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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Spirituality?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Spirituality

Beginning to Understand What Spirituality Truly Means

Concern with the Big Picture

I said at the beginning of this teaching that it would involve a shift of focus from the experience of the individual soul to the experience of the whole of existence. And when we understand the connection of the soul to the larger perspective, it means that we understand what the boundless dimensions really mean, and that is when we begin to understand what spirituality truly means. We cannot understand spirituality if we don’t understand divinity, if we don’t understand the cosmic being, or the nature of everything. If you only understand yourself as essential nature, you are only just beginning to know spirituality. True spiritual or mystical experience is to experience the nature of everything, which is the same thing as the being of God. That is the work we are doing now. We are not working just so that you feel your essence inside you and resolve your issues and that’s it. That’s what happens at the beginning—and we explored that in the first volume of this love series—but now we’re concerned with the big picture, the whole story. Some teachings try to give you the whole story right from the beginning, but it’s difficult to absorb, except in an intellectual way. In this work we want to learn experientially, little by little, so that you’re gradually learning the teaching and at the same time learning what you yourself are and what reality is.

Seeing that You Do Not Stop at Your Skin

As your experience of the aspects and your essential nature is no longer felt to be something that is only inside you, you begin to see that you don’t stop at your skin. Your soul doesn’t stop at your skin, and neither does your essence. The only reason why your essence stops at your skin is because you think it does, because that’s what you believe. The more you see through that belief, which is part of the ego principle, the more your essence expands, and it gets bigger and more expanded until you feel, “Oh, it’s really big now!” When you feel so expanded, it can feel like you’re filling the room, but although you’re expanding, chances are you’re still believing that you stop at your skin—it’s just that your skin has gotten as big as the room. Only when you see through the skin as a boundary do you realize that you don’t actually have a size or shape. You’re everywhere. That’s why we say “omnipresence”; you recognize your presence is now omnipresence because it really is everywhere.

Losing Our Boundaries

As we lose our boundaries, we recognize that there is only this boundless, infinite atmosphere, and that all the essential qualities are basically differentiations and condensations of that atmosphere. We see that the atmosphere condenses into dense drops, and these drops are our souls, and the whole physical universe is formed out of densification and condensation of that atmosphere, all swimming within the ocean of it.

This Spiritual Perspective Can Hold the Scientific Perspective Easily

Of course, this perspective of the whole universe being pervaded by this reality, from which everything is formed and in which everything swims, doesn’t accord with the scientific perspective of things. So if you’re thinking scientifically you’ll have trouble with this perspective. This is because our modern Western science is inherently physically reductionistic. And more than that, it takes duality to be the true condition of reality. If you’re thinking that way, why not put your scientific mind on the shelf for now? Not forever, because it’s good to bring it back again when you’ve experienced this boundless reality. Then you can see how the two perspectives interrelate, which they do—there’s no antithesis between them. The spiritual perspective can hold the scientific perspective easily, no problem, with no contradiction. However, the scientific perspective cannot hold the spiritual one, at least not the scientific perspective as we have it now. That’s why if you’re a spiritual person, you can’t argue with somebody who’s taking the rational scientific perspective. They have to leave their scientific universe for a while in order to get the spiritual perspective, because the scientific perspective cannot hold spirit; in fact, it excludes spirit.

Development of a New Metapsychology

We are developing here a new metapsychology, one that views our overall psychological experience from a ground that does not dichotomize it from the spiritual dimension. Our metapsychology is based on a knowledge of the soul, not only a knowledge of the self, with its ego and its subsystems, or its overt behavior. This higher ground of understanding that unifies the psychological and the spiritual is a facet of a larger integration, one that also integrates it to the scientific method and its view of the world, a world that is in turn connected to our spiritual understanding. This unification addresses the common modern perspective in which the soul or self is seen as separate from the world or the cosmos, and separate also from God or Being. More precisely, our new metapsychology is embedded within, and is an expression of, a metaphysics that brings to a new level of unity thought and research in relation to the three facets of reality, soul/self, world/cosmos, and God/Being. In this metaphysics, spirituality and science are seen as two facets of the same thing, which involves recognizing a ground where the spiritual and the physical, in addition to the psychological, are seen to be meaningfully related.

Filling the Hole of Meaninglessness with Notions of Spirituality

Various religious or spiritual ideas, therapeutic approaches which “explain” one’s emptiness as a lack of gratification in one’s history or relationships—or even more external factors such as new work projects, new relationships, even new possessions—are all too available to fill the hole of meaning in a person’s life. But if this emptiness is filled, even with notions of spirituality, it is not possible to penetrate the emptiness and become available to the arising of one’s true nature. In our work, we approach this—as all questions—with open-ended inquiry, in which the student is invited to investigate his feelings to discover their truth within his personal experience. The teacher guides him only to inquire sincerely and points out his assumptions and defenses regarding his self-awareness. A certain understanding informs this approach: We observe that with an inquiring, empathic but noninterfering support, the individual will move naturally and spontaneously towards the truth of his experience. This allows the meaninglessness, and its underlying emptiness, to become more conscious, revealing that the emptiness is in his self, and not in those external situations.

