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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Security/Insecurity?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Security/Insecurity

A Work School Like Ours is Not Orientated Towards Giving a Person Pleasure or Security or Recognition or Love or Anything Like That

No one says that every human being should live for the truth. For many people, it is not of interest, it is not what they want. They want something else, which is fine. If an individual is interested more in stabilizing around some kind of security, or in achieving a certain accomplishment or some kind of recognition or whatever, that is fine. It is fine; but this is not the interest of the Work. A person would need to go to a different kind of teacher or school to help them get those things. They are certainly valid things to want and to have. However, a work school like ours is oriented towards accomplishing something specific. It is not oriented towards giving a person pleasure or security or recognition or love, or anything like that. That is not our concern. We do not judge these things as good or bad. That is just not our orientation. If a person needs some kind of recognition, that is fine, but he should understand that he must look for it elsewhere. If a person wants pleasure, he needs to understand that there are places other than here to find merely pleasure.

Freedom for Which the Price is Ontological Insecurity

Although the view of totality allows us to establish any realization and perspective—from the ordinary to the extraordinary—it doesn’t hold any of them as the final resting place. Because of our need for a stable place to rest, we often find this kind of dynamism difficult to bear. But the other side of this instability is an undreamed-of freedom. The view of totality, because of its all-inclusiveness and lack of fixation, heralds a type of freedom that we have never imagined possible. And what we see is that the price of this freedom is ontological insecurity. We cannot be secure and imagine that we are going to be free. Security requires stability, which easily becomes fixation, the kernel of the usual sense of self. But the view of totality, because of its unboundedness, provides a framework that allows discovery to happen in any field or area in an unlimited way. It shows that understanding, knowledge, and experience have no limit. There is no reason to posit a limit or an end. Creating a closed system always excludes some truth, which amounts practically to excluding the truth of Total Being to live its freedom. So the insecurity and instability that the view of totality reveals helps us to understand the dynamic of realization, which can in turn vivify our practice and make it more effective. The view of totality liberates practice, and freedom is the value that emerges—a freedom that reveals practice as a living dynamic between the individual and reality. The more we recognize that it is Total Being that is living, the more there is a sense of freedom and the more living is free. What does it mean that living is free? It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t cost anything, because obviously it costs you everything. The question of freedom is an age-old riddle and has been a concern of human beings throughout history. Human beings have always aspired to freedom, and people die for it. It is difficult to enjoy life and to be satisfied without some measure of freedom. We know about freedom of speech, freedom of meeting together, freedom of expression. These are external types of freedom, which are important. But we are interested here in the freedom that is not conditioned by any situation. And when we think of freedom that way, we recognize that we are generally not free. Our freedom is, in fact, quite limited.

Gradually Becoming Aware of How Thoroughly We are Enslaved to Security in all Its Forms, Physical, Emotional and Financial

Even when the other is considered, he is generally considered only from the perspective of one’s ego. This is a consequence of one’s identity being always at one pole of an object relation, with the other person simply being the object at the other pole of the relation. Who the other truly is cannot be perceived, let alone considered. This omnipresent self-centeredness of ego is generally not seen, because of the identifications with the ego self. Only when the identification is loosened can one begin to see the blinders that ego’s self centeredness puts on perception and experience. But when we do become aware of this basic stance of ego, we can begin to understand the psychodynamic causes of our self-centeredness. We gradually become aware of how thoroughly we are enslaved to security in all its forms, physical, emotional, and financial. We become aware of the deep insecurity that is basic to ego, both to its sense of self and to its sense of individuality. This insecurity results from the fact that ego is not Being; how could a structure of images, concepts, memories, and feelings be secure? And the insecurity might for a while seem to become even more pronounced as we learn how readily these images evaporate as a result of our simply seeing them for what they are. Actually, the basic insecurity that has always been there in the unconscious is simply being exposed by the process of dissolving ego identifications. How is the individual to gain the courage to engage in this process of disidentification, given the deep and sometimes terrifying insecurity that is thereby exposed? It is made much easier if there is some support to take the place of the usual ego supports which come through the object relations, such as approval, recognition, social acceptance and success, love and admiration from friends and family for one’s individuality, financial security, and the like. Clearly one’s attachment to these things is very strong. In fact, our observation is that we are willing to perceive these phenomena without using them for ego support or self-esteem only when we have a sense of a more basic, more real support and value. In the process of inner realization this support can be provided by some of the essential aspects.

