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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Society?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Society

Almost All Institutions of Society are Formed, Run and Populated by the Personality, the Usurper of the Place of Essence

This is because the environment is ruled by the personality, normal and pathological. All institutions of society, except for isolated instances, are formed, run, and populated by the personality, the usurper of the place of essence. And the personality by its very nature, by its existence, is contrary to the essence and lacks the understanding of its nature. Not only that, its very life is threatened by essence. For essence exposes its emptiness, bares its hurts, and makes transparent its falsehood. We saw in the previous chapter that the personality develops in the process of the loss of essence to fill the resulting void and to hide the painful deficiencies. It takes the place of essence. Its very basis is the absence of essence. Hence, these bases of its existence will be threatened by the emergence of essence. The personality cannot understand essence. It is in no position to sympathize with it and in most cases is in outright opposition to it.

Becoming Objective about Society and Its Functions

The incomparable pearl, the personal essence, also undergoes a transformation, and its relationship to the new dimensions becomes clear, free, and established. This process is referred to in the story above, “The Hymn of the Pearl,” by the wearing of a robe. The individual becomes even more autonomous than on the ego level. In a sense, he becomes completely autonomous. On the social level, this autonomy does not mean that he does not need society at all. It means he becomes objective about society and its functions. He no longer looks at society as if it were his mother, nor relates to it the way he did to his father or mother. He does not see it as a source of emotional support or emotional protection or nourishment. He does not look to it for admiration, approval, self-esteem, respect, position, fame, identity, and the like. The issues of friendship, trust, and power become clear. His social relations become objective, rather than clouded by the personality's assumptions and hopes about society. Society is seen for what it is, and all social interactions are seen for what they are. Society is neither rejected nor accepted but understood for what it is, what it offers, what it demands, and what it needs. Society's relation to essence and its life becomes conscious.

Ego Activity is What Connects You to the Social Network of Personality

You must see the totality of your personality in the present—all the thoughts, desires, feelings, and dreams, which are continuous with your past. You may also see your personality, at all times continuous with the social structure around you, in all your relationships, the influence of your society on your personality, and so on. You will see that your ego activity is what connects you to the social network of personality, making you vulnerable to the various external influences that obscure the truth of who you are, and what reality is. When you see this completely, it is possible for the movement in you—that connects you with the rest of society—to stop. When it stops, you become pure, clarified personality, soul with no ego structure. This clarifies and heals the split from Being. The split simply is not there. In that instant you see that you and the supreme reality are one. For the first time, you can perceive the actual substance of the personality without the past. The basis of the personality, the underlying principle that makes it possible for you to be a person, the thing that you have rejected all this time, is nothing but the supreme reality as a person. The very substance of the personality is ultimately a substance which I call the Supreme Pearl, or the supreme person: pure personal presence with no qualities. It is just Being, pure and simple, but manifesting as a human person. So when the personality is completely clarified, and yet you feel you are a person, the personality doesn’t disappear; it is now the supreme person, the truest person. This is a sublime reality existing as you, the human individual.

Finally Becoming Convinced that the Real Treasures Lie Within Us

Spiritual transformation is about finally becoming convinced that the real treasures lie within us—that our consciousness, our soul, contains all the wonderful things that we want to experience. We only need to be open to our Being and invite it to display itself. This means that our true nature—with all its beauty and all the experiences of it that human beings crave—is not something that we need to create or accomplish. We don’t have to work hard at getting these beautiful experiences; they are already there. We just need to be relaxed about it. We need to be loose inside ourselves. Then our true nature will begin to flow out, to bubble up, and we discover that everything we were seeking so hard for outside is all there inside us. That is a very difficult lesson for human beings to learn because all of society and much of our experience tells us it is the other way around: When you have more money, things get better. When more people love you, you are happier. When the weather is nicer, you can enjoy yourself more. We believe that it is always something external that makes things better. But the fact that feelings of happiness, joy, confidence, strength, power, peacefulness, fulfillment, clarity, and freedom are potentialities of our soul means that we don’t have to worry too much. It is as Meher Baba used to say: “Don’t worry, be happy.” That was one of his spiritual instructions. If you really don’t worry, everything you’re after is already there. We already are that true nature. We already have all the treasures within us.

First We Need to Connect Ourselves to the Truth Before We Even Think About the Truth in Terms of the Larger Society

The fact is, when we discuss society in relationship to truth or anything of deep significance, most of the time we’ll find that society doesn’t know, doesn’t recognize, doesn’t approve, doesn’t support whatever it is —and that’s not because we are modern-day Americans. It was the case in the Middle Ages, in Rome, in Greece. What did they do to Socrates? What did they do to Christ? It’s always like that. My guess is, it’s going to continue like that. In fact, I do not see many signs of improvement. And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be anyway—who knows? We can look gloomily at this situation and spend time feeling bad about it or we can simply recognize the fact that that is how society is. We can know that society is the way it is and take that into consideration. So if we are really interested in working on ourselves, if we care about the truth enough, if we care about our true nature enough to be in touch with it, we will do what is necessary to actualize it. This is not the same as setting ourselves up to change society or impose something on it. Instead we can ask ourselves, “What is the most intelligent way to go about this so we can be the truth of what we are? How can we use the present situation in the most intelligent way possible to support ourselves and our endeavor—and hopefully benefit society as well?” I am saying that we first need to connect ourselves to the truth before we even think about the truth in terms of the larger society. Don’t you think that would be more intelligent?

