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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Absolute?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Absolute

Absolute Being

So when we say Absolute, we mean Being -- Essence with no qualities, before qualities come into Being. Then you know it's the source of everything, because you see everything arising from it.

Absolute Dimension

Because the absolute is not simply nonbeing, we experience it as a field, an expanse, and not simply nonbeing. To understand this we need to make a particular differentiation explicit. We have been using two terms interchangeably, namely absolute and absolute dimension. Strictly speaking, the absolute is the ultimate nature of Reality, and it is beyond dimensions; for dimensions are the experience of manifestation. Yet, we do experience the absolute as a dimension, boundless and infinite, an infinity that contains and holds all manifestation, including the other boundless dimensions. We can say that the absolute is the unmanifest, the ultimate truth and mystery of Being, beyond all dimensions and qualities. But when it begins to manifest appearance, this manifestation appears as if in an expanse, an infinite and boundless expanse, that looks like black space. Manifestation appears always in the context of time and space. It always possesses an expanse in time and space. Therefore, when we witness appearance from this stance of the absolute we see an expanse appearing in a more vast, dark expanse, the absolute. We have the sense of the absolute as an expanse, as a vast infinite black space. The absolute appears in this perception as a boundless dimension that underlies all other dimensions. But in reality the absolute is beyond space and time, for it is beyond manifestation.

Awareness But Without Involvement in Phenomena

We feel unknown and unknowable, and in front of us phenomena appear with functioning. There is awareness of phenomena and functioning, but there is no involvement in it whatsoever. It does not feel like it is someone observing or aware of phenomena. It is as if Reality has two sides. The front is all of existence, the back is the darkness of the absolute. All of appearance, as the divine logos or being, is seen as external to the absolute. There is no one who feels he's doing. The doing is present, without being related to doer. The interesting thing is that there is functioning and perception without a sense of self.

Being Drawn by the Secret to Itself

The more we drop our attachments and abandon our inner idols, the more we are filled with grief and loss and sadness. The whole universe will turn into an ocean of tears. As our heart empties itself of its idols, it sacrifices too its yearning and its longing, and even its love. You don’t feel you long any more. You don't even feel that you love any more. There remains only the direct condition of being consumed by an ocean of hot tears. This is some taste of nearness of the Guest, but we experience it for a long time as the grief over the loss of all the things we are shedding and sacrificing. We willingly sacrifice everything, but we cannot help but feel such deep sadness and tears. However, this again is another story the mind tells us, trying to explain something it does not and cannot comprehend. The mind cannot see that it is the Secret drawing nearer and beginning to melt us, to dissolve us. We can say that it is the heart passionately longing for and loving the Secret. But we can also say it is the Secret touching you, completely and passionately burning you up.

Complete Freedom from Self

We first experience the total nonconceptuality of our true nature as we delve more deeply into the nature of pure awareness and absolute awareness. As we explore the nature and the very substance of these nondual dimensions, as we consider their sense of nothingness, emptiness, and absence, that opens the door for true nature to manifest itself in a way that reveals degrees of freedom that we haven’t even imagined possible. In the usual trajectory of our work, our unfolding development or realization reveals the realization of the absolute—the absolute depth of true nature that is complete freedom from self. Some teachings think of the absolute as the big self or the ultimate self or the ultimate subject. But it is actually the experience of total selflessness, of no self of any kind. The individual self is seen simply as a window for experiencing no self. It is not the center, and there is no center. So the absolute is a profound realization of emptiness of self. It also can appear as the emptiness of everything, the nonbeing of everything in the sense that nothing has an ultimate identity. Things appear and we experience them, but they don’t exist in the way that we usually think.

Disappearing is Really Wonderful

Disappearing is really wonderful, is beautiful. Everything else within the realm of consciousness is paltry compared to it. Once you experience absolute absence, you know that all the wonderful sublime states of essence, of being, of consciousness and God-realization, are all on one side and the Absolute is on the other side. Regardless of how sublime and wonderful, these states are not one-millionth as wonderful as the state of the Absolute. Consider the highest, deepest experience of consciousness you have had, the most fulfilled and blissful condition. Now imagine a state a million times more satisfying and liberating. That is the Absolute.

