting it ablaze with the brilliance of intelligence. Like a lubricant or a conducting substance of complete smoothness in your nervous system, Brilliancy dissolves any resistance in the nerves with its smoothness and flow, with its incredible ease, speed, and penetrating power. Brilliancy makes the inner sensation of your consciousness so delicate, so subtle, so exquisite, that you truly know what the refinement of consciousness means. Although its presence can be quite full and immense, Brilliancy makes you feel as if your senses have been cleansed with some kind of divine shower, so that your very sensations are exquisiteness itself. Even clarity is seen as an external reflection of that pure radiance. Brilliancy is the explosion of illumination from which clarity comes.

Brilliancy, pg. 19

Complete Integration of Personality into Being

So at this advanced stage in the process of inner realization, vulnerability must be completely understood and accepted. It is experienced as the human adaptive capacity for being permeable, penetrable and impressionable. It is intrinsically adaptive, being open to a great range of experience and learning. At this stage, the student learns that for the individual consciousness to be completely without defenses means to be completely vulnerable, not only to human love objects but, more basically, to Being itself. This means no resistance, no defense, no separateness and no isolation. So for the personality to be completely vulnerable to the reality of Pure Being means ultimately that it will become so transparent and permeable to it that there is no longer a difference between the two. It is complete absorption of ego structure by Being; the complete integration of personality into Being. The result is the state of unity and oneness of Being. It is also the process of personalization of Pure Being. We see that the following are equivalent:


  1. Complete cessation of ego defenses and resistances
  2. Complete vulnerability
  3. Complete absorption of personality into Being
  4. Personalization of the supreme aspect of nondifferentiated Pure Being
  5. Total oneness of Being.

Ego is an Ongoing Resistance to What Is

The nature of ego itself is an ongoing resistance to what is. Even just manifesting as ego implies that we are resisting our nature, because if we didn’t resist our nature we would instantly be our nature. So, the fact that we are not experiencing ourselves as our True Nature, the fact that we are not this spacious presence, implies resistance. The resistance can be quite subtle, and of course, there are many reasons for it. It might be that we don’t believe that we are our True Nature. We believe instead that who we are is the one who is resisting, and we are attempting to preserve our identity. It might be that allowing ourselves to feel our True Nature would threaten us too much by bringing all kinds of vulnerabilities, fears, or insecurities into the open. In fact, truly being is a kind of death. I talk about things such as resistance and how to be allowing, but to really be without resistance means ego death, ultimately.

Everyone's an Expert at Lying to Himself and Others

So let’s see more about truth, lies, compassion, and the relationships between them. I think we know more about lies than anything else. We’re experts. Everyone’s an expert at lying to himself and others. We’ve been doing it for years and years. And it’s very important now to see that attitude we usually have: that truth is our enemy. That’s why there are such things as avoidance, repression, resistance. If we didn’t think that truth was our enemy, we wouldn’t resist and repress our emotions, we wouldn’t try to avoid seeing the truth. Not only that, but usually we aren’t even aware of the fact that we reject that truth, and fight it. If you can see that you resist truth, already one layer of lies is removed.

Feeling of Resistance

Resistance. This is even a thicker and a denser sensation than the above. One feels one’s skin thick and dull but not hard, as if it is made out of rubber. This is a sense of boundaries, an identification system, whose function is resisting experience, especially any experience that threatens one’s sense of separateness and individuality. This is the state of the ego individuality in the mode of resistance. In this state one cannot help but resist. Whatever one does, whatever one says, whatever one thinks, is resistance. One is resistance; sometimes students in this state say that they feel like a thick rubber ball, resisting any intrusion.

Hardening Ourselves

Resistance is an active mode of inner coercion that reflects or overlaps with a more passive form of inner manipulation—our defensiveness. As with defense, resistance frequently implies a need to protect ourselves. Sometimes we resist because we don’t like what we are experiencing; we’d prefer something else, so we judge what actually is. Perhaps we are angry at what is happening in us. Or we are tired of it. But much of the time, we resist because we feel we need to protect ourselves. And protection is the basic motivation for putting up inner defenses. When we perceive a real danger or threat, or when we imagine one, we tend to harden ourselves for self-protection. But by hardening ourselves, we are not only thickening our consciousness, we are also making it stiff and solid, and it becomes impossible to experience that delicacy, that gentleness and intimacy, of being ourselves. That hardening reaction—building a wall of protection and separation—which becomes an impediment against finding where we are, is the ego’s basic mode of defense. Ego is based mainly on defenses—defending itself against dangers—inner and outer, imaginary and real. Ego does not really exist without its defenses.

