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Absolute (Perceived Darkness of)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Absolute (Perceived Darkness of)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Absolute (Perceived Darkness of)

A Divine Darkness that Feels Like Grace

This experience of no perception, internal or external, is reported by advanced practitioners of most wisdom traditions. This indicates that we cannot know true nature in its absoluteness, because as we move away from manifestation and toward the transcendent truth, we lose consciousness of anything. Such a conclusion is supported by the fact that the movement deeper into pure true nature, as awareness relieves itself of the perception of manifestation is an experience of being increasingly enveloped by darkness, a divine darkness that feels like grace. The sense of the experience is that the light of true nature darkens the consciousness of the soul, liberating her from the perception of phenomena, as it draws her nearer. The soul feels increasingly close to the source as she feels more enveloped by darkness. At the point of complete nearness, that of unity, the darkness is complete, and there is no perception or awareness of anything, including darkness.

Abiding in the Darkness of the Absolute We Recede from the World of Manifestation

As we abide in the inscrutable darkness of the absolute we recede, as if backward, from the world of manifestation. The soul feels: “I am perceiving the world and knowing I am not of it, not part of it, and not in it. When I reflect I do not find myself, either as a person or self. It seems I am some kind of emptiness that does not have any particular feeling, even of self. There is awareness of phenomena, but I am not part of what I perceive, and I am not anything in particular. I am pure subject, which is not an object. I am the source of awareness. I am not the witnessing, but I make witnessing possible.” There is everything, there is the perception of everything, but no self or person, and no reference to them. The mind cannot conceive of existence without reference to a center. There is no frame of reference here. There is lightness, openness, expansion, and joy. As abiding in the absolute becomes deeper and more concentrated we experience ourselves even less in the midst of the manifestation. The soul experiences herself now more clearly as the absolute, a vast peace and an immense stillness. The logos with its universe appears clearly as a surface phenomenon for the absolute, as if it is its outside. The soul here recognizes her realization of the absolute as: “I am the absolute and the logos-universe is my robe. The manifest world is my shimmering apparel, adorning my majesty, and revealing my beauty. I perceive the oneness of existence as a thin surface of appearance, with all of its color and richness, and I am the luminous night peering though all.” It is the perception of the perceived universe as appearance appearing continually and instantaneously in the absolute darkness. Appearance is perceived as grace, beauty, luminosity, and harmony. It is the oneness of the logos, full of golden love and presence.

Awareness and Perception Originating from the Darkness of the Absolute

When we are witnessing within the manifestation but still being the absolute, we can perceive our body moving, doing what it does—eating, talking, and so on. However, all this is seen as completely spontaneous functioning, not belonging to a person or a self. There is no doer whatsoever. Everything is happening as functioning; each part is doing its functioning smoothly and spontaneously. The functioning is not related to a doer, a person, or a self. And it is not seen as separate from other functioning in the environment, for all functioning is a unified dynamic field. Furthermore, the functioning is the same as the phenomena, the perceived reality, the logos whose dynamic pattern is the universe. However, there is no I, no self, no center. The awareness and perception originate from the darkness of the absolute. 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 there 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 is doing. The doing is present, without being related to doer. The interesting thing is that there are functioning and perception without a sense of self. We realize that usually there is a continuous sense of self or “I.” Now there is experience and perception of experience, but it is not related to an “I.” The experience is far or distant from who I am, without who I am feeling like an “I.”

Looking Into the Absolute We First See Darkness, but . . .

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 see the manifestation as possessing a ground of pure nonconceptual awareness, but this ground now appears as a manifestation within the absolute.

Realizing the Truest, Absolute, Utmost Nature of Who We Are

What will be left if consciousness goes? For consciousness to go, beingness and existence also must dissolve. There needs to be absolute nonexistence, absolute darkness, darkness so dark that you don’t know it is dark. The moment you know it is dark, consciousness has already arisen, the big bang has started, the word has been uttered. To realize the truest, absolute, utmost nature of who we are, and of all of reality, we have to let go of consciousness. That is the night. The night never changes. The night never comes, never goes. The night is not born. The night will never die. When we glimpse this truth, we see that however obvious have been the notions that your mother was your mother and your father was your father, thinking through concepts has actually separated you from your truest nature, the nature that was never born. We have to confront many assumptions in the mind before we can really get a taste of the Guest. The realm of the night is like deep sleep. When you wake up, you are completely refreshed. Creation begins all over again, the whole universe arises. Only when all sensations cease, when there are no more sensations, no more consciousness, do we really know who we are. Then we know the absolute truth. As the night, we perceive the whole of existence, the totality of the daytime realm, as nothing but thoughts that arise in the night. To really be in the realm of the night, to really know what you ultimately are, what the secret of reality is, means to be not self-conscious. The moment that you are conscious of yourself, you are conscious of the consciousness, you are conscious only of the daytime. You see the light of day but not the darkness of the night that far transcends and contains the day. You see the transitory but not the eternal. You see the manifestation but not the unmanifest ground. You see the front but not the back. Your back, your ground, is the night. When you are the night, you can behold the day, but you see it as your front. Your back is something you cannot see, for it is the seer itself, the primordial eye of awareness.

