Diving deep into disidentification
Significant and challenging issues like diversity, social justice, gender equality and others can evoke strong positions, attitudes, and beliefs.
One dynamic that can arise and interfere with deepening our realization and capacity for change is spiritual narcissism. For this post, we can view spiritual narcissism as beliefs we hold, where our prior work supports a current fixed position, such as: “I’ve experienced or realized such and such, so my understanding and position is objective and justifiable.”
This can result in sidestepping inquiry into our immediate experience, along with a dampening down of curiosity that can support dynamic inertia – there’s a lot of movement, but we’re going nowhere.
The Diamond Approach does not posit an ultimate state of realization, so no matter what our immediate experience is, an invitation to deeper ground and other realizations is always available.
Deepening the ground of our experience from the relative to the real, most often, requires a deep dive into disidentification. Self-images and the past need to be seen and understood from a deeper place.
In July of 1983, A. H. Almaas gave a teaching on the Harmony of Centers. In this teaching, he articulated what each center—the head, the heart, and the belly—contributes to the process of understanding and how the three centers working in harmony are necessary for disidentification to occur.
Here is some of that teaching:
(Bear in mind that when Almaas talks about turning away, he is not talking about rejecting your immediate experience. It is more like being at a crossroads. Do you move with the personality, the surface, or do you turn toward essence, the depth?)
To be able to turn away from something, to turn away from a certain experience, a certain sort of image, your identity needs to be at a deeper level than that self-image in that moment.
You cannot turn away or disidentify from something if you happen to be identified with something that is more superficial than what you’re intending to disidentify from.
So if you are identified with a certain self-image, and then there’s a feeling that arises and you find yourself unable to turn away from it, it might be because it is at a deeper level than you are operating at that moment. Deeper than you.
If it is deeper than you then you cannot disidentify. You need first to dive and the diving is what will bring in the perception and the awareness and the understanding of that deeper level. Then it is possible to turn away.
Many people say that whatever happens just turn away from it. Some traditions talk about that. Bullshit. Not everybody can do that.
It is not possible to turn away from something if you’re unconsciously identified with it.
It’s not possible, because you are it in a way that is deeper than your awareness at that moment. It is your ground.
You cannot disidentify from your ground
You see? So first, you have to become aware of it, understand it, and when your awareness is deeper than it, then it is possible to turn away from it.
So turning away from something is always turning away from something you have already understood. Turning away means not indulging in something.
However, if it is something that is not a matter of indulgence, but actually something you don’t understand and you are unconsciously identified with it, how can you turn away? No way, it’s not possible.
What’s needed then is a diving, a descent, an immersion in the experience, allowing whatever that experience is, and to get involved in it as completely as possible.
You notice in your experience of understanding yourself that one step, one part of the process, is an immersion, an involvement with something. When there is a complete involvement with something, then after a while there arises an understanding. Without involvement, the understanding will not arise.
So really, for the process of understanding to happen – understanding, disidentification, awareness, turning away – all of these things to happen, three elements need to be there at the same time.
The Three Centers
The three elements needing to be there means nothing more than the harmony of the three centers: the belly center, the chest center and the head center.
When that is happening, then it is possible to experience fully, allow, and disidentify.
What do I mean by these three elements?
Each center has its own contribution to the process of understanding.
The head center in this case, if it is operating correctly, means that space or emptiness is allowed. What does space and emptiness do? What is the significance of space and emptiness?
What space and emptiness imply or make possible is an allowing quality.
Space means no self-image, no image of yourself. That allows whatever is there to be there, you’re not trying to stick to something in particular. You do not try to go someplace.
There is an allowing of whatever is there to be there. So the head center’s contribution is space, which is an allowing and a welcoming, space for things to happen without rejection, without trying to hold on to something, stick to something, go someplace. There is just complete allowing.
The heart center’s contribution has to do with its central quality, which is the Personal Essence.
The contribution of the Personal Essence is the diving quality, the actual living of the experience.
You not only allow it, you’re in the middle of it, in the midst of it, you’re one with it, you’re really it. You let it happen. You feel it fully, sense it fully, experience it fully. That’s the contribution of the heart center.
The belly center has its own contribution too, and that is represented by the Essential Self.
The contribution of the Essential Self is the disidentification, the turning away.
So, there is allowing, involvement, and disidentification, all at the same time. When they happen in harmony, then there is a process of understanding and turning away from something.
You cannot have only one of those and have the process of understanding running smoothly. There has to be the three elements in conjunction, in equilibrium, in harmony.
So, just to disidentify is not enough. Because you cannot disidentify if you’re not completely involved first, if you don’t allow the experience to be there.
If you think you can just disidentify the moment the experience arises, well, you don’t even know it, how can you disidentify if you don’t allow it to happen? How can you disidentify if you don’t know it completely?
Now somebody who happens to be functioning as the true self all the time will tell people, “Whatever happens, you know, just turn away from it.” Well, that person could do it, because that person’s identity is at the deepest level.
That person who is always the true self could turn away from something, because their identity is the deepest identity, but for other people who are not there, they cannot do that.
Who is going to turn away?
If the person is identified with something in them, you know, what does it mean to turn away?
Who’s going to disidentify?
You can read more about this process in Diamond Heart Book 3, Chapter 6: “Disidentification and Involvement.”