Essential Aspects: Jewels of Existence
The path of the Diamond Approach works to unfold our spiritual potential by giving us precise, nuanced language and methods for navigating our inner experiential landscape. Guided by this teaching, we can become more present to the difficulties and the joys of existence, and more able to develop wholeness, maturity, and wisdom in meeting them.
One important area that has been well-mapped by the Diamond Approach is the realm of the essential aspects, timeless spiritual qualities that give us the capacity for leading a rich and precious life, with which we can make a real contribution to our fellow human beings and the planet.
Jewels Along the Path
Diamond Approach founder A.H. Almaas has discerned and described dozens of essential aspects.
Like the tale about a treasure chest buried in the earth under one’s own home, the essential aspects appear in the last place we might expect—inside ourselves. These aspects are the sometimes-surprising manifestations of Essence, which comprises the spiritual ground of our existence, or our True Nature.
In his book The Inner Journey Home: Soul’s Realization of the Unity of Reality, Almaas lists an abundance of essential aspects:
“Love, sweetness, warmth, friendliness, kindness, empathy, clarity, discernment, discrimination, intelligence, synthesis, will, steadfastness, commitment, contact, personalness, humanness, gentleness, subtlety, refinement, openness, curiosity, happiness, enjoyment, exquisiteness, balance, courage, justice, detachment, objectivity, precision, spaciousness, expansion, depth, capacity,
initiative, passion, fulfillment, satisfaction, contentment, nourishment, generosity, even individuation, identity, and existence.”
–A.H. Almaas, The Inner Journey Home, pg. 139
This is not a cut-and-dried list of abstract nouns like you learned dictionary definitions for in school; each essential aspect carries a particular felt sense or affect that we experience and feel in our bodies and hearts when we are touched by it.
If we are receptive to Essence as it arises in these various forms, it impacts us in powerful ways, nurturing our development at the deepest level, and opening us up to a reality beyond the constructs of the ego, with its obsessive pursuit of external props and shiny objects.
“Letting go of ego identifications on a profound level is possible only after the activation of certain essential aspects, primarily those of the five lataif (subtle energy centers in the body)
and the aspect of true value. The lataif aspects — Strength, Will, Compassion, Enjoyment, and Intuition — provide the true support of Essence, which makes it possible to see through ego supports and not compulsively pursue them. The emergence of the aspect of Value, for instance, which is the true existential value of Being, makes it possible to see through the ego mechanisms of seeking self-esteem and to become less dependent on them.”
-A.H. Almaas, The Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 62
Experiencing Value is an important juncture for many students of the Diamond Approach. Having the experience of this quality makes it much easier to experience other spiritual qualities since we start to feel that, rather than depending on our achievements, possessions, or actions for our self-esteem, Value is the very ground of our individual beingness.
Essence has qualities of color, taste, and texture. Value is a beautiful amber color; its taste is delicious. When you experience yourself as Value, you’ll see that you are delicious. Value is like an exotic, precious dessert.
…Let’s go back to what some of you said. [One student] said that he used to value cars, motorcycles, his job; then he discovered that what he valued was a state of being. This is something we rarely realize: What we value is the state of being itself. It is being, not some idea about who we are. Usually we value ourselves only when we approve of ourselves. “If I am beautiful, I am valuable.” “If somebody loves me, I’m valuable.” “If I’m smart, I’m valuable.” I’ve seen that for many of you, value is in inverse proportion to weight! These are some of the criteria we have for valuing ourselves. Yet as [that student[ said, there is something else—which is not to value yourself for a particular reason, but to value yourself for just being. To value that you exist, that you are. To value the fact of you. It is possible to value just being who you are, at any moment, and not to value yourself because you exist, but to know that existence itself is value.
-A. H. Almaas, Diamond Heart Book One, Ch. 6
As we recognize our Value, our openness to fundamental states of being heightens. We can then start to develop our personal essence, a unique expression that we bring to the world while also being anchored in timeless, pure goodness.
With the support of this pure ground of Being, the defense mechanisms we developed in our early life can begin to relax and (over time) dissolve, transformed by the presence of true strength, steadfastness, compassion, clarity, and all the other essential aspects that allow us to make a positive difference with our lives.
The Elixir of Transformation
If we keep inquiring sincerely into our lives, the essential aspects can become more and more integrated into us, and our transformation can continue without an end. This is a bona fide possibility for humans because our nature and the nature of the Universe are actually one thing–a pervasive unity.
Almaas calls the agent of transformation an “elixir” — a magical substance that brings us exactly what we need for our growth:
The innermost nature of everything which exists is this source and agent of unity. Without it, we wouldn’t be human beings; we wouldn’t be alive. It is the innermost nature of our being; and it is not something vague, but something actually substantial. You might not be aware of it, but without it you cannot read this or understand me right now. You can perceive it. It is amazing that the agent of unification is the same as the agent of transformation, that transformation is transformation towards unity. It is miraculous and mysterious. First it is revealed in experiences of the heart or mind revealing facets, qualities, or aspects. It allows you to see yourself as compassion, love, or clarity, but the way it shows you that is by it, itself, being that….You are learning what is you at that moment. If what you need is enlightenment, it becomes clear light. It teaches first by unifying, by directing your experiences toward more unity. In time it will lead to the inner experience in which it manifests as the agent of transformation itself, the elixir. It is also called the philosopher’s stone and the water of life.
–A.H. Almaas, Diamond Heart Book Two, Ch. 2
With the revelation of our unity, we cannot help but become more loving, kind, and peaceful; we become capable of living a deeply meaningful life, a life of true fulfillment.
Information on the full lecture series is available here. Coming Soon! An edited video recording of this lecture will soon be available.We will also post a Downloadable Handout featuring the quotes referred to in the lecture. This is not a teaching on Advaita Vedanta. It
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