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Diamond Approach

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Diamond Approach?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Diamond Approach

A Path of Wisdom

The Diamond Approach is a path of wisdom, an approach to the investigation of Reality and work on oneself that leads to human maturity and liberation. Because of our particular vision of Reality, it is not completely accurate to think of this approach as spiritual work, for this work does not separate the spiritual from the psychological. Neither does it see these two as separate from the physical everyday life and scientific investigation of the content of perception. However, because we live in a society where the prevailing thought is that of the separated facets of Reality, the closest category recognized in this mentality, to our approach, is that of a spiritual path or exploration. We prefer the expression essential work to refer to our approach, because it is based on the essential nature of Reality, meaning the essence of the three disciplines that developed from it.

All the Basic Elements that Need to Be Understood

As we continue to explore this boundless dimension of Divine Love, it can be helpful to get a perspective on how it all fits into the bigger picture in the Diamond Approach. To better understand the language and system of any teaching, it can help to see it all put together sometimes—to get the whole story. So I’m going to do that now by outlining all the basic elements in the Diamond Approach that need to be understood both intellectually and experientially.

Ego and Soul

First of all there’s the ego, the experience of the personality, which is our conditioned historical self. Then there’s the soul, our living consciousness, which includes the ego as a fixated structure within it. The ego self is a historical, mostly mental, structuring of the soul. The soul also includes our body—the physical manifestation or outer expression of the soul—and the way our living consciousness informs our physicality. We can say the soul animates the body, or follow Aristotle in saying that the body is the outer expression of the soul. Then there is what I call true nature, or the spiritual universe, which is the true ground of the soul. So we can say that the soul is the bridge between the ego and true nature, and also between the body and reality that is beyond the physical.

Essential Aspects

In the Diamond Approach true nature consists of three elements: the essential aspects, the diamond vehicles and the boundless dimensions. [There are other different manifestations of true nature in the Diamond Approach, but these are subtle and not commonly known, and are beyond what we are discussing here.] All are experienceable forms of our essential nature. In this path, the essential aspects are most often the initial entrance into the spiritual universe. They reflect the fact that essence doesn’t manifest with just one quality, and the variations of its manifestations give rise to the many different essential qualities, such as compassion, love, will and truth. Each aspect has precise and definite experienceable characteristics—colour, taste and texture—and each has a particular psychological significance.

Diamond Vehicles

The diamond vehicles are bodies of knowledge, or structures of consciousness, which transmit to us particular dimensions of wisdom that are needed at different stages of the inner journey. They are like hard disks and each one contains an amazing amount of experiential information about reality. One example is the Diamond Guidance, which helps us understand how the essential aspects are harmonized and integrated in our personal unfoldment. Another is the Markaba, which shows us that truth and pleasure are one and the same thing (though the pleasure is not the kind of gratification that the soul habitually seeks).

Boundless Dimensions

And then we also work with the boundless dimensions, which reveal to the soul true nature as the transcendent ground of reality. Each one refers to a particular way of experiencing this ground that permeates all of manifestation. There are five of these dimensions, including the one we’re exploring here, Divine Love. The other four are the Supreme (where the ground is presence), the Nonconceptual (where the ground is awareness), the Absolute (where the ground is emptiness), and the Logos (where the ground is change and dynamism).

Allowing the Student's Exploration

In the Diamond Approach we deal with whatever level of self the student happens to be experiencing, and work towards understanding it without taking a rigid position about what element of experience to focus on. We allow the student's exploration to guide us to the factors most relevant for his or her present experience.

Barriers Against the Free Unfoldment of the Soul

The Diamond Approach is an open and open-ended inquiry into the various elements of our experience and its patterns. When that inquiry is sincere and intelligent, it is bound to encounter the psychological and epistemological barriers against the free unfoldment of the soul. Challenging such barriers by questioning them leads to the insightful and correctly felt comprehension of these barriers. In this way, inquiry and understanding penetrate the barriers and open up our soul to the still-unknown possibilities sleeping in its depths.

