Assuming that the Primordial Condition is an End State and that Practice Will Take You There
In our teaching, what is important about not moving toward a goal is that the practice isn’t oriented toward taking you to a particular state. This is a delicate point, because even when we learn nondoing, even when we say inquiry is simply staying with the truth, we think that if we do these practices diligently enough, they will take us to the correct state. And we think that there is a particular state that is the correct state. Usually this is the state of enlightenment or realization—whatever we think that may be, whatever the books we read or the teachings we follow say that it is. We think the correct state is absolute awareness or the boundless dimension of love or some other spiritual state. And we think that if we could only practice correctly, if we could only practice without motivation, without aim, we would find ourselves in the primordial condition, which is the enlightened condition. But this assumes that the primordial condition is an end state and that practice will take you there. I am not saying that practice won’t take you there; practice, if we’re experienced and mature in practice, will take you there, but not only there. So the deeper understanding of practice and realization in our work is that we don’t posit an end state. There is no state in which we are going to reach an end. This is another understanding of having no goal. In one sense, not having a goal means you don’t know where you are going next because Being itself doesn’t have a goal, is not directed in that way. But also, in another sense, practicing with no goal means that even Being itself is not seen as the goal. We don’t posit presence or true nature as a goal for practice. This is a subtle point. Many of you are thinking, “Yes, right, of course. Now we are getting to a subtle way of practicing where we let go of true nature as our goal because that is the best way to reach true nature.” Although there is some truth to that, it is not completely true. Regardless of what you have experienced of true nature, regardless of what you understand of true nature, true nature will manifest itself in ways you have never known, in ways you could never imagine. So the moment you have a goal, no matter what it is, the moment you conceptualize it, the moment you know it, true nature will go beyond all that.
Runaway Realization, pg. 53
If We Engage in the Process of Self-Realization from the Perspective that there is an End State to Realize, We Tend to Interfere with the Process
This quality arises as the student continues to explore the narcissistic sector of his personality. It becomes more explicit as the student’s understanding achieves increasing clarity and precision about this level of self-realization. Further investigation into the issue of external influence, and an increasingly objective understanding about how experience unfolds, brings us to the understanding that to arrive at self-realization is not a matter of trying to get somewhere; it is not a question of working to actualize a specific state. If we engage in the process of self-realization from the perspective that there is an end-state to realize, we tend to interfere with the process. To attempt to generate or move towards a certain state indicates holding a particular conceptual position. Not only will this tend to force the unfoldment of the self to go into directions that might not be appropriate at the moment, but it is this very attitude which underlies the development of self-representations. To work on self-realization by attempting to move towards a certain state implies that we have some concept of what this state is, which will influence our experience of ourselves according to that view. This is bound to create a veil of conceptualization between ourselves and our experience of ourselves, which then blocks the condition of self-realization. We cannot go about working towards self-realization by taking a position that negates it. What is left for us then is only open inquiry into our experience. We can only engage in a process (which is not a technique) of finding out where we are. Finding out where we are is a matter of recognizing the self in whatever state one happens to be in. It is not a matter of manipulating the soul into some state, but rather, of being clear and fully present in whatever state the soul happens to be presenting itself in.
The Point of Existence, pg. 351
Openness Means that, in the Diamond Approach, We Do Not Go Along with Many of the Traditional Spiritual Teachings that Posit a Particular End State
This is an important and obvious characteristic of true inquiry. The moment we want to accomplish something in particular, such as: “What I need to do is finally unify with God,” or “I want to achieve enlightenment, which is the emptiness of all things,” or “I am going to work to be free from suffering,” we already have a preset destination, a goal. This goal—by the very nature of having goals—is going to limit our inquiry. It is going to constrain us to go this way and not that way because we have already decided where we are going to go, we are already directing the course of our inquiry. So openness means that in the Diamond Approach, we do not go along with many of the traditional spiritual teachings that posit a particular end state. Since it is intrinsic to the perspective of inquiry and investigation that we do not start with the assumption of a goal, we want to find out whether there is such a thing as an ultimate spiritual goal. We want to find out whether it is possible to even think from the perspective of a final state or realization. There might not be such an end, and yet if there is going to be an end, we definitely want to find out. But we do not start by saying there is an end, and the end is such and such, that we are going to go there and we must do such and such to get there. Positing an end state is definitely a valid way of doing the inner work, but it is not the way of inquiry. In this approach, we do not have a map that says we should go from here to there; so we don’t decide on a particular route that we think will lead us someplace we want to go. Instead, we consider the experiential field we are in at this moment and discern the direction that is emerging from our experience, and then follow that. Then our inquiry is directed by what is happening at this moment, not by some goal in the future we believe we are going to arrive at. That is what makes the journey really exciting. You never know what the next step is going to be. You never know where you are going to end up—you might fall splashing in the river or find yourself trapped in the middle of the Earth. You do not know. It can be scary, but it can be quite thrilling. Not everybody has the heart or the stomach for this kind of adventure.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 23