Simple Sensation, Sensing Itself and the Nonbeing of the Absolute

In the process of dissolution of the conscious presence of the soul into the absolute, or in any experience of inquiring into the nature of the absolute, we discover that the last vestige of consciousness is a multimodal sensory one. As we see and feel the mysterious darkness of nonbeing we feel our presence as a kind of sensation. Our presence becomes simply the presence of simple sensation, sensing itself and the nonbeing of the absolute. As it apprehends the absolute it sees and senses it. The seeing becomes a seeing of darkness, which culminates in the total cessation of perception. The sensing becomes a sensing of absence of being, which culminates in the total cessation of sensation. As we learn to acclimate to the reality of the absolute, and experience it as our truth, we experience ourselves as its vast emptiness, as the infinity of the luminous night. We are then the absolute nonbeing witnessing the emergence of the forms of experience. When we look within we see nothing, just a darkness; and if the darkness dominates, there results either cessation or the extroversion of awareness to the witnessing of phenomena. Also, when we sense ourselves we find nothing, but this finding of nothing is the finding of no sensation. The absolute is so empty that it is empty of the sensation of anything, including the sensation of nothing. This is quite an unusual state, for we are accustomed to having sensations. But here we are completely ourselves, totally in touch with our depths, absolutely intimate with our subjective experience, but experience no sensation. We are aware only of the absence of sensation, which is possible only because there is some remnant of sensation in parts of the body that creates a contrast.

The Absolute Must be Prior to Being

When the last atom annihilates there is total cessation, but in this last perception there is the clearest impression of the nature of the absolute: vastness so empty it is the absolute absence of all being, silence so still there is no manifestation. Nothing stirs and nothing reacts in this mysterious but luminous darkness. It is so empty of anything that it is absolutely transparent, a transparency that makes it the greatest clarity. We see that the nature of the absolute is really the absence of being, the annihilation of presence. This discovery is actually not surprising, for all presence is nothing but the being of the manifest world. Presence emerges as the flow of the logos, as the outflow of being, whose field is patterned by the forms of the universe. And since being is a conscious presence that emerges from the absolute, the absolute must be prior to being and its contrasting background. Being, in other words, emerges out of nonbeing.7 The source is a mysterious nonbeing, a nonbeing that is not simply an ordinary nothing, but a metaphysical nonbeing that holds the potential of all possibilities of existence and experience.8 It is a breathtaking truth: the source and ultimate nature of all existence is nonexistence. Being, with all of its richness and variety, is born out of nonbeing. We begin here to understand the mysteries of Reality; we see that it does not correspond with the apparently obvious, normal perception of things. We begin to appreciate the stupendous mystery that is Reality, and the subtlety of truth, which can quicken the passionate love of the heart to inquire into the mysteries of Being.

The More We Recognize the Indeterminacy of the Absolute the Deeper is Its Darkness

It is interesting that the more we recognize the indeterminacy of the absolute, the deeper is its darkness, and the more luminous. We go further into its unfathomable depths as we accept its mysteriousness. Such darkness is pure bliss and realization, for even though it is the absence of all being and knowing, it is enlightenment. Its darkness is luminous and brilliant; it is the spiritual midnight sun. This darkness bathes us, caresses us, melts us, dissolves us, annihilates us, until we are all gone; there remains only the majesty of the luminous crystal night. We realize then that this darkness of being and knowledge is God’s knowledge of Himself. It is not normal knowledge, it is pure basic knowledge before any discrimination, before any conceptualization. It is nonconceptual knowledge, which is not what we ordinarily call knowledge. Thus the indeterminacy of the absolute is the same as the divine darkness, the inscrutable nature of the divine, the ultimate essence of Being. It is not an ordinary darkness and lack of knowing and being; it is the majestic and luminous blackness of the divine essence, the absolute essence of Being, the most intimate truth of true nature. It is the core of all existence, the depth of Being, the inner of all. Whenever we find an inner quality and dimension, the luminous night will be its innerness; whenever we find a deep truth the luminous night will be its ultimate depth. It is the inner of all, the essence of everything, the back of all fronts, and the ultimate ground and facticity of all manifest forms. It is indeterminacy, but it is also the ground of all determinations; it is nonbeing but it is also the ground of all being; it is darkness but it is also the ground of all light; it is unknowing but it is also the ground for all knowing. It is the primal darkness before there was light, and the eternal night that highlights the appearance of the day.

