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live in a world of mystery, wonder, and beauty. But most of us seldom
participate in this real world, being focused rather on the parts that are
mostly strife, suffering, or meaninglessness. The situation is basically due to
our not realizing and living our full human potential. This potential can be
actualized by the realization and development of human essence. The human
essence is the part of us that is innate and real, and which can participate in
the real world.
series of books
are transcriptions of talks given by A. H. Almaas to inner work groups in
Colorado and California.
Chapter 5: The Integrated Human Being
Human life can be lived with beauty, grace, and dignity. But this refined mode of life is not easy to come by. The point of being human is not to achieve success, riches, comfort, or security. These things may be important or necessary but only to the grosser side of human life. When there is disharmony or imbalance in one's consciousness, one's values tend towards the grosser side of human nature. The refinement of human consciousness requires harmonization and balancing of all the human elements. The more harmony and balance in one's consciousness and in one's life, the more it will become a life of beauty,
grace, dignity and efficiency.
We are not saying that there is something bad about ordinary human life, nor that one should seek something better. It is a matter of harmonization and balance.
The absence of that balance or harmony predisposes us towards certain assumptions, certain expectations of what our lives should be like. Then our consciousness becomes stabilized with the idealizations of certain elements to the exclusion of others, which only leads to more imbalance and disharmony.
That is why a consciousness that is not balanced usually does not know how to balance itself, for this consciousness can see things only from an imbalanced perspective. In turn, what this consciousness believes or feels that it needs and wants is determined by that perspective. The consciousness first needs to be balanced and harmonized before it can see what is truly needed.
One element of imbalanced consciousness is the dream of a magical event, an idealized intervention, a romantic experience or a person that will suddenly make things wonderful. Of course, the fantasized situation is wonderful only from the perspective of that imbalanced consciousness. Since reality is mostly not like that, things do not generally turn out according to our expectations,
and then we feel disappointment. The hopeful expectation of a miraculous event or person typically manifests in ordinary life as an idealization of success or fame, or sometimes an idealization of a person, perhaps a prince charming who will come along and enable us to live happily ever after.
When someone enters the Work, this tendency becomes displaced on the Work, the school, the teacher, or the method. This happens with any form of work,
essential, spiritual, or psychological. With psychological work, you are looking for the magical cure. With spiritual work, you are looking for the magical experience which is usually called enlightenment. From the balanced perspective, one sees that these experiences do exist but are not magical in the way that the imbalanced consciousness believes. There do exist experiences of realization and enlightenment and the like, but these are only some of the initial elements needed for a balanced consciousness. They are not the only elements, nor the end, of spiritual work. In other words, for a balanced consciousness that lives in a balanced, harmonious, and mature way as a human being, enlightenment is not enough. It is a beginning. Realization is also only one experience among many others that are needed for a person to develop a capacity to live correctly. Many people who have been engaged in spiritual work can see that their experiences have not necessarily transformed the way they live their lives. One way of seeing the guidance in our Work here is that there is a continual movement of balancing and rebalancing the individual, the groups, and the school as a whole. Whenever there is an imbalance in a certain direction, something needs to happen from the other direction to balance what is happening. What could result if things remain imbalanced is tantamount to a malignant growth.
From the perspective of our Work, generally speaking, three elements need to be balanced or need to stay in balance as a person is engaged in the process of development. Basically, the three things are understanding, being, and doing.
Most individuals tend to emphasize one of these over the other two. Some people are more balanced towards the understanding aspect of human experience. Some people are balanced more towards the being element, the actual felt experience part. And some people are balanced more towards the action, the doing part of human experience. This imbalance creates a disharmony that affects all three elements. Our Work involves developing these three elements into a harmonious unity, and this involves balancing them. A constant balancing needs to happen again and again, whenever an imbalance appears in either the individual or in the group. Otherwise, development could happen in an imbalanced way. It is possible for a person to develop one part but not the others. Although this can be fine in itself, it does not lead to an integrated human life. It does not lead to the state of maturity.
Some of the activities in our Work are oriented towards understanding our personal situation, and through that process towards a knowledge of reality and truth.
For a long time, understanding will in large part reveal that the personality,
the false personality, and the life of that personality, are empty. Realizing that the normal personality, which dominates the experience of conventional life is actually empty. will lead to the awareness of the fullness of Being,
which is the second element. We come to know the actual experience of Being,
the feeling of beingness, the state of being, the realization of presence. This state is called various things—enlightenment, or self-realization, or the state of unity, or oneness of being. We then discover that the state of being,
although wonderful, is still not the totality of a human consciousness. This state of being and the understanding accompanying it need to be embodied, to be integrated into one's life.
This is when the role of action becomes important. It is not enough to have understanding of yourself. It is not enough to realize the presence of Being.
For full integration, these need to manifest in your life in action. They must appear in your actions so that you live your life according to that understanding, and from that state of beingness. Of course, some individuals are satisfied with the mere understanding of things, and continue only to seek insights and realizations. It is absolutely necessary to have this understanding of these insights, realizations, perceptions, and all the knowledge of the different states and conditions of human life. However, there is a need for the actual experience of Being itself, and that has to do with the essential states, ultimately, and with a state of being. Being is really the central part of all those three elements; it is the heart of the matter. In fact, it has to do with the heart. Although Being is primary, it is not enough for living on earth, because life also involves action and doing. To live a mature life means not only to live, but to live according to this state of being. If a person doesn't live according to the understanding that comes from the realization of beingness, then the realization or development is restricted to certain experiences and does not touch the person's soul deeply enough to allow the integration necessary for maturity.
