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almaas5.jpgOne more interview with Almaas, on how the soul matures and the internal and external tools that catalyze maturation. How the mind can be used in this direction, the possible roles of external substances such as neurochemical substances or technological tools. When and if there’s an end to the search for ourselves, and the role of sexuality on the path. Interview made by Toshan Ivo Quartiroli, Innernet publisher.

Toshan Ivo: I wish to ask you some more about the objectivity/subjectivity issue in our culture. Descartes said if man were taken out of the prison of the body, he would find the ideas of God within himself. It seems that our western culture is based on the believe that anything subjective and embodied would be flawed from the beginning. It seems as though the belief is that we lose our divine nature when we get “personal” and subjective. In Christian theology, evil and sin are attributed to the free will of the human being, at least originally. So according to this belief, when humans use their own subjective choices, this is against the will of God. I wonder if as a culture we avoided the value of subjectivity for a long time because of this and other historical beliefs, or if there’s also something intrinsic in the development of the soul that requires stages where we don’t give the correct value to our own subjective truth?

Hameed Ali: First, I am not sure that people in the West will agree with you about the West’s view of the personal and subjective. Actually, it is the East that has historically tended towards suspicion of the personal and the subjective, and hence the emphasis on the impersonal. In the West there seems to have been two overlapping attitudes: one that suspects the personal and the body, as we see in Greek thought and later in Christianity, and one that glorifies the personal, the body and the subjective, as we see in Western art and literature. Our science is more influenced by the first current, as exemplified by Descartes’ attempt at separating the subject from the world, so that we can study the world objectively.

My understanding of science’s view of the subjective is that it is accurate, yet incomplete. It is accurate in the sense that our subjectivity tends to cloud our perception and knowledge, because of personal beliefs and biases. Modern psychology has amply confirmed this by Freud’s development of the notion of the unconscious that influences our feelings, attitudes and actions without us knowing it. In this sense, I think the various traditions that suspected the subjective, both West and East, had a deep insight into the subjectivity of humanity.

However, it is an incomplete insight into human subjectivity, because even though it is an accurate assessment of the normal, everyday consciousness of the human individual, it is not an accurate view of the potential of human subjectivity. It neglects to notice that this biased subjectivity is the subjectivity of the ego, and that the human soul can be free of the ego. Western culture does value the individual and the personal, even the subjective, as we have seen in the arts and sciences, and in the everyday life of Western individuals, and we can see this as the result of some deep albeit unconscious recognition of the potential of human subjectivity. Yet, we do not see the presence of such balanced and open subjectivity except in very deep stages of realization, where the soul does not only connect with her spiritual nature but matures enough in this integration to the stage of developing an essential and real person.

We can speculate that both East and West had suspected the personal and the subjective because what people know of them is flawed and unreliable for true knowledge. The truly subjective and personal, meaning one’s own and independent from influences coming from beyond one’s true being, is a rare and hence precious development. That is why the ancient teaching stories referred to this possibility as the pearl beyond price.

Toshan Ivo: The Diamond Approach gives a value to the ordinary mind as a tool for inquiry. What are the other traditions that use the mind in such a way and why have many spiritual and mystical paths considered the mind to be a barrier to truth and higher states?

Hameed Ali: Again, the truth is not clear cut this way. Spiritual traditions in general suspect the individual mind because it tends to function as an obstacle to spiritual openness. The ordinary mind is usually the support of the ego, for the ego is fundamentally a mental construction based on the beliefs and knowledge of the mind. Yet, most spiritual teachings employ the mind in their attempt at understanding the human situation. I would not say that the Diamond Approach is unique in using the ordinary mind; for most spiritual teachings use it too, but usually not as extensively as the Diamond Approach does. So I think it is a matter of degree. Even the Zen tradition, which is the most extreme and straightforward about throwing away the ordinary mind, uses the mind anyway when speaking and communicating.

I think the situation is more complex than it appears. The mind has many parts and many capacities. Some of these capacities are indispensable for understanding, communication and living. But some parts and characteristics of the mind are implicated in the construction and preservation of the ego self. Some teachings tend to try to get around the mind, or avoid the mind, or throw away the mind, because of seeing its connection to the ego self. Yet they cannot help but use it when it comes to thinking and communication. Some traditions even use it because of their use of logic and reason, as some parts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity.

In the Diamond Approach we use it more extensively, because our method is that of inquiry into everyday experience. In the attempt to understand this experience we need the reason and rationality of the mind. Also, because in understanding our experience we encounter a great deal of historical material, we need to use its memory and recall of the past.

The view of the Diamond Approach is that the mind is a neutral faculty and it depends on us whether it functions for the support of spiritual openness or an obstacle to it. Also, the normal mind is an external expression of a deep and fundamental faculty of the soul, her intellect, her nous. The nous, what we call Diamond Guidance, is the true intellect, the divine discerning faculty potential to the human soul. The more this deep element of our soul is activated and integrated the more it guides and pervades the functioning of our normal mind. Our inquiry is a method oriented toward developing and actualizing this possibility.