Our Nature is Light . . . . . . Light Doesn’t Posit an End State in which Everything is Going to be Wonderful
So this is where we can see how our orientation, our attitude, about time can become an obstacle, an obscuration, to being our True Nature. If we have the attitude of future orientation, we miss the moment. We are dissociated from the presence of the moment, and we can’t be in the moment. The truth is that our True Nature is similar to the nature of light, which is timeless and which we can experience in the moment as the now-ness of the moment. But if we are oriented toward the future, we are not allowing ourselves to be where we are, which is now, and we are also leaving, dissociating from, the moment. Our nature is light, pure now-ness, so to operate from the perspective of a future that can get better or worse means that we are dissociating ourselves from our True Nature. How am I going to be myself if I do that? How am I going to be where I am? In other words, the orientation of hope—hoping for something in the future —disconnects you from who you really are. The orientation of expectation or of having a goal to accomplish does the same thing. For example, you may be thinking that one of these days, you are going to be enlightened, so you are working at it now. Light would never think that way; it doesn’t posit an end state in which everything is going to be wonderful, and it doesn’t say that we have to practice now in order to get to that goal. For light, that is completely nonsensical; there is just now. Now is just wonderful the way it is, and now is all that we have. If there is future in our life, it is true that we need to consider it for the sake of practical matters. When you are doing your budgeting or choosing insurance policies or making travel arrangements, you will have to include the future in your planning. But what does that have to do with your experience of yourself in the moment? Your experience in the moment is your own consciousness, which is a fluid body of light. Why can’t you experience that even as you are planning?
The Unfolding Now, pg. 158
So, the End State You Posit Can be Something You have Taken from an External Source or from Your Own Experience in the Past, but Neither of these is Different from Having an Ego Ideal
Suppose the state that you have reached is of empty and undifferentiated Being that has no particular quality. You might begin to inquire with the idea already in the back of your mind that this is what you are again going toward. But that is not fundamentally different from the ego attitude of trying to be one way or another. The danger here is that experiencing and liking a particular state might become an orienting factor for your consciousness. But what if the Absolute wants to manifest in you as something different the next moment? Maybe you cannot tolerate the Absolute in its undifferentiated qualityless condition, so the Absolute manifests itself to you in another way—in the quality of compassion, for example. You might start to feel warm and gentle in a very differentiated way. If your orientation is toward something undifferentiated and unspeakable, you are liable to misinterpret the compassion. You might not see it, and you might even push it away. Then you become disconnected from your own thread, which also means that your inquiry is not open ended. So the end state you posit can be something you have taken from an external source or from your own experience in the past, but neither of these is different from having an ego ideal. Taking a position is identical to developing an idea from your childhood that you are going to be a good girl, a strong boy, or a loving person. In either case, an underlying background goal is orienting your consciousness, though perhaps unconsciously and subtly, in that direction. You end up trapped in the same process, and it does the same thing to you—it disconnects you from your personal thread, from the truth of your experience in the moment.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 190
The Center of this Wisdom is that of Holding No End State to Strive Toward, but Knowing that the Ideal of Liberation is the Freedom of the Unfoldment, of the Surrender to the Flow of the Logos
From this follows the wisdom of open and open-ended inquiry, of the freedom from searching for any particular state or realization. It is the wisdom of knowing that because the dynamic intelligence of true nature, expressed through its creative logos, is what is always manifesting all forms and experience, the best approach to Reality is to recognize what form or dimension is manifesting in the consciousness of the soul, and to abide there. Any attempt to determine one’s experience, by the exercise of any practice, will be a manipulation and an interference in the flow of Reality, or at best a second-guessing of where the logos is taking our experience. Hence, the center of this wisdom is that of holding no end state to strive toward, but knowing that the ideal of liberation is the freedom of the unfoldment, of the surrender to the flow of the logos. Since we are then not trying to direct our experience to go toward any particular state or condition, the dynamism of the logos is liberated to unfold according to its optimizing intelligence. The flow of our experience can be constrained by ego structures and identity, which is the normal constant constraint of the egoic life, or through conscious and intentional inner and spiritual practices that aim toward the generation and actualization of particular states. Both constrain our experience and are counter to the spontaneous outflow of the logos. This is true even if our spiritual practice is an attempt to realize the highest spiritual states, like that of the absolute or of nonconceptual awareness. What is left for us is the motiveless inquiry into the truth that the logos is manifesting, and the surrender to its flow. (See chapter 22, note 3.) However, this practice of surrendering to and abiding in the true manifestation of the logos does not feel to the soul like an attempt to cooperate with the logos in order for the latter to take her to the condition of an ultimate state of enlightenment. This would simply be a manipulation, not a genuine surrender. It feels more like being real and authentic, or like a respect and appreciation for the truth that happens to be one’s experience of oneself. It specifically feels like being oneself, for oneself is whatever the logos manifests it to be. We simply feel authentic, while the form of authenticity can be any form or dimension of the presence of true nature.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 425