Holding on to the Belief that the Separate Self Possesses Anything

However, because of the characteristics of the true self approaching conscious experience, this profound spaciousness is not differentiated from the related true self. The inner spaciousness turns out to be not only an emptiness, but at the same time a facet of this depth of Being, inseparable from it, actually nondual with it. More precisely, the inner black spaciousness at this level of self-realization is coemergent with the level of Being realized. Holding on to the belief that the separate self possesses anything, even existence, is a resistance against this absolute depth of Being; this resistance makes this depth appear to the self as a deficient emptiness characterized by impoverishment. Surrendering all positions and concepts of self, the student discovers the absolute depth of her nature. The transition is very subtle; it is a matter of asserting self or not. But the difference is profound: It is the difference between being an impoverished self lost in the universe or being the inexhaustible vast depth of Being. Or as a Buddhist might see it, it is the difference between samsara and nirvana. We can see this transition to lie at the root of narcissism: In one direction lies fundamental narcissism and in the other lies self-realization. Self-assertion results in samsara and selflessness leads to nirvana. This realization goes beyond cessation to the realization of selflessness, which is equivalent to the realization of the absolute truth of Being. An avalanche of perceptions and insights arises at this point; here we will note a few that are most relevant for our understanding of the transformation of narcissism and its relation to self-realization.

Not Going Along with the Activity of Saying "No"

Let’s examine closely the process that leads to a state of surrender. If you observe carefully, you will see that you first become aware of the tension. If you pay attention to the tension, you realize that the tension is a resistance, a contraction. When you realize that it’s a contraction which is a resistance, you want to understand the resistance. Then, when you understand what the resistance is about, the activity of resistance ceases. This simply means that you are no longer going along with the activity of saying no. It doesn’t mean that you are saying yes. It just means that you were pushing and now you have stopped pushing. But stopping this activity brings the absence of personality. If the personality stops pushing, it ceases to exist, because the very existence of the personality is a contraction, a pushing. So, when you follow this process, the part of personality which is holding a particular tension will disappear when you see no more reason to push. When you realize that the pushing is useless, you stop doing it. This is still not exactly what is called surrender; it is what is sometimes called letting go. We sometimes think of it as the personality letting go, but even this is not accurate. The personality can’t let go. It just stops pushing. And when it stops pushing, it disappears. There is no person which is letting go of something. There is no entity letting go of another object.

Personality Manifests at the Beginning as a Kind of Resistance

For most people, the personality manifests at the beginning as a kind of resistance, a leadenness, a cloudiness in the mind. When the personality is unclear, the personality exists as an unclarified, impure substance. We call it “impure” not in a judgmental or moralistic sense, but because it doesn’t exist as its own pure nature. What are the impurities of the personality? What will be clarified from the personality? The answer is simple: the past. The thickness, the dullness, the suffering that you experience as the personality are there because the personality does not exist in its pure form. It carries the past with it, and the past exists as conflicts, memories, undischarged feelings, misunderstandings, ignorance, and all the reactions, associations, and fantasies corresponding to all the ignorance from the past.

Resistance Against the State of Separation

One of the main causes of the sense of weakness is resistance against the state of separation. For one reason or another the individual defends against the state of separation, and for this he must block the presence of the Strength aspect because it will make him feel separate. But blocking it will feel as loss or absence of Strength. This feeling or state of weakness, resulting from repressing the Strength Essence, makes it impossible for the individual to feel the individuated state of the Personal Essence. In fact, many individuals resist the Strength aspect because they feel unable or unwilling to feel autonomous and individuated. That separation can lead to individuation is very clear in these cases. However, if the conflicts around autonomy are worked through the individual will then allow the Strength Essence. The result will be both strength and autonomy.

