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What is the School?

What is the School?
By John Harper

"I have been aware of the role of the school in our teaching, and the relationship of all teachers and students to the school. I have been seeing the importance of recognizing that each one of us are in a school, a mystery or work school. And that we are all in it, forming one community. It is important that each member of the school is clear about their relationship to the school and to the teaching, not just to their particular teacher. This strengthens the school, enlivens the teaching and helps each member with support and holding of the current of the teaching.” - Hameed Ali


What is my relationship to the teaching and the school?

A recent meeting of the California teachers with Hameed and Karen inspired me to search through the books for a few excerpts to help me expand my perspective and inquiry on the discussion.

A large part of the discussion focused on the relationships of the student (teachers are also students) to the teaching and the school and the teacher/student relationship.

Hameed mentioned that he often wonders what people mean when they refer to “the school.” The school this and the school that. Is the school a building? Is the school a collection of office people? In a small way, but fundamentally the school is us – we are the school. So what are we saying or demonstrating when our words reflect some kind of separation or disconnect between us and the school?

The school is an extension of the teaching into the world. We are extensions of the teaching into the world.

How do we hold all of this?

Here are a few of the excerpts I found of interest:


Living Teaching

The work we are doing—the Diamond Approach—is a living teaching. The ordinary way of thinking of a living teaching is to see that it exists not only in books; it actually lives in human beings. It has living representatives. When a teaching is embodied in that way, we consider it a living teaching. But there is also another way in which this teaching is a living teaching. An important feature of the Diamond Approach is that it is literally living, literally alive as a teaching. It is alive not only in the sense that it is embodied in human representatives, but also in the sense that the teaching itself is alive—it has a life of its own, and it grows and develops. One aspect of this is related to how the teaching developed. It’s not like I had an enlightenment experience and have since been trying to articulate it and to find ways to get other people to experience what I experienced. That is how many teachings have happened; but that is not how this teaching happened. This is actually a mystery to people who are not in this work. I’m not saying that I haven’t been enlightened; I have experienced many enlightenments. In fact, that is part of the difference. There is not only one big enlightenment experience, but many big enlightenment experiences all along the way.

What characterizes the aliveness of this teaching is an ongoing stream of realization, enlightenment, and understanding that continues to grow, deepen, expand, and open up to ever further ways of experiencing reality. Another interesting characteristic of the living nature of this teaching, which is really a characteristic of all life, is that the discovery of a new way of experiencing does not displace the old way of experiencing. Living is an evolution from one thing to the next. Life evolves from what went before and always becomes more fully manifest. It develops more capacities, more richness, more variety, and more creativity in the way it manifests itself.

The living and evolving nature of the teaching is apparent in the orientation and the view from which the teaching is presented. Each time we meet together as a school, everything we have explored is presented from a new perspective. The understanding of the teaching as we have learned it is simply opened up further. It’s not so much that the understanding of it has changed but that the understanding has expanded. Like life itself, the teaching builds on itself, living and evolving from one form to another.  – Runaway Realization


Logos of the Teaching

There is an interesting dynamic between the individual and the logos of the teaching that can happen as we sincerely engage this particular path. The qualities, dimensions, and vehicles of true nature that arise in our work carry different kinds of wisdom, understanding, and freedom. Our primary practice of inquiring into our immediate experience is ongoing. Inquiry continues in our life all the time. And our other practices—the meditations, the sensing, looking and listening practice, the periods of life practice, and so on all support our ongoing inquiry. These are practices in their own right, and they also are supports for the practice of inquiry. In other words, the inquiry practice that we engage in is embedded in the field of this teaching, both in the experiences we have of true nature and in the other practices of the path. This is important to understand because when we engage any particular practice, we engage the entire logos of that teaching. Because so many teachings are readily available these days, many of us borrow practices from different traditions and do them on our own outside the context of that tradition. But practices contain and express the logos of their teaching, so when they are done outside of that context, they lack the holding, support, and guidance of the larger field of the teaching. So although the practices might be useful in some ways, their impact will be limited. Many have criticized this contemporary phenomenon of sampling practices as being a trivialization and degradation of the original teaching.