To Know is to Move Nearer to Our Home and to Behold the Mystery is to Be at Home

When we learn to accept the mystery that lies all around us, and to recognize that what we know, regardless how immense, is nothing but a blip in an ocean of darkness, we give up the search for security, we relax and let go. We learn to live in mystery, and recognize that the world we live in is full of mystery. We learn to love to know, for it is the knowing of this mystery; but at the same time we learn to love the mystery, for it is the rest of our hearts and the home of our souls. To know is to move nearer to our home, and to behold the mystery is to be at home. Being at home is one of the most characteristic feelings the soul receives when beholding the luminous darkness of the mystery. The soul frequently has this feeling the instant she feels herself abiding in its luminous darkness. It is not a conclusion, not a reasoned understanding, not the result of understanding or consciously knowing something about the absolute. It is a spontaneous recognition that happens to most people when they find themselves in the absolute. We have the instant and joyous recognition that this is our true home. We finally feel completely at home; we understand why we love to feel at home, and why it is so difficult to feel at home. The soul realizes that she has been estranged from her source, exiled from her home. She realizes that she has been roaming the universe looking for her home, feeling uncomfortable and unsettled, lost and bereaved. She has been looking mostly in the wrong places, in manifest objects and places, when her home is within, totally within, within but beyond all of manifestation. When we know only the manifest world we are estranged from our true home, living in exile, and always waiting, whether consciously or unconsciously, to return home at last, to finally rest and forget all of our woes and worries. Now the time comes, in the lap of the luminous darkness, in the depths of total mystery. We recognize this without anyone telling us, for in our hearts we have always known. Our minds have told us various stories about where home is, where rest is, where contentment is, but now we know with certainty that we are home at last, and wonder how we came to be lost. We feel like celebrating, full of joy and dancing with delight.

When the Soul is Completely Concentrated on the Absolute there is Nothing to Perceive

Cessation. Beyond this experience, all light disappears, all awareness ceases. There is no perception of anything; there is simply no experience. When the soul is completely concentrated on the absolute there is nothing to perceive, for to perceive total darkness is not to perceive. Light is the awareness that arises out of this total darkness, revealing that the absolute is prior to light, awareness, and consciousness. This experience of cessation is the experience of complete ego death, for it is going beyond the world of manifestation, beyond even awareness of the world of manifestation. There is no awareness of self or soul, for there is no awareness at all, without this being unconsciousness or sleep. When awareness looks out again, which we experience as the return of awareness, the manifest universe reappears. With the return of awareness the logos appears as the displaying of time and space, and all the phenomena of the universe. We are here the absolute, the luminous night, witnessing appearance arising within it, out of it, but we still experience ourselves as the immense stillness and stupendous silence underlying all existence and all appearance. We feel fresh and clear, as if our consciousness has dipped into the cleansing energies of the source, and returned renewed and rejuvenated. This is similar to the rejuvenation we experience after deep sleep, except we are here clear and awake, bright and lucid.

When You Go to the Absolute there is Complete Darkness

The nonconceptual does not have a sense of time. Here, the closest thing to time is like a sense of eternity. But by eternity we do not mean something that goes on forever. The sense of eternity indicates a realm that has nothing to do with time. Time is a concept. From the perspective of the nonconceptual, you cannot say whether something exists or doesn’t, because existence and non-existence are concepts. When your awareness of yourself is nonconceptual, there’s no one there saying, “I exist” or “I don’t exist.” When you are contemplating existence or nonexistence, you have already distinguished two things, and are thus in the realm of the conceptual. So this realm is beyond existence or nonexistence. And even though there is consciousness, there isn’t an idea of consciousness. Consciousness is not saying “I am consciousness.” There is consciousness because there is consciousness, not because it is saying, “I am consciousness.” It’s very subtle. Then, when you go to the Absolute, even that is gone. There is complete darkness. The Absolute and the Nameless are both nonconceptual. With the Nameless there is consciousness, and the Absolute is beyond consciousness. It’s the difference between the night and day. The night is Absolute, and the day is the Nameless or the nonconceptual. There is light. This light doesn’t bring any particular knowledge; it’s just pure light.

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