Resistance Happens in Many Ways and Can Be Explicit or Implicit

Resistance happens in many ways and can be explicit or implicit. Explicit resistance occurs when some experience we don’t want arises or is about to arise, and we defend against it by thickening, contracting, dulling ourselves, or pushing against what is there. For example, a hurt is arising, and you say, “No, it’s too much; I don’t want to feel that.” Our consciousness then thickens to push it away, to close it down. There is a direct rejection, denial, or pushing against our experience or some element of it. On the other hand, sometimes it happens that resistance is implicit or indirect. In that case, we don’t try to avoid or stop feeling the objectionable part of our experience—we attempt to manipulate it. For instance, we may try to control our experience or direct it or want it to be something different. We may believe that we are accepting our experience and trying to work with it, but we can’t do that without resisting what it is, without fighting off what we are experiencing. We know this must be the case, because if we are not fighting, or resisting, we are spacious—we are allowing whatever is happening to just be as it is.

Resistance is Futile

When we are pushing against our experience, fighting it off, it doesn't have the opportunity or the space to be itself. And if it doesn't have the chance to be itself, it doesn't have the chance to unfold. And if it doesn't have the chance to unfold, it doesn't have the opportunity to reveal its nature. So it continues to be whatever manifestation initially arose. In other words, resisting something is one good way to preserve it in the form that we experienced it to begin with. We resist, hoping to get rid of it, but what we are actually doing is encapsulating it and keeping it in its original form or expression. So, as you see, resistance is futile! Everything that initially appears to have its own identity, its own reality, at some point will be absorbed again into the indivisible unity of True Nature.

Resisting Being with Yourself

When you are resisting, you are basically resisting yourself. It is a kind of self-resistance. Instead of being with yourself, you are resisting being with yourself. Instead of being yourself, you are resisting being yourself. That is what it means to resist our True Nature. The ego experience, which is by its nature not an experience of simply being ourselves, implies resistance to being. The moment we take the posture of ego, of identification with our history, it implies resistance. There is no such thing as ego with no resistance, and the ultimate resistance is the resistance to simply being, the resistance to our True Nature. And that’s because ego is always trying to do one thing or another, and True Nature isn’t doing anything. It just is. It is nature. It is luminous presence. The nature of ego itself is an ongoing resistance to what is. Even just manifesting as ego implies that we are resisting our nature, because if we didn’t resist our nature we would instantly be our nature. So, the fact that we are not experiencing ourselves as our True Nature, the fact that we are not this spacious presence, implies resistance. The resistance can be quite subtle, and of course, there are many reasons for it. It might be that we don’t believe that we are our True Nature. We believe instead that who we are is the one who is resisting, and we are attempting to preserve our identity. It might be that allowing ourselves to feel our True Nature would threaten us too much by bringing all kinds of vulnerabilities, fears, or insecurities into the open. In fact, truly being is a kind of death. I talk about things such as resistance and how to be allowing, but to really be without resistance means ego death, ultimately.

Resisting Part of Your Experience

Fear and hope underlie the defensive mechanisms in the personality, the repression and resistance. What is resistance but resisting part of your experience? Resistance is ultimately rejection of something that you are experiencing. Resistance or defense is basically a rejection of part of you. Part of you is setting itself against another part and saying, “No, I don’t want that.” This attitude by itself creates division, conflict, and disharmony.

Seeing that the Final, or Conversely the Most Primitive, Resistance is Against Being

Working through this sector of the personality, which involves dealing with very primitive ego identification systems, ultimately reveals the most elementary form of the personality. It is the regressed, at the same time undeveloped, part of the ego that forms the basic and most rudimentary sense of self and personality. One sees here that splitting, isolation and withdrawal are in a sense the same thing; they meet in one manifestation. One experiences one’s identity in a form of consciousness that is very subtle and delicate, but is characterized by being separate from Being, the nondifferentiated reality. One sees that the final, or conversely the most primitive, resistance is against Being, remaining separate from nondifferentiated Pure Being. The personality has an autonomous and differentiated existence, and hence the ultimate defense is a resistance that keeps the personality separate from Being. This defense is a withdrawal from contact with Being, which creates an isolation from it, with the final result being a primary splitting of Being and personality.