Brilliancy, pg. 122

It is not Part of Generally Accepted Societal Wisdom to Understand What a True Human Being Is

The majority of humanity lives at an infantile stage. It is necessary for us to pass through that stage, but we do not have to stop there. However, it is not part of generally accepted societal wisdom to understand what a true human being is, or what the function of a human being is. Because society at large does not have this knowledge and functions at an undeveloped level, we are given no guidance about how to grow up. Society is necessary for the basic security and social needs of human beings, but the human being needs more than that. The fulfillment of the true human potential requires meeting much deeper, finer needs. Work like ours exposes the animalistic and childish influences and needs which govern our lives, and brings the more refined aspects of ourselves to bear on our lives. In this process, so convinced are we of our base and deficient nature, that often we will actually attempt to use the finer elements of who we are to satisfy our elementary needs. An example of this pattern is using essential or spiritual experience to feel superior to those around us. However, our beingness and its capacities are not there to satisfy the personality’s needs, such as the need for approval, recognition, love, acceptance, security, power, or even pleasure. The finer elements of the human soul are there to transform your personality so that it grows out of those childish patterns. Contact with essential qualities is supposed to have an impact on who you are, so that you can become a mature human being and be what you are meant to be.

Our Whole Society Focuses on the Physical World as the Most Fundamental Reality

Our whole society focuses on the physical world as the most fundamental reality. We believe that human beings are discrete objects in physical reality, and therefore, physical death is the end or disappearance of what a person is. However, reality does not exist in discrete objects except in the physical universe. When you penetrate the physical universe and you see what underlies it, you realize that there are no discrete objects. Reality is a oneness, a unity. When we are convinced of the oneness, the unity, we are not afraid of death. There is no physical reality that exists on its own, somehow separated from another world underneath or above it. The exclusively physical, materialist perspective is a partial perspective created by eliminating the other perspectives. In reality, it is one world. If you see the creation in its totality, it is a unity. If you see only its surface, you see the world of objects. So eliminating the subtle perceptions eliminates the oneness, the unity that is an intrinsic aspect of the nature of all that exists.

Our Whole Society is Arranged so that People Fill Each Other’s Holes

Our whole society is set up to teach us that we should get the outside to fill our holes; we should get value, love, strength, and so on from outside. We talk about how wonderful it is to do things for other people, or to fall in love, or have a meaningful profession as if these activities are what give life meaning. We attribute the meaning to the person or thing we think is responsible for it rather than to Essence, which is really responsible. Our whole society is arranged so that people fill each other’s holes. Civilization as we know it is built around filling holes. It is a product of the personality. It is also the home of the personality. It is what sustains and nourishes the personality.

Our Whole Society Not Only Condones this Substitution of External Factors for Intrinsic Meaning, but Actually Idealizes It

That’s why some people who are very successful, famous, or rich kill themselves when it slips away, as if the money, or beauty, or fame had been the life. It’s gone, so what’s the point in living? Some people kill themselves or die soon after a spouse dies, as if the other had been invested with all the meaning of living. When the central thing that gives one the impetus to live goes, whether it’s a relationship, a skill, or an ideal, there is a big emptiness left. Many people are surprised by how much they were invested, and beforehand would have denied that the person or accomplishment was what gave their lives meaning. But at the moment of loss, it becomes obvious. Even when people retire from a job they would have said had no meaning except for the paycheck, they often feel devastated at the loss of the activity or the role. What is actually lost is the sense of identity. The filler is taken away, so they are faced with the need to escape a sense of meaningless emptiness. The emptiness was there all the time, but there was a cork in it. That cork was the career or relationship or ideal or philosophy or sex, whatever stimulating or distracting agent the person was using. Our whole society not only condones this substitution of external factors for intrinsic meaning, but actually idealizes it. With few exceptions, society as a whole tries to deal with the search for meaning in these ways. Even our love, our intelligence, and our body give us a sense of identity.

Phenomena which are Taken by Society to Indicate Autonomy May Only be Skin Deep

As we discussed in Chapter Two, the accomplishment of separation-individuation is understood to be the acquiring of independence from the mothering person in the process of forming a stable self-image and sense of self. Its final outcome is indeed the achievement of individuality, the capacity to be a person in one’s own right and to function autonomously. Thus, in terms of ego development, acquiring autonomy is the same as the achievement of the intrapsychic task of the separation-individuation process, the attainment of identity, separateness and individuality. We can see then that society’s idealization of autonomy points to the deeper significance of the desire of the man of the world for autonomy: it means to him becoming “his own person.” It means individuation, growth and maturity. Independence and autonomy within society, “making it,” achieving the capacity to support oneself and one’s family, the ability to make free choices about one’s life, are the adult’s expression of individuation, signs of the maturity of his ego development, and the fruition of the solidification of his individuality. The findings of object relations theory, however, show that these phenomena which are taken by society to indicate autonomy may only be skin deep. These findings identified a more basic level of autonomy, that of emotional independence, as the core of actual autonomy. Thus some individuals who may appear autonomous, because they are successful, productive people, may lack the intrapsychic achievement of independence and therefore lack a true inner core of autonomy. In these cases, it is well known, the individual lives a life of emptiness and emotional desolation.

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