Barriers Arising from the Loss of Essence

According to the Diamond Approach, the barriers of the personality to the merging love aspect (and to all others), these dark spots and knots that clog the flow of energies, are nothing but certain specific mental and emotional contents relating to the loss of the essential aspect and the subsequent attempts at compensation. In other words, the dark spots are areas of darkness in our personality: certain emotions, memories and ideas are cut off from consciousness and repressed. What the yogis see is the repressed unconscious content, but they understand it only energetically and not psychologically. In our approach, we use psychodynamic understanding to see through these dark spots and dissolve them.

Cultivating Awareness

The individual begins with consciousness and ends with consciousness -- consciousness is simply expanded further and further. We must point out here that by consciousness we mean awareness, because the word consciousness is sometimes used to denote other concepts. Some authors, in fact, use the word consciousness to refer to Essence. Therefore, as in all systems of inner development, to apply the Diamond Approach, the individual cultivates awareness.


Like life, the teaching that I communicate, the Diamond Approach, is a living truth that constantly evolves and reveals more about itself and more about reality. For many decades now, this teaching has been investigating the nature of who we are and what reality is. It has developed many practices and revealed countless realms of experience. Inquiry, our central practice, always begins by exploring exactly where we find ourselves in the moment. For most of us, this means that we begin our inner work by dealing with the structures and beliefs that constrain the aliveness of our immediate experience. Over time, this open and open-ended inquiry into our experience carries us through all kinds of realizations and awakenings. We discover the soul, we discover presence in its myriad qualities, we discover the boundless dimensions of true nature and the nonduality of reality, and we learn how to live a personal life that reflects the wisdom of all these discoveries. The journey into the absolute heart of reality and its integration into our daily life is fundamental to waking up and to continuing to wake up in novel and unexpected ways.

Discovering the Trustworthiness of the Diamond Approach

The Work we do here requires commitment, dedication, and sincerity. We don’t require these things absolutely, because we understand that there are barriers to them which must be worked through. Similarly, I don’t ask for absolute obedience or absolute trust. I just ask you to try to understand yourself. Through your own experience, you will discover whether our approach is trustworthy or not, and in time you will see your barriers to trust. There is no need for blind trust, or blind love, or blind anything. The Diamond Approach is seeing; it is understanding. In the beginning, the student needs only sincerity and the understanding that the barriers to fulfillment and the fulfillment itself are both inside. This is true for teachers as well. Additionally, the teacher must have the ability to embody the essential qualities and therefore to be able to perceive them in the student. It is required that I perceive your Essence and know what I am seeing. The only way I can know this is by tasting it, experiencing it within myself. These are the same things that have always been required in the Work. Now we have added the new knowledge of this century, the tremendous knowledge of psychology. I think we’re putting it to good use, using it the way it was meant to be used. I feel grateful to the people who developed this knowledge.

Discovery of Essence

In the Diamond Approach the teaching is oriented towards the natural and spontaneous revelation of the truth of the Soul as one investigates one's experience, motivated by the pure love for the truth and the joy in it. The first naturally occurring stage is that of the discovery of Essence, which is the true nature of the Soul. The Essence is discovered directly in experience as a fundamental Presence that manifests in many qualities that we call aspects. It is recognized for what it is, and understood as the true resolution for the various existential deficiencies and longings of the ego and its personality. The second stage becomes the objective understanding of the ego and the mind, now using the wisdom available from the Presence of Essence. The contrast to Essence provides the mirror in which the personality of ego becomes understood in a precise and clear way. This then makes it possible to move to the third stage, where one's sense of identity shifts from ego to Essence.

Essence Gets Buried Under Layers of the Personality

This approach implies theoretically and demonstrates in practice that Essence can never be totally, literally lost. What happens is that it gets buried, covered over by layers of the personality -- Essence becomes repressed, relegated to the unconscious. That is precisely why a psychodynamic approach can be effective. Psychodynamic methods are based on the topology of the mind, as Freud formulated it. They assume that part of the mind is conscious and another part, where conscious awareness does not penetrate, is unconscious. On this matter we differ from Freud only in that we see that the unconscious includes in it the Essence itself.