Discovering the Absolute in Our Heart

We find that home is the inner of the inner, in the most secret chamber of our heart. When we discover the absolute in our heart, which is a particular realization of the absolute, we find out that it is what our heart has always been looking for. (See The Point of Existence, chapter 41, for a discussion of the process of finding the absolute in the heart.) We learn that we have been erecting idols in our heart, when our heart is in reality the Kaaba, the throne of the divine essence, the absolute. We have been loving so many people, so many things, and filling our heart with them and then wondering how come we are not completely happy and totally fulfilled. But now we realize that we have needed to keep our heart vacant, emptying it from all other loves except the love of the truth. We did not recognize what should truly fill our heart, who our real beloved is, until now. When we see the luminous crystalline mystery in the depths of our heart our love runneth over; we are beyond ourselves with deep joy and passionate love. We finally recognize our true and one beloved, the one we have been looking and waiting for, and understand the reason for our previous lack of total contentment and complete fulfillment. All these loves were simply expressions of the true beloved, reminding us of Him, and because of that we loved them.

Each Form Contains All the Secrets of Reality

It is the dynamism of the absolute’s own emptiness that reveals that the absolute can manifest in ways that are different from how it is usually experienced. The dynamism begins to show not only the relationship of the primordial ground to all the forms that arise within it, but also the relationship of those forms to each other. And as it begins to show the relationship of these forms to each other, we recognize that their relationship to each other is not only that they are all manifestations of the same ground and, therefore, united—which is the view of nondual realization. We realize that is only the beginning of what is implied by that realization. As we further penetrate the emptiness, we begin to see that even though all forms are equal, each form has a unique significance; each form, each particular, contains all the secrets of reality that we have seen in all the aspects or forms of true nature. We see that all forms of experience, and not only the ground of true nature, have implicit in them all of reality. Seeing that each particular is important, which the nondual view neglects to do, ushers in different views of reality that change our understanding of time and space, as we’ve seen in previous chapters.

Everything is the Absolute but with Form

At the beginning it seems that the Absolute is something very distinct from everything else, but when our experience matures we realize that there is nothing but the Absolute. Everything that happens is a manifestation of the Absolute. Everything is the Absolute, but with form. So wherever we look we see the Absolute. In the experience of cessation, everything disappears; then, everything reappears as a manifestation of the Absolute, as the luminous awareness of the Absolute.

Experience Vanishes in the Depths of the Absolute

When we turn to the depths of the Absolute there is no experience; there is cessation. Nisargadatta recognizes the absolute truth as pure awareness, but he also says that pure awareness needs something to manifest in order to be aware. The Absolute is the witness, but the witness cannot witness itself because there is nothing to witness then. This is a very interesting characteristic of the absolute truth.

Experiencing the Absolute

We experience ourselves as vastness, an immensity, an expanse so deep it is absolutely dark. Though dark and still, inscrutable and silent, it is the source of all luminosity and light. And within this immeasurable immensity, we witness the process of creation. We see a dynamic presence, the divine logos, flowing out of the absolute, revealing its potentialities as the manifest reality, disclosing its mysteries as the multidimensional manifold of existence and experience. Yet, because of the infinity of the absolute we see this manifold as a surface phenomena, as if the absolute is so pure and pristine that it glitters and shines, its brilliance forming a surface, colorful and luminous. This colorful and luminous surface of radiance is continually scintillating colors and forms, shapes and patterns. We witness an unfolding surface of clear and variegated light, whose pattern is the totality of creation. The absolute is prior to light, but also its source and ultimate nature and mystery. The light is the unfolding logos, whose pattern is the totality of existence, a dynamic unified manifold. The scintillating light is one unified surface, with no parts and no partitions, a field of radiance full of intelligence and truth, reality and significance.

