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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Stomach?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Stomach

The Issue of Meaning

It is difficult to convince someone who still has dreams, plans, and ideals that have not been accomplished, that the issue of meaning is important and that it has nothing to do with these things, accomplished or not. This is the reason that in the old times in Work schools people were accepted only in the mature phases of life. Younger people were not believed capable of giving up on the hope that achieving their dreams would satisfy them, unless perhaps they were disappointed very early. As you have probably observed, most of us are still like that, still hoping this or that plan will give it to us. There is nothing wrong with having kids, family, a job, certain ideals to live up to. But, these things don’t answer the question of meaning. They have different purposes: they are entertaining, fill your stomach, warm your bed, give you company and intimacy, provide something to be occupied with. But they don’t provide you the meaning of life.

Assuaging the Hunger of the Empty Self with Narcissistic Supplies

The student understands at this point that this hungry, empty self is the deepest psychodynamic source of his selfishness, self-centeredness, self-seeking, exploitativeness, cruelty, heartlessness, and compulsive need for narcissistic supplies. This self views these supplies—the admiration, acknowledgment, recognition, support, love, success, acclaim, applause, and the rest—as a kind of food it needs to assuage the gnawing hunger and to fill its painful emptiness. At this point, as the underlying emptiness of the self begins to manifest, the student might experience the usual narcissistic meaninglessness and emptiness of life and existence. He feels empty and meaningless, but also experiences the whole world as empty, devoid of warmth and nourishment. Persisting with exploring these manifestations, he discovers that for this self, meaning is food, or a full stomach. However, this food has a narcissistic quality to it. Before he actually experiences the emptiness, he feels hungry, and observes that he tries to assuage his hunger with narcissistic supplies. He tries to fill himself with acclaim, applause, admiring mirroring, adoring support, and idealizing love, with recognition, appreciation, and approval, but goes about it with the uncontrollable hunger of a famished soul. He can never get enough; his satiation is transitory and his fullness can only be short-lived.

Considering Your Own Reality

It is important to look at our work, ourselves, in terms of this slight difference between reality and truth. When you are working on yourself, it is true that your state at any given time is due to certain emotional things – due to certain deficiencies, due to certain losses of your essence. So you say, “Okay, I’m going to work every second from now on so I can be free of my deficiencies.” It’s a fine wish. However, there’s a reality too. The reality of the situation is that you have certain limitations that must be considered. You have a body, you have a stomach, you have a nervous system, and to be able to survive long enough to find the truth, you need to eat, sleep, feel safe and comfortable. Because there are certain parts of you that are not available all the time, there’s no point in pushing yourself and beating yourself up because you’re not working on your deficiencies every second. You have to take your reality into consideration.

Identification with the Stomach

This is how it was for us at the beginning with the breast. You had an empty stomach, you were at the breast, and nutrients came from the breast into you. So it's understandable that we end up believing the world functions in that way. For the first year of life, that was our basic experience. There's a breast, a mommy, a you, and a stomach. The breast is either good or bad, either full or empty, and the stomach is either being fed or not being fed. Those sensations of hunger that are relieved by a breast feeding what eventually feels like your stomach are at the core of the object relations we enact in our life. So your deepest identification is that you're a stomach. Your earliest relationship with your mother is as an embryo attached through the umbilical cord and later as an infant suckling at the breast. Usually, the experience of that identity feels empty and vulnerable. You feel cut off and in search of connection. You might feel like some kind of umbilical cord is missing. When you experience this embryonic identity, which is earlier than the symbiotic stage, you want that umbilical connection to the mother. But even that is an object relation. You believe the resolution will be connection to the secure other that is the source. But by that very definition, you're empty. Whatever you seek you haven't got. When you were in the womb, when you were suckling at your mother's breast, you didn’t have it. You were helpless and vulnerable. You didn’t have anything. Everything came from outside.

Looking at Reality Through the Lens of the Physical World

The Basic Fault is looking at reality through the lens of the physical world, relying on the experience of your body to define who you are and what the world is. The central object relation is founded on the identification with the body and its relationship to the body of the mother, whether as the stomach relating to the breast or as the embryo relating to the placenta. Many people, when they regress very deeply, think that the teacher is a placenta. When people pray to God, they pray as if to a placenta. "Give me grace. Give me some oxygen. Give me fulfillment." Who are they praying to? The mother’s breast and, more deeply, the placenta. I call it placenta longing. People do strange things with their mind. They think they have a relationship with God when they're really fantasizing their relationship to the placenta. I'm not kidding. That actually happens. Sounds funny, but at a very deep level, it’s what we do.

Outer Orientation of the Animal Soul’s Empty Stomach

As a result, whenever the soul experiences any need, any inner emptiness, the original template that the soul will morph her experience through will be that of an empty stomach wanting something from outside her. This outer-directed orientation characterizes the animal soul, and functions as the fundamental underlying attitude of the ego-self. The soul is then not only externally oriented, but she is always ready to move forcefully outward. This compulsive and rigidly structured outwardness, in both orientation and action, automatically dissociates the soul from her essence. Essence is the inner, the depth; fixated orientation away from it is bound to dissociate us from it. The compulsive outward movement literally means the soul leaves her essential ground for the object of her gratification. The end result is not only dissociation, but the fixated position that richness resides outside, when in reality, for the adult soul it is primarily inside. Because of this fixed animal structure, the soul will find it difficult to commit to her inner richness, even when she experiences and understands its limitedness, for this fixation is so deeply structured and crystallized that it takes a great deal of maturity and learning to break through it.

Structures of the Young Soul

The stomach wall structures the young soul, building a structure that feels like a bag with thick muscular walls whose affect is either hunger or satiation. Another form related to the stomach structure is that of the whole alimentary tract, beginning at the mouth and ending at the anus. This is a complex structure that feels like tubes and bulges connected together. Another structure is that of the mouth itself, where the soul feels like a big and hungry mouth and throat, which can only take in and swallow. We recognize we are dealing with this structure when we feel we want to relate to everything by swallowing it, whether it is food, knowledge, experience, people, and so on. We may find also anal structures, even urethral structures, but the oral ones tend to dominate because the oral stage precedes the anal. We might also find structures related to early illness, or early physical confinement, for example an impression of a cast on a limb, or impressions related to an incubator.

The Inner Glutton

The more deeply we see our inner nature, the more we love it, and the more we want to do nothing else but serve it. We begin to wish and pray to become a slave to the truth. In time, the soul recognizes that's what it wants in its own heart. Servitude is not imposed from above. Neither is it a decision we make. We have to go deeply into the heart of the soul and see what that heart wants. What makes that heart peaceful and happy? What is its highest aim? If we look at it that way, we see that the work on the passions is indispensable. We need to discover the realm of virtues: serenity, humility, truthfulness, detachment, equanimity, sobriety. We need to learn not to consume our experiences. That’s the attitude of the inner glutton who doesn’t want to feel his empty stomach. With sobriety, we are awake with our experiences and not overtaken by our passions. We are not overrun by our unrefined nature. We are awake to ourselves and approach our experience with some kind of detachment, with some kind of humility and gratitude, with some kind of purity.

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