Facets of a Diamond - Blog

“What Is Anguish?”


Relieving Anguish through the Diamond Color Meditation

Suffering is the universal lot of man …
All men must suffer; that is the way the gods plan human life.

—Jasper Griffinon, Homer[1]

Over my many years in clinical practice, I have increasingly come to the conclusion that all of us are suffering from a condition more basic, more fundamental, than any illness. And we all are afflicted by it, whether apparently healthy or not. This I call anguish, the anguish of the human condition. Existential angst.

Thus my therapeutic work has progressed (so I believe) from the desire to ameliorate illness, disease, and pain—important as they are of course—to the desire to ameliorate the deeper, all-pervading anguish that not only underlies all disease, but which afflicts all of us, however healthy we may otherwise appear.

Life Energy Photography - abstract JD98RMM

Photograph by Dr. John Diamond

“It’s the chronicle of a solitary hidden anguish.” So wrote George Eliot—and it can be applied to virtually everyone’s life history. Anguish is the root cause of all dis-ease with existence, and it is anguish that destroys the very heart of civilization.

Anguish implies agonizing, excruciating mental pain. The word is derived from the Indo-European root angh, meaning painfully constricted, which also gave us strangle. And, whether we are aware of it or not, that is how we all feel—strangled. Painfully constricted, choked by circumstance. Unable to expand, to breathe, to take in the air, to take in and embrace all of life, totally, gratefully. And always there is the fear of death to rob us of what little life we barely enjoy. Strangled by whom? Fate? God? It is as if we were born with the umbilical cord tightly coiled around our necks—and never released.

There is no easy solution for overcoming anguish. Nor do I believe there should be, for this is the very task of our existence. It is our Karma, our life’s work. There can only be the dedicated onward endeavor to Know in our hearts ever more of our true Identity, of our Innate Perfection.

This is the Buddha’s First Noble Truth: that life is anguish. No matter how comfortable our lives may seem to be, beneath there is always the anguish. We spend our lives denying it—more money, more cars, more holidays. But underneath, it is always there, crippling us, for until it is overcome, we can never really enjoy life, never be truly grateful for our existence. Instead, we live in existential anguish. Until it is overcome we can never openheartedly embrace life, and then fearlessly accept death.

And so it seems it has always been. At about the same time as the Buddha, the Greek dramatists were declaring:


Suffering belongs
To the days of man.[2]


Yes, you gave me life,
Then made sure it was wretched.[3]


Through years of anguish our lives
Have been daily self-annihilation.[4]

Similarly, Euripides:

Each one is born with his bitterness waiting for him.[5]


Oh immovable law of heaven! Oh my anguish, my relentless fate![6]

Euripides summed up our anguish: You don’t know who you are. And you don’t know why you are.

Who am I? Why am I? This cry has echoed through the millennia. Tolstoy, for example in Anna Karenina: “Who am I? What am I?”

And a century later Spike Milligan, the English humorist, hospitalized for his anguished depression, wrote:

What was I before?
What will I be next?
What am I now?[7]

Who am I? Why am I? And unable to answer, we suffer in anguish.

Hesiod, with Homer the oldest of the Greek poets, wrote of “knee-weakening anguish.”[8] Let us have no fear and trembling but stand straight and strong, secure in the Heart-Knowledge of our Deepest Identity. The search for Identity and for Purpose in life has always been mankind’s primary concern, for it epitomizes our anguish. The alcoholic drinks, the hypocrite smiles. We all have ways of denying our anguish. And yet the anguish is always there, eating away at our very core.

Life Energy Photograph - abstract JD98GPW

Photograph by Dr. John Diamond

Who am I? Why am I?

I have come to the belief that the following are the answers (at this early stage of my own enlightenment, but confirmed repeatedly within my practice).

Aeschylus wrote that for us to learn we must suffer. And as we are here on earth to learn, so inevitably we must suffer—suffer in anguish. To learn what you ask? My best answer, my most learned is: the Belovedness that is your mother.

Belovedness is the very opposite of anguish. All of my work has been to help bring about the transition from anguish to Belovedness. 