Explicit Perfection and Completeness

At one of the stages of its manifestation, the Absolute presents itself as explicit perfection. Here, perfection and completeness are explicit, with all the various perfections present—but in this stage, the qualities are still undifferentiated. We cannot separate one from another. We can know and recognize Love in this manifestation, for example, but we cannot differentiate it from Will. And we can't differentiate Will from Clarity, Clarity from Strength, Strength from Fulfillment, or Fulfillment from Joy. All the qualities are explicit and manifest but not differentiated. We refer to this manifestation as Brilliancy. When we experience Brilliancy, we experience perfection and completeness explicitly because our true nature is manifesting to us in a form characterized by perfection and completeness. By inquiring into Brilliancy, we recognize it as intelligence. It is the presence of pure radiance, pure brilliance.

Brilliancy, pg. 81

In the Absolute there is not Even any Consciousness

The Absolute is nonconceptual because there are no concepts there; but it is deeper than simply nonconceptual. In the Absolute there is not even any consciousness. The nonconceptual is the same as the Absolute, except that there is consciousness. As the nonconceptual, which I call the Nameless because there is no name for it, I know, and I know that I know. But I don’t know what I know. This level of knowing does not involve recognition of things. In the Absolute I don’t know, and I don’t know that I don’t know. The Nameless is “I know.” I know that I know, but I don’t know what I know, because there is nothing there to know. It is just consciousness knowing itself. It is just the bare minimum of awareness of existence, which is pure consciousness. We call it nonconceptual because there are no concepts there. The moment there are concepts, you know something. The moment you say, “I know this,” you have created a concept or become aware of a concept. You have put something in a category, delineated it as something. But the nonconceptual is not a something. In the nonconceptual, there is no sense of space and time. When the nonconceptual is experiencing the nonconceptual, it doesn’t have form, shape, color, location, or size. It is prior to time and space. To have shape and size and color you need the concept of space. The only thing left is quality, and the quality is simply consciousness. You almost cannot even call it quality; it’s not exactly that. It’s as if you’re aware, and you know you’re aware, but you’re not aware of anything in particular. You are simply aware of the awareness itself, conscious of the consciousness itself. You don’t know whether it’s inside or outside. There is no concept of inside or outside. There is no concept of someone being there, being aware.

It is Impossible to Conceive of a Form that Transcends the Absolute

We call this dimension of true nature the absolute for very specific reasons. First, it has the sense and feel of absoluteness. When we are fully abiding in it we feel a certainty that this is the ultimate truth of everything, transcending all other certainties. We feel absolutely certain of this truth and that there can be nothing beyond it or transcendent to it. But it is also easy to see why it is the absolute dimension of true nature. If there were any other dimension it would have to arise in awareness; otherwise there would be no way of knowing of it. However, for a dimension or truth to arise in awareness puts it in the realm of the manifest, and the absolute transcends all the manifest. Some teachings insist that the ultimate is a personal god that possesses a form. It is, however, impossible to conceive of a form that transcends the absolute. Any form is bound to be within the logos, for the logos is an infinite field of oneness. To perceive or conceive of a form we have to see that it is an inseparable part of the oneness, for no form can be outside the oneness of being. To conceive a form outside of the oneness of being would mean that we conceive a boundary and end for this oneness, which contradicts the knowing of true oneness. In other words, any form must be an inseparable part of the oneness of being, and hence part of the unfolding pattern of the logos. It is bound to be arising within the absolute, with the absolute as its transcendent source.  

Love Melting Away the State of Poverty

The emptiness of the heart reveals itself as the state of poverty, in which I feel I have nothing. The love, however, is too overwhelming to allow me to remain in any limited state, even that of mystical poverty. The intensification of love melts away even the state of poverty, where now the emptiness in the heart transforms into the dazzling majesty of the absolute. The love becomes so intense, so passionately deep red, that after a while I cannot tell who loves whom. Do I love the absolute, or does the absolute love me? The passionate love is the intensity of the annihilating power of the absolute as it erases all but itself. I, as the soul, behold the absolute appearing in the heart, occupying it as its rightful resident. The heart beholds the absolute as the most beautiful thing my eyes have ever beheld. It is dazzling and intoxicating, so black it is brilliant with blackness. It is nothing, but it shimmers and shines in such a dazzling way that I can see it has a crystalline quality. It is an infinite black crystal absence, brilliantly shimmering. The radiance is so bright it illuminates the cave of the heart the way a lightning storm illuminates the night. The lightning illumination ricochets in the cavern of the heart with such power I can hear it thundering and exploding.