Evolution of the Teachings

Like life, the teaching that I communicate, the Diamond Approach, is a living truth that constantly evolves and reveals more about itself and more about reality. For many decades now, this teaching has been investigating the nature of who we are and what reality is. It has developed many practices and revealed countless realms of experience. Inquiry, our central practice, always begins by exploring exactly where we find ourselves in the moment. For most of us, this means that we begin our inner work by dealing with the structures and beliefs that constrain the aliveness of our immediate experience. Over time, this open and open-ended inquiry into our experience carries us through all kinds of realizations and awakenings. We discover the soul, we discover presence in its myriad qualities, we discover the boundless dimensions of true nature and the nonduality of reality, and we learn how to live a personal life that reflects the wisdom of all these discoveries. The journey into the absolute heart of reality and its integration into our daily life is fundamental to waking up and to continuing to wake up in novel and unexpected ways.

Experiential Inquiry Into the Self

The Diamond Approach is a process of experiential inquiry into the self, inviting the self to reveal its truth as a direct living understanding. At some point the inquiry begins to focus naturally on the self-identity structure of the self. For the majority of students the truth that reveals itself at the beginning is the psychological truth of this ego structure, the psychodynamic processes that express and sustain it, and the personal history that went into its development. This confronts the student with awareness of the environmental factors that caused her narcissism, leading to the challenge and dissolution of the many levels of defense and rigidity in the structure.





Independently Existing Objective Truth

The Diamond Approach is also based on the recognition that such a thing as objective truth exists independent of the mind of the person experiencing it. However, what we mean by “truth” is not merely the ultimate truth of reality. We use the word to refer to a specific element in any experience: the truth of the experience (or the situation), which can be confirmed by several independent observers. This objective truth, which is independent of one’s subjective positions, is not static, nor is it an object. It’s not as though you look into your experience and find the truth, and this truth stays the truth forever and ever. In each moment there is truth arising anew in your experience. The next moment, the truth in your experience might be different from the truth you discovered last. So the truth is dynamic, constantly shifting, changing, and transforming. And inquiry is the dynamic process that reveals increasing degrees and depths of that truth.

Integrating the Various Forms of Being

In the Diamond Approach we first integrate the various forms of being. So we integrate Presence in the qualities of peace, kindness, love, truth, strength, clarity, space, knowingness, intelligence, existence, and so on, until we are permanently in contact with the dynamic flow of essential Presence.

Learning to Be Ourselves

We learn to be ourselves by recognizing the truth of our experience. • We cannot recognize the truth of our experience if we don’t know where we are in the moment. • We won’t recognize where we are if we resist being where we are. Not allowing ourselves to be where we are prevents us from understanding our experience for what it is, and we won’t see the truth of the situation. • When we don’t see the truth of the situation, it is because something is obstructing the shaft of light that could be breaking through. Practically speaking, what this comes down to is that we need to be able to see where we are. Now where we are is not what we are—at least at the beginning of the path. What we are is our True Self, our True Nature. But we have already seen that by understanding where we are right now, we can recognize our distance from our True Nature.

Methodology of the Diamond Approach

The central thread of wisdom informing the methodology of the Diamond Approach is that our normal human consciousness does not possess the knowledge or skill necessary for traversing the inner path of realization. However, the intelligence of our underlying spiritual ground tends to spontaneously guide consciousness and experience toward liberation. This spiritual ground, which is the ultimate nature of reality, is unconditionally loving and compassionate in revealing its treasures of wisdom to whoever is willing to open to it. We simply need to recognize the truth about our present experience and learn the attitudes and skills that will invite the true nature of reality to reveal itself. Toward that end, this methodology brings together classical spiritual techniques and new practices that can help us be open and vulnerable to our true nature.



