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I will talk about some of the meanings of this phrase so you will have a better understanding of what we are doing here. When a baby is born, it is pretty much all Essence or pure Being. Its essence is not, of course, the same as the essence of a developed or realized adult. As the infant grows, the personality starts developing through interactions with the environment, especially the parents.

Since most parents are identified with their personalities and not with their essence, 1. After a few years, Essence is forgotten, and instead of Essence, there is now personality. Essence is replaced with various identifications. The child identifies with one or the other parent, with this or that experience, and with all kinds of notions about itself. These identifications, experiences, and notions become consolidated and structured as the per- sonality. The child and, later, the adult believes this struc- ture is its true self.

Essence was there in the beginning, and it is still there. Although it was not seen, not recognized, and was even rejected and hurt in many ways, it is still there. In order to protect itself, it has gone underground, undercover. The cover is the personality. There is nothing bad about having a personality.

You have to have one. However, if you take the personality to be who you truly are, then you are distorting reality because you are not your personality. The personality is composed of experiences of the past, of ideas, of notions, of identifications. You have the potential to develop a real individuality, the Personal Essence, which is different from the personality that covers the loss of Essence, but this potential is usually taken over by what we call our ego, our acquired sense of identity.

This is difficult to understand unless we are aware of our own essence, at least some of the time. The ego, or the sense of ego identity, takes the place of what we call the real identity, and the personality as a whole takes the place of Essence. The personality is a sub- stitute, an impostor. The world is the same for both Essence and personality, but the way the world is seen is different. Nearly everyone has this goal. This can be an aim that comes from an essential orientation or a per- sonality orientation.

There is a big, big difference. Estab- lishing yourself in the world and being independent means building the personal aspect of Essence. It is an inner accomplishment. It comes from a very deep desire to actu- alize who you really are. Being who you really are means being free of all the identifications from the past that have built your false sense of identity; it does not depend on what you do in the world. What you do in the world can be an expression of who you are, but it does not define you.

When you are your Personal Essence, your own true sense of identity, anything you do will have an essential orientation. You usually think that the job you choose, whatever it is—gardener, physicist, mother—will make you feel who you really are. But that means you are iden- tified with being a part of the world. It means there is a distortion of reality.

Usually when a person is beginning to work on herself, she has no idea of the difference between choices that are motivated by personality and choices motivated by Essence. She may think that doing this kind of thing instead of that kind of thing will help her be herself, but there is no clear guiding principle.


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The person not only lacks a guiding principle, but because of ego identifications, she believes what her personality is urging her to do and is very vehe- ment about defending these things. This is who I am. This is what is best to do. To even begin to question these structures means the possibility of destroying all her beliefs. In the Diamond Approach we say that the drive of the personality for independence and identity is really a distorted reflection of wanting a certain aspect of Essence—what we call the personal aspect.

There are many stories about the princess—the Per- sonal Essence—being liberated from a prison which is, of course, the prison of the personality, what is false in us. In other stories, it is the search for a precious gem that repre- sents the search for Personal Essence. You continue to pursue your career as a physicist, a gardener, a mother and so on, but all the time you remember that it is only a reflection of some- thing else, that what you most deeply want is to actualize a part of yourself. So the main effort is directed toward under- standing that part of yourself and actualizing it.

If you live that way, it is true that you are in the world, but your moti- vation is different. You are not of the world. Your purpose is not to be a physicist, a gardener, or a mother. Your pur- pose is find the precious pearl, your Personal Essence. You could spend your life striving for bigger and better results. Because your personality is a distortion of the real thing, it can point to the real thing.

By understanding it, you can begin to see what the truth is in you that is being reflected. Your life is an adventure, and whatever you are doing in the world is not an end in itself but is a crucible for melting the ore into gold. You choose whatever will enlarge and enhance your real self. There can never be a sense of lasting fulfillment unless you have realized that essential part of yourself. Nothing else can take its place. Often, to be in a rela- tionship, it seems you have to sacrifice part of yourself, to compromise.

What if you want to be close, intimate, loved and loving, and still be yourself without compromising? To answer that, we first need to understand something about the nature of relationships. The core of the need for intimate love relationships is the desire to actualize a certain relationship you had in early child- hood with your mother. There is a deep. A golden womb. You feel safe, protected, melt- ing. Because we had this experience with mother during our infancy, we believe very deeply that to have this state again, we must be with another person.