No Fixed Position or Final Conclusion can be Taken Regarding the Absolute

I experience the absolute as both knowable and unknowable. I can plumb its depths, and gain a great deal of experience and insight. I can describe what I experience in increasing detail, with more and more precision. But it is clear that the nature of this inexhaustible vastness allows no final or definitive knowledge. The absolute is knowable in that we can become aware of it; many poets and spiritual masters spent their lives talking and writing about it. It is unknowable in that our knowledge is endless and cannot be final. Its nature is indeterminable because it is inexhaustible. The knowledge of the absolute always involves the revelations of the process of contemplating it, of experiencing it ever more deeply and clearly. It always involves a contemplating consciousness. The absolute is not absolutely alone. When there is no longer a contemplating consciousness, then there is no reflection on the absolute; there is only being it. Then there is no content that can be pointed to. In other words, no fixed position or final conclusion can be taken regarding the absolute. To fully apprehend it is to know it as mystery…….. The contemplation of the absolute continues with its own momentum, without my personal prompting. The consciousness finds itself in the mysterious blackness of the absolute, and a process of sensing into its depths spontaneously commences. I keep returning to this mystery, this intimacy, this delicacy, this contentment, this peace, this freedom, this infinity of release. The absolute cannot even be called space, even though it is a vastness. Ordinarily I see it as spacious. But as I plumb this spaciousness, it dissolves into a spaceless or dimensionless nothing. The result is absence, the opposite of existence. Then there is no sense of extension, and also no sense of no extension. Awareness of the absolute remains, but this awareness is free of the concept or sense of extension. In this subtle perception, knowingness borders on cessation.

Penetrating the Nature of the Absolute

An important feature of the emptiness of these two dimensions of radical nonconceptuality is that it is unobstructed. As we recognize the unobstructedness, we see that there is no obstruction between the ground of awareness and all the forms that manifest within the expanse of awareness, and also that there is no obstruction between one form and another. This insight opens up a whole new way of experiencing things. Penetrating the nature of the absolute invites further realizations, further ways of experiencing that show that pure awareness is the awareness of Total Being and that the absolute reveals that Total Being is the source of everything. From the perspective of the absolute, you see the absolute as the source of everything and also as the mystery of Total Being. But as we investigate more fully, the situation expands and reveals that Total Being can manifest itself and can appear as any of the nondual dimensions, each one of which reveals some of its potential and reality. So pure awareness displays the awareness of Total Being and the absolute conveys its mystery.

Perceiving Everything Clearly as Appearance

Or we can experience ourselves in the midst of the manifest world, aware of the absolute as the background and underlying nature of all manifestation and perception. Here we experience everything around us as if it were one unified surface, luminous and transparent. We perceive everything -- the floor, the walls, the furniture, and all people present -- clearly as appearance, as the luminous beauty of the logos, radiant with golden truth, and rich with the nectar of love. Yet all this transparent surface is penetrated by the blackness of the mystery. This perception has a sense of beauty and magic, as if we experience the totality of the perceptual field as a luminous and transparent surface, the absolute blackness peering through from all directions, giving the impression of being inside a transparent bubble in an infinite dark space.

The Absolute is a Presence that is at the Same Time Absence

Student: What do you mean when you say that consciousness and absence can be together or coemergent?
Almaas: I have been emphasizing absence because it is the essence of the Absolute, but the Absolute is the nondifferentiated coemergence and coextensiveness of consciousness and emptiness, of presence and absence. The Absolute is a presence that is at the same time absence. In this condition, you experience everything as usual, both you and the world. You live a normal life, and everything exists in the sense that it feels like the pure presence of consciousness. Simultaneously, you feel and know that nothing exists. So there is both presence and absence at the same time. Consciousness exists, in the sense that it appears in and as experience without its being a construct, but its nature is absence. True nature is both being and nonbeing, both presence and absence, but also not either, because these two facets are not differentiated. Everything has this nature, and everything is constituted by this nature. You realize that even the physical matter in front of you is the Absolute. There is no difference. Such perception implies a further and deeper integration and understanding of the Absolute.