No Room for Experimentation

In the Diamond Approach there is no room for experimentation. The method itself is not mechanical, is not an exercise. It requires sincerity and a willingness to confront one's personality and to deal with conflicts before essence or the lataif can be released. In other words, in this method, essence is released by using understanding. And this understanding concerns exactly the sectors of the personality that will usually arise and create trouble for the amateur using quasi-mechanical methods. So it has its own safeguards built in as part of its structure. These barriers in the personality also will arise even if the person is not an amateur but is practicing one of the traditional methods in a Work school or under the guidance of a teacher. This arising unconscious material must be dealt with; otherwise, the emerging essence will be repressed and buried again.

Nondual Experience is Impersonal and Universal

In our work, we address both sides of human evolution: the realization of true nature and the integration of everyday life into that true nature. For the Far Eastern religions, the integration of the world of appearance into true nature results in nondual experience. This is still an impersonal and universal perspective, where all that appears to perception is experienced as inseparable from true nature. This is not what we mean by integration of life into true nature. The Diamond Approach supports living a personal life in relationship to other human beings and engaging in other human activities besides spiritual practice. Integration of appearance into true nature functions as the ground of this personal integration; it does not stand on its own as the only value. Being manifests not only in the transcendental, but also in down-to-earth, practical and personal forms that are relevant to everyday life. And daily life itself can become spiritual realization

Precision of the Diamond Approach

The reason the Diamond Approach can be precise is that we know that each aspect of Essence is connected with certain psychological conflicts. We can use powerful psychological techniques to help us perceive and understand these conflicts, repressions, and patterns of resistance. We don’t need to push against the resistances, the dark spots; we simply shed light on them. After a while, they disintegrate. Then the passage is easy. We can flow through those places rather than have to go around them. Going around them or pushing through them is the hard way, the long way. Our way has more to do with understanding, with the precise diamond clarity.

Realization of All Aspects of Being

In the Diamond Approach, self-realization involves the complete realization of all aspects of Being. Each aspect manifests, its issues are understood and it finally becomes a permanent attainment as segments of the ego are abandoned. It is a lengthy, deep process, rich with surprises, full of difficulties of all kinds, and replete with color and significance.

Source of the Knowledge Specific to the Diamond Approach

Most of the knowledge specific to the Diamond Approach originates directly from the diamond vehicles, and their dimension of essential diamonds, with their associated universal wisdom. This is the most direct and concrete reason we call our work the Diamond Approach. And it is the main reason why we recognize this approach as a path of wisdom, for it is the teaching of these essential vehicles of wisdom. It must be clear to the reader by now that the Diamond Approach is not the intentional synthesis of a person, the author or somebody else. The scope and depth of knowledge is simply beyond the personal mind of the author, not to mention that it is not knowledge in the ordinary sense. It is gnostic knowledge, noesis, direct unveiling of Reality. It cannot be arrived at through an intellectual process or synthesis, for the mind simply cannot go to such realms of wisdom. It must also be by now clear, by the same token, that the Diamond Approach does not come from a previous wisdom tradition and was not learned from another teacher. It is true that the author received it from a source, but the source is true nature itself, that has communicated this teaching by manifesting its diamond vehicles of wisdom.

The Diamond Approach is Built to a Large Degree on the Concept of Essential Aspects – Objectively Universal Qualities of Presence

The alignment with direct knowing, with inherent discriminating awareness, is one of the few fundamental principles that the Diamond Approach is based on. The Diamond Approach is built to a large degree on the concept of essential aspects—objectively universal qualities of presence. “Universal” means that everybody can recognize them on their own. And it is this capacity for direct recognition that is the function of the Blue Essence, the essence of knowingness. This is important because our educational institutions and various systems of knowledge do not focus on this quality of knowingness. They focus on that fraction of knowingness that is our mental knowing. The kind of knowingness we are discussing here is not part of modern scientific theory nor even psychological theory. It’s a kind of knowingness that becomes obvious only in spiritual experience, for spiritual experience exists only in the immediacy of experience. The more immediate our experience, the more spiritual it is. So the more we recognize this capacity for direct knowing, the more there arises in us a trust and faith that we can know, that we can experience direct, unmediated knowing . . . . . . But the moment you recognize that you inherently possess this capacity of knowingness, you will tend to trust understanding more. You will know that you can be certain through your own experience, not just because somebody said so. Such knowledge is autonomous knowledge, truly our own. We are not using any intermediary. In fact, this is the only way to have autonomous knowledge. We may find such complete autonomy in knowing intolerable. It might frighten us because it makes us feel our aloneness. Immediate knowing in its purity can also be terrifying because we are left without access to our usual ordinary knowledge. The absence of ordinary knowledge erases the foundation of our usual sense of self, for this sense of self is based on mental constructions that use memory traces from the past.

