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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Belief?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Belief

A Student’s Belief that He Will Not Survive Physically if He Does Not Pursue His Desires

A student's belief in the teaching regarding desire is undermined by the deeper unbelief and rejection of the teaching, and he rejects the teaching because he believes himself. He believes his experience. His teacher can see very clearly that the student's trouble is due to his desires, but he cannot see that himself. So the student is not touched by the teaching, because, according to his personal experience which relies on, and has always relied on desire, it is not true. The teaching is true for Buddha, but not for him. It is true, in an ultimate way for him, but he doesn't know that. In fact the teaching contradicts his basic beliefs and all his understanding of his experience. At the depths of his personality, he believes he will get whatever he wants or needs by desiring it enough, and that he cannot have what he wants unless he desires it. In fact, at the very depths of his unconscious he feels and believes that he will not survive physically if he does not pursue his desires. All realized people attain their realization by seeing for themselves that they actually believed in their desires for their very physical survival. The average person believes this also, but he does not know he believes it. This belief, nonetheless, runs his life to an extent that very few people are aware of.

Belief in a Personal God and Belief in Impersonal Being

We see no contradiction between the belief in a personal God and belief in impersonal Being, for both are valid expressions of true nature. We also see no reason to rate the two or put them in a hierarchy, as some of the ancient traditions do. We are referring to the comparative judgment in which the followers of many of the ancient traditions engage. For example, adherents of the monotheistic traditions commonly believe that their views are deeper and higher than those of the Eastern traditions, because the personal God is a higher reality than true nature or impersonal Being. Nontheistic practitioners often take the position that the belief in a personal God is naïve and limited, because impersonal Being obviously transcends any notions of God.

Belief in the Separation of the Knower and the Known

In the conventional perspective, when we are not yet in touch with the inner field of presence, we experience an observer that observes the fear. The knower is separate from the known, maybe the knower is in the head, and the known is fear in the belly. However, in reality there is no duality of knower and known. We think there is duality only because we are not aware of the fabric of the soul. When we are, then we can see that the sense of the knower in the head is a manifestation in the conscious field, but so is the fear in the belly. They are both manifestations of the very same field of consciousness. Seeing this, we can recognize that the real knower is not the one in the head, but the consciousness that discerns the one in the head. We recognize then that the separation of the knower and the known is due to a certain perspective, a belief. Nevertheless, even this perspective is a thought form that the consciousness itself manifests. Nothing occurs in our experience that is not the manifestation of our consciousness, and here we are noting that this manifestation always involves knowledge. So both knower and known, whether appearing unified or as the self-object duality, are knowledge. Even when we are not directly aware of the field of knowledge, it is easy to see that both knower and known are knowledge. Can we separate the knower in our experience from our knowing of it? Can we separate the known in our experience from our knowing of it? Of course not, for all is knowledge, basic knowledge. (See Spacecruiser Inquiry, chapter 5, for more discussion of basic knowledge in its relation to other dimensions of experience.)

Belief, Faith and Knowledge

There is belief. There is faith which results from belief. There is faith which results from knowledge. And there is just knowledge. When knowledge is there all the time, there is no need for faith.

Believing We Have Plenty of Time to Practice

Given our commitment to seeing what is true, we could earnestly question what gets in our way. One of the important ways that we shirk our responsibility is that we believe we can take our time. We reason, “I’ve got time. I’ll do some now, some tomorrow, some next retreat.” And maybe we do and maybe we don’t. Life in itself, in its aliveness, does not think of time. Life always has time, in some sense. But we know through our experience, through our knowing, that even though life might go on forever, our own life and its particular mode of learning has limited time. None of us knows what that limit is. So if we believe we have time, if we believe we don’t have to put our all into our practice, we are contradicting the force that pulls us to engage in it. Since each of us is drawn in some way by that force, let’s not assume how much time remains or even that there is any time at all. Let’s take each moment as the most precious moment. Let’s take each moment as a moment that might not be followed by another moment. Let’s not assume that this day will be followed by another day. Probability might be on our side, but probability is undependable when it comes to each of us personally.

Christian Belief in Original Sin

Original sin is the fundamental problem that all human beings have from the beginning, a problem that is not dependent on whether we are good or bad, whether we do the right thing or the wrong thing. Although Christian scholars explicate the notion in various ways, in my view original sin is the belief that we are an independent entity, that we are a separate human being. So the belief in separateness, the belief in entityhood, the belief of being a separate entity and having our own will and mind and choice is the original sin.

Disbelief About the Way Things Are

That is what I mean when I say, “Here's looking at you, kid.” No matter where you find yourself, there is wonder and change. But most of us refuse to believe that’s how things are. We cling to the self with two legs, two arms, and two eyes who sometimes has an experience of light. It’s like Chuang Tsu wondering, “Am I a butterfly dreaming that I am Chuang Tsu, or am I Chuang Tsu dreaming that I am a butterfly?” You can find out only by examining where you are. If at the moment you are light, then you are light. Now you discover you are a body, so you are a body. But habitually you return to being the person who your mother and father and everyone you’ve known for the last thirty years say you are. You revert to what is familiar. Otherwise, who will do what needs to be done? That is the fear. If you are this wonderful light or this jeweled queen, then who is going to clean the house tomorrow?