Toshan Ivo: Babies deprived of love and emotional care will mostly develop physical and cognitive problems. Can truth be considered a primary need, in the same way as emotional care? I’m not saying the absolute truth, but even just the ordinary daily truth. For instance, Gregory Bateson saw the problem of the double bind that can contribute in triggering mental problems, when somebody is given an ambiguous message, especially if this includes emotional aspects. Since truth liberates, how is the soul distorted when truth is not present in our families and in society?

Hameed Ali: Absence of truth in childhood is one of the primary reasons for the normal development of the consciousness in the way it becomes dominated by ego. The primary absence of truth is the absence in both experience and understanding of the parents the fact of true nature and its various qualities. It is the lack of authenticity in the presence and behavior of parents that impacts the child negatively. But this does not mean the parents need to tell the child the truth of a situation the way an adult knows it, for that can be confusing. It is more of the necessity on the parts of the parents to be genuine and genuinely caring. This might mean sometime not communicating the whole or exact truth because it is too much for a child to absorb.

But the habit of lying to children will tend to have a negative impact. Some psychologists believe that depending on the state of development, children need some kind of illusion about reality to be able to survive. I think many of these so called illusions, are actually true but the psychologists believe they are illusions. For instance, the condition of early childhood where the infant feels connected to the mother, as if they make up a continuous field of experience, what is called “dual unity.” The psychologists believe it is an illusion of unity, not a real one, but for the one who sees it is actually not a delusion but how the infant actually experience things, and also it is how things are for the mind not patterned by ego and its beliefs.

Toshan Ivo: In working on my conditioning, and sharing with other people on the path, I notice that sometimes the collective and historical conditionings of a nationality or a certain kind of culture can have a thicker layer than the individual ones. Both kinds of conditionings are intermixed but the collective ones seem to be more unconscious and difficult to be aware of. Is the way to see through conditionings the same for both kinds or does the collective conditioning have to be worked out in some special way?

Hameed Ali: It is not usual for the collective conditioning to be thicker than the individual, unless there are some unusual circumstances, as in the case of a culture going through a protracted war. But usually, even the cultural conditioning is part of the individual conditioning, meaning it comes through the individual consciousness and is part of its conditioning.

The customary cultural conditioning tends to be subtle and background to the individual. This is the emotional and mental environment that the child lives and grows in, and is absorbed without much conscious recognition. It makes it harder to recognize and observe, for one tends to take it to be part of reality. There is no need usually for a different way of working with it, and there is no need to go searching for it. As one works with one’s individual conditioning the cultural dimension begins to arise on its own, since it part of the scaffolding for the individual conditioning. It usually does not arise till one goes deep in being free of one’s individual conditioning.

I recommend one particular things that helps with cultural conditioning; traveling to very different kinds of culture and encountering the differences directly and personally.

Toshan Ivo: Since ancient times, it seems that humanity has expressed the need to go “beyond” not only through spiritual practices, but also through the use of psychedelic substances. People who experience that path in a sacred or sometimes even profane setting, talk about states that seem closely related to mystical ones, like merging with the whole. What in your view are the differences between the states resulting from spiritual work and the ones resulting from the use of substances, and what are the eventual dangers of the latter?

Hameed Ali: Generally speaking, psychedelic substances alter the brain in some ways that allows the possibility of experiencing things without the usual filters, or more intensely and acutely. This means that the spiritual experiences generated by these substances are the same as happen in spiritual practice; the substance in effect does the work of the practice.

One difference is not in what kind of experience but the condition of it happening in spite of one’s filters, instead of having worked through the filters. So this gives them more the sense of loss of control or choice. This can make them feel much more emotionally intense and explosive.

I think the primary possible danger is that of dependency on the substance. This way we do not exercise and develop our soul’s muscles. We become open without becoming spiritually mature, which can have serious ramifications for one’s spiritual path.

The more known dangers are those of physiological damage to the brain or nervous system, that some substances can cause if frequently taken.

Toshan Ivo: The Diamond Heart is based on observation and includes the interiority in the inquiry process. How could a new scientific methodology be expressed that includes both the objective and subjective approaches, that works on data and produces conclusions that are as valid as the traditional scientific method?

Hameed Ali: I think this is to be worked out and developed; there is no easy answer here, and it can take some protracted development for it to happen. I know that the capacity that the diamond guidance gives to us in terms of inquiry, research, discernment, analysis, synthesis, and so on can be very useful in any field of research, and it will require that the researcher integrates this spiritual faculty in their functioning for it to operate in any field. It does not matter what field, for the capacity is simply of enhanced intelligence, discrimination, clarity, penetration, synthesis and so on, which will enhance the research and study capacity in any scientific field.

To integrate this faculty will require personal clarity and objectivity, meaning recognizing how our subjective biases influence our observations and thinking. It is not easy, however, to integrate this faculty in a complete or deep way; it requires a mature spiritual realization and dedicated work in applying this faculty.