I have used that word—Belovedness—for many years without realizing that it is not in the dictionary; neither have my enquiries led me to a similar word in other major languages. By Belovedness I mean the feeling of feeling loved—knowing that you are loved, ever-constantly. And it is this Knowledge in your heart that causes you to Know your Deepest Identity—that you are Love, that you have a soul. And only now is the anguish ameliorated.

O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable

Seem to me all the uses of this world!

ShakespeareHamlet, I.ii.132-4

If there is a simple psychological interpretation of Hamlet’s condition—which I doubt, as I doubt it for every great work of art—then it is his unrelieved anguish. How ever could Hamlet have come to believe that his mother, Gertrude, loved him? And as Hamlet represents most of us, so too does Gertrude represent our mothers.

We need to be reminded of our mother’s love, of her pure Maternal Instinct, of her Divinity, to then find our own. Homer sang of the Divine for which all men long. And the first Divine was the mother—the infant knows only of her: her nurture, her comfort, her love.

The Divinity for which we all long is the mother of ever-constant love. “The Kingdom of God is within you,” proclaimed Tolstoy. As we took into us our mother’s milk, so we took in her love.

And now we can use Color to help with this. Through the steady and dedicated application of The Diamond Color Meditation, you can come a little closer to her deepest self—her soul—and then to yours. The ultimate Divinity for which we long is the god that she is, and that therefore we too all are, for we are from her.

Who am I? I am love. Because I Know in my heart I am beloved by my mother, in spite of all her faults. I am the Buddha-nature. I am Perfection. My mother is my Mother of Love, and I am her beloved. I, too, am Love.

Why am I? I exist to give this love back to her, and to All as her. So:

Who am I? I am love for I am loved.
Why am I? To reciprocate the love.

What is god, what is not god, what lies in between man and god? Who on this earth, after searching, can claim to have been to the end of that question’s tortuous lane?


What is god, what is not god, what lies in between man and god? The soul. So:

Who am I? I am a soul.
Why am I? To act accordingly.

Freud hoped for “a new profession of secular ministers of souls.”[10] I believe that what he meant was to help us find our souls, our deepest Self, the Love that is us. For only this Heart-Knowledge will alleviate our anguish. Similarly, Zen Master Dogen taught that the purpose of meditation was not to become Perfect, but to recognize that we always are: that we all are the Buddha-nature.

So the task of the healer, whatever his ostensible profession, is to help those in anguish (and that is everyone) to find their truest, Deepest Identity: to at last Know in their hearts who they are and why they are.

As part of an overall program in metatherapy, by, hopefully, a member of Freud’s new profession, the use of color as presented here can be very helpful. Not, I stress, as a “cure” but as an intimation of how it feels to start to feel your real Identity.

The Diamond Color Meditation is not just for patients, but for everyone—for we are all in anguish, we have all lost contact with our souls. It is the genius of Color that it can point us in the right direction and guide our first steps along the way: the Color Pathway to the Soul.

Why do I quote the Greek dramatists? Because they wrote tragedies: the workings of fate on tragic heroes. It is said that only heroes can be tragic—Agamemnon, Oedipus, Hector—but not us, for we are just ordinary people. But to ourselves, we are heroes—and each the victim of the tragedy which is our lives. We all are like Agamemnon who “gropes home through the labyrinth of his fate.”[11]

The Color Path can light our way.

The Diamond Color Meditation front cover
[1] Jasper Griffin, Homer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980, pp. 38–39.

[2] Aeschylus, The Oresteia, trans. Ted Hughes. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999, p. 31.

[3] Ibid., p. 135.

[4] Ibid., p. 92.

[5] Euripides, Iphigeneia at Aulis, trans. W.S. Merwin and George E. Dimock, Jr. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 31.

[6] Ibid., p. 74.

[7] Spike Milligan, Small Dreams of a Scorpion. Walton- on-Thames: M&J Hobbs, 1972, p. 22.

[8] Hesiod, Works and Days and Theogony, trans. Stanley Lombardo. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1993, p. 25.

[9] Euripides, Helen, trans. James Michie and Colin Leach. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981, p. 63.

[10] Bruno Bettelheim, Freud and Man’s Soul. New York: Knopf, 1983, p. 35.

[11] Aeschylus, The Oresteia, trans. Ted Hughes. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999, p. 18.