Friday, June 01, 2007

The Point of Existence

The Point of Existence: Transformations of Narcissism in Self-Realization

by A. H. Almaas

ISBN: 0936713097
ISBN-13: 9780936713090

From the Publisher

THE POINT OF EXISTENCE describes the underlying spiritual basis for the common understanding of narcissism, which is the experience of a disturbance in the inner sense of self and the resulting need for constant reflection from the outside. This vulnerability in the inner experience of identity arises out of a basic separation from the essential presence which is the source of a true self.

The purpose of this book is to support the reader in the development of spiritual maturity and completeness. The larger aim is to contribute to the development of humanity in the service of ultimate spiritual truth.

Customer Reviews

Therapeutic Insights in the Process of Self-Realization, December 7, 2001
By Harvey Aronson (Houston, TX USA)
Much like a major symphonic work, A. H. Almaas' work slowly develops several theme that ultimately converge to reveal incredible beauty and meaning. The initial chapters of the work are somewhat difficult in the extremely fine discriminations that the author makes in setting the ground work for his main arguments. In brief, for Almaas, narcissism is the identification with anything other than one's Essential Identity, whether it be one's body, looks, fame, thoughts, or emotions. Essential Identity is that aspect of our own true nature that give us a sense of who we are at the deepest Being- level of existence. Self-realization involves the movement from the former to the latter--moving from identifying with the ordinary experience of our personality to identifying and becoming one with Being and its essential qualities such as love, compassion, strength, clarity and identity.
For the first time ever, Almaas, presents a rich and psychologically informed phenomenology of the dissolution of the egoic self in the process of self-realization. If the first movement of the work is slow and methodical in setting up the major themes, the second movement, is a detailed, experience near description of how during the course of spiritual development we move from ordinary experience to the depths of Being. Almaas suggests that our idealizations of others, institutions, and ideas has to do with our search for internal support which can only ultimately found in the security of Being. Our need for mirroring, is explored as stemming from Being's need for mirroring, for its uniqueness, specialness and exquisiteness. Most moving in this all, is the exploration of how the very hurts that result from lapses in idealization and mirroring, can be doorways to much deeper understanding. Through a very detailed, and careful assessment of the way in which hurt opens to love and depth, Almaas makes clear how the support of a loving teacher and community make it possible to slowly penetrate our defensive posture, to tolerate pain. He sensitively describes how practitioners gradually move into experiences of deficient emptiness that very naturally can open up to the spaciousness of Being and the realization of our most profound inner identity.
There is so much in this work that is suitable for repetitive consideration and contemplation. It clearly presents in a concise way the modern psychotherapeutic insights on the development of narcissism and then carefully identifies similarities and differences between the therapeutic and spiritual work with narcissism. Almaas identifies and makes psychological sense of those cases of teachers whose behavior does not seem to match their realization. Using the predominant psychological metaphor of our time, Almaas has sympathetically illuminated as no one before, the ways in which every pitfall on the path is also a potential movement closer to our true nature. If the reader will take the patience to move through the slow, sometime painstaking development of the theoretical frame of Book One, they will in Book Two be privileged to experience a most meaningful descriptive and explanatory map of spiritual development that takes account of both the reality and depth of our psychological needs and experiences, and the delicacy, profundity and riches of spiritual reality.

Harvey Aronson, LMSW, Ph.D., is currently directory of Dawn Mountain Buddhist Temple, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Houston, Texas. He is author of Love and Sympathy in Theravada Buddhism, and Couch or Cushion: Buddhisst Practice on Western Groun (forthcoming).

a brilliant & comprehensive mapping of mind, body and soul, August 14, 2006
By whit dickey
The author considers narcissicism in its various folds to be the central impediment to self realization. He looks at it as a natural human defense against what he sees as the almost inevitable annihilation of our soul and the "essence", that we encounter early on in our family upbringing. Not only is it the root of most psychological problems, but we will encounter it constantly while seeking a life of the spirit.

The best book on self realization that I've ever read, because of its compassion for and understanding of the difficulties a Western mind encounters on the path. It does not stop at the Freudian model for psychological health, but rather sees recovery of lost essence as the key to the self.