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True Self

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is True Self?

Finding your true self is a good thing, but there are many ways of going about it. In the Diamond Approach, we don’t look for it; it happens as a natural consequence of our inquiry.

— A. H. Almaas

Essence is the real and true self. The Essential Self is experienced as the most definite of all aspects of Essence. It is supremely singular, and amazingly unique. This unique singularity is recognized readily as one’s true Self. One recognizes oneself in a very direct and simple manner.  

Diamond Approach Teachings About: True Self

Being Cut Off from the True Self by Identification with an Image

The final outcome of ego development is a unified self-image. This is experienced as a sense of self and a separate individuality; or one could say there is an individual with a sense of self. The Essential Self is replaced gradually by the ego sense of self, as the latter becomes increasingly established. By the time the ego development is capable of selective identification, the ego sense of self has become dominant. The process of loss of contact with the Essential Self is also exacerbated by the usual narcissistic difficulties and traumas in early childhood. The self is no longer an ontologic presence. One is now cut off from the true Self by identification with an image. One’s sense of self is now determined by a memory-image constructed from past object relations and structured by the development of internalized object relations, just as object relations theory contends. But as is clear according to our present analysis, that is not the whole story. The feeling of identity in the self-image is a vague memory of the true feeling of identity.

Being is Who One Is, is the True Self

From our perspective, however, just as it is known in psychoanalysis that some identification systems are defenses against other systems, or against id impulses, they (all identification systems) are usually defenses against the various aspects of Being. Being is always there; it is what we are in the most fundamental way. That it is not in conscious experience indicates the presence of defenses against it; it becomes part of the content of the unconscious. And any identification system taken to give the individual a sense of self or individuality is bound to function as a defense against Being because Being is who one is, is the true self. The identification systems are, at the least, in rivalry with Being and its aspects, and will always function defensively to ward off the deficiency resulting from loss of contact with Being. This defensiveness becomes apparent in the early stages of work on inner realization.

Essence is the Real Person the Real and True Self

It is this sense of self, the core of the personality, and the need to preserve and defend it, that is the main reason why we see the realms of mind, heart, and body as if in opposition to essence. The personality, and its sense of self, is the particular structure of these realms. This structure includes only these realms, and if the realm of essence is introduced into it, essence will have a disorganizing and disintegrating influence on it. The personality will have to oppose essence to keep its own coherence and survival. Essence is the real person, the real and true self. The personality is called false because it is attempting to take the place of the essence. As we will see in the next chapter, the personality and the ego identity develop to fill the void resulting from the loss of essence in childhood. So it is really an impostor, trying to pretend it is the real thing. As we said above, the realm of experience of the personality is that of the mind, heart, and body and the energies that fuel them. This is why people take these aspects of experience to be the real thing. If the personality did not make this assumption, it would have to recognize that it is not the real thing, it is not the center of our life. This is tantamount to the personality allowing itself to die. In fact this event, or more accurately the death of the personality's belief in itself as the real thing, is the exact condition necessary for the realization of essence, for essence to become the center of our existence.

Everyone is Born with the True Self

Everyone is born with the true self, with the point. Although we feel that the point is unique in each of us, the quality of the point is universal. Then how do people become so different in their personal lives? This is due to the particular development of their personal essence. Your unique contribution, your unique personal actualization of your self, your unique understanding, your unique work, and your unique style of life all have to do with the personal essence. The personal essence is the person, actualized in his or her life, while the essential self—the point—is beyond this life and, in a sense, does not need a body. It is always the same; it never changes. The personal essence, the Pearl Beyond Price, however, is a development; it is something that develops out of the Soul when its center is the true self in this life. It is your actualization of your beingness here. When you experience yourself as your beingness, as your personal essence, you feel that you’ve accomplished yourself—not just yourself in the sense of knowing who you truly are, but by knowing who you truly are you start growing and developing your potential. This is the personal essence—personal, with a sense of beingness. The essential self is the experience of “I”; the personal essence is “I am”—not only my identity and my sense of who I am, but myself as a person, here in the world.

How Do We Try to Generate an Identity?

So now you may be aware of identifying with that personal history and its collective sense of selfhood. All this has a tag that you call “me.” What is this tag? When you take the personal history to define you, all of your experiences are included, even experiences of self-realization, enlightenment, and Essence. You also use these memories to define you. For instance, you might remember an experience that you had about two months ago in which you experienced your true self, and now you think that must be you. It became food for your personal history. You’re trying to generate an identity now by remembering it. Who says that is who you are now? Are you always the same? When you take a memory to define you, it doesn’t matter what you remember—good, bad, fundamental, superficial, true or false; it all accumulates in your personal history. Even an experience of your true self can be remembered and added to the collection. But your true self is not an accumulation or a collection. Mysterious, isn’t it? Now you might say, “Wait a minute. If I am not the body, and I’m not my sense of personal history, who am I then? I’m on the verge of something.” When you say, “I’m on the verge of something,” you wonder: “Is it to be scared of or longed for? Should I hope for it; should I fear it? Should I go toward it, or resist it?” Well, who are you at this moment? Aren’t you identifying with your personal history? And doesn’t that personal history want to have one more experience to know for sure who it is?

How Do You Express the True Self?

When you are being your true self, you are not looking for pleasure, you are not avoiding pain, you are not trying to get approval, nor trying to get someone to admire you. You are not out to criticize someone else, or to defeat someone else, and you are not out to gain fame or power. You are naturally and spontaneously living as a genuine human being who has respect and consideration for other human beings. You are not trying to love someone; you are just loving, without even thinking about it. If you are a mature person, it is second nature that you are loving, that you are giving, that you are respectful, and considerate, and that you behave and act in a refined and mature human manner. To make these values and manifestations second nature, you have to put conscious effort into them. You have to make it your work. This does not mean that you have to be solemn and grim and serious; that is not the point. The point is to act with sincerity and to put conscious effort into being aware of yourself and others in order to treat yourself and others with respect. This also does not mean giving up pleasure; it means not seeking pleasure. It does not mean creating pain; it means not avoiding pain. Life is to be lived with the integrity, dignity, and self-respect of a person who knows that the point is not whether something feels good or bad. The point is not to lose your self-respect, not to abandon your true reality, the highest and purest elements within you. Regardless of how wonderful things are and regardless of how painful things are, your self-respect is strong enough to maintain your sense of integrity. That integrity does not mean having your way, or winning or succeeding or anything like that. It means being sincere about who you are and acting in ways that reflect your essential human values.

Self-Recognition in the Essential Dimension

The Essential Identity is supremely singular and amazingly unique. We readily recognize this unique singularity as our true Self. The Essential Identity, then, provides the self with the capacity for self-recognition in the essential dimension. We recognize ourselves in a very direct and simple manner, with a feeling that we have always known our true Self, even though we have always identified with the vague sense of identity belonging to the ego-self. Thus, the Essential Identity is the capacity of the self to recognize itself without reference to any experience of the past, or any self-image, or even any memory. We recognize ourselves because we are present as ourselves, as the presence which is authentically ourselves. This pure, unmediated self-recognition is innate, inherent in the self, but it is available only when the self ceases to identify with the content of experience, and thus allows the Essential Identity to arise.

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