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Being Where You Are

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Being Where You Are?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Being Where You Are

Another Form of Rejection, of Not Being Where You Are

When you consider what we have said thus far, you might get the idea that you have to stop yourself from judging. But I am not saying, “Don’t judge.” Because if we try to stop ourselves from feeling judgment, we won’t be able to see the judgment that is there. What is left for us to do instead is to continue our practice. If judgment arises, we include it in our awareness. When we do not suppress judgment, and we see it for what it is, we are freed from it—without trying to get free. Our awareness is big enough to hold judgment too, so if you are willing to look at judgment and understand it as something else that is arising in your experience, you won’t struggle against it. Struggling against it is just another way of meddling, of saying, “My experience shouldn’t include this.” It is another form of rejection, of not being where you are. So, now we have seen how a neutral process that helps us discern truth can be twisted into an impediment to seeing the truth. Being where we are means being with whatever happens to be arising, without preference or judgment. In every situation and condition, we can be interested in our experience, we can open to it and let ourselves just be there. This invites the revelation of interconnectedness and meaning—and ultimately the implicit harmony in the reality we are living. In this way, we can open to what the universe is giving us at this very moment.

Being Where You are is Central to the Practice of Being Real and this is Not Separate from the Practice of Self-Inquiry

It now becomes clear that being where you are is central to the practice of being real. And this is not separate from the practice of self-inquiry, for it is self-inquiry that will ultimately allow us to simply be by bringing us into more intimate contact with what we are being. Self-inquiry consists of two basic elements:

  1. Observing your experience until you become clear about where you are. That is, becoming aware at any moment of what you are actually experiencing. Just remember: Since you are always someplace, it is always possible to recognize where you are.
  2. Beginning to ask, “What is making this happen?” The moment you ask this question, the inquiry begins to expand our experience of where we are. Since you are not able to immediately comprehend most of your experience, it is natural that you will want to know, “What is making me feel this way?” in any given situation. As you ask what is happening, as you become interested in understanding more about where you are, you will begin to see some truth about your experience. And that understanding will eventually lead you to grasp the relationship between your True Nature and where you are.

Seeing something that we call truth—something that gives meaning or coherence to what is happening—gives us an overall picture we can comprehend. It’s not only a mental explanation but a felt sense of it being experientially meaningful to us. It makes sense to our heart, to our soul. As this meaning is revealed, we have the experience of insight in our heart, we discover some truth, something we can then know in our mind. And if we continue being where we are and exploring from where we are, the discovery of the truth becomes a process, a deepening thread.

Finding Your Thread, Being Where You are, Cannot Happen While You are Working Toward a Particular Aim or Toward a Particular State

That is not what we do in the Diamond Approach. We merely inquire into phenomena so that the truth can reveal itself. This is a very important attitude for finding your thread, for your thread can be anywhere, anyplace. Further, your thread is a process, so any state that arises is not permanent, but keeps changing. Therefore, following your thread requires an open-ended inquiry, which is in direct conflict with any attitude or method that says, “Let’s develop such and such a condition, let’s move toward such and such a state.” This latter attitude asserts, “We know where we need to be, so let’s work to get to this realization.” This is not an open inquiry, and your personal thread will not be able to unfold your experience when you take that attitude. Your personal thread is unique to you and can be in any place at any particular moment. Therefore, finding your thread—being where you are—cannot happen when you are working toward a particular aim or toward a particular state. You can’t take the position that you know what the enlightened state is, for example, and work toward making it happen, because the moment you do that, you close down inquiry. Then it is no longer inquiry, it’s something else, and you will have lost your thread. Similarly, if you do a particular practice and actualize some kind of expanded state, it may be unrelated to where you truly are. And if it is not where you are, you’ll feel a sense of meaninglessness. The meaninglessness will stick with you because this state is most likely not you; it is something accomplished, not a place where Being’s dynamism has freely situated you.

Finding Your Thread, Being Where You are, Moment to Moment and Following Your Immediate Experience

The understanding of inquiry we are discussing highlights the integration of true nature and everyday life through finding your thread—being where you are, moment to moment, and following your immediate experience. As this luminous thread, which is the center of your life, manifests and unfolds, your daily life becomes an appreciation and celebration of the continuing manifestation of true nature in its various qualities, colors, and forms. This flow of experience, of manifestations, is what we call living the essential personal life, in which the various situations of personal life become the context for Being to manifest its many possibilities. For example, if you go off to court because you have been sued, Being manifests in a specific form for you to be able to deal with this situation. It will be a different form from the one that will manifest when you go to bed or sit down to talk to a friend. And even in the latter case, Being will manifest differently when your friend is suffering from a relationship breakup than when your friend is putting you down and arousing your anger. Thus the events and activities of your personal life become as much an expression of true nature as the inner process of self-realization. It is natural, then, that certain questions and conflicts will arise in our attempts to understand what it means to follow our thread. These are important and relevant questions for inquiry in general, and thus worth looking into more deeply.