Toshan Ivo: Neuroscience is growing and the knowledge about the brain too. The Dalai Lama himself is actively committed to exploring the connection between neuroscience and the ancient tibetan knowledge about mind and meditation. In your book “The inner journey home” you write that “It is also possible that biological life is one of the stages of the growth of the soul: necessary, but a stage nevertheless.” Hans Moravec envisions a joining of computer technology, nanotechnology and bioscience that could change our definition of what it means to be human. Do you envisage that one day it would be possible to do the work on ourselves supported by biochemical substances and technological neurotools (for instance the future developments of brain machines that even now can alter brain frequencies)? Can the development of the soul be supported or driven by technology? How do you envision the growth stages?

Hameed Ali: I do not see why not. The human soul, which is the seat of consciousness and its faculties, operates through the body, and depends on the condition of the body to function. I see no reason why enhancing the condition of the body through technology might not support the development of the soul. I have no idea about stages of growth in this respect; it will depend on what the enhancements are and how fundamental to the normal physical functioning. Most likely, the stages will stay the same but the soul might be able to go through them with more support and capacity.

However, I won’t want to have my realization happen without me exercising my spiritual muscles, for much of the joy of spiritual work is the journey itself. It is the life of unending discoveries which is the true joy of life, and the thrilling ecstasy of the journey.

Toshan Ivo: Sexuality seems not to be a “chapter” in itself in the Diamond Approach teachings, but included in the general model of the soul. How is this powerful energy, that can have an effect on the soul in many different ways, considered in the teaching, and why there isn’t much emphasis?

Hameed Ali: You might have noticed that the Diamond Approach does not emphasize any particular segment of life. It deals with fundamentals of experience regardless of area of living. Sexuality, just like work and creativity and so on, are particular areas of living, and even though we work with them, it is not usual for us to emphasize one or the other.

The teachings that emphasize sexuality actually emphasize sexual energy, and more fundamentally the dimension of energy. Sexuality is one way to work with energy. In the Diamond Approach, we have a segment of teaching on the dimension of energy, what we call the shakti dimension. It includes a particular understanding about how to experience, recognize and work with shakti and to deal with its particular issues. Most students are not familiar with this segment of the teaching.

The Diamond Approach also has a tantric teaching, but it is quite advanced and it is not what most people understand by tantra. It includes sexuality, but not exactly sex.

Toshan Ivo: During the “work”, the path of self-discovery, there can be stages in which one feels distant from the teaching and the practices. There are spiritual teachers, especially in the neo-advaita area, who assert that “there’s no need to practice or to seek” and that we are already at “home”. Is there a stage where the search really ends? If there is, how can people know if it’s really the end of the search or a trick of the ego for its own survival?

Hameed Ali: There is a stage in the Diamond Approach where the search ends. We know it is the end of the search because there is the certain recognition that we have arrived home. One of the consequences of this arrival is the recognition that the seeking has spent itself, that there is no need to search, and there is nothing to seek for, and nobody to seek anything.

It usually does not happen on its own, and we are not normally in this place without practicing. It can happen, but for most people it will be just a pipe dream if we do not practice. It is true it is our primordial home, and we are already there in some fundamental way, but our soul is not conscious of it and cannot be without maturation. It is possible to have a glimpse but not to abide there, without maturation.

I am familiar with some of the neo advaita teachings, and I think many of them are simply uninformed about our spiritual potential. They usually take one dimension of true nature and talk as if that is the whole thing, which does not do justice to the richness of our potential. For example, these teachings do not know or acknowledge the existence on the nature of the soul, as we know it in the Diamond Approach.

Acquista i libri con Internetbookshop

Almaas. Essenza. Il nucleo divino nell’uomo. Crisalide. 1999. ISBN: 8871830873

Almaas. Il cuore del diamante. Elementi del reale nell’uomo. Crisalide. 1999. ISBN: 8871830776

Almaas. L’elisir dell’illuminazione. Crisalide. 2002. ISBN: 887183125X

Acquista i libri con Amazon

Almaas. Inner Journey Home: The Soul’s Realization of the Unity of Reality. Shambhala. 2004. ISBN: 1590301099

Almaas. Diamond Heart Book 2 The Freedom to Be. Shambhala. 2000. ISBN: 0936713046

Almaas. Diamond Heart Book 3: Being and the Meaning of Life. Shambhala. 2000. ISBN: 0936713054

Almaas. Diamond Heart Book 4: Indestructible Innocence. Shambhala. 2000. ISBN: 0936713119

Almaas. Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas. Diamond Books. 2000. ISBN: 0936713143

Almaas. Luminous Night’s Journey: An Autobiographical Fragment. Shambhala. 2000. ISBN: 0936713089

Almaas. Spacecruiser Inquiry: True Guidance for the Inner Journey. Shambhala. 2002. ISBN: 1570628599

Almaas. The Pearl Beyond Price: Integration of Personality into Being, an Object Relations Approach. Shambhala. 2000. ISBN: 093671302X

Almaas. The Point of Existence: Transformations of Narcissism in Self-Realization. Shambhala. 2000. ISBN: 0936713097

Almaas. The Void: Inner Spaciousness and Ego Structure. Shambhala. 2000. ISBN: 0936713062

Almaas. Work on the Superego. Diamond Books.1992. ASIN: 0936713070

Copyright: Innernet.
Thanks to David Vitler for his support in editing.

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