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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Cognition?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Cognition

Awareness that has the Specific Cognition of Truth

In this direct experience of Truth we do not perceive ourselves experiencing Truth, but we are present as Truth. We recognize ourselves as the presence of Truth. We do not feel like an individual self experiencing Truth, but more like the presence of consciousness intimately aware of itself as Truth. There is no question of self experiencing Truth. The presence of Truth is the same, here, as the awareness of Truth. The awareness is identical to the presence, which is identical to the Truth. It is like solid gold aware of itself in each atom. This awareness of itself has the specific cognition of Truth. This is the pure experience of Being in the aspect of Truth.

Conceptual Differentiations of Pure Presence

As we directly and experientially recognize that each aspect is a concept, it dissolves and reveals the nondifferentiated ground of pure presence. Each essential aspect reveals itself to be a conceptual differentiation of pure presence, conceptual not in the representational sense but as a discrimination in basic knowledge. Each aspect is a differentiated and discriminated form in basic knowledge. Each of the aspects reveals itself as a universal discrimination, a natural cognitive differentiation of true nature itself.

Discursive Knowledge Cognizes Only Representational Concepts and Words

Although discursive knowledge is a subset of basic knowledge, it does not include some very important dimensions of consciousness. The more abstract it becomes, the less of the inner sensory dimensions it includes, until it is constituted only by the mental knowing dimension, a cognition that relies only on representational concepts and words. The most important dimension it loses touch with is that of pure consciousness; it loses most of the sensitive presence of consciousness. It becomes a disembodied knowing, where only the outlines of the forms of experience remain, and their interrelationships. This is what thoughts are. These thoughts arise within basic knowledge, embodying basic knowledge, but generally lose touch with the ground of this basic knowledge, and become disembodied knowledge.

Encountering the Empty Chamber of the Heart

As the heart is divested of its attachments, we become more and more aware of its empty chamber, a process that is identical to the soul’s realizing her poverty. We realize with full feeling and cognition that we truly do not have anything, that we never had anything, not only objects of attachment, but also spiritual qualities or realization, attainments or accomplishments. We do not even possess existence on our own. In other words, when we quit filling ourselves with false loves, we realize we are totally empty, totally lacking, totally indigent. More accurately, when we first encounter the empty chamber of the heart, we feel it as lack, as poverty. We need wholeheartedly to accept this poverty; otherwise we will fill it again with idols and impostors. We need to realize that we are totally poor as long as the Guest has not arrived, that we are completely bereft without the nearness of the Beloved. To pretend otherwise means that our love of the Beloved is still not complete, is still divided between the Beloved and our own selfhood. We are still in the stage of worshiping idols; we have not arrived at true monotheism.

Essence Gives the Soul Her Capacity for Cognition

Essence is the primary and most precious potential of the soul. The conscious realization of essence brings her true ultimate self-knowledge, authenticity, fulfillment, completeness, enlightenment, and liberation. But essence provides the soul with other advantages, some mundane and practical.Its dimension of pure awareness provides her with the capacity for awareness and perception, in whatever state she is in, spiritual or mundane, clear or dull. Its dimension of basic knowledge gives her the capacity for cognition, recognition, and knowing in all its dimensions. It is the prototype of knowing. The dimension of creative dynamism gives the soul the capacity for action, creativity, discovery, adventure, development, evolution, maturation, unfoldment, and so on.

Inseparability of the Arising and Cognition of Forms in the Soul

What we are calling “basic knowledge” is the fundamental element of knowingness that is inherent in all our experience. Every experience we have of any sort is knowledge. When a form arises in the soul this form is inseparable from the cognition of this form. The whole experience is nothing but knowledge, composed of knowledge, and dependent upon knowledge. We can easily see this by simply contemplating our experience, any experience and at any time. Our hearing of a sound is the knowledge that we are hearing sound; our knowing that there is hearing and sound, our recognition of the quality of the sound—all these are knowledge.

Pure Awareness is the Capacity to Perceive Prior to Knowing or Recognition

Yet the awareness responsible for perception is more fundamental than knowing and cognition. This becomes clear when we experience another boundless dimension of true nature, pure awareness. Pure awareness is again a field: boundless, infinite, and continuous. It is similar to that of pure presence, but without the cognitive element. Since the source of cognition is the knowing of being, pure awareness is not a sense of being. We do not experience it as presence, for the experience of presence involves the concept of being or existence. Since pure awareness is a continuous medium or field, we can say it is presence, but it does not feel like presence because it involves no recognition of being or nonbeing. There is only the pure awareness of manifestation, without knowing of what one is aware. Pure awareness is like a mirror that reflects what is in its field but does not recognize or know what it reflects. Pure awareness is the capacity to perceive prior to knowing or recognition. It is implicit in normal perception, in which we perceive and know at the same time. We do not normally recognize this dimension because we always experience it along with the cognition.

The Origin of Cognition

Since there is no differentiation in pure presence, its knowing is the first knowing, the origin of cognition. We see that the origin of cognition is the experience of being, or more precisely, the dimension of pure presence. Knowing begins with being, which is the knowing of being. It becomes clear to us in the realization of the dimension of pure presence that the origin of the cognitive capacity of mind is the knowing of Being. This means that knowing begins as immediacy of experience, a directness of consciousness with a discrimination of the condition of consciousness. Knowing begins as completely inseparable from what is known. Even more, knowing begins with the nondifferentiation of known, knower, and knowledge. Furthermore, knowing begins with the knowing of Being, where Being is known, knower, and knowledge. The timeless truth here is that fundamentally the knower is Being, the known is Being, and the knowledge is Being. We see of course that as cognitive differentiation develops and expands, knowing tends to develop in the direction of discrimination so completely that what is discriminated is experienced as not only discriminated but separate; ultimately this separateness develops to such an extent that knower, known, and knowledge become three distinct things.

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