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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Appearance?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Appearance

Appearance as an Expression of the Beauty of Reality

However, when we realize the reality and see that it is actually the ground without which the appearance could not exist, then the world of appearance transforms. It becomes more harmonious. It becomes the world of appearance rather than the world of suffering, success and failure. It becomes a world which is an expression of love and compassion and goodness and value. The appearance then is an expression of the beauty of reality.

Appearance is Not Chaotic or Haphazard

The manifest world unfolded by the creative dynamism of Being possesses certain characteristics that humanity has seen as harmonious and orderly. Modern science relies on this order for its research in discovering, understanding, and applying natural laws; spiritual traditions rely on an inner order that makes sense of inner development. In other words, it is important to realize that appearance is not chaotic or haphazard. It is the universe that we perceive and within which we live, the universe that our science has recognized to faithfully follow natural laws. Manifestation appears orderly and meaningful, changing and transforming in orderly and meaningful ways. It unfolds within an order that we recognize as both meaningful and harmonious. The dynamism is constantly unfolding the universe in a particular orderly pattern. The unfoldment is a patterned unfoldment, and its pattern is the universe we perceive. This implies that dynamic presence has its own ordering and organizing principle that manifests the world always in what we recognize as the natural order of things. We may think of the functioning of this dimension of true nature as it unfolds the universe in what we consider an orderly fashion, as a fashioning and ordering of the universe. In fact, some of the ancient traditions thought that the creative ground orders, runs, and steers the flow of the universe, besides bringing it into existence. This was exactly how the ancient Greeks understood things to be, and called the ordering principle “logos,” or reason.

Conventional Truth is Only the Way Things Appear

There appear to be two realities or two truths. It seems that reality is not just one thing, but two things. The first is appearance, or what we call conventional truth. The second is fundamental truth. The appearance of reality is what you perceive all the time, what you see and experience. Everything that appears to your senses is the conventional truth. That’s why we call it appearance – it appears to your consciousness. The more basic reason it is called appearance is that in relation to the ultimate or fundamental truth – which is the reality itself – it is clear that conventional truth is only the way things appear. It is not really how things are. We need to understand as deeply as possible that the appearance of things – of everyone and everything, of the whole universe – is not reality.

Experiencing Forms as Only the Appearance of Reality and Not Its Substance

Because of this subtle understanding of the process of manifestation it is sometimes preferable to refer to it as “appearing,” where “appearing” is not only a terminological difference, but actually a different and unique way of experiencing universal transformation. Everything seems to appear, to continue to appear, and to keep changing its appearance. Here there is the sense that there is absolutely nothing, and out of this nothing everything simply appears. This implies several things. First, the process does not take time, for appearing is instantaneous. As the forms appear they immediately disappear, and a new phenomenon appears. Both appearing and disappearing take no time; it is all instantaneous. We see a process only in the fact that appearing continues to happen, in conjunction with disappearing. Another interesting implication of this perception is that we experience Reality clearly as appearance. In other words, it is very clear in this perception that the forms are only the appearance of Reality, and not its substance. We experience the totality of the universe, including the rocks and mountains, as light and ephemeral, possessing neither substantiality nor solidity. Everything seems to be of the nature of light, or even of thought. In fact, everything is of the nature of image, insubstantial and totally empty. Everything spontaneously appears, without ever establishing itself as something solid. We feel light, transparent; everything is free of gravity. The nature of everything is unrestricted freedom. Yet it is all one appearance, one image, one picture, that keeps appearing with modified patterns and colors. We come close here to our metaphor of the movie screen, where the scene simply appears, and continues to appear. In fact, the question of disappearing is irrelevant. We do not say the picture appears and disappears on the screen. We simply witness a picture that appears, and continues to appear but with modified shapes and colors. We may see this appearing as a process of arising. The form arises out of formlessness.

In this way of perceiving there is more of a perception of process, of an object that gradually arises and takes form. Such perception is closer to our normal way of experiencing, where we experience emotions, for instance, as arising and taking form gradually, not forming totally instantaneously. It is a gradual process of formation, where the object gradually comes into perception, the way we perceive a person emerging from water after being submerged into it. We can perceive our thoughts in this way, especially our ideas.

