So much of psychology is superficial and so much of what spiritual traditions teach is misleading and impractical to incorporate into our daily lives...
The self-realized Almaas puts into words what others before him could not. This book cuts right through ignorance/narcissism and slowly brings to surface realizations that change forever, what one believes to be reality.
Almaas cross correlates metaphysics with psychology in a mind numbing fashion, throwing deep unconscious process at the rational mind for contemplation, dredging up our childhood experiences, and our relationships with the enviornment. He cuts open the shell that has hereto hidden what is real and jangles the core of our identities.
His approach is to clarify that which is misunderstood, avoiding nothing in the process. The Diamond Approach, as taught by Almaas, is a very sophisticated path toward self-realization that seeks to understand the essential qualities that are behind our everyday lives and determine our reactions to experience. By understanding these essential qualities, which have hereto been unconscious, as they arrise within our daily lives by disidentifying with there representations, we can come to realize our true nature, our essence. This book describes these essential qualities and the representations that obscure them bringing a lucid clarity to the personality, making it receptive.
"The point of existence" gradually inserts important insights into the mind in a very heart warming fashion, making it a book that not only brings understanding with its clarity, but also touches the heart.
This book has helped me in ineffable ways. I ended up buying the whole seires. It is highly recommended.
(Some very insightful and interesting excerts from the Diamond Heart series, by Almaas, is available free through a search on the net - if you are not already convinced.)
Much like a major symphonic work, A. H. Almaas' work slowly develops several theme that ultimately converge to reveal incredible beauty and meaning. The initial chapters of the work are somewhat difficult in the extremely fine discriminations that the author makes in setting the ground work for his main arguments. In brief, for Almaas, narcissism is the identification with anything other than one's Essential Identity, whether it be one's body, looks, fame, thoughts, or emotions. Essential Identity is that aspect of our own true nature that give us a sense of who we are at the deepest Being- level of existence. Self-realization involves the movement from the former to the latter--moving from identifying with the ordinary experience of our personality to identifying and becoming one with Being and its essential qualities such as love, compassion, strength, clarity and identity.
For the first time ever, Almaas, presents a rich and psychologically informed phenomenology of the dissolution of the egoic self in the process of self-realization. If the first movement of the work is slow and methodical in setting up the major themes, the second movement, is a detailed, experience near description of how during the course of spiritual development we move from ordinary experience to the depths of Being. Almaas suggests that our idealizations of others, institutions, and ideas has to do with our search for internal support which can only ultimately found in the security of Being. Our need for mirroring, is explored as stemming from Being's need for mirroring, for its uniqueness, specialness and exquisiteness. Most moving in this all, is the exploration of how the very hurts that result from lapses in idealization and mirroring, can be doorways to much deeper understanding. Through a very detailed, and careful assessment of the way in which hurt opens to love and depth, Almaas makes clear how the support of a loving teacher and community make it possible to slowly penetrate our defensive posture, to tolerate pain. He sensitively describes how practitioners gradually move into experiences of deficient emptiness that very naturally can open up to the spaciousness of Being and the realization of our most profound inner identity.
There is so much in this work that is suitable for repetitive consideration and contemplation. It clearly presents in a concise way the modern psychotherapeutic insights on the development of narcissism and then carefully identifies similarities and differences between the therapeutic and spiritual work with narcissism. Almaas identifies and makes psychological sense of those cases of teachers whose behavior does not seem to match their realization. Using the predominant psychological metaphor of our time, Almaas has sympathetically illuminated as no one before, the ways in which every pitfall on the path is also a potential movement closer to our true nature. If the reader will take the patience to move through the slow, sometime painstaking development of the theoretical frame of Book One, they will in Book Two be privileged to experience a most meaningful descriptive and explanatory map of spiritual development that takes account of both the reality and depth of our psychological needs and experiences, and the delicacy, profundity and riches of spiritual reality.
Harvey Aronson, LMSW, Ph.D., is currently directory of Dawn Mountain Buddhist Temple, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Houston, Texas. He is author of Love and Sympathy in Theravada Buddhism, and Couch or Cushion: Buddhisst Practice on Western Groun (forthcoming).