Exposure of the Belief in the Substantiality of Things

In the true experience of emptiness, the subjective feeling and belief in the substantiality and solidity of things is exposed for what it is, a subjective feeling based on a belief. Emptiness reveals to us that things do not possess such substantiality or solidity. Their mode of being is not what we have called existence. More accurately, their ultimate nature is not existence, but nonexistence. They appear, but are characterized by nonbeing. Experientially, phenomena appear and we perceive them along with their usual qualities, but we do not feel that they exist. They are felt to be empty of the solidity and reality that we believed they possessed. In other words, the true nature of things is that they manifest, or appear, but that is all. In appearing they do not give us the feeling and belief that they are real or that they exist in the way we have assumed. We are accustomed to believing that things exist in the way we normally experience matter, solid and opaque. In reality, things are insubstantial, transparent, and light, similar to thoughts or mental images. But they are also luminous, so they are more like light. However, even light as we ordinarily know it does not express the absolute lightness and emptiness of things. Things are actually diaphanous forms, holograms floating in nothing, glimmerings of this nothing.

Our Ideas and Beliefs are Not Intrinsic to Us

Not being empty of other refers to the predicament in which we experience ourselves with all sorts of added accumulations that are not part of our true nature. For instance, our love is not other, but our belief that we are unlovable is. It is a learned construct that we have come to believe. Our ideas and beliefs are not intrinsic to us. What is other to us is the identification with the constructs and the ideas that pattern our experience, that are not part of the presence of true nature. And those beliefs and identifications are part of what we work with when we investigate the self. They are memories and impressions from the past, patterns and dynamics that recycle and repeat old object relations and tendencies. In time, we learn that they are extrinsic to our basic nature and that we can be without them. This is why, at some point, we experience them as obscurations, obstacles, contaminations, or impurities. When we experience ourselves empty of other, empty of those accretions, we are free to recognize the immaculate quality of our nature—its presence, its luminosity, and its stainlessness.

The Belief that Blocks the Diamond Guidance

The Diamond Guidance will not descend if we are not open to it. We can block it, or we can refuse it. We can make ourselves thick toward it, resistant to it and its operation. So in order to be open to it, we have to be open to the possibility of this kind of guidance. Inquiry itself opens us up to our experience, but if our openness is limited by the belief that there is no such thing as this presence, then our inquiry will not be sufficiently open. Then we cannot be receptive to the Guidance. If you believe that discrimination can only be mental or that all knowledge is only the normal conventional knowledge and that no other kind exists—that there is no possibility of having direct revealed knowledge—then you won’t be open to the functioning of the Diamond Guidance, in yourself or in anybody else. So we need to look at our positions and attitudes regarding such precise guidance. We need to see and expose our beliefs, our intellectual and emotional biases, and our orientations about such a definite, real guidance. We do not need to adopt a belief in it, for that will not work, but we need to be open to it as a possibility. All of us are full of beliefs, ideas, and reactions about guidance—its possibility, its dependability, its realness, its precision. And if we are influenced by these preconceptions, we won’t be open to the Guidance. We will only prove to ourselves again and again that there is no such thing.

The State of Openness in the Soul is Not a Belief or an Attitude Based on Beliefs

This openness of soul can only happen through the impact on the soul of a particular essential manifestation, inner spaciousness. Openness is the specific state that results in the soul when essential space arises in her. This openness is not a belief or an attitude based on beliefs. The soul arrives at it by letting go of a structure that defines her, without resorting to new definitions of who or what she is. If she does not manage to be this open, for instance if she is defensive, holding on to the self-image or immediately bringing up a different one, inner space may not arise, and she will not be able to liberate herself from the particular structure.

The Universal Heretic

To have a free mind is to be a universal heretic. You don’t believe in the ultimate reality of any concept. You can assume any belief you find useful and attractive, but you don’t need to hold on to any of it. Without being captured by your beliefs, you are strong enough and confident enough to throw away any and all beliefs and perspectives, each and every philosophy and story. You can stand totally alone, completely independent of all that comes through the mind, through time and space. This station of realization is difficult and rare. Most of us don’t have the nerve to lose our minds. Although terrifying, it is necessary for true freedom.

We Realize that the Individual, Separate, Bounded Soul is a Belief in Our Minds

When we are in the process of realizing ourselves and reality as Absolute, the emptiness beyond being and nonbeing, at some point we recognize that the biggest obstacle is the sense of our ego boundaries, our belief that we are a separate individual. We feel that we have a separate mind, a separate will, a separate heart. This sense of being a separate entity becomes the biggest spiritual problem and the hardest to surrender. This belief is difficult to let go of and we cannot let go of it by ourselves. How can we as an individual free ourselves from being an individual? An individual simply cannot free himself or herself. Only Christ can help you. Christ is the resolution. So we understand the teaching of Christ when we realize that the individual, separate, bounded soul is a belief in our minds, and we relax and realize that the soul is continuous with the rest of reality. That soul continuous with the rest, as that totality, is then the Logos or the Christ or the Word. This is an exact and specific resolution because we don’t simply let go of our boundaries and become pure consciousness, pure awareness, or the Absolute or something like that. We let go of our boundaries without losing our uniqueness. We continue to be a soul, to be an individual, but are continuous with the rest of reality. We are an individuation, then, out of a totality. So it’s a very specific resolution.

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