First Words and First Concepts

The qualities of Essence are the first words. The aspects are the first concepts; they are universal concepts, the archetypal states of being. They are more connected to the fundamental reality than the world of appearance, but they are part of the world of appearance; Essence appears to us. Or, more accurately, experiences of Essence are glimpses of fundamental reality, viewed from the world of appearance.

Physical Reality is the Appearance of Things

Physical reality is the appearance of things, and by its nature it appears as separate things with boundaries. There is a pole, there is a fireplace, there is a chair. We take that perception of physical reality and apply it at all levels of reality. But on the level of Being, these partitions do not exist. On the level of energy, they do not exist. My energy does not stop at my hand; it goes further. Why don’t I take my energy to be me? My energy might be filling the whole room. Why don’t I say that I am the whole room? Why do I say that I am something sitting here? You say, “I am sitting in this chair,” because you take the body to be you. Why not take your energy to be you? Your energy could be smaller than your body or bigger than your body. When you are your essence, it is much more expanded yet. When you reach the depth of your essence, which is the fundamental reality, you see that no boundaries at all are there; the boundaries exist on the surface only. When you apply the perception of physical separation to everything, then that body that is you has its own desires and needs and rights, issues about whether you are going to contact someone else or not, or whether you like someone else or not. It is all ridiculous; there actually is not anything like this separated appearance. It is only the way things appear.

Taking Appearance to Be Reality

The thing that made the shuttle explode is making you talk to me right now. There's only one cause, what is sometimes called the Prime Mover. From within the perspective of manifestation, where we take appearance to be the ultimate reality, there seem to be causes and effects. The space shuttle exploded because there was a mechanical malfunction. That is true. But the malfunction was not a result of what happened at the docking station. The malfunction was produced instantaneously at that very moment. And the explosion was not a result of the malfunction, but was produced instantaneously at that very moment. The explosion is like anything else: moving your arm, saying a word, snow falling, catching a flight, seeing God, taking a shit, a war happening, a murder, a marriage, an orgasm.

The Absolute Depth of Reality Shows that Existence is a Matter of Appearance

For example, total nonconceptuality reveals further understanding about the question of existence and nonexistence. From the perspective of the absolute, nothing truly exists. The absolute depth of reality shows that existence is a matter of appearance. This does not mean that the world is a hallucination, but that things don’t exist in the way that we think they do. From the perspective of the absolute, nonbeingness is the fundamental truth about experience. When we see that the emptiness of self, the emptiness of everything, is the fundamental realization, it brings a great deal of freedom from the self. But this realization still harbors subtle concepts, one of which is the concept of emptiness, the idea and experience that things don’t exist. There is a further understanding that is referred to as the “emptiness of emptiness,” which is the recognition that emptiness is not something that exists. From the perspective of total nonconceptuality, the challenge is not that emptiness does not exist; rather, it is that whether things are empty or not, whether they exist or not, is simply not relevant to this type of realization. Here the recognition and experience of the realization of true nature are that things neither exist nor don’t exist, and there is no concern either way, because we are not operating with the concept of existence.

The Appearance of Free Will

From within the manifestation it appears as if there is free will. If you look from the source, no free will exists. So it all depends from where you look. Whatever you see is produced by the flow. It does not get you off the hook, though. As long as you experience yourself as a separate self it is best to take responsibility. If you do not take responsibility the flow will manifest in darker and more difficult patterns. However, if you take responsibility in a real way, not by feeling guilty but by being responsible in your dealings with the world, the more that responsibility will manifest the flow in a lighter and more illuminating way. Authentic responsibility is our way of experiencing the illumination of the flow that culminates in its revelation of the true nature of the pattern, as the creative outflow of the Logos, the Patterns.

Things Simply Change

To live in the world and to know yourself, you have to take both worlds into consideration: reality and the appearance of reality. When you believe only in the apparent world, you create all kinds of ideas about how things should happen. Sickness comes and you push it away; health comes and you hold on to it. Misery comes, you try to push it away; happiness comes and you try to hold on to it, and you increase your suffering even more. When you realize how things actually are, you know that things simply change; appearance changes, but it is not actually death, and rebirth, sickness, health. Never has it been different, never since the dawn of consciousness has anything actually changed. We see something coming out of something we call it birth. We see something that used to move, stops moving, we call it death. We have created these words to describe certain changes of appearance.

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