The Absolute is Not a Dimension but, Rather, the Source of All Dimensions

Strictly speaking, since all perception is in relation to manifestation, either within it or outside it but witnessing it, we experience the absolute as a boundless dimension. We discussed this mystery in chapter 16, when we used the metaphor of dreaming to illustrate how the truth beyond space and time manifests as and within space and time. From this we see that the absolute in its absoluteness, the unmanifest understood irrespective of manifestation, is beyond dimensions; yet it appears as a boundless dimension that constitutes the final ground and ontological nature of all manifestation and dimensions. In other words, the absolute dimension is constituted by the absolute, or its nature is the absolute. This is similar to saying that the dimension of pure awareness is constituted by nonconceptual presence. So the absolute dimension is the boundless, infinite expanse whose nature is the black mystery of the absolute. When we experience it we experience the absolute, because it is the absolute that is appearing as a dimension; whereas the absolute is not a dimension, but rather the ultimate mystery and source of all dimensions, the unmanifest true nature. Because of this differentiation it becomes ambiguous sometimes to say that the absolute is the unmanifest when we are experiencing the absolute dimension, because a boundless and infinite dimension is necessarily a manifestation.

The Absolute is Pure Awareness that is Not Aware of Itself but is Aware of Anything that Comes Out of Itself

The Absolute is a pure awareness that is not aware of itself, but it is aware of anything that comes out of itself. The moment consciousness arises, the Absolute becomes aware of it as pure light, pure radiance. So you can be the Absolute being aware of the nonconceptual. Or you can lose the Absolute and become just the nonconceptual. You can be just the nonconceptual experiencing the nonconceptual, which you experience as just pure awareness without anything to know. Or you could be the nonconceptual and be aware of the Absolute. And then you know the Absolute. That is how we can talk about the Absolute and its absence of qualities. At any level of experience, you can perceive both the more superficial realms and the next deeper realm. Except if you go to the Absolute, there’s only one way to go, which is towards the more superficial. If you are in the personal mind, there’s also only one way to go, which is towards the deeper. The Absolute is the most fundamental, and the personal mind is the most superficial.

The Absolute Never Changes Regardless of the Never-Ending Manifestation

We may think of this relationship as some form of duality, for there is the absolute and there is its radiance. However, it is not exactly duality, nor is it coemergence. The emanation is not separate from or other than the absolute; rather, it is the radiance of the absolute. If we only knew coemergence of manifestation with the absolute, it might be difficult for us to recognize the true relationship between the absolute and manifest reality, which is that the absolute is always transcendent to manifest forms, regardless of how nondual it is with them. The absolute dimension reveals this relation in a completely clear and unmistakable way: the absolute is always pure and transcendent regardless how immanent it is in manifestation. In other words, regardless of how nondual and inseparable is the absolute from manifest reality, it is always itself. It never leaves its mystery, never leaves its ontological status of transcending both being and nonbeing, never leaves its simplicity and emptiness. More precisely, the absolute never changes regardless of the never-ending manifestation. Because of this we can express this dimension in the paradoxical statement that “the absolute never changes even though it is in constant transformation.”

The Ground of All Grounds

This also means that when there is no perception there is no consciousness. This black mystery is an awareness so absolute that it possesses no ground to look back at and be aware of. It cannot be an object of perception, for it is the absolute subject. It is absolutely nothing, so there is nothing for it to be aware of when it is aware of itself. It is absolutely being the awareness. This is why the word “absolute” seems to fit it. It has no back. It is the ground of all grounds, the final background. To look backwards only leads awareness back to more superficial dimensions, usually back to appearance.

  •  The world is my front,
  •  My face,
  •  And my back is the mystery.

There is identification with the absolute, just as with the clear crystalline presence. I experience it as my very identity, as the very substance of me. Yet there is no feeling of identity. I am identified with the absolute, without the concept or feeling of identity or self. There is no feeling of I, or identity, just the apperception of the absolute, and recognizing I am none other than that.

