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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Brain?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Brain

Compassion Center in the Brain

This state of affairs indicates that the center we call compassion, the heart center which is experienced as green, is open in that moment. When it is open, it is very much connected to the center in the middle of the brain. The two can be considered one center. The chest is the green, and the head is the blue. The green gives the sense of security in the heart. The blue gives the sense of security in the mind. The green is security on the emotional level, and the blue is on the mental level. Trust is very much connected with the energy of kindness and compassion. When the green center is open, there is trust. When it is not open, usually there is no trust. A person might think she is trusting but wouldn’t feel it. She might try to convince herself that she is trusting, but if there is no compassion present, the deep trust will not be there.

Creating Duality, We Suffer

But when we are awake to the truth we know that it is completely the other way around. We discover that we are the essence of Being and that our suffering will not stop as long as we take ourselves to be anything else. As long as we are creating duality, separating ourselves from Being, taking the surface to be what we are, we will suffer. It is as if you are saying, “I am my skin, the heart is not important, the heart is extraneous to the skin.” But the heart and the brain are actually more important than the skin. When you believe that your body is more fundamental than your essence, you are in trouble. That trouble will generate all kinds of emotional difficulties, bodily tensions, states of suffering, fear, helplessness, and deficiency.


Innocence means no knowing, complete naiveté. It is to be completely naive, as if you’ve never known anything. It is not that your mind is quiet; your mind hasn’t begun. There is consciousness, but prior to knowing. Your brain cells do not have information in them at all. Not only are you not thinking, thoughts are not in the brain cells. A cold wind has passed through your brain cells and cleansed them; they have become translucent. You need to be naive, completely helpless; but in a sense you are not helpless because you do not feel as if there is anything to do. You do not even know whether there is something to do or not do. You don’t even know what that means, to do or not do. Not only do you not know what that means, you haven’t even contemplated the question. You haven’t arrived at the place where you can think there is such a thing as doing. Your mind still hasn’t gotten to the future where there is something in the future that needs to be done. It is absolutely now, so completely now that not only are you in the present, so much now that there isn’t even the feeling that it is the present. You are without even the slightest, the vaguest beginning of an idea of future, or of time.

Intelligence as the Living Consciousness

Usually we think that some people are intelligent, some are not so intelligent, some are more intelligent than others, and so on. We are aware that there are grades and variations of intelligence that can be measured and that may relate to the development of the physical brain. However, I'm not talking about intelligence as a capacity of the brain. I see the aspect of intelligence as the living consciousness that accounts for intelligent functioning, any kind of functioning. Most likely, the more a person actualizes this essential aspect and the more it affects the brain, the more gray matter is activated. I don't know the exact relationship between the essential aspect and the gray matter. But what I want to emphasize is that there is something more intrinsic about intelligence than the presence of gray matter, the cells themselves, or our mental faculties. What is intelligence? When we recognize that someone is intelligent, what does that mean? Does it mean that her mind is bright and transparent? Does it mean that she can think clearly? Does it mean that she makes good decisions? Does it mean that her perceptions are precise and accurate? Does it mean that she functions efficiently? Does it mean that she has a high IQ? Each of these characteristics is a manifestation of intelligence, or a functioning that reflects intelligence. But what is intelligence itself? As we continue we will see that intelligence is in fact a specific quality of essential experience. It is not a by-product of the brain’s functioning but a manifestation of Being itself.

Brilliancy, pg. 11

Intelligence is a Property of the Soul

Intelligence needs the physical apparatus of the brain in order to express itself. So if you have brain damage, your capacity for intelligence will probably be limited. This is because, even though you have innate intelligence, the vehicle through which it expresses itself isn’t functioning optimally. It is as if you had a great capacity to sing but something was wrong with your vocal cords—you would be unable to sing, regardless of how wonderful your innate singing capacity was. Likewise, you could be very intelligent, but if you have brain damage, you won’t be able to express that intelligence. The point is that intelligence is not an innate property of the brain cells; it is a property of your consciousness, your soul.