Insecurity Has Nothing to do with how Much You’ve Got; it has to do with a Basic Feeling in Your Unconscious

If the person is basically insecure about survival, then he will need a great many things to fill that hole in order to feel secure. A person who isn’t insecure might feel fine making a thousand dollars a month, but a person who feels a deep insecurity won’t feel secure if he makes just an adequate income that covers his needs. He will keep thinking he should make more. One thousand dollars a month this year may be all right, but next year he will want to earn two thousand a month—even if he doesn’t spend it. The insecurity doesn’t go away. Insecurity has nothing to do with how much you’ve got; it has to do with a basic feeling in your unconscious. And it will not go away when you try to get security from outside. Security issues can revolve around various things—money, power, friends. Whenever the self-preservation instinct is blocked and the energy is not flowing, there is a basic sense of insecurity. People are usually very identified with their feelings of insecurity and will do almost anything to try to fill that hole rather than simply feel it.

Loss of the Symbiotic Mother Implies a Lot More than One Can See at the Beginning

Sometimes, a student will consciously miss the Merging Essence, and become terrified of completely losing it. This can happen especially after one has had some experience of it. The fact is that unconsciously the individual cannot differentiate between mother and the Merging Essence. So the realization of the Personal Essence is always, at the beginning, experienced as a threat of the loss of both mother and the Merging Essence. This can manifest as fear of loss of mother, of her love, of closeness to her, of merging with her, of the Merging Essence, etc. The loss of the symbiotic mother, which is associated with Merging Essence, implies a lot more than one can see at the beginning, because of the properties of symbiosis and of the Merging Essence. The loss is experienced as equivalent to the loss of, or the loss of the possibility of, security, pleasure and company. The fear of loss of security becomes reflected in fears of loss of support, money, nourishment and so on. This accounts for many phobias, like fear of being in airplanes, of earthquakes and so on. The fear of loss of pleasure is generalized to all kinds of pleasure; eating, comfort and so on; but more particularly it manifests as fear of loss of sexual pleasure. This is enhanced by the fear of loss of company, which manifests mostly as fear of aloneness. In other words, the gratification of what can be seen as the three primary instincts—sexual, social and survival—becomes endangered. 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.

Love is What Gives the Individual the Security and Trust that Makes it Possible for Him to Cease Identifying with Ego Activity

As we have noted, understanding boundaries will precipitate the dimension of Love. Part of understanding this dimension of Essence is seeing that the action of Essence is love. One realizes that it is Love that ultimately dissolves ego boundaries. Love is not bound by separateness; it is what penetrates it. Love is also what gives the individual the security and the trust that makes it possible for him to cease identifying with ego activity. When there is Love then there is no need for desire and no need for hope. One can relax, let go and even forget the whole issue. Love is what the personality needs in order to feel secure and safe. It is the absence of Love that brings the need for defense, resistance, restraint, hope, desire and so on. But when Love is present one can afford to just be, and not engage in the feverishness of ego activity.

Our Thoughts are Familiar and Can Give Us an Illusion of Security and Control that Binds Us to Them

The more fixed and rigid a concept is, the farther away it is from the living experience. Rigid concepts limit our inner experience, make our inner world smaller and smaller. They make our world in general smaller and more restricted. We are controlled by prejudices that we feel we need to uphold and fight for. Until we question, analyze, and reassess the concepts we use to express ourselves, we are restricted to only one set of interpretations for our experiences. Whether they accord with the reality of what is happening or bring us unnecessary pain, we leave ourselves no choice but to live in this limited realm. This means to keep living in a world that is a creation of our own mind. Even if our mental world is lonely, and we gain little pleasure from our experiences, our thoughts are familiar and give us an illusion of security and control that binds us to them. We may see no alternative to this way of understanding ourselves and our world. . . . because we believe it’s reality. How can we think of an alternative? Even if we think of and long for freedom, we think of freedom within that world. But when even such thoughts as these depend upon concepts we have never deeply examined, how would we know there are no other possibilities? Can we even think about something for which we have no concept? If we had no concept of love, could we form expectations of what love is like, become disappointed when our experience did not match these expectations, or fantasize about people we love? If we had no notion of love, could we hate? What if we had no concept of ‘I,’ or of ourselves as somehow separate from others? Then what would be love or hate . . . . . . if there were no concept of a separate entity? What would it mean to love or hate somebody?

