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Soul (Animal Soul)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Soul (Animal Soul)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Soul (Animal Soul)

Both the Rejection of and the Catering to Animal Desires are Barriers to the Love of Truth

The animal soul has its own fixations and objects of satisfaction. We definitely need to allow the animal soul to feel all its wants and desires and we need to accept them. However, that is not enough for the animal soul to be able to let go of them. It can still be dominated by them even after accepting them. There are people whose animal needs have not been rejected. This does not mean that these people are not dominated by the animal soul. In fact, their needs might have been overgratified, which is just as difficult a problem. It’s easy to get stuck in that. These individuals are used to being gratified and they feel that’s their right. Because they’re used to getting what they want, it’s very difficult for them to let go of the focus on gratification and love the truth. So both the rejection of and catering to animal desires are barriers to the love of truth. In reality, the animal soul is the primary barrier to spiritual development. It’s difficult for us to see this because we’re usually not dealing with a healthy animal soul; we’re dealing with a damaged, distorted, or arrested one. So we’re always dealing with the distortions. We don’t know how big a barrier the animal soul itself is because we’re busy trying to turn it into a more “normal” animal soul by freeing the instincts that were repressed in childhood. That in itself is not easy. But even if you can accomplish that, you recognize, “Oh, what did I do? I thought this animal was going to turn out nice and cute.” You didn’t know it was going to become a huge hungry monster that declares: “Good! Now I am strong, I have my energy. Now I can get what I want!” It’s not as if the animal soul never feels peace and happiness. It does—when it has gotten what it wants. The animal soul becomes beautiful and graceful—but only after gratification of its desires. There’s no freedom in this. 

Bringing Together the Animal and Angelic Impulses

What emerged for the participants in this seminar—and, we hope, for the readers of this book—is the recognition that the bringing together of our animalistic impulses with the angelic sacredness of our spiritual nature in our human experience can contribute to the journey toward wholeness. We can live fully as physical beings on Earth, inseparable from knowing ourselves as the exalted transcendent truth of spirit. The integration of these levels of existence will allow us to experience the dynamic living presence of our spiritual nature pouring into the world, taking on form and living through that form as who we are in our uniqueness—all the while never stopping being the totality of all.

Civilizing the Soul by Disowning Her Animal Dimension

The animal soul is originally run by drives and instinctual appetites, but it is not particularly destructive or grossly and intentionally selfish, but similar to animals in the wild. However, because it is disowned, it loses contact with the other elements of the soul, and becomes distorted and extreme in the intensity of its aggression, worse than actual animals. Society has learned to civilize the soul not by transforming her animal dimension or harmonizing it with her overall psychic economy, but by disowning, controlling, repressing, and splitting it off; this recognition is among Freud's most enduring contributions to our knowledge. Our animal qualities are seen as bad, and the superego functions to control the impulses of the libidinal soul, so that they do not penetrate to consciousness or get acted out. This separates the animal dimension of the soul from true learning and civilization, and also from being impacted by spiritual aspects of the soul. Thus in the course of inner work, when we first get in touch with the libidinal soul we find it in this split off and hence distorted and exaggerated animalistic form. We feel then justified to continue our rejection and revulsion; but when we observe them with nonjudgmental awareness, it may transform to its original animal form, with its grace and power.

Drives of the Animal Soul

The animal or libidinal soul is driven by two primary instincts or drives: the aggressive and libidinal. The aggressive drive includes the soul’s power and energy directed toward survival and all of its correlates: dominance, rivalry, territoriality, etc. The libidinal drive includes sexual and erotic energy and impulses, animalistic wanting and desire, and the desires for togetherness, connection, and so on. These two drives appear in the animal soul within the context of two primitive object relations, again split off from each other. The first contains the aggressive drive and we refer to it as the "rejection object relation," and the second contains the libidinal drive and we refer to it as the "libidinal and/or frustrating object relation."

