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Dimensions of Experience

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Dimensions of Experience?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Dimensions of Experience

All the Boundless Dimensions of Reality are Nondual

All the boundless dimensions of reality—realms of love, knowledge, awareness, nonbeing, and dynamism—are nondual in the sense that they contain no dichotomy between subject and object. That is to say, in the realization of the boundless dimensions, there is no separate “I” experiencing the dimension. The sense of I is the dimension experiencing itself as a unified totality. Not only is there no subject/object dichotomy between you and the boundlessness, but also there is no subject/object dichotomy between the vastness and all objects and phenomena within it. Every single form is a manifestation of the same field. Experiencing this kind of presence that is not limited by any boundaries or partitions will put pressure on the structures, beliefs, and ideas that limit our sense of self to a particular shape or size. The nondual dimensions of Total Being initially arise inseparably from our obscurations because each dimension addresses a certain level of obstruction as if it were designed specifically for that purpose. We discover that there is an inherent intelligence in reality: Our obstacles, delusions, and limitations are directly connected to the pure or free dimensions of reality.

Arising of Essential Aspects Inseparable from Understanding

In the Diamond Dimension, all the aspects – Compassion, Intelligence, Will, Truth, Joy, Peace, Identity, and so on – arise in the diamond form. This means that each aspect of essence will arise as understanding or, more precisely, as inseparable from understanding. Will, for example, arises as a new patterning of our experience in which the meaning of Will is already clear in the experience itself. Thus Will arises as essential wisdom.

Conceptualizing Levels and Dimensions of Being is Inherently Problematic

Conceptualizing levels and dimensions of Being is inherently problematic, and there is a great deal of disagreement and debate between the various spiritual traditions regarding it. Some traditions, like that of Buddhism, deny the existence of such levels, conceptualizing the view that we are either aware of the true (Buddha) nature or not, and that levels can only be in the fullness, or limitation, of our experience of this true nature. Other traditional teachings, like those of the Kabala, or Sufism, conceptualize the view that Being manifests in various and delineated levels—reminiscent of the dimensions of Being in neoplatonic philosophy—each real and objective on its own level. Our view, which reflects our experience, is that Being is inherently a unity, a nondual presence that contains no levels, but that it can manifest itself in levels and dimensions experienced as true and objective in their own sphere of experience. In other words, experience indicates that Being manifests itself in various degrees of subtlety and completeness, and these manifestations appear as levels and dimensions of Being, objective and valid on their own levels. More accurately, experience indicates that Being can and does manifest in different levels and dimensions, but that upon analysis of these experiences, we can see they are merely different degrees of subtlety of the experience of the same nature. We do not take the position of accepting either experience or analysis as the final arbiter of ultimate truth, and hence, find no incentive to engage in this ancient debate. We find that each view has its own merits in terms of the work of self-realization, and thus we use them appropriately depending on the degree of maturity of the student.

Diamond Dimensions

In the realm of Essence, in addition to the many essential aspects which manifest in the soul, there are also many levels or dimensions. We call these the Diamond Dimensions. Essence manifests in many dimensions. Reality becomes deeper and more refined as you penetrate further into it. At the beginning, and for some time in our process, as we experience Essence and its various aspects and dimensions, our experience remains an inner experience, meaning that it is experienced inside the body. You feel Joy in your heart, or Will in your belly, or Clarity in your head. Your experience remains within the usual framework of the body; it seems to happen to an individual person who is having a spiritual experience. At some point we reach a dimension in which our experience is not limited by the boundary of the body. We experience Essence as continuous, inside and outside. This is the dimension that’s usually called “unity.” In unity we are one. There is no separation between people and things. We are experiencing Essence or Being, not as an inner experience, but as a total experience, a universal, cosmic reality. This level also has various dimensions and refinements. The general gradation from inner to unified boundless experience is a typical pattern in those who pursue effective long-term spiritual work.

Dimensions of Our Experiential Universe

Of course, our experiential universe has many more dimensions than just four: the spatial dimension, the time dimension, the feeling dimension, the knowing dimension, the thinking dimension, the color dimension, the sound dimension, the taste dimension, the kinesthetic dimension, the texture dimension, the viscosity dimension, the density dimension, the presence dimension, and so on. All these are dimensions of experience, and we can locate ourselves in each of these dimensions at any given moment. So at each point, at each instant, where we are can be described as a particular intersection point of all these dimensions. This would be where we are in the experiential universe.