Sensing Security in the Heart and the Mind

When there is no trust, it is hard to be present and vulnerable. What does vulnerable mean? Vulnerable means there is a delicate kind of openness. When you trust a situation, you have no fear of the situation. As we said earlier, that allows other fears to come up from the unconscious, so in that sense, you are vulnerable. But you are also at rest on some level. So we see that trust has to do with a kind of restfulness, a lack of tension, a lack of agitation. It has to do with relaxation, with rest in the mind, rest in the heart, rest in the solar plexus. Rest in the mind is connected with rest in the heart. Rest is the lack of a need to defend or protect. It is the ability to be, to have a carefree attitude about what’s happening in the moment. You don’t have to select or censor. The experience of the heart is of security; you can actually feel the trust. Your mind is feeling safe and restful. This state of affairs indicates that the center we call compassion, the heart center which is experienced as green, is open in that moment. When it is open, it is very much connected to the center in the middle of the brain. The two can be considered one center. The chest is the green, and the head is the blue. The green gives the sense of security in the heart. The blue gives the sense of security in the mind. The green is security on the emotional level, and the blue is on the mental level. Trust is very much connected with the energy of kindness and compassion. When the green center is open, there is trust. When it is not open, usually there is no trust. A person might think she is trusting but wouldn’t feel it. She might try to convince herself that she is trusting, but if there is no compassion present, the deep trust will not be there.

Sometimes Complaining but Feeling Secure

So emotionally, the personality continues to have a symbiotic relationship with mother. We grow up physically, but not emotionally. We continue to unconsciously believe we are dependent in ways that an adult human being doesn’t actually have to be. You see yourself as dependent on others for love, approval, recognition, support, nourishment, contact, pleasure. Most people think that’s the way it is. They think, “How can you be a grown up person and have a career and a good life unless you have a mate or at least a lover?” That’s how most people think. They don’t question it. They think they need love, and it is true—they do. But what they are seeing is the personality. The ego functions through emotional dependency, and you call it love. Even when you are by yourself, not married or in a relationship or in a group, you are still relating to your mother—the mother inside you. You relate to your superego which is always beating you up. Why is your superego beating you up? Because it makes you feel that your mother is around. When you were a child, your mother was always judging you. So every time you feel like a little kid, your internal mother comes and beats you up. Then you feel secure. You might complain, but you feel secure.

The Moment We Feel Insecure in Our Sense of Ourselves, the Moment We Sense that We are Not Centered in What and Who We Are a Heavy Darkness Descends

However, the moment we feel insecure in our sense of ourselves, the moment we sense that we are not centered in what and who we are, this whole picture reverses. A heavy darkness descends on our experience; we cease to be open or generous, and we find ourselves forgetting our humanity. We begin to feel self-centered and self-conscious, and we become anxiously and egotistically concerned about ourselves. An obsessiveness over how we appear to others develops, and we find ourselves needing an unusual amount of admiration, approval, and recognition. Our self-esteem turns extremely fragile, and we find ourselves unusually vulnerable to feeling hurt and insulted over the slightest lack of understanding or empathy. Our sense of ourselves grows shaky and, rather than coming from within, depends upon feedback from others, making us defensive. Our actions and expressions tend to become false, inauthentic, and reactive, making it difficult to know what authentic action would really be. Without a spontaneous and free sense of who we are, we can only feel empty and unimportant; our lives will lack meaning or significance. Rather than experiencing a sense of value and esteem, we find ourselves feeling worthless and ashamed; rather than enjoying our interactions and activities, we find ourselves beset by anger, rage and envy; instead of being generous and magnanimous, we slide towards exploiting and devaluing others.

Ultimately, Security is Certainty About Who You Are: there’s No Other Security in the World

We cannot become real human beings if our topmost concern is safety, comfort, or security. These things simply don’t exist in the way we tend to think about them. Ultimately, security is certainty about who you are. There’s no other security in the world. We could lose our money at any time, our house could burn down, our spouse could die. At any moment we could lose any of the things that make us feel secure. The only refuge is in the truth of what we are, what we can be, and what we can do. That’s the only home, the only rest. If we don’t learn the work of living as a real human being, we’re just not going to become a real human being. If we don’t make the truth of the work our personal concern, we will remain part of the world of lies, part of the empty world. If we don’t make the work an intimate love affair, something of utmost concern within our heart and our mind, we’re not going to grow up. The principles of the work, living a true life, have to become a deep, personal concern. The work has to become so important to us that everything else, by comparison, fades in significance. We could try, like most people do, to make our lives safe. We could try to remain small so we’ll have security and comfort, so that people will like us and not reject us. But when the time of your death comes, will you be satisfied with that life? What’s the use of living as an empty person, without respect, without real value, running away from your life, from yourself, kissing people’s asses, pretending to be one way or another, avoiding failure? That’s how most people live, and we could easily live like that. Is that the kind of life you want to live? Sixty to eighty years of that?