Following Your Thread, which Means Being Where You are and Continuing to Be Where You are Without Trying to Make Your Experience Go Any Particular Way

Practices that aim to put you in a particular state have a whole mind-set attached to them, which is the mind-set of that particular state. The problem is that this can become your mind-set, providing you with a mental framework, which means a particular orientation toward your experience. And we want to be free from any mental framework. So true meditation, true practice, according to the Diamond Approach, consists of following your thread, which means being where you are and continuing to be where you are without trying to make your experience go in any particular way. This requires practice because most of the time, you do not know where you are, you do not understand where you are, or you are fighting and rejecting where you are. This is the normal state of the ego-self, for the ego is always trying to get someplace, to make itself be a certain way. The ego-self is constantly judging and rejecting its arising state and trying to fit itself into a certain ideal. It is not just being where it is and allowing itself to unfold freely. As a result, it does not understand where it is, for it is invested in being somewhere in particular, being a certain way, or in satisfying a particular ideal. And even if this ideal is taken from spiritual teachings, the same mechanism of ego activity is in operation. Trapped in the ego-self, you do not trust that Being itself will take you where you need to go.

From the Perspective of Totality All You Need to do is Be Where You Are

From the perspective of nonhierarchy and the view of totality, we can see the wisdom of this practice in a new way. Wherever we are, wherever we happen to find ourselves, is a manifestation of true nature and contains all of reality. There is no point in striving to be anywhere else. So even if this shift in the teaching seems inaccessible, even if it seems improbable or outlandish, from the perspective of totality, all you need to do is be where you are. You can receive the benefit of this wisdom simply by allowing yourself—your heart and your mind and your body—to be impacted by this teaching. When first receiving a subtle teaching, it’s important to listen with your heart and with your being. If the mind understands the teaching, that can help open up your experience, but the openness and receptivity of the heart is foremost. Should you feel that these ideas are over your head or are too radical to accept, you can let that be and allow yourself to simply feel whatever is here. There is plenty of time to work everything out and understand more about the perspective that I am presenting in this book.

Inquiring to Find out What is Happening, What the Truth of a Situation Is

So what does that tell us about how to approach our work? As we have seen, our practice of learning to be where we are is a matter of inquiring to find out what is happening, what the truth of a situation is. To ask, “Where am I?” means, “What is the truth of my experience?” And to ask, “What is the truth of my experience?” means, “I want to understand it in a way that is meaningful to my heart, that nourishes my heart and my soul; I don’t just want an explanation.” An explanation that is not felt can be exact without being meaningful, in which case, it doesn’t nourish us. As we work with our experience—inquiring and delving into it, being present with it—the presence and the awareness that pervades our experience reveals itself to be that underlying truth, or True Nature, that we have been seeking. And as our understanding unfolds, the harmony of the various elements of our experience is a felt harmony of connectedness. That experience is closer to the inherent, original, primordial harmony that reveals —and actually is—the oneness of all things.

It Is by Being Where You Are in an Easy Relaxed Way that You Can Truly Discover Who and What You Are

In other words, we assume that the most significant determinants of where we are in our life are the external factors; it is these that become the measuring stick of our development, our progress, and even our happiness in life. But even more significant is the fact that they become central to how we define who we are. This book has offered a different orientation to the question of where you are in life—specifically, where you are in the moment. This approach is a spiritual exploration because it focuses on the location of your consciousness rather than your body, your beliefs, your pocketbook, or your significant others. The goal of these teachings has not been to help you evaluate how well you have succeeded or help you decide where to go next. It has been to support you in discovering where you are, so you can simply be where you are. Because it is by being where you are in an easy, relaxed way that you can truly discover who and what you are. This process of locating yourself is a profoundly personal one, a subtle and sensitive unfolding of inner awareness that does not use obvious external signposts to tell you where you are at any given time. It requires discipline and patience, gentleness and attunement, because the only one who can know where your consciousness is is you. To truly be where you are requires a capacity for listening, a willingness to be open, and a curiosity about your own experience that most likely few people have ever shown toward you. What this calls for is the development of your ability to truly witness yourself, to be a pure and undistorted mirror for where and how you are appearing in the moment. Ultimately, this means seeing yourself without the aid of anyone else’s perspective, anyone else’s experience, or anyone else’s beliefs and judgments. It means not seeing yourself from the outside or locating yourself by where you are relative to external criteria. It is by seeing yourself from inside, from the center of your own experience, that you can discover your own truth, the untouched True Nature of what you are.

