Living from essence

I Never Really Did Like That Pattern by Ann Wasserman

I Never Really Did Like That Pattern by Ann Wasserman

During the Fisher Hoffman work my teacher, the late Ellen Margron, gave us an image that has been one of my teaching touchstones ever since, the diamond heart.* I tried to make a drawing but I’m hopeless with the drawing programs so I can only describe: there’s a diamond in the center, around that is a circle full of roiling darkness, around that is another circle. The diamond is the spiritual essence or Buddha nature or God Self (you pick). The circle around it is all the negativity we pick up in early childhood and along the way that tells us we are not God, we are not perfect, we are loud, dirty, dumb, whatever. The circle around that one is the personality layer we put on the outside so that no one will see the roiling mass of yuck underneath.

All spiritual and/or personal growth requires penetrating the outer mask and finding a way to go through the dark circle in order to reach the Diamond Heart or essence. Ultimately, of course, the basic point of all spiritual pursuit is to be able to live from that place of essence or from Buddha nature. The aspect of the journey that people most often want to sidestep is facing the dark circle where issues and negativity and unpleasantness dwell.

It is also possible to create a third circle around the outside of the other two. This happens when you meditate or do spiritual practice or stress management with a determination to avoid looking at the dark circle. You wind up creating this extra layer around your being that just traps the dark circle farther beneath the surface and actually takes you farther from the diamond in the center. I’ve met many people over the years who meditated or did some other practice regularly for decades but refused to allow their issues to arise into consciousness. To me they always feel as if they have a tough layer of laminate encasing them. I can feel the unresolved issues beneath.

I saw it in myself when Ellen introduced the concept. I’d been living with a roommate who mistreated me, my cats and my belongings. I taught stress management at the time and I found myself incessantly using those techniques. I succeeded in keeping myself calm in the midst of the madness but I really just created an outward facade of calm while pushing justifiable anger below the surface.

I spent the first five or six years of my journey by and large resistant to prolonged and serious inner work but the Fisher Hoffman process (as facilitated by Ellen – quite different from the process at the Hoffman Institute) not only opened me to deep and intensive work but convinced me that it has to be done in one way or another in order to progress. I don’t say everyone has to do Fisher Hoffman; I know many who have succeeded with Almaas’ work, I know people who have done very well with the more advanced levels of vipassana that start deconstructing thought and belief patterns and there are many more. Doesn’t matter what you pick, just decide to face the shadow.

ABOUT THE ART: My friend, Ann Wasserman ( ), created the above quilt many years ago and with a personal story that I leave her to tell. I’ve always felt it portrayed the diamond heart idea even though it isn’t an exact replica of the chart.

* I understand that this or a similar chart is also used in H. Almaas’ Diamond Heart work. I could never make it through more than a page or two of his writing so I can’t vouch for it. Almaas and Ellen were both students of Claudio Naranjo so it’s possible that the idea is something they both adopted from his work or that she picked it up from Almaas there.

7 thoughts on “Living from essence

  1. Hi Leigh,

    Thank you for reading my blog and clicking the ‘like’ button. It’s wonderful how we can find other blogs through this site, and I am so pleased I have found yours. If you are ok with it I will put a link to your blog on mine, as I am sure other will enjoy reading it too.

    I found this piece, Living from essence, so insightful and so true! I found your honesty in detailing how you were actually teaching stress management, but in your own personal life you were burying your own stress factors, so refreshing to read. I have known so many spiritual teachers who have experienced great difficulty in practising what they preach!

    I look forward to reading more of your blogs!

    • Yes, I’ve been loving surfing wordpress — I use the tag surfer and also the “topics” tab on the home page and I’ve read so much great stuff. And feel like I’m “meeting” such interesting, like-minded people.. I appreciate the link — thank you for that. Look forward to reading more of your posts. Glad you liked the “essence” one. I think we wind up teaching what we need to practice more often than not…

  2. I loved what you said about meditation keeping us from seeing, exploring our dark places. I have not read that anywhere else, and I realize that I have fallen into that trap myself.
    I will link to your blog soon. I am still trying to master blogging. I am about to visit “Chatting with Spirit” who also commented on this post. With love.

    • Thanks Carol. Of course meditation can go either way — just depends on how it’s approached… I’m having fun popping around looking at people’s posts and finding new places to go as I wander too.

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog. Your post is very interesting because many spiritual people do feel that they can ignore the dark stuff and pretend it isn’t there. Only when we become aware can we release it. We have to look at it and let it go. Even more than the issues, it’s our fear of them that we don’t want to acknowledge. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Peace

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