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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Cessation?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Cessation

Cessation Brings an End to Suffering

You realize that your nature can be neither described nor known. You can't say that you exist and you don't know that you don't exist. If you know that you don't exist, you exist. Complete non-existence is complete cessation of consciousness, of knowingness. It is the cosmic sleep, the cosmic night. It is the deepest peace. This is not a permanent state of realization, but a phase for the deeper realization. What is called the divine coma, where there is no experience of sensation or perception, becomes the rite of entry into the realm of mystery, the mystery of the Absolute. To wake up from this divine coma without leaving the mystery of the absolute is total peace and cessation of suffering. You realize that the end of suffering is not happiness but peace. From that peace arise happiness, fulfillment, love, and all the qualities of being.

Cessation is Unknowable

Deep sleep without dreams is similar to complete absence. Cessation does not have consciousness or awareness. It is unknowable. In its completeness cessation exists without the presence of anything else. Nothing is there and nobody is there to see nothing being there. You can only know absence by being it. And as I’ve said, when the awareness returns in the state of absence, one can be aware of one’s environment but with no self to be aware of it. This is a more subtle state than cessation.

Complete Disappearance Into the Unmanifest Absolute

Cessation can also happen as part of the love affair that the soul has with her true nature. As she opens up and becomes fully present, without defenses or pretensions, she may feel her intimate love for the absolute. Such love may appear as an ardent desire and longing, or a resistance and unwillingness to keep living in manifestation. She feels she would rather dissolve in the absolute and disappear than experience the various realms. Such longing may lead to a complete disappearance into the unmanifest absolute, as the soul feels enveloped by its delicious darkness, and caressed by its infinite mystery. This intimate embrace can reveal to the soul that she is like a cloud of consciousness particles. As she dissolves she feels only a few particles, conscious of themselves and of black nothingness. As consciousness thins away it disappears in the nothingness. All perception and sensation are lost. There is then not even consciousness of nothing. It is as if unconsciousness. There is absence of consciousness. There is absence of existence, absence and no awareness of absence. It is as if the consciousness thins away like air and the awareness itself disappears. When there is no consciousness at all, there is no experience whatsoever, and no awareness of no experience.

Disappearance of Consciousness is not the Same as Physical Death

The role of cessation is appreciated in the Diamond Approach for several reasons. Through the experience of total absence of consciousness, we learn that as awareness begins to glimmer awake out of the dark nothingness of nonbeing, we are still an individual with our own experience, regardless of how expanded or located. Our individuality is the soul, which is not an illusion but a real phenomenon. In addition, after one works through the visceral fear of annihilation that occurs in total cessation, the soul is now beyond the terror of its own demise and enjoys the freedom of not grasping on to any idea, feeling, or sensation. She can relax in the understanding that the disappearance of consciousness is not the same as physical death. Further, cessation can be a kind of rehearsal for the soul’s passing through the portal into the mysterious unknown when our bodily life is over. Through practice and over time, we can develop the trust that because True Nature is inherently benevolent and optimizing, even physical death is not as frightening as we once held it to be. All along the path of realization, we discover that each death is a loss of another layer of self, freeing us from limitations that block a greater realization of what we are. Each new facet of essential reality that is integrated into the soul fortifies the maturation of the Pearl further, making us a more complete human being by actualizing the truth of who we are.

The Jeweled Path, pg. 281

Experiencing Cessation

In the experience of cessation the apprehending consciousness dissolves in the absolute. Subsequent experiences of consciousness apprehending the absolute nonbeing do not lead necessarily to annihilation, but to the mixing of the two. The apprehending consciousness becomes one with emptiness, resulting in the coemergence of being with nonbeing. The deepest coemergence is of the absolute dimension itself, the luminous black fullness of emptiness.

Four Ways Cessation Arises

We came to understand that even though cessation of the individual consciousness is a passing experience, it has value on our path in each of the four ways it occurs. The first is the cessation of individual identity, which happens in the realization of the Point. The second is the disappearance of individual boundaries, when we understand that we are boundaryless and not separated from the ground of Being even when we are located; this is part of the Stupa teaching. The third is the cessation of the soul, when we deal with our identifications with being a located individual consciousness. The fourth is the experience that not only one’s consciousness but also the whole physical universe has vanished. Lights out everywhere. As the totality of our individual consciousness is annihilated through the power of absence in the third and then the fourth cessation, all awareness completely ceases. All experience is gone for a period of time, usually while in a meditation, but awareness arises once again, refined. This can happen on any of the four levels, over and over again.

The Jeweled Path, pg. 280

The Experience of Nonexistence

As this space arises, the individual encounters fears of death, of disappearing, of annihilation, of nonexistence. This space is actually the experience of nonexistence, of complete extinction of self, of cessation. The cessation can be so deep that even awareness and consciousness cease for a time. The person here is not only afraid of the death of the body, but is also afraid that his mind will cease to exist. And this cessation of mind is exactly the experience of this space.

The Void, pg. 18

The Realization of Selflessness

This realization goes beyond cessation to the realization of selflessness, which is equivalent to the realization of the absolute truth of Being. An avalanche of perceptions and insights arises at this point; here we will note a few that are most relevant for our understanding of the transformation of narcissism and its relation to self-realization.

Understanding of Cessation

When consciousness returns it has the fresh and precise clarity of the faceted form. The understanding which manifests does not feel separate from the sharp, faceted presence. The precise faceted form of presence discloses itself as the precise understanding of cessation, the annihilation of consciousness.

We are Always Living Daily life from the Place of Cessation

Actually, we are always living daily life from the place of cessation, without being aware of it. Cessation is the underlying ground of our experience all of the time. We are always living from the state of absolute absence. Because, you see, nothing else is. The ultimate reality, the ultimate nature of everything, is absence of being, or nonbeing. Everything that you experience is an expression of nonbeing. If we are to think of the absence of being as useful, that is its usefulness—it makes everything arise and underlies all existence. Without absence, traditionally referred to as emptiness, nothing can exist. Absolute absence is the source of all that is. Practically speaking, you cannot get anything from absence. Absence does not make you feel good or bad. It does not help you make money or win an argument with a friend. What absolute absence does is give you presence, which you might consider useful or not.

What People Usually Think of as Death

So, nothingness as a space goes so deep that after a while it eliminates the consciousness of itself... This experience is called cessation or extinction: complete death. It is what people usually think of as death. It is exactly how death is. You don't have to die physically to experience it. This does not necessarily mean that if you die physically you'll experience this kind of death. It is the complete cessation and absence of everything. As I said, this experience is needed partly because the personality has its own consciousness, which has to go. However, after it goes it is possible for another kind of consciousness to be there to experience the complete, unbounded, limitless space as it is.

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