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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Separateness?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Separateness

All Life Cooperates to Make One Body

We are not separate. We are a network. Just as you have cells and organs in your body which cooperate to make a harmonious entity, all life on earth, all forms of life cooperate to make one body. Our individual health will contribute to the health of the whole. This is why the more open you are, the more willing you are to be loving and to serve. This comes from recognition that we are one being. It's no longer a question of giving. It's a flow -- a flow from one cell to another for the health and maintenance of the whole organism.

Creation of the Sense of Separateness

It would be a mistake to assume that the mere perception of having physical contours creates the sense of separateness. The sense of separateness is created by the formation and maintenance of ego structures, which are cathected; i.e., held onto with emotional (libidinal) energy. This can be clearly seen in the many cases in which there is a distortion in the body image, indicating that the image is a mental structure and not an objective perception. [For more on this subject see our book The Void.] Without these structures there is no sense of separateness. Some aspects of Being involve perception of body contours without those contours bounding the sense of presence Ego boundaries are experienced as a film or thickness around the body, because their reflection in the body is a surface tension. This subtle contraction, which is characteristic of all identification systems due to the presence of the defensive element, is experienced in different states of hardness, or thickness, depending on the degree of tension, like any other physical tension. It becomes particularly hard or thick or rigid when there is anxiety regarding it. This happens particularly when one becomes aware of the possibility of its dissolution. The extreme anxiety about loss of boundaries causes the surface tension to increase, which makes it easier to perceive. To believe that one’s boundaries coincide with the external contours of the body indicates that one has not only cathected the body, but also has decathected Being. Belief in ego boundaries involves the conception that one is primarily the body.

From the Perspective of True Nature, all Manifestations of Reality are Neither Separate nor not Separate from Each Other

Because we ordinarily experience ourselves as beings in the world of objects and other beings, the issues around separateness are central to being human. When we arrive at the experience of unity, the experience of nonduality, the question of being separate or not separate moves to the foreground. Not being separate is equated with awakening, and being separate is a marker of duality and the experience of the ego self. But as we become more familiar with true nature, we recognize that separateness or not separateness is not relevant to true nature. That question is relevant to individuals who experience separateness and then the erasure of separateness. From the perspective of true nature, all manifestations of reality are neither separate nor not separate from each other.

If You Don’t believe in a Separate Individuality All of those Problems Disappear, Completely

This belief in separate individuality creates enormous suffering for us. If you have emotional conflict, it is because you perceive yourself to be a person. If you were not a person, what would it mean to have emotional conflicts? What would it mean that someone is rejecting you? All the emotional conflicts that you’ve worked through are based on the belief that you are a separate individual; otherwise, what does it mean to be rejected, what does it mean to be scared, what does it mean to be successful, or to die? If you don’t believe in a separate individuality, all of those problems disappear, completely. But if you continue to believe that you are separate, these issues keep coming back because their cause remains intact. Even in the context of serious inner work, the belief in separate individuality tends to distort the truth. You might believe, for example, that there is a God somewhere who is taking care of you, who is guiding you. But that perspective is a subtle continuation of the ego view. You implicitly believe that you are a person, a separate entity, in relation to some bigger force. This is nothing but the personality’s need for Mommy being reinstated in the relationship with God. True spiritual disciplines say the relationship with God should be dissolution in God. Death in God means dissolving the personality, dissolving the sense of separateness. You are not, ultimately, someone who prays to God. You are somebody who dies in God. Praying to God, surrendering to God, gets you closer and closer to God until there is no separation between you and God.

Seeing Oneself as a Located Soul is Not the Same as Seeing Oneself as a Separate Soul

Seeing oneself as a located soul is not the same as seeing oneself as a separate soul. The located soul is identified with its location but doesn't necessarily have a separating boundary. The separated soul always has both a location and a separating boundary. The identification with being a located consciousness prevents you from being the complete freedom of your nature because True Nature is outside of time, space, shape, size, or location no matter how you may be experiencing it. Although True Nature has no specific location, your soul is the locus of consciousness that makes it possible for you to perceive. That comes in handy for living your life, but the soul can be completely free only when you are not bound to the perspective of your location.