Shedding Light on Resistances

The reason the Diamond Approach can be precise is that we know that each aspect of Essence is connected with certain psychological conflicts. We can use powerful psychological techniques to help us perceive and understand these conflicts, repressions, and patterns of resistance. We don’t need to push against the resistances, the dark spots; we simply shed light on them. After a while, they disintegrate. Then the passage is easy. We can flow through those places rather than have to go around them. Going around them or pushing through them is the hard way, the long way. Our way has more to do with understanding, with the precise diamond clarity. We can take this understanding and see it in relation to other psychological approaches and Work schools. Just as different Work schools emphasize different aspects of Essence, various psychological approaches emphasize different deficiencies or holes. Each school of psychology was developed by a person working on or through the dominant deficiencies that they perceived. Take Freud, for instance. What did he emphasize? First he perceived the existence of the unconscious. He saw the repressed material of the unconscious as consisting mostly of the aggressive force and the sexual libido. The aggressive force is what we call the Strength essence, and the libido is a combination of two aspects of Essence, the Strength and the Merging Love. Freud was dealing with the issues around deficiencies in these qualities. He saw the barrier of castration anxiety which, as we have discussed, produces a loss of Will. Freudian psychology is very effective with these deficiencies. It can go all the way through to the essential qualities associated with them.

The Belief that there Will be No Personal Life if there is No Involvement in It

One could say that the full realization and understanding of the Personal Essence shifts the sense of being a person from ego to Being. This then exposes the deep supports for the individual ego structure, which is seen as inseparable from the personal life and history. This latter perception is possible only from the Impersonal aspect. It is interesting to notice that this transition happens only through the combined influence of the full realization of the true Personal Essence and the transcendent awareness of the Impersonal aspect. One resistance to the Impersonal aspect that each student must surmount is the belief that there will be no personal life if there is no involvement in it. It seems that there is a universal belief that one must be attached to the personal life, or it will be lost. Finally one is able to go beyond the inertia supporting everything personal. This happens through the process of personalizing the aspect of Existence. The fear is that there will be no existence for anything personal if one lets go of the supports of ego personality. This fear is transcended when the Personal Essence is experienced in the state of Existence. This is another Platonic form, a pure differentiated aspect of Being, where the sense is just existence. Personalizing this aspect one feels a sense of personal existence that is real, and not based on mental structure or the supports of this structure in past or present. The usual experience of the Personal Essence is of fullness and personalness. But when Existence is personalized it attains a density and an immensity that gives the experience the specific feeling of existence. In other words, existence becomes a more dominant feeling than fullness. Existence is present implicitly in Beingness, but now it is specifically delineated.

Thinking that Hardness in Your Head is Always Resistance Might Distort Your Inquiry

Ordinary knowledge can be used to either support inquiry or block it. For instance, if you know about resistance, you may recognize that your response to a certain experience is resistance, which then will help you to inquire. If you don’t know about resistance, you will not know how to inquire into your response effectively. However, if you always interpret your response to be resistance, that can block your inquiry. Even though the manifestation you are taking to be resistance is most often resistance, to always assume that it is resistance will prevent you from seeing that it could be something new. For example, let’s say you feel something hard in your head. You know well that you feel tension, so you conclude that this means that some sort of defense is operating. You investigate and try to open that up. Once in a while, though, that hardness might turn out to be an essential presence that is as hard as a diamond. So thinking that hardness in your head is always resistance—which is a piece of knowledge—might distort your inquiry. Even if the hardness is an essential diamond that is pushing through, you would probably want to push against it, and then it would feel even harder.

Unwillingness or Inability of Ego to be Completely Separate from the Mother

On the psychodynamic and structural levels, the main resistance against the radical separation perceived in the experience of Being is due to the unwillingness or inability of ego to be completely separate from the mother. The individual feels he is losing his mother, and his connection to her, because now he is not an individual based on past object relations to her. The remaining identification with ego reveals his unconscious attachment to her image. So the profound autonomy in the experience of the Personal Essence, and the sense of separation of the Strength Essence, both uncover the deep need for, and attachment to, the mother’s good image. The loss of contact with the mother’s image is often felt as a sense of loss and emptiness. At the beginning stages one does not necessarily feel the loss, but the possibility of this loss brings to the forefront of consciousness not only the attachment to the mother, but also the conflicts and deprivations in one’s relationship to her in early childhood.

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