Brilliancy, pg. 96

Questioning Life as an Epiphenomenon of Matter

The scientific paradigm regarding life holds that after life began, it then developed according to the theory of evolution. At some point this development became complex enough for life to have consciousness. Physical organisms began to have senses, capable of perception as we know it. This seems to have occurred at the transition from plant to animal life. Then, at a later point of evolution, after the nervous system and the brain evolved to a certain degree of complexity, consciousness became capable of inner life, of self-consciousness, not merely of perception. Biological evolution began with life, developed into life with perception, and progressed to life with consciousness conscious of itself—subjectivity or apperception. Our understanding of the soul, and the knowledge available through her unfoldment, does not contradict this view. This view of evolution is most likely accurate; at least it is adequate to explain our empirical evidence. However, this view does not adequately explain life, even the life of the body. The knowledge of the soul brings another dimension to this perspective. It does not question the details of the progress of evolution; it does not even question that at certain stages of evolution matter needed certain conditions for life to arise, or that our brains needed to reach a particular level of complexity for inner life to be possible. It only questions the interpretation that life is an epiphenomenon of matter, just as it questions that inner experience—consciousness of consciousness—is an epiphenomenon of brain complexity. Direct experience and understanding of the soul shows us that life is not a product of matter, and consciousness is not an activity of the brain.

The Explosion of Illumination

Brilliancy usually flows in the body through the cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal column. As such, it is directly involved with the nervous system and the brain, so it affects the functioning of thought. Imagine Brilliancy flowing through your synapses; imagine feeling it in your nerves. Imagine the sensation of exquisite smoothness and purity coursing through your nervous system, lighting it up, setting it ablaze with the brilliance of intelligence. Like a lubricant or a conducting substance of complete smoothness in your nervous system, Brilliancy dissolves any resistance in the nerves with its smoothness and flow, with its incredible ease, speed, and penetrating power. Brilliancy makes the inner sensation of your consciousness so delicate, so subtle, so exquisite, that you truly know what the refinement of consciousness means. Although its presence can be quite full and immense, Brilliancy makes you feel as if your senses have been cleansed with some kind of divine shower, so that your very sensations are exquisiteness itself. Even clarity is seen as an external reflection of that pure radiance. Brilliancy is the explosion of illumination from which clarity comes.

Brilliancy, pg. 19

The Ground of Not Knowing

Our conscious minds would have us believe that we are living in an environment of ordinary knowledge, while what really surrounds us is an environment of mystery, of not knowing. That which truly exists at any moment is not knowing, with few little bursts of luminosity, of direct, basic knowledge. Yet we do not find ourselves in this reality; our identity is located within our mind, this universe of thoughts and concepts and memories that would have us believe that we know what is going on. Once in a while, when there is a little gap in that knowledge, we freak out: “Oh, there's something here I don't know. What am I going to do next?” In reality, however, not knowing is so fundamental, so important for us, that without it we can never know anything new. One corollary of the fact that not knowing underlies all knowing is the recognition that knowing is not something we must have. Knowing is a transitory phenomenon. Something arises and you know it; the experience of knowing it at that moment is what matters. What is important for your liberation is not that you've just gotten a piece of knowledge, which you then store in your brain in order to increase the amount of knowledge you have. What matters is the direct experience of the luminosity. And this direct experience of the luminosity needs and requires the ground of not knowing.

Typical Contemporary View of Consciousness

The most typical contemporary view is to think of consciousness as a property of the body. This notion naturally leads to the scientific theory of consciousness as an epiphenomenon of the development of brain complexity.1 This view is clearly a manifestation of the extreme of materialistic reductionism, which we have seen to be a result of the separation of soul, world, and Being. Our direct and sustained experience—and that of hundreds of thousands throughout the ages who have investigated soul and consciousness—reveals the soul as a conscious field, a sensitive medium, which as we discussed in the last chapter can be experienced as separate from or in a different location than the body, and at many levels of spiritual experience is known directly to be more fundamental than physical reality.

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