If we consider this in the context of the Diamond Approach, we can see that when we engage the primary practice of inquiry, at some point, the various aspects, vehicles, and dimensions of true nature tend to appear. If we are not working within the context of the teaching, they might not arise at all or might not arise in the same way. When we are engaged in the teaching, our consciousness is involved in the logos of this teaching—in its logic, in its view of reality, in its particular channel and flow of realization. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the more that any member of the school is involved in and aligned with the logos of this teaching, the more thoroughly the teaching unfolds within them. In other words, greater alignment with the logos of the Diamond Approach means that the dimensions and vehicles and aspects arise with their particular issues. But involvement with the teaching and alignment with the logos is not the only requirement. Personal capacity, personal development, and one’s life situations are also an important part of the process.  – Inner Journey Home


Relationship to the Teacher and the Teaching

What could help us in this Work is a basic way of looking at things that will help us understand the particulars of your relationship to the teacher and the teaching. Nobody will force you to have that relationship. It is completely up to you. If you want to be connected to the teaching, you need to put effort into understanding the relationship and actualizing it. It is like wanting to be a citizen of a certain country. It is your choice whether you want to be a citizen or not. When you decide that you are going to be a citizen of a country, you are expected to abide by the principles and the regulations of that country.

One of the purposes of the Work is to encourage you to actualize and assert your true individuality. That does not mean to assert your individuality against the Work, because the Work is the very essence of that individuality. If you feel that you are asserting your individuality against the Work, what you are asserting is not your true individuality for the simple reason that the Work is what is helping you actualize true individuality. What you are asserting is your false personality; if you do not see that, the effort should go into seeing it, not into attempting to rationalize what you feel like doing. We need to see and acknowledge how the Work always functions as the lifeline for the real life. This means that your relationship to the teaching must be one of respect, consideration, love, appreciation, gratitude, and service at all times, regardless of your particular momentary feelings and opinions, because that is the attitude you need to have toward your essence. By understanding your relationship to the teaching, you will be able to actualize your true relationship to your essence, for the teaching is a true expression of Essence.  – Diamond Heart Book One


Serving the Truth

You cannot do this Work if you are constantly arguing with it. If you are constantly questioning whether it is wrong or right, or whether it is for you or not, then it is better that you go somewhere else. This is friendly advice. It applies to each of you, regardless of how long you have been in the school, whether you have been here two days or twenty years. Truth has nothing to do with time. Some people believe that when they learn something, then they’ve got it, or they’ve got enough, or they can twist the truth for their own ends. It does not work that way. All that will happen for those who want to serve themselves rather than discovering or serving the truth, is that they will remain disconnected from the truth and continue the life of falsehood. You cannot use the Work for your personal aggrandizement, or for materialistic gains, or to get pleasure.

The Work requires us to give ourselves to the truth, always. It is true that the more you give yourself to the truth, the more your life will be full, but that is not the reason to do it. If you do the Work because you want your life to be full, you are already wanting materialistic gain, and because of that, you will disconnect yourself from the truth.

I hear remarks from many people such as, “I spend too much time on the Work, too many meetings, too many years.” Bullshit! There is no such thing as spending too much time on the truth. It wouldn’t be too much time if you spent a million years doing the Work. Spending a few hours a week for a few years in your life to actualize the truth and then complaining that you haven’t actualized it—where is that coming from? You can complain forever to no avail. You do the Work sincerely, or you do not do it. You do it as long as you need to do it. You do it until it works.  – Diamond Heart Book Four


The Teaching as an Ideal Object

So the central object relation integrates all of the good experiences you've had. You feel supported, loved, nourished, and wanted. It is the most basic object relation, the one you've engaged all of your life. We would be psychotic if we didn't have those feelings of support and love. Things would be too painful, chaotic, and scary without that feeling of good and secure connection that nourishes and fulfills us, that makes life tolerable.

In our school, the student enacts that central object relation with the school, with the work, or with a particular teacher. As long as that relationship is not pinpointed, it cannot be understood and transformed. Without confronting it, you will remain a student forever—not a frustrated student who isn't getting what you want, not a scared student who is being rejected, but a satisfied student who is being taken care of, acknowledged, and supported. You are satisfied getting what is available, what is being fed to you. The approach I'm introducing will challenge this satisfaction, will make you feel as if you are losing some basic support and nourishment.

So let's further explore this central object relation. The central object relation is a relationship between the central ego, the core, or the central part of the soul to what is called the ideal object or the ideal other. The object here is ideal in the sense that the object, the parent or the teacher or the teaching or the school or the breast, whatever it may be, is comforting, satisfying, fulfilling, nourishing, supporting, and giving. The ideal object is not absolutely idealized. We need not think the ideal object is perfect. The ideal object is simply good, in a normal, everyday kind of way.  – Diamond Heart Book Five

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