Excerpts About Defense
The Point of Existence, p. 187 • discuss »
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 246 • discuss »
Diamond Heart Book IV, p. 12 • discuss »
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 301 • discuss »
The Unfolding Now, p. 50 • discuss »
Inner Journey Home, p. 51 • discuss »
This illustrates the primary reason for the extreme difficulty encountered when an individual attempts to achieve a clear experience of open space through meditation techniques, as in Eastern spiritual schools; for the experience of space, because it involves the dissolving of defenses, will bring into consciousness any distortions in body-image. The defense mechanisms of the ego will then automatically mobilize to prevent consciousness of the affective experiences associated with these distortions. This mobilization of defenses in effect amounts to the repression of space. Space not only reveals distortions, but because it exposes self-boundaries, it naturally brings into consciousness all the identifications making up these boundaries, as well as any affects and memories connected to them. Naturally then, space will be vehemently defended against. Space is actually dynamically repressed; and this fact, besides explaining the difficulty in experiencing space, indicates the usefulness of psychodynamic techniques to those seeking this experience. Our experience is that the psychodynamic method does allow greater success than
simple meditation in eliciting the perception of space, especially when it is used in understanding and eliminating the difficulties that arise in response to the experience of space.
The Void, p. 49 • discuss »
From this perspective, what governs most valuing is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Anything that helps you avoid pain is valued. That means that all your defense mechanisms and resistances are valued highly. At the beginning of the Work, you put up a big fight to keep them. You’ve spent years building up all your ideas of how you are, how you should be, and how the world should be. These long-cherished dreams are based mostly on experiences of deficiency in childhood. As you understand yourself more through the Work and as you see what is really of value to you, these desires and expectations will change.
Diamond Heart Book I, p. 81 • discuss »
However, when we are confronted with impersonality in the course of letting go of ego identifications, if we neither posit it as the ultimate reality, nor reject it, but genuinely investigate the truth, we will ultimately come upon the personal element. The absence of the personal element, which is felt as an impersonality, can be seen at such times either as an emptiness in the chest, or the presence of a hard impersonal shield over it. The emptiness is felt as almost physical, as an empty hole or cavity in the chest. The emptiness affects the individual by making him feel that he doesn’t have what it takes for him to relate in a personal way. He is impersonal because he lacks the personal element. He feels the emptiness as a deficiency, a lack in who he is. This deficient emptiness is simply the state of the absence of the Personal Essence. The rigid shield is a defense against this deficiency, which gives the individual a sense of being a person that is not personal. In fact, it is what is usually referred to in depth psychology as a schizoid defense. It is a defense against personal contact, because of the vulnerability that it might expose. So the individual employs this impersonal defense of isolation and emotional detachment so that he does not feel either the vulnerability of personal involvement, or the sadness about the lack of it. This condition is much more common than is normally acknowledged, for it is usually hidden by the ego’s fake sense of being personal.
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 75 • discuss »
Our understanding is that to continue identifying with the particular ego structure is to continue the defense. In all the cases of an individual going from an ego state to a Being state, the main defensive maneuver is the identification with an ego structure, a self-image or an object relation. While it is true that one must deal with other defense mechanisms, like repression, reaction formation, projection and so on, ultimately one comes to face the identification systems themselves as the ultimate and most subtle defense. It is true that the identifications give the individual a sense of self or individuality, which is taken by object relations theory to be needed for adaptation and development, but they are exactly what constitute the defense against the particular state of deficiency related to the Personal Essence In relation to the Personal Essence, the experience is always as follows: One is cut off from the Personal Essence. There results a sense of lack and deficiency. Since the Personal Essence is the feeling of being a real and rounded individual, the deficiency is experienced as an affect of a lack of this sense of oneself. One feels weak, lacking his own sense of beingness. One feels one is really not a person, cannot be personal and cannot make contact Now, what is the best defense against such a painful state? Clearly, the best defense is the belief and feeling that one is a person who is strong and able to
make contact. This is exactly what is provided by identifying with the ego structure or with part of it. We can call this function adaptive, but even if we admit this possibility, we cannot deny that it is also defensive. It is, in fact, a reaction formation to the state of deficiency.
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 137 • discuss »
But when we are trying to defend ourselves internally, we are in some sense trying to run away. We are trying to hide. We are trying to isolate, to separate ourselves, to put a distance between us and the danger. And that happens in many ways. One strategy is to create a passive structure of defense. We can do this by erecting inner walls against our experience of fear, against our perception of danger, against feeling the possibility of threat or attack or pain. Those walls can be inside of us separating different parts of us—such as our heart and our genitals, our consciousness and our unconscious—or they can be between us and what we perceive as the outside. But the walls are just one manifestation of the ego’s defensive tendency. Ego-defensiveness also manifests in other ways, such as hiding, running away, isolating oneself, contracting, or restraining oneself from showing up fully. These are all ways of resisting what is present in our experience. The intent is to avoid being open because being open means leaving oneself undefended and unprotected. Being open means being ourselves, and we believe that being ourselves is dangerous because then we are vulnerable to all kinds of threats.
The Unfolding Now, p. 48 • discuss »
Let’s review a few key points about defensiveness and then see what we can understand about the process of its transformation. This process includes encountering the vulnerability that inevitably comes up as we become aware of how we defend ourselves:
* As we practice—which entails inquiring into what is going on,recognizing our experience, being where we are, abiding in it, and learning to be ourselves—we encounter a stance of defensiveness thatwe become more and more conscious of.
* That defensiveness is a barrier against our unconscious, but also against much of our potential, because it is a defense against experience, a defense against the expansion of awareness, a defense against being present, a defense against being real.
* When a defense is pushed against or challenged, it changes from a passive wall to an active resistance against what is arising, a resistance against recognizing what we think is—or could become—dangerous or threatening.
* The defensiveness is a hardening and a thickening of our consciousness, creating walls within us.
* If we recognize those walls and are able to understand them, they begin to transform and start to come down.
* As those defenses gradually dissolve, as those walls come down, we will have the feeling of no protection for a while. Without the walls, when we still do not feel the security of being ourselves, we will experience that as defenselessness. And that defenselessness will feel like a kind of vulnerability, a trembling emotional condition of the heart that makes us feel quite delicate.
* That delicacy, that trembling, means that we are open but we still believe that there is danger. So we are still tentative, a little cautious, a little reactive. That is because as we are approaching the delicacy of being ourselves, the delicacy of intimacy; we are approaching it by letting go of the walls, and we are still not used to being in that openness.
* Our defensiveness at some point becomes a wall against vulnerability. So to learn to be real, to learn to be ourselves, we need to come to
terms with our vulnerability.
The Unfolding Now, p. 51 • discuss »
From our perspective, however, just as it is known in psychoanalysis that some identification systems are defenses against other systems, or against id impulses, they (all identification systems) are usually defenses against the various aspects of Being. Being is always there; it is what we are in the most fundamental way. That it is not in conscious experience indicates the presence of defenses against it; it becomes part of the content of the unconscious. And any identification system taken to give the individual a sense of self or individuality is bound to function as a defense against Being because Being is who one is, is the true self. The identification systems are, at the least, in rivalry with Being and its aspects, and will always function defensively to ward off the deficiency resulting from loss of contact with Being. This defensiveness becomes apparent in the early stages of work on inner realization.
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 138 • discuss »