Divine Love Helps Us to See Clearly, what the Individual Soul Is, what Cosmic Reality Is and the Relationship Between the Two

So almost everyone develops an image of God, and what’s needed is to go beyond it and find out more about the relationship of the person, the human being, to the boundless being. Because the moment you see that even though there’s boundlessness, you continue to be a human being and so does everybody else, the question arises: What’s the relationship between the two? The dimension of divine love helps us to see clearly what the individual soul is, what cosmic reality is, and the nature of the relationship between the two. It helps make sense of humanity, of a human life, and human relationships. When we know cosmic reality, we see that being is the very nature of the soul. However, there is more that we need to understand about the relationship between being and the soul, because the soul is more than just its nature. It is an individual manifestation that is creative in a certain way—the soul is not the same thing as a rock, meaning it is not simply the ego self.

So there’s more to learn, but one thing I hope we’re clear about now is that when I talk about a relationship with the divine being, I don’t mean the God that your mother and father or your priest might have told you about. As I said, I mean it in a very specific way. But what you need to do as I talk about true nature or divine being is to avoid conceptualizing it, to quit thinking you know what it is. Don’t get ideas about what true nature is and how this bigger reality might manifest and appear to you as an individual. Just accept that you don’t know what it is or what its relationship to you is, instead of constantly trying to imagine: “What is it? What’s it like? Is it above me, up there and I am down here? Or am I inside it?” You need to let go of any ideas you might have about how it all works, and go on a journey of discovery.

Each Dimension Both Includes and Transcends More Differentiated Dimensions

From the vantage point of each dimension of Being, the more differentiated dimensions appear to be less real. Each dimension both includes the more differentiated dimensions and transcends them. This is experienced from the first dimension of Essence, going through its various levels, to the dimension of the Supreme Reality, and then to that of the Transcendent Absolute. However, all these dimensions make up the true potential of the human being. The human being is incomplete if he identifies with one dimension, regardless of how “high,” to the exclusion of others. The complete man is the integration of all dimensions of reality. We will see in subsequent chapters that this integration is possible only with the Personal Essence. We will see that the Personal Essence undergoes a development which is equivalent to the integration of all dimensions of reality. It is still not the highest experience; nevertheless, it is the highest development. One who has integrated the Personal Essence completely is able to experience any dimension of reality, depending on the requirement of the moment. One who is identified with a particular dimension may be realized on the Being level, but is still not complete in his development, for he is unable to move to different dimensions.

Experiencing Essential Aspects from Different Perspectives

In the process of essential realization, it is found that not only are there many differentiated aspects of Being, but also several dimensions in which these aspects can be experienced. The first dimension is what we call the human realm, because the aspects are most easily recognized here, and are closest to the usual emotional aspects. Then each one of these aspects can be experienced in several other ways, where the aspect retains its original sense, but is experienced from a different perspective, which gives it an added meaning and significance, or rather, a clearer and more objective meaning.

Integration of Essential Diamonds Into a Single Structure

Depending on the situation, the Diamond Dimension manifests as a field in which the various aspects operate as diamonds, or it arises as one presence in which all the essential diamonds are integrated into a single structure, one operating vehicle. Instead of experiencing one diamond at a time, we experience all diamonds arranged in a particular structure, such as a chandelier, a cathedral, or some other distinctive form. There are many of these vehicles, each of which is an integrated form of the Diamond Dimension in a different shape or configuration. So Being not only manifests itself in aspects, but also in combinations of aspects that we call Diamond Dimensions or Diamond Vehicles. The Diamond Guidance, though experienced at times as an aspect, is actually one of these vehicles. The Diamond Guidance is an essential presence made out of diamonds, in which all the aspects combine together as one beautiful, colorful, luminous vehicle – not unlike a space ship – in a precise, delineated form. And since each aspect manifests here as the understanding of the aspect itself, the structure that combines all of these diamonds into one presence operates as the vehicle for understanding in general. This vehicle then functions as guidance on the diamond level. This is a direct description, not a metaphor, of what the Diamond Guidance is. In inquiry, we learn how to open to the Diamond Guidance so that it will descend into our soul and guide her. This is something magical, really, in the sense that it is not part of our ordinary experience.

Integration of Transitional Dimensions

Transitional dimensions appear in various degrees of integration. We have discussed the major dimensions; the integration also appears in various combinations of these. The process is nonlinear, so the unfoldment moves back and forth for some time before integration is complete. One possibility of integration is the interpenetration of the absolute and another dimension, like that of nonconceptual presence or pure presence. Sometimes the three are combined such that they interpenetrate one another, almost completely mixed but still differentiated and recognizable. Various states arise, revealing the richness and wonder of Reality, where it is beauty pervaded by the mysterious blackness of the absolute. A significant state is that of the integration of the absolute with the blue aspect, which is the aspect of basic knowingness and consciousness. We then experience everything as a boundless blue-black absolute. We see a deep blue vastness that becomes darker at the depth, until it becomes the black absolute. At such place of interpenetration, the blue and black completely mix and become one presence of deep blue-black mystery. This is a state of absorption and mental rest, consciousness without discrimination, where there is consciousness of the absolute without mental reflection or specific knowing. It is a condition in which mind and consciousness melt into the absolute.