Experiencing Some of the Forms of the Animal Soul

During the spiritual journey one may experience some of these forms of the animal soul, depending on the degree of structure one is dealing with. When we are dealing and working with more structured parts of our soul we tend to experience animal forms high on the phylogenetic ladder. This happens, for instance, when we are investigating feelings and states of irrational and extreme aggression and destructiveness. By seeing through the distortions that have twisted our soul, the dissociation and splitting of our aggression, power, and strength, and coming to a place of acceptance, resolution, and understanding of these elements of our potential, the forms we experience may move from that of a heartless and primitive animal form that embodies hatred and vengeance, like a hissing black snake, into the more evolved, graceful, and beautiful form of a black panther, at peace with its vitality and power. We experience then our essential power and vitality, but in the animal form of a panther that is in harmony with its nature but also in a contented and peaceful state.

How Appetites and Desires Transform into Greed and Craving

The animal soul constitutes the potential of our soul that is the prototype of animality, in all of its primitiveness and irrationality. Because of this our appetites and desires can easily transform into greed and craving, and our aggression and power can instantly turn into rage, hatred, vengeance, and heartless destructiveness.

On Being the Animal Potential of the Soul

When we experience the animal potential of the soul, what we call the animal soul, we are then full of desires, cravings, uncontrollable impulses, lust, and passion for what the world offers. We want with passion, crave with hunger, and desire with instinctual abandon. We desire instant gratification, but our appetite for such gratification has no bottom and no end. We want and want and want. We want to eat, copulate, possess, dominate, even nourish and nurse ad nauseam. Even when we believe we are being human because we want contact and sharing, our attitude about such fine qualities is animalistic, and worse. We are greedy for contact, and our need for sharing is bottomless. And whoever stands in our way had better beware. The animal drives for shelter, survival, pleasure, and sex reveal their true primitive potential when we experience a barrier to their satisfaction. Our animal side can instantly become inhumanly brutal, grossly aggressive, crassly greedy, heartlessly selfish, and totally uncaring for others to the degree of complete disregard of what they feel. We can go about gratifying our desires with complete disregard of others, sometimes not even remembering that there are other living beings. When our survival or objects of desire are threatened, we can lose all heart and rationality, and become so primitive, cruel and insensitive that it would be difficult to find such behavior in the animal kingdom.

Seeking Instinctual Gratification

Because the soul is structured in a way that dissociates her from her essential nature, in the normal course of ego development the soul becomes predominantly an animal soul with a civilized veneer. She inherits from the animal soul its external orientation which is reinforced by the early dependency of the human infant. The soul is powerfully driven by the animal instincts, dominated by the need for gratification. Gratification is the pleasurable satisfaction of her desires, whether they are for safety and security, company and intimacy, sexual and physical pleasure, or for anything else she craves. Structured thus, the soul grows up adhering to two deep delusions: that the purpose of life is the gratification of her desires; and that the objects of gratification exist outside her in the physical world. She becomes enmeshed in a life of seeking instinctual gratification, ruled by the pleasure principle, which is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

The Animal Soul is Not Another Soul

We need to note the important truth that the animal soul is not another soul, not a separate soul. It is one of the dimensions of the soul. We have, or more accurately are, one unified indivisible soul. We have many dimensions of potentialities. At any time, and at any stage of development, we can experience any of these potentials, even though different forms of experience dominate at different stages.

The Divine Animal, the Lusty Angel

The type of love we are talking about doesn’t differentiate between appreciation and desire, between love and eros, between the divine and the animal. That is why, when the soul has developed in a way that unifies the animal and the angel, we call it the divine animal. Another expression for it is “the lusty angel.” What is a lusty angel? It is a soul that is full of desire but it is still angelic, which means that it is pure, total light. It is the luminous force of the mystery of unity that all souls are looking for, and they are seeking it because it is driving them together with its magnetism. We might believe that we are searching, but in fact we are simply being attracted. The more that we feel we are not in control, the more fortunate we are.

Uniting the Animal and the Angel

Many teachings enable us to realize the unity of Being. And there are many ways to reach or recognize the nondual condition, the primordially natural condition of our Being and our consciousness. Our approach here is that of uniting the animal and the angel, our animal nature and our angelic or divine nature. Human beings possess the potential to integrate these two parts of ourselves even though we begin as animals. That is, we begin life as babies with the animal drive dominant, and our animal nature continues to be a very important part of us. No matter how much we want to disown our animal aspect, it is not possible, because we are animal in our physicality.

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