Seeing the Belief That You Are Just Being Where You Are with that Person is Really Formed by Your Accumulated Knowledge and Memories

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you are having an interaction with another person. It doesn’t have to be a highly charged situation; any interaction will reveal that you are reenacting a familiar pattern. You see the person in a certain way, you see yourself in a certain way, and you feel a certain way about how the two of you are relating. But even though your experience seems to be simply what is happening—you believe that you are just being where you are with that person—it is really formed by your accumulated knowledge and memories. The way you experience the interaction—and, in fact, almost any interaction—is a reenactment of an internalized experience of someone from your past. You are projecting the dynamics of an earlier relationship onto the present one and perceiving the present interaction through that veil. What is happening is not freely, spontaneously arising; you are forming it, you are making it be a certain way. And one indication of this is the fact that somebody else wouldn’t experience that person in the same way. You won’t see yourself as trying to be a certain way. You will think, “I’m just being who I am,” but it is not truly a spontaneously and freely arising experience. It is determined by your historical knowledge, your learned knowledge—all the beliefs and ideas about who you are and what other people are like and what reality is. It is influenced by your ordinary accumulated knowledge.

The Moment You Take a Position, You Lose Your Thread. You Go Toward a Goal Instead of Being Where You are in the Moment

I’m trying to clarify what we are doing when we inquire, what we are engaged in. I am not making value judgments about other practices, and I think that many people here are starting to see that. Value judgment can be part of the problem in inquiry, as we will see later. There is something, however, that is more immediate in our consideration. We are concerned with what happens when you take a position that a certain state is reality, when you say, “That is the truth, and we are going to go there.” The moment you take a position, you lose your thread. You go toward a goal instead of being where you are in the moment. This will tend to disconnect you from where you are, which will disconnect you from the true guidance, which will disconnect you from the optimizing dynamism of Being. I am not saying that one cannot do spiritual practice in other ways, but I am saying that in the kind of practice we are studying, this disconnection will happen whenever you are after some goal. We said earlier that adopting a position from a certain teaching, teacher, or philosophy is one form of goal orientation to avoid. I will continue to delineate some of the other ways in which you can disconnect from your personal thread. These situations are all problematic for your inquiry because they go counter to the natural unfoldment of Being.

The Obstacles to Being Where You are Turn Out to be the Same as the Obstacles to Being Yourself and that those are the Same as the Obstacles to Reality and Realization

By now you probably have experienced various types of obstacles and impediments arising as you continue your inner practice of finding where you are and abiding there. You may be coming to the understanding that the obstacles to being where you are turn out to be the same as the obstacles to being yourself and that those are the same as the obstacles to reality and to realization. Understanding how these obstacles arise within your experience is a major factor in our practice. But there are additional factors that, once understood, can also make our practice simpler and easier. As we have seen, most of the time we don’t know exactly what’s happening with us. We know scattered bits and pieces, but it is difficult to see how they fit into one coherent manifestation. And we notice that even when we pay attention and are aware of our experience, we don’t automatically know where we are. Knowing where we are requires some clarity. It takes some inquiry. To further our understanding, a specific discrimination can be made to support our practice of finding where we are and letting ourselves be. That is, we can learn how to differentiate our experience into two parts: the primary component and the secondary components. The primary component is the central event—the main thing that is actually arising in our personal experience at any given moment. And that can be anything. It can be a feeling or emotion, such as a state of joy or love or dread. It can be a sense of deficiency or feeling like an empty shell. It can be some kind of activity or perhaps an imagining. So the primary component is what is actually emerging in the field of our consciousness, in the field of our soul. The secondary components are the reactions and responses to the primary component, to the central event. There is generally one primary component, but there may be many secondary ones. We experience the main event as it arises, and we also experience commentaries, reactions, and attitudes to that primary event. Those responses can be all kinds of things—for example, self-congratulation or pride about what we are feeling or embarrassment and guilt about feeling this way instead of some other way. It could be excitement about our condition or avoidance of it, or a thought process that interferes with or shuts down what’s happening. So we have what is arising as the central event plus our reaction or attitude toward it.

