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Encounters (third kind)

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Encounters (third kind)

All Forms are Basically One Truth Manifesting in Different Ways

In talking about necessary awakening, I am not revealing anything new. We have worked with encounters of the third kind all along the path. It does not matter what form of true nature you experience—whether a kind of presence, awareness, or emptiness, whether bounded or boundless—because all forms are basically one truth manifesting in different ways. What is important is that you recognize the underlying purity and otherness of true nature regardless of what form it takes. And it doesn’t matter whether you experience it as inside you or outside you, as a sudden eruption or a gradual emergence. An encounter of the third kind might feel likesomething happening within you or outside of you or everywhere; it might sneak up on you or be a long time coming. Despite what form it takes and how it manifests, what is important is that we recognize the fact of spirit: that spirit is, and it is purely what it is, and what it is is radically different. True nature is not a figment of anybody’s imagination; it is not a construction or reaction or theory. As long as our experiences are incomplete in their recognition of true nature,
we will find it difficult to recognize its miraculous otherness.

Descent of the Diamond Guidance

When inquiry opens up the soul and orients her toward receptivity to guidance, one may experience the arising of the Guidance as a descent of presence. The Diamond Guidance descends, and it is as if a spaceship has just landed. The power and magnificence of the descent is not unlike what was portrayed at the end of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when the mother ship lands. The air becomes electrified; all is still and yet pulsing with a brilliance of dancing colors and qualities. One may hear the powerful hum of the spaceship’s engines. One can feel a sense of elegance and delicacy. Then consciousness begins to attain a quality of precision, a quality of brilliance, and a quality of exquisite, sharp clarity. It is no longer the normal consciousness that is inquiring but the consciousness pervaded and transformed by the pure light of the Diamond Guidance—the variegated, precise, diamond-like brilliance. One may become aware of a sense of divinity and purity, a sense of otherworldliness that has come into this world.

Junctures on the Path

The first of the four junctures on the path of awakening is necessary awakening, which refers to the close encounter of the third kind with true nature. The second juncture is primary awakening, which we usually refer to as the self-realization of true nature. This is different from the personal experience of true nature as radically other. Primary awakening is being true nature and recognizing yourself as being true nature, which means that true nature recognizes itself through your individual consciousness. Whereas you encounter true nature in the first juncture, in the second juncture of the path, you realize true nature or, put another way, true nature realizes itself as and through you. Both of these—necessary and primary awakening, the experience and the self-realization of true nature—can occur in any form, quality, or dimension of true nature. As we know in our work, the encounter with true nature exposes us to many qualities and forms. This teaching has a detailed understanding about how to open the possibility for that kind of close encounter with true nature, and then how to work on the self-realization of true nature. This spans the movement from the dual experience of true nature to the nondual experience of it. Just as the encounter with true nature reveals many differentiated qualities and forms of experience, so the self-realization of true nature moves through many realizations, including individual realization and the various boundless dimensions of nondual realization.

Recognizing the Radical Otherness of True Nature

When we experience true nature, whether it is as a quality or dimension of being or a vision, we realize that it is far different from our ordinary experience. It is from the perspective of conventional experience that true nature appears as radically other. I am not saying that true nature is absolutely other. In realization, in awakened experience, we realize it is not other. So to say that true nature is absolutely other would be to say that it is always other and that it can never be anything else. But that is not the case; it only appears so when we are not realized. When we have a clear encounter of the third kind, we recognize the radical otherness of truenature. This recognition is important because without it we would think that true nature is part of what we have already known ourselves to be. We would assume that true nature is part of the conventional world. We wouldn’t see that it is from another world.

Recognizing True Nature in Its Purity

In an encounter of the third kind with true nature, you recognize true nature as it is. This means not only experiencing it, but experiencing it in its purity, experiencing it as it is. We will spend some time deconstructing our ideas about what it means to see true nature as it is because we have already had many experiences of true nature and have developed many smart ideas about what it is. And yet if we consider all our spiritual experiences, we can see that each of them feels like reality as it is. What does it mean to have many different experiences, each of which feels like an encounter with reality? Recognizing true nature in its purity means directly seeing that it is not constructed. Reality is not a construction of the mind. It is not an emotion or reaction of the heart. It is not a sensation of the body. Even though true nature is independent of all mind, heart, and body, it expresses itself through them, maturing them by utilizing them. An encounter of the third kind is the experiential recognition of spirit as spirit—experientially knowing that spirit is and knowing spirit in its purity. We will leave aside for the moment what spirit is, whether God or Buddha nature or something else. For this kind of direct encounter, it is simply enough that we recognize that spirit is, that we can experience spirit without an intermediary.

Three Distinct Modes of Knowing

One of the elements that is necessary for essential activation to happen is an encounter of the third kind with true nature. What do I mean by “an encounter of the third kind”? It’s an expression many scientists and science fiction writers have used to refer to how we know some other life-form, whether earthly or alien. Encounters are divided into three distinct modes of knowing. In the first kind of encounter, you hear or read about something; you know through hearsay. For example, you read about Buddha becoming enlightened under a bodhi tree and then you know that such a possibility exists. In the second kind of encounter, you know it more directly but still from a distance, like seeing a flying saucer or hearing its sound. You may attend a talk by a particular teacher or take a course in some teaching. You nevertheless have some distance from your experience of being, and you haven’t yet shaken hands with it. In spiritual experience, this is analogous to intuiting and sensing that something more is possible. You have a feeling about or faith in something, you aspire and practice, but you haven’t peered into its eyes yet. In an encounter of the third kind, you are immediately in touch with the thing itself as it is. You see it, shake hands with it, look into its eyes, touch it, feel it, know it, and talk to it. This is a direct encounter—as close an encounter as you can have with an other, with something you haven’t met before. For essential activation to happen, we need to have a clear encounter of the third kind with true nature, and it needs to be as complete as possible and happen as many times as possible.

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