The Jeweled Path, pg. 264

Separateness is a Barrier Against Reality

When you see that your focus on yourself, your separateness, your preoccupation with your personal life, are all barriers against the natural order of reality, you become more willing to be open and loving. There is no threat then about being generous. You see that generosity is our nature. There is no loss in letting go of your point of view; there is tremendous gain -- yet no self gains it. The gain is everyone's gain; the gain is for the universe. You will feel freedom, joy, fulfillment and happiness -- but these feelings are not for you to possess, they are for the universe. Whenever any human being loses his point of view, the entire human race benefits.

Separateness is a Belief

When you see that you have a point of view and allow it to relax, let your mind relax, love will emerge spontaneously and you will see that you are not separate, you will experience directly that we are all individual expressions of the same thing, different parts of the same thing, of the unity and wholeness. On the most basic level that is how things really are. There is no separateness. The separateness is a belief you have which keeps you cut off from the natural outflow of love.



Separateness is the Perspective of the Basic Fault

The Basic Fault is the perspective of separateness, and the resolution in all spiritual traditions is oneness and union. There is nothing new in that. The theistic traditions talk about union with God. The Buddhists talk about it in terms of dissolution of the self. Other teachings call it nonduality. It all amounts to the same thing. The resolution of the Basic Fault is that separateness does not exist. This belief in separateness is the most basic dilemma, the central spiritual problem. If the notion of separate existence does not dissolve, spiritual transformation has not truly happened.

Soul's Anguish at Her Separateness From What She Truly Loves

The soul’s increasing realization of her essential nature spontaneously puts pressure on this structure of separating boundaries, illuminating it and causing the soul to feel an exaggeration of the sense of separateness. One of the ways this inner pressure manifests is that the soul begins to feel constricted, even though she is deeply in touch with her essential nature. She feels limited in a way that causes existential suffering. She longs to be completely essential; she yearns to melt into the sweet juices of essence; but whatever she does, whatever practice she engages in, whatever attitude she takes, nothing works. She feels trapped inside her own skin while she strongly intuits, and frequently knows from direct experience, that her real condition is complete release and total marriage to her beloved, the truth of essence. She is filled with tears and deep sadness for not being in the carefree condition that she knows is her potential, and pained with the anguish of separateness from what she deeply loves. At this point the soul may reach depths of despair about ever being released from the trap of isolation; whatever inner efforts she makes only dig her deeper into this dilemma. Eventually she begins to see the futility of doing anything to free herself, even the spiritual practices of meditation, prayer, concentration, contemplation, inquiry, attention, and so on. Whatever she does is her own individual action, exercising her own will and intention, and it is becoming clear that this is an expression of the dilemma itself. It is all based on her own individual desire. To desire is to be the individual she is, to long and yearn for her freedom is to be the same limited person, and it is this individual that does the spiritual practices and works on herself. This separate person is, in fact, the same individual who wants to surrender, and because she wants to surrender she cannot; for by wanting it she is being the individual who turns out to be inseparable from the separating boundaries of ego.

The Resolution of Separateness

The resolution of the separateness has to do with going from ego to non-ego, from individual to cosmic, from human to divine. We realize that our deeper nature is God itself. Realizing divine nature means not being an individual; it means being totality, universality, infinity. Nothing is excluded from your sense of self. You realize then that whenever you talk to someone, you are talking to yourself. True love, true compassion, and true generosity arise now because there is no separation between you and the other. You could still feel yourself as an individual who sees how you are unique, but you know too that you are fundamentally connected. At a more intrinsic level, that separateness is not there. The moment you go from ego to non-ego you experience not only that you are one with all human beings but that you are one with everything. You realize that the consciousness that has been compacted within boundaries has no boundaries. It is everywhere. Consciousness is the basic substance and nature of everything. The truth you realize, then, is that who you are is not the product of your childhood, is not your body, is not a sense of limited individuality. You are something that is everything, and you are seeing now the nature of everything, not only on the essential level, but on the level of Being itself, on a non-differentiated level, a non-separated level.