This Process of Locating Yourself is a Profoundly Personal One

This process of locating yourself is a profoundly personal one, a subtle and sensitive unfolding of inner awareness that does not use obvious external signposts to tell you where you are at any given time. It requires discipline and patience, gentleness and attunement, because the only one who can know where your consciousness is is you. To truly be where you are requires a capacity for listening, a willingness to be open, and a curiosity about your own experience that most likely few people have ever shown toward you. What this calls for is the development of your ability to truly witness yourself, to be a pure and undistorted mirror for where and how you are appearing in the moment. Ultimately, this means seeing yourself without the aid of anyone else’s perspective, anyone else’s experience, or anyone else’s beliefs and judgments. It means not seeing yourself from the outside or locating yourself by where you are relative to external criteria. It is by seeing yourself from inside, from the center of your own experience, that you can discover your own truth, the untouched True Nature of what you are.

To Be Where We are is Really a Form of Surrender to Whatever is Happening

To be where we are really is a form of surrender to whatever is happening. And that surrender is an awareness that embraces whatever our experience is. If I am feeling something and I see that I don’t like it, then I embrace that I am feeling something and I embrace the fact that I don’t like it. I don’t take the position that I shouldn’t have a negative response to what I am feeling. This implies a certain trust and confidence in our nature. Usually we don’t have that trust, so we want to take things into our own hands and twist them and turn them the way we want them to be. True Nature shows us that we have another option, which is to align with it in allowing our experience to be what it is.

To Be Where You are Does Not Mean Adopting a Particular Spiritual Posture

In one sense, it is the simplest possible experience to be as you are in this moment without any inner movement away from yourself, without any judgment or reaction, without any explanation or justification, without any longing or seeking after something else. However, what Almaas does is reveal how multifaceted this simplicity of being actually is. We do not generally appreciate why the simple act of being is so difficult and why it challenges so much in our familiar sense of ourselves. In particular, it confronts the belief that becoming more real, more truly who we are, can only happen through our own intervention. But it is because of this very belief that we are always leaving ourselves. It is also why we believe that our spiritual development requires great effort and achievement. This book offers a welcome alternative to all that struggle: a way to honor yourself where you are, how you are, and who you are, without judgment and without comparison to any standard. To be where you are does not mean adopting a particular spiritual posture, such as clarity and equanimity, or an open-hearted stance of compassion and love. To be where you are means just that: to be where you are. Exactly where you are—warts and all, as the saying goes. But it also means becoming aware of where that is—aware in a way that is open, respectful, curious, and welcoming.

The Unfolding Now, pg. xiii

What is Happening Right Now, Whatever it is, is Reality

We see that even enlightenment is a dynamic flow moving from one thing to another. Living enlightenment is an expression of being where we are, and seeing where we are, and allowing where we are to move. So being where we are, fully experiencing it, and fully understanding it allows experience to dynamically move through all the possibilities reality has to offer, regardless of whether it is illumination, awakening, realization, or enlightenment. As the heart ripens, the freedom of nonhierarchy can appear as a divine indifference, a disinterested enthusiasm for the truth. Our consciousness is not interested in having anything in particular happen. We are so free of the orientations of time and space that we are not focused on getting anywhere, on being anywhere. What is happening right now, whatever it is, is reality, and we are not comparing it with anything that happened in the past or could happen in the future.

When We Don’t See where We are We are Abandoning Ourselves

When we don’t see where we are, we can be in the moment, but we are not seeing it clearly; we are running away from it, we are distracted, we are abandoning ourselves. When we are real, we let ourselves be where we are. And when we recognize where we are—for where we are is the moment as it is appearing clearly—we are allowing ourselves to be suffused by the teaching. And the more we recognize the value of the moment, the more our heart will open, revealing its depth, its fullness, its richness. At first, our mind tries to explain why we love recognizing the truth, why we value reality and True Nature, why we think it is wonderful, beautiful, supportive, and something that liberates us. But all these are just conceptual stories we tell ourselves. The fact is that True Nature’s value is inherent, beyond the mind, and we are just feeling it. And there is no reason for it. It is, and that is the way it is. So, as you see, the teaching has that value because it arises from True Nature; it is the message of True Nature. And our learning is not restricted to what comes through a particular logos—although specific, defined channels of teaching do exist and can be helpful. The real teaching of True Nature is every moment.

You are Intimate with Yourself When You’re Simply Being Where You Are

When you really like to discover the truth, when you just like to see and feel what’s true, this indicates that you like being yourself. It is lovely to be where one is without rejection, without the need to be somewhere else to be okay. In this place, the heart opens up, and there is enough space to feel joy. There’s contentment and peacefulness, and a personalness to the contentment and peace that gives the feeling of intimacy. You are intimate with yourself when you’re simply being where you are.

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