The Source of Nonconceptual Awareness

But when the absolute looks at itself, it doesn’t see anything. There is nothing to perceive. If you look at the absolute, experience altogether disappears and the next thing you know you are back looking at phenomena. If you sense into it, there is nothing to sense. The absolute is not only nonconceptual, but also it is the source of nonconceptual awareness. And it is subtler than pure, primordial awareness, because there is no perception of sensation and no capacity for self-reflection. The capacity for self-reflection disappears here. In pure awareness, you can self-reflect even though you don’t have to. Here, if you self-reflect, nothing happens—experience stops; it is a non-event. It’s like what you see when you look into nonbeing. This dimension of absolute reality brings in the mysterious darkness, the luminous night.

The Ultimate Beloved of the Heart

The Absolute is the realm of complete mystery, or of bedazzlement, as the Sufis say. And only here will the heart feel it has arrived home, at long last. There is wonder, there is beauty, there is Majesty, but it is all mystery upon mystery. The peace is stupendous, the certainty is absolute and the beauty is dazzling. It is the ultimate Beloved of the heart, the Spirit of spirits, and the mystery of all existence. It is the absolute Presence of absolute annihilation, which is then seen to be the primal cause of all. Obviously such words make no sense to the mind, but when consciousness finally reaches this its final abode, the heart will hear these words as music.

The Ultimate Mystery of the Absolute

This is part of the mystery of true nature, which appears as the ultimate mystery of the absolute. Experientially we recognize both pure awareness and the absolute as nonconceptual. Yet they are phenomenologically different. They differ as day differs from night. Pure nonconceptual awareness is clear, colorless, transparent light that feels like the coemergence of presence and absence. We see a vast expansive space, clear and colorless, bright and limpid. It is a space full of light, just like space in daylight. Yet, it is also a presence with the sense of solidity and fullness. In experiencing the absolute, we perceive a transparent and clear space, but dark, so dark it is absolutely black. The blackness is not a color, but the absence of light. In other words, nonconceptual awareness possesses light while the absolute is ontologically prior to light. They are both transcendent to being and nonbeing, but they differ in their relation to light. We can say that the absolute is the mystery prior to light, but at the same time the source of light.The first light that manifests in it is the nonconceptual light, pure awareness. In other words, both are empty of ultimate existence, but the absolute is much more empty. It is even empty of light, awareness, and hence can be experienced as cessation. Looking into pure awareness we see transparent and light-filled space, pervading all manifest forms, and constituting them. Looking into the absolute we first see darkness, but if we focus on it completely, our awareness spontaneously turns around and we find ourselves witnessing manifestation.

We Can be Centered in the Absolute While Other Things are Stirring in the Soul

We had the direct knowledge that the Absolute is what we are. But some dissatisfaction would still arise in our soul consciousness, signifying that the soul needed to become more refined in a new or different way. When the Absolute expresses through the belly center, for example, issues regarding poverty and the instincts have to be faced. In the mind, it's about dealing with blocks to pure perception. Through the heart, it's all about coming to understand what keeps us from recognizing that we are both the lover and the Beloved. The ongoing process of clarification and refinement shows we can be centered in the Absolute while all kinds of other things are stirring in the soul. This simply means that the soul does not have knowledge of all the ways it is in relation to, and in service to, the Absolute. So the next thing to be understood or relinquished arrives, and fear might take hold at any point.

The Jeweled Path, pg. 266

When the Absolute is Realized as One's True Identity

One realizes the Absolute as one's true identity, totally beyond all manifestations, but containing them within its mysterious vastness. The emphasis is on the transcendence of the world, including the body and mind. One becomes the immense solidity of the absolute, totally still and inactive, while dispassionately witnessing the play of all phenomena. He witnesses all phenomena as the dynamic transformation of a cosmic and boundless consciousness, which consciousness arises in his silent immensity as a surface phenomenon. In the vastness of his silence, the world arises in all its multiplicity, but all the world is made out of a conscious presence, a Presence which is a consciousness that can reflect on itself.

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