Spirituality Involves Seeing Reality as It Is

Spirituality does not just involve seeing that there is spirit in addition to the physical. It involves seeing reality as it is—what actually is there, physical or non-physical. To make that possible, we need to be free from the conviction that makes us focus on the dimension of reality that comes through our physical senses. This conviction is so deep, so solid, and so entrenched, and it pervades our consciousness so completely, so universally, that we take it to be reality. We don’t think of it as a conviction, we think of it as unquestionable reality. Most people never question it. So everyone tries to live their lives from this limited perspective. You take the input of your senses as all of reality and then try to deal with your life from that perspective. Then you get in trouble because that’s not all of reality. So your beliefs are bound to be inaccurate, and your actions are bound to be ineffective. The simplest, most common example of this is that from the materialist perspective you tend to believe that if you have material success, you will be happy, or if your body looks a certain way, you will be satisfied with yourself. But in holding this perspective, you are actually bound to be unhappy, because the perspective of the physical dimension is not the whole truth about you.

The Imbalance in Most Realms of Religion and Spirituality

We see, then, that just as psychology has adopted a self with no soul, spirituality has adopted a soul with no self. From the perspective of many spiritual approaches, the spiritual aspect of the human being is seen as quite separate from or even incompatible with the self, which is defined as that which leads the primarily bodily life, concerned with enhancing the self and material well-being. Thus most realms of religion and spirituality have developed an imbalance, in which there is a dichotomy between the spiritual and the material, and the material is rejected in favor of the spiritual. This tends to alienate the “man of the world,” the worldly people who constitute the majority of humankind and who live from the perspective that ordinary, everyday life is important and potentially fulfilling. (We have discussed this matter extensively in the book The Pearl Beyond Price, which explores how an integration between the worldly and spiritual can be effected without compromising either.) The perspective of soul with no self, the sense that the spiritual is distinct and divorced from the psychological, also characterizes some areas of Eastern thought. In Eastern or Western spiritual work, this imbalance manifests as working on spiritual development without taking care of one’s psychological conflicts and aberrations. So one may develop with deep spiritual experience and insight, but retain some neurotic and emotionally conflicted manifestations.

The Need for a Spiritually Informed Psychology

The Point of Existence is the third volume in the Diamond Mind Series. This series is a systematic presentation of a particular body of knowledge, which we call Diamond Mind, and its corresponding modus operandi, a way of working with people toward inner realization, which we call the Diamond Approach. The presentation is somewhat technical and hence, it will be useful to psychologists, psychotherapists, educators and spiritual teachers, but also accessible to the educated reader. This work is in response to a need being felt in many quarters; a need for a spiritually informed psychology, or conversely, for a psychologically grounded spirituality. This perspective does not separate psychological and spiritual experience and hence, sees no dichotomy between depth psychology and spiritual work. Through a creative critique and investigation, this system incorporates elements of depth psychology—particularly those of ego psychology and object relations theory, and extends them into realms of the human psyche which are usually considered the domain of religion, spirituality and metaphysics. This body of knowledge is not an integration or synthesis of modern depth psychology and traditional spiritual understanding. The inclination to think in terms of integration of the two is due to the prevailing belief in the dichotomy between the fields of psychology and spirituality, a dichotomy in which the Diamond Mind understanding does not participate.

The Spiritual Dimension of the Self is Its Ontological Presence, Its Essential Nature

We can define “spiritual” more precisely at this point. The spiritual dimension of the self is its ontological presence, its essential nature. In fact, what we have termed Essence is what the various philosophies, religions, and spiritual teachings have called spirit. So we see that spirit is not something otherworldly and ephemeral; it is actually our fundamental nature, the ground and ultimate truth of ourselves. Spiritual development means, then, the discovery and integration of our essential presence in our experience of ourselves. And since this presence is ultimately nondual and forms the ground of our wholeness, spiritual development can also be seen as the movement towards wholeness.

The Vision Needed for a New Psychology

We cannot attempt to reclaim soul for our modern understanding by returning to the ancient ways of studying soul. To abandon the wealth of knowledge developed by the various schools of psychology in the last century or so would deprive us of the powerful tools for self-knowledge developed by modern psychology. The vision needed for a new psychology must hold the ancient way of understanding soul while at the same time embracing and employing modern understanding and methods of research. Our vision must not separate psychology from spirituality or from science. As we will see, the view that recognizes the true connection of the soul to the universe can and must embrace scientific knowledge. The study of God/Being—that is, of religion, spirituality, and philosophy— has itself become alienated; it has become peripheral, disconnected from the needs and aspirations of the masses of humanity, and even from the majority of those carrying the main currents of Western thought. As part of the development that Nietzsche called the death of God, Western thought has become increasingly secular, and our understanding of the world and ourselves has turned steadily toward science and psychology. The development of modern science has captured human aspirations for at least the past century, although for a few decades psychology has increasingly been attracting our aspirations for meaning and salvation.

We Cannot Separate Our Psychology From Spirituality

We also believe that understanding the spiritual nature of the self can help us to understand even the severe forms of narcissistic disturbance. This perspective can help us to see that we cannot separate our psychology from our spirituality, our psyche from our spirit, for we are fundamentally whole. Our self is one self, and cannot be dichotomized into a spiritual or “higher” self and a psychical or psychophysical self. Perhaps the following multifaceted exploration of self-realization and narcissism will contribute to a healing vision of our fundamental wholeness, and an appreciation of the rich potential for the human soul. Our approach to self-realization in its relationship to narcissism allows two new possibilities. The first is that it allows us to understand and resolve narcissism at its fundamental roots. This is facilitated enormously by the greater access to essential nature permitted by this view. The mere conception of the existence of essential nature tends to open us up to perceiving it. The second possibility is that this approach provides us with a new way of working towards self-realization, the method of inquiry that includes psychological understanding. Traditional spiritual practices do not include the contemporary Western understanding of self. This understanding of the self and its narcissism is a central part of our work, and can also be useful to those engaged in traditional spiritual practices.

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