The Sense of Boundaries Which Isolates You is Needed for a Sense of Personality and Identity

<p>The personality is made up of the interaction of identity with boundaries. The sense of identity, who you think you are, has the feeling of you as separate from everyone else, the feeling of you as a separate entity: “This is me. I end here.” The sense of boundaries which isolates you is needed for a sense of personality and identity. You believe that you have to have the sense of being separate from everything else in order to be you; that if you didn’t have a sense of yourself as separate from everything else, you would not exist or be able to function. This is a very deep belief. The mind doesn’t understand a state with no boundaries. You have always lived as if you are someone who is different from other people, and different from chairs and everything else. You don’t know if it is possible to be a being, to be oneself and not have that sense of isolation. But when you experience yourself from the perspective of essence, you see that essence doesn’t have that sense of boundary, doesn’t isolate, doesn’t feel it ends somewhere. This does not mean that you don’t exist as you. You still exist as you. But the ego doesn’t know this is possible. To allow yourself not to have boundaries means to accept your aloneness. At the very core of our assumptions about reality, we think aloneness means separateness. But aloneness is not being separate. Aloneness means having no boundaries. How can this be? It is a paradox.</p>

The Sense of Separateness is an Important Aspect of the Sense of Identity

The first body-image contributes to the self-image, especially in its demarcation from the outside. It contributes to the sense of separateness of the self. The second body-image contributes to the self-boundaries more in terms of a feeling of self, and not as much to the sense of separateness. Of course, the sense of demarcation and separateness from the outside contributes, in turn, to this feeling of self. The sense of separateness is, in fact, an important aspect of the sense of identity. Both self-images (or as Mahler calls them above, “intrapsychic structures”) ultimately generate, and in fact form, the sense of identity. So we see here that the sense of self has in it two kinds of self-image (two kinds of self-representations) and two kinds of body-image, forming the nuclei of the self-images. We have seen that this multiplicity is a result of the body having two sets of boundaries, inner and outer. Another factor leading to this multiplicity or layering of self-representations is the process by which this sense of self is developed. We have seen that the ego-identity develops as a result of the separation-individuation process, and also that this process has two distinct lines of development—separation and individuation. The line of development of separation is mainly related to the external body-image and its corresponding self-image. The line of individuation is connected primarily to the internal body-image and its corresponding self-image. Of course there is no clear-cut distinction between the various images, and no clear linear and causal connection. This whole picture of the personality is general and approximate. It is however, sufficient for our understanding of the various grades of emptiness.

The Void, pg. 145

Two Basic Structures that Support Our Familiar Experience of Being a Separate Individual

Over time, as we gradually reconnect to all the various essential aspects, they can develop and come to have a diamond-like quality—a sense of clarity and precision that reveals distinct knowledge and understanding with each aspect. This more precise understanding of our essential nature then begins to expose more of the underlying structure of our personality and its limitations—for instance, the limitation of the ahamkara, or the ego principle, which I discussed in Chapter 2. And as we begin to see that, the structure becomes more transparent and our inner being gradually becomes more pervasive. This usually involves dealing with fundamental structures and beliefs about who we are, and there are two main ones: our sense of identity and our sense of individuality. Identity is self-recognition. It’s the answer to the question: “Who am I?” or “How do I know myself?” We usually respond, “Here I am. I am X and I am such and such.” Individuality, on the other hand, is the sense of being an entity that extends in space and time, with distinct boundaries. The sense of individuality comes from this entity having an individual will, which enables it to make its own decisions. And it’s the sense of identity that enables you to recognize that that entity is you and not somebody else; it gives it a characteristic flavor. These are the two basic structures that support our familiar experience of being a separate individual.

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