We Need Some Kind of Security. We Need to Have Some Pleasure. Human Beings Can’t Survive if All they are Experiencing is Pain and Suffering

So the level of the instincts, the animal level, looks at the world in terms of objects of gratification—going after things that will make us feel good, gratify us, and help us survive. These are real needs for human beings; they are not made up. We need food to survive. We need some kind of security. We need to have some pleasure; human beings can’t survive if all they are experiencing is pain and suffering. We need some kind of company, some kind of social contact, some kind of family. The question is not whether these things are needed, but whether the expression of these needs is more powerful than the love for the truth. When it is, we stay on the animal level. This doesn’t mean that anything bad is going to happen. It just means that we’re going to continue living as animal souls; we won’t take the next evolutionary step toward becoming truly human souls. Many people go into spiritual practice without dealing with their animal soul, without recognizing that there is such a thing. Some even become enlightened but never find out that they still have an animal soul. This means that the animal soul is living in the dungeon, waiting for a chance to come out. The moment the observer inside relaxes and a wonderful object of gratification appears on the horizon—perhaps an object more wonderful and available than ever before—that’s when the animal soul will come out. The love of the truth is in some sense our beacon, our way to become more human, more developed, more refined. And this does not happen by abandoning our animal needs—you can’t abandon these needs—it happens by not putting them ahead of the truth.

We Use Our Conviction that Concepts are Real to Give Us a Sense of Security

When concepts become this fixed in our consciousness, we can perceive nothing new. Unable to perceive the subtleties of each changing situation, we even repeat the same gestures and the same comments in situations that appear the same. That’s the pattern. When our minds become habituated to such automatic responses, they grow lazy and inattentive, especially in familiar surroundings. Our fixed views give us a sense of security. We feel we ‘know’ the objects in our world; we feel we ‘know’ people and other living beings. We count on things to stay the same and to fulfill our expectations of what they are supposed to be and do. This statement brings out a psychodynamic issue related to concepts. We use our conviction that concepts are real to give us a sense of security. They function as supports for our sense of ourselves and the world. As we explore conceptual and nonconceptual reality, we will deal little by little with some fundamental, entrenched concepts and with the psychodynamic need for concepts. But first we’re working to understand concepts. We need to contemplate this issue of concepts if we are to truly understand reality. And we need to come to appreciate that reality is beyond concepts.

When Unchangeableness Becomes Our Security

In the process of conceptualizing and naming the world, we forget that these elements didn’t exist for us until we differentiated them, separated them, isolated them, and named them. We don’t remember what happened before that, because there wasn’t enough conceptual capacity to remember things before that. What we remember is the notions we have developed. We cannot remember things that had no concepts associated with them. Finally, we end up living in a world that is itself our own mind. What we call our world is nothing but the content of our knowledge. And our world becomes as fixed as the content of our knowledge. If that content is definite and set, then what you are is definite and set, people are definite and set, and life is definite and set. The more it is like that, the more your experience is fixed and unchangeable. And the more that happens, the more the world that you live in is the world of yesterday. It’s no longer a fresh world. Life is not fresh. You are not fresh. The world is not fresh. You don’t learn anything new. You don’t grow or develop. There is no expansion, no deepening. Your world becomes more narrow, and increasing complexity is further narrowing, adding to the rigidity of the world you inhabit. So what we call increasing knowledge is nothing but fixing the world, making it more rigid and making ourselves, our lives, increasingly fixed. Unchangeableness becomes our security then. To challenge the reality of these concepts makes us feel very insecure. It’s all right to arrange them in different juxtapositions, in different relationships and categories. In fact, this gives us more security. As the weaving of our concepts becomes thicker and denser, so the fabric of our world becomes even more set, which gives us a firmer sense of security. At the same time, we lose the dynamic quality of who we are, and of what the world is.

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