So, we search for the right person. What we are actually searching for is that sense of merging, the golden, melting feeling. It is necessary to understand that the state of complete merg- ing, of complete disappearance into a melted kind of pleas- ure, is a state of Essence. You do not have to be with someone else to have it.

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You can experience this aspect of Essence by yourself or with your cat, with the rug, with your car, with another person—anything. Our belief that we need somebody else in order to have this golden merged feeling is very strong.

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For most people it is easier to experience the merged state with somebody else because they believe that having somebody else there is a precon- dition for feeling that state in themselves. But the search is really for a certain aspect of Essence. So, relationships can be a crucible for discovering a certain golden essential substance inside. I have given two examples that are intimately con- nected. The first example has to do with independence, with being yourself, and brings up the issue of identity— the personal aspect of Essence. The other example has to do with relationships and usually brings up a conflict between being a separate self and the experience of merg- ing, which often makes you feel as if you are losing your identity.

If you pay attention to your actual situation in the world, which is a distorted reflection of the true state of affairs, you can find what is really there. Your career, interests, and relationships are important, but they are only important insofar as they lead you toward a deeper understanding of yourself. Otherwise they are irrelevant. Nothing is really important but who you are, as the fol- lowing story illustrates. The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life. A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin. In great anger the parents went to the master. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth—that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again. Hakuin was willing. Things keep changing for Hakuin. At times he looks good; at times he looks bad. It has nothing to do with who he is. Who he is remains the same. What hap- pens around him is irrelevant. He is still who he really is. Your essence is very intelligent, very generous.

The situation that you are given is perfect in terms of timing, place, the people involved, your capacities, the capacities of the people around you, every detail.

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The situation is not there to give you a hard time. We dismantle them, analyze them, examine where they come from in terms of your child- hood and your relationships and your life in the world now. From that material, we eventually get the real and precious metal—or the gems hidden inside it. The most important aspect of working on any issue is for something inside you to develop. The rest will follow almost effortlessly.

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However, our focus is different. We do not identify with the part of us that eats, shops, works, and so on. We learn to develop the capacity to be aware of what is happening but not to identify with it; we develop what we call awareness and disidentification. These are the most important things you need in order to do the work of understanding yourself.

The world is seen as a big classroom; the situations are classes where you can develop certain aspects of yourself, certain aspects of your essence. The whole world is a big university offering many classes: classes on sex, classes on work, relationships, dependence and independence, and so on. Little by little, we become aware of our life with all of its conflicts and barriers without totally believing that this is all there is. He also describes the recognition and experience of inner guidance, which he calls Diamond Guidance, and much of the book he devotes to investigating this richness and how it can be realized.

True Guidance for the Inner Journey "This book is designed to open you up to the nature of this most mysterious and personal journey. It is not a travelogue of magical and exotic places but an awakening to the capacities and possibilities in your soul for participating in the inner unfolding of your Being. What follows will orient your self-exploration so that you can recognize and encourage the implicit guidance that arises as you travel your own inner space. And as the journey continues and your awareness deepens, you will learn to appreciate the subtleties, the richness, and the intimacy that is yours as you follow the path of inquiry.

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Spacecruiser Inquiry (Paperback)

Intelligence is one of the defining characteristics of human beings: an inherent ability to respond to the world with awareness, knowledge, learning, and insight. Most considerations of human intelligence are based on the notion that intelligence is a product of brain functioning. Almaas introduces here a radically different viewpoint, one that recognizes an actual quality of consciousness as the source of intelligence.

He calls this source the Brilliancy of our true nature. The presentation of his understanding of intelligence is followed by in-depth dialogues with his students on the various barriers to recognizing and embodying this essential quality. In particular, an unresolved relationship with one's father is found to shape the experience of Brilliancy. Using a Socratic method that draws upon techniques of body-centered, Gestalt, psychodynamic, and cognitive psychologies, Almaas helps participants work through their defenses and conflicts surrounding this issue and then, diverging from pychotherapeutic practice, guides them in discovering their own Brilliancy.

Almaas brings clarity concerning the spiritual ground of Intelligence, which evokes and quickens the reader into a remembrance of her true nature. The presence of the teacher is evident in actual facilitation with his students as well as in words that themselves are transparent to transcendence. Almaas is one of the foremost spiritual teachers of our time.