This Teaching is Like a Many Faceted Diamond

Which do we have in our Work here? We call our method “The Diamond Approach.” We don’t call it “The Truth Approach,” “The Love Approach,” or “The Will Approach.” We call it “The Diamond Approach” for a particular reason. This teaching is like a many-faceted diamond. Our approach is not a specialization of one or even several facets. It is not a specialization of truth or compassion or emptiness, although we are concerned with all these aspects. We use the teaching of truth, the teaching of love, the teaching of clarity, of will, of compassion and the like, without focusing on any one of them exclusively. What we do is to use all the facets to create a balanced whole. We look from many different perspectives; we experience the same thing from all possible angles. If we have a specialization, it is the diamond as a whole, not one of its facets. We don’t take one attitude and focus on it by itself. We learn instead to work with various aspects and to balance them. We see, for instance, that surrender is important and useful, but we also see that curiosity about the truth is important and useful. We see that determination and will are useful. We also see that clarity is useful. All need to be taken together to form a balanced attitude which, ultimately, is not an attitude, but the absence of an attitude.

Understanding is the Process of True Living

We have discussed the fact that in the Diamond Approach, understanding is not a matter of mentally connecting concepts; it’s a matter of being clear about what’s happening in our experience by being intimately in touch with it. In other words, understanding is the process of true living. It is realized life. Real living is the unfoldment of understanding, and inquiry is the way that unfoldment happens. As we inquire, understanding manifests, develops, expands, and deepens. Understanding is ultimately a precise, clear, objective awareness of our true nature, for as we understand ourselves, our soul keeps unfolding and manifesting her hidden potentials until we are just our true nature, our real self. Ultimately, understanding coincides with the total realization of our true nature. In other words, understanding is the vehicle for the integration of the soul—which is our normal consciousness—with its source and nature beyond time and space. In the process of inquiry and understanding, the soul first throws away her old garb—all our accumulated images, patterns, and self-concepts. This is a process of purification, part of the overall process of revelation in which inquiry reveals the hidden potentials in our soul. At some point, the purified soul—the soul that has gone through the process of clarification—becomes transparent awareness. What we call true nature becomes the soul’s identity. Self-realization and awareness coincide as a coemergence of soul and identity. Our experience continues as an unfoldment in which the identity stays the same and only the content that presents itself to our awareness changes.

Work on Our Psychological Issues Will Include Regressive Processes

….. We find this view too linear to reflect the reality of experience; nor does it take into consideration the existence of essential aspects. The Diamond Approach begins with the idea that we need to work on our psychological issues, which will include regressive processes, if we are serious about our spiritual development. But then the process becomes much more specific, and much less linear. We find that psychological issues and spiritual development do not arise one after the other, consecutively. Rather, we find that the psychological issues are completely intertwined with the phenomenology of Spirit, and with the specific characteristics of essence and its various aspects. Psychological issues, which have their genesis mostly in childhood, plus necessary regressions, continue, as a result, into the most advanced stages of spiritual development. Furthermore, childhood content does not block essence in a general way. Specific segments of our childhood issues and ego structures block particular spiritual states. And it is our finding that the correspondence between psychological issues originating in childhood and particular essential states appears to be universal to all souls, hence the possibility of a particular body of knowledge that maps such correspondence. The Diamond Approach contains such knowledge. All the books we have published are elucidation of elements of this knowledge.

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