Of course, all three elements exist on a conventional level, too. The ordinary,
undeveloped, unrefined human life has in it understanding, being and doing but they are fake. The usual understanding and conventional wisdom are the usual beliefs, assumptions and preconceptions, and the usual information of the personality. The experience of being human is equated with the usual emotional,
mental and physical experiences. The action on the personality level is simply the way people live their lives. When I refer to essential doing or action, I
do not mean just any action; many people, in fact the majority of humankind,
are action-oriented. People do all kind of actions, but this is not what we are talking about. We are talking about action that embodies Being about doing which is real action. This real action is what differentiates a developed human being from an undeveloped one.
In other words, human development has three elements or three stages. One is that of understanding and knowledge as in insights and intuitions. Then there is realization, which is abiding in beingness. After that is the state of doing,
which is the embodiment of the beingness and the knowledge in your life, in how you live your life. If you come to the group or to your session and you have wonderful insights and realizations, and experiences of boundless love and infinite presence or whatever, but then you go through the rest of your life and live according to the usual personality, it's as if it has not happened.
Essential experiences or realizations need to affect all your life, to permeate everything until they are embodied. A maturing person needs to live according to those experiences and those insights. A person who has not had these experiences and insights will be unable to live in a mature way. So all of the three elements are necessary. If a person is oriented only towards action, to live her life and be successful, it doesn't matter what she does. If there is no true beingness and no real understanding, then her action is not to the point, her life is not in harmony, and she will be oriented towards satisfying the desires of the dream, the magical expectations of the personality.
We do our work here so that in time, there will arise in your consciousness many insights and understandings of the personality, of your life, of your past, and of the mind. This understanding will reveal the false elements, and unveil the dimension of Essence. Together with this process of insight and understanding,
the path will reveal Being in many kinds of experiences. There will be a series of experiences of different dimensions, and different levels of realization.
All these insights and all these experiences are needed for full development,
and, at some point, need to be integrated with action. If it does not happen spontaneously, a person will need to intentionally live life according to what has been learned and what has been experienced. This might not necessarily happen by itself.
Some insights, realizations, and even actions, will come to you as gifts that just happen, but some of them you will have to work for. You will have to put in the effort to regulate and balance yourself. That is the reality of human life. If you are open, if you are interested in the truth, things will happen to you,
but not everything. For some things, you will have to take action, you will have to make greater effort. Both elements are needed: the spontaneous arising and the effort, the expenditure of energy. The first part of understanding is the easiest part. It is sometimes difficult to see the significance of states of being and to allow oneself to abide in these various states of being. Then,
the most difficult task is to embody being in action.
Carrying the understanding and being into action is the primary and most powerful integrative process of both understanding and being. If you do not take the action, if you do not try to live your life according to what you have learned,
according to what you have experienced, then there is a tendency not to integrate the various elements. There is a tendency to create a split between different parts. There is the wonderful part of you, and then there is the rest of your life which is a mess—full of frustrations, problems, complaints, or indulgences.
But when a person begins taking action according to what they know, what they have experienced, rather than rote, automatic action based on their conditioning and patterns, then those insights and experiences will be integrated into the soul itself. The soul will transform by metabolizing the old personality patterns,
and will thus mature. The personality is not something that needs to die or to be thrown away; the personality needs to develop in time, to be refined, and integrated with the sense of beingness. This integration is necessary for wholeness and totality, for an integrated soul in which Being and personality are not at war. The usual personality is nothing but a conditioned part of the soul. This conditioned part can be transformed only as the result of impact from insights and states of being, leading to the integration and maturity of the soul. Otherwise, it is possible for a person to put aside the personality and just develop the state of beingness. Some spiritual systems are oriented in this way so a person has the understanding, the realization and various wonderful experiences, and can remain in those states. But these are people who are not in the world. Such a person might have achieved a mature state of being, but they have to be sitting on their ass to experience it. They cannot go into the marketplace with it.
The further step to be taken cannot happen by just sitting on your ass, or by just meditating, staying away from everyone, or just by understanding some part of yourself in sessions with your teacher. You actually have to take action. And your actions have to be real actions that take into consideration everything you have learned: all the insight, all the knowledge, all the experiences. Only then will all the elements be integrated so that you can become a more and more integrated and balanced human being.
in a sense, this Work is like a kind of a building, a development of one's self and one's life. You are not going to be doing a certain kind of work and then be automatically rewarded with wonderful things; this is the expectation of many people. Things do not happen that way. A person can have insights and experiences and perceive them as rewards, as goodies, as candy. But if you just eat the candy and that is all, you will be a dependent infant who goes back to sessions only to get more candy. A person who is interested in really developing understanding, becoming complete as a mature, balanced human being,
will use those experiences in life to transform.
to Book Four
and the Search
Integrated Human Being
and Human Life
Bottoms on Ice
Knowledge Is the World We Live
Reality and Nonconceptual Reality
17. Selflessness 350