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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Appropriation?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Appropriation

Appropriating the Liberating Power of True Nature is not Our Fault

Illumination further reveals that appropriating the liberating power of true nature is not our fault. Delusion is no more a matter of individual fault than awakening is a matter of individual effort. Being deluded, thinking we can do anything—including stepping aside—is an objective fact of being human. And it is one step toward unveiling true illumination. It’s fine to think of it as letting go or surrendering when we are still identified with the view of the little self. But from another perspective, we can see that it is actually true nature illuminating its field, its organ of perception, lighting it up so that it wakes up and sees itself. We continue to see reality through the eyes of identification with a self until the illumination becomes so intense that we cannot help but recognize the truth. And what that truth is can be revealed on any level. We can have an insight about a structure or see the emptiness of our history or recognize what we are in all of its various subtleties or what reality is in its various possibilities.

Going Beyond Appropriation

To go beyond appropriation is to recognize that the individual soul is the vessel through which reality manifests. To truly understand how practice is realization is to recognize that practice is not the practice of the self. Recognizing that true practice is Living Being practicing is central to understanding how practice is realization. Or, put another way that is more accurate, you as an individual practicing are the Living Being practicing. And as it perfects its practice, the Living Being pervades the individual soul with its luminosity and truth, which appears as nondoing and realization.

Negating the Action and Role of Grace

By appropriating the enlightenment drive, we are negating the action of the divine, of True Nature. We are being infidels, not recognizing where the truth is coming from and believing that it comes from us. Using the language of monotheism, appropriation is believing that there is more than one God; it is believing that there is somebody else that does what God does. The appropriation can be an expression of not recognizing that the divine or True Nature acts. Even though it is expressed through the individual soul, True Nature is what stirs us and wakes us up. If we don’t recognize that, we are negating the action of grace and the role of grace. We want to see the balance of the relationship between the two, between the role of grace and our role, between realization and practice. We don’t want to negate either one of them. We want to see reality as it is. What is the role of the individual and what is the role of True Nature or God or the divine? How do they interface? How does it really work? How does practice happen? What makes it work?

The Centeredness of the Usual Self that Usurps Being

The self-centeredness I am referring to is the appropriation of practice. This is a subtle and crucial point. We appropriate not only the enlightenment drive as our own motivation to practice but also the practice itself. The idea of causality appropriates doing, action, and what is happening as the activity of the individual self: “My sitting and practicing, my sincere effort, makes things happen.” The centeredness of the usual self usurps Being as source and locates it in an individual self: “I am sitting and practicing and I am making things happen.” We see here how the notion of causality—that an action creates a result—is mixed and conflated with the belief that we are a separate autonomous self, a self that is the agent of such causal doing. So we appropriate not only the activity and the realizations of practice but also the practice itself. This appropriation of practice is different from an important stage of our work where we need to own our experience. In the course of recognizing our essential autonomy, we do have to acknowledge our self and own our experience, understanding, and knowledge. We recognize that our realization is our own in the sense that it is not somebody else’s and that it is particular to us. Part of the soul’s maturation includes acknowledging our realization, acknowledging our understanding, which can appear as a sense of ownership. But that sense of ownership is different from the appropriation of the ego self. The appropriation of the ego self tends to constrict openness, tends to disconnect us from the realization. True ownership of our realization, however, is more a recognition of a particular maturation and development.



The Cognitive Error that Creates Discord

From the beginning of spiritual practice, it is your own enlightenment and your own realization. You cannot, however, appropriate it as an individual self. Although it is your own realization because you are Living Being, by believing that it is your realization as an individual, you appropriate it in a way that disconnects you from what you truly are. The appropriation is neither a sin nor a moral mistake, but simply a delusion. Basically, it is a cognitive error that creates discord, that shows you how Being manifests when it is not revealing its enlightenment and its freedom. Having as complete an understanding and appreciation of the dynamic of realization as possible helps liberate the creative, living dynamism of Being. And as the dynamism of Being is liberated, we recognize that dynamism is always free and always enlightened, but only recognizes its freedom through the mature soul.

The Self Centeredness that Supports an Enduring Individual Self

When you are truly practicing, it is the Living Being practicing; when there is insight, it is the Living Being presenting its clarity; when there is realization, it is the Living Being presenting its nature. When we don’t see that, there is a self-centeredness that appears as an appropriation of the source, the activity, and the realization of the practice. And if we don’t catch that self-centeredness, it becomes a support for the individual self to endure, which keeps us within the limited and frozen point of view that tends to generate conflict and strife. From the perspective of a centered self, Living Being is not free to manifest all of its possibilities. It is only manifesting one kind of possibility—looking always from the perspective of the individual self. From the view of totality, our understanding of enlightenment is not only that it is a runaway realization, moving ceaselessly from one realization to another, but also that there is the capacity to view reality from the perspective of the Living Being, from beyond the perspective of the individual self.

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