Levels or Planes of Being

We use the word “dimension” to refer to a level or plane of being, on which the various qualities of Essence appear in specific ways that differentiate it from other dimensions. Each dimension adds to essential aspects a new characteristic, universal to all aspects in this dimension. There is the dimension of objective love for instance, in which all aspects -- Compassion, Clarity, Will, Peace and so on -- appear as manifestations of love. They retain their original qualities, like Compassion and Peace, but now all with the sweetness of love.

Life as an Unfolding Thread in the Experiential Universe

Sometimes our lifeline manifests new dimensions—dimensions of presence, dimensions of awareness, dimensions of emptiness, dimensions of love—that were not present to us before. And even the feeling or thinking dimensions can unfold possibilities we haven’t seen yet. For example, sometimes a deep sadness feels like it’s a million miles deep, as though our heart is going to the center of the universe. It doesn’t start at that depth, of course, but as we stay where we are and don’t resist that feeling, don’t try to constrain it, don’t stop it from changing, the dynamism of our own Being becomes a disclosure, a revelation of that kind of depth in the dimension of feeling. So you can look at all of your life as an unfolding thread in the experiential universe, a thread that moves within many dimensions simultaneously. And we are all related threads—sometimes interconnecting, sometimes intersecting —within the universe of experience. But none of that make sense if we’re not aware of our experience, if we’re not present in it, if we don’t have some kind of understanding or recognition of what it is, of its meaning. Remember that this is an unfolding thread of meaning as well as of experience.

Our Consciousness is a Universe of Many Dimensions

Our inner consciousness is a whole universe, a magical universe. Our inner sensitivity operates in relation to the three spatial dimensions, but it also manifests in many other dimensions that we can experience directly. Our soul’s consciousness has perceptual capacities corresponding to our five physical senses. Our tactile sense appears as sensations and feelings; our visual sense appears as visions and images; our auditory sense appears as remembering sounds, hearing inner sounds, imagining or hallucinating sounds; our smell sense appears as remembering and imagining smells and aromas, but also as inner smells characterizing many inner states; our taste sense appears as remembering and imagining tastes, but also as inner tastes of our inner states, common in spiritual perception. Our kinesthetic sense is already felt as an inner experience, but can also reflect our memory and imagination, plus the inner movements of thought and feeling. The awareness of the movement of thoughts, and of changes of inner states, involves the capacity for awareness of the passage of time. Our consciousness is a universe of many dimensions. Viewing our consciousness in terms of its dimensions, we see that it is not a three- or four-dimensional field, but a multidimensional manifold, a manifold in the sense that it is a dynamic structure of dynamic structures. This manifold is characterized by a nonlinear—Riemannian—geometry, in that all the dimensions open up to all the others in nonlinear ways.

Understanding the Relation Between Our Organism and Essence

When we say essence is within us, we do not mean it is contained within our body the way a liquid is contained in a bowl. This will make essence and the body of the same nature, physical matter. However, we can come close to understanding the relation between our organism and essence by seeing the relationship between our body and space. It is in the nature of physical space that it can coexist with the body. The body occupies a region of space, but this is not like the liquid in the bowl. The body does not displace space. The body and space overlap and occupy the same place. This is because they exist in different dimensions. Physical space and physical matter can occupy the same location because they are two different dimensions of existence. It is the same with essence and the body. Essence is within us just as space is within us. It is on a different dimension from the body. Essence is a different order of existence from the body, and it is in this sense that it is within us. Yet this analogy fails to do justice to the actual relationship between essence and the body. Because we usually think of space as a nonexistence, we find it easy to imagine space and the body coexisting in the same location. However, essence is not a nonexistence. It is not empty the way physical space is. It is, on the contrary, a fullness. It is something much more substantial than space. It has a substantiality similar to the physical body but in a different dimension.

Where Essential Aspects Appear Anew in the Diamond Form

We begin to recognize the Diamond Dimension itself as all the essential aspects appear anew, in the diamond form. Now, instead of experiencing a fluid or formless presence, we experience a faceted bright diamond, a ruby, or an emerald, for instance. In the emerald experience, we have a sense of loving-kindness and warmth inherent to Compassion, but with a precision, a definiteness, and an exactness not familiar in conventional experience. The diamond restructures the soul in such a way that its experience is now inseparable from insight, from direct knowledge. Understanding, then, is simply the stream of restructuring of our soul by the diamond and what it is communicating.

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