The Extensive Practice of Suspension of Identification with the Content of Thoughts is Done, Not Primarily with a Certain State in Mind, but More in an Experimental Mode, as Part of an Inquiry into One’s Experience
The method of inner work developed by Almaas is not connected with a religious or mystical tradition, although it draws on the wisdom of several traditions as well as on psychology and various scientific orientations. Because the main method of this work is open and open-ended inquiry, the orientation of the work itself has a scientific sense to it: the extensive practice of suspension of identification with the content of thoughts, for example, is done not primarily with a certain end state in mind, but more in an experimental mode, as part of an inquiry into one’s experience. Here it resembles Husserl’s phenomenology, which attempted a scientific (in the sense of suspending one’s assumptions and beliefs as much as possible) inquiry into consciousness. The practices and inquiry are done always with reference to understanding and its effect on the soul, and always with reference to one’s actual lived experience in the moment. The application of psychological understanding helps to make conscious and thus render transparent various mental structures, removing the veils of identification with those structures, not by an effort to move one’s awareness somewhere else, but simply by understanding the patterns and the status of those patterns relative to other modes of experience. As openness of mind develops, the process of understanding and disidentification with the soul’s ego structures becomes increasingly fluid, even as the uncovering of increasingly primitive or archaic structures presents a challenge to the soul’s ability to persevere in her open inquiry. This perseverance is supported by an increasingly clear love of the truth of reality itself; one’s intimate experience of what in Sufism is called “nearness to God” brings growing courage and devotion to the soul’s process.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. x
The More You Inquire from the Perspective of a Particular End State, the More You Make the Inquiry Into a Mental Process Instead of a Real Living One
As we have seen, if you have a particular goal, a particular orientation toward what you want to happen, then your inquiry is not open ended and most likely you will miss the thread. This means that for your inquiry to be open ended—in order for you to find your own thread and follow it—you need to proceed without any particular goal, without any end state in mind. You must proceed without believing that any particular state of being or realization or enlightenment should happen. You cannot do inquiry and have the attitude, “I’m going to inquire in order to accomplish this state,” even if it happens to be what actually arises when you inquire. The more you inquire from the perspective of a particular end state, the more you make the inquiry into a mental process instead of a real, living one. The moment you have a goal in your mind in terms of how you are going to experience yourself, you are not being personal with yourself. Personal means that right this moment, where you are is where you personally are—it is you now. The moment you say, “I’m going to go someplace” you are no longer personally relating to your immediate reality. You have adopted an abstract, impersonal aim from some source. So looking from the perspective of a certain state or aim is not appropriate to finding your thread. It is forced and unnatural because the particular state or aim that you have in mind is most likely not what is going to happen at this moment. You are in fact trying to force something on yourself instead of finding out where you are. This is true even if the state you are wanting to go toward is wholeness or the Absolute. You are trying to put yourself in a certain place instead of finding where you actually are. Then you are not following the Holy Will, which is the natural flow of the unfolding of reality as a whole; you are just being willful. You are not cooperating with the intelligence of your own being; you are superimposing a direction on top of your Being’s true movement.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 181
This Tendency to Orient Our Experience Toward a Particular State Reveals, More than Anything Else, the Identifications and Positions We Have Learned from Various Teachings
So understanding the dynamics of Being reveals a trap that many people fall into: attempting to twist God’s arm or second-guessing Being, trying to help it along by pushing its current in a particular direction. This tendency to orient our experience toward a particular state reveals more than anything else the identifications and positions we have learned from various teachings. Most teachings actually say, “This is where you’re headed, so let’s go straight there.” This is especially a danger when we become attracted to teachings referred to as sudden, direct, or fast methods. Such approaches might seduce you into believing that you can jump into the final realization without going along with the dynamism itself. The possibility definitely exists that this jump will be successful, but it is a minuscule possibility, and whether it can happen depends on where you are in your journey. Approaches based on the belief that you can bypass Being’s dynamism—or more specifically, that you should go toward a particular state—tend to create a big problem and a painful conflict for most individuals. You will always be comparing where you are to this place you’re supposed to get to. You will always be pushing yourself to get there. Then you will develop a superego, or inner critic, that is always looking over your shoulder and telling you: “The goal is over there; how come you’re still here? When are you ever going to get there? You know you’re not doing very well.” These teachings apparently have their logic and their own context, and their methods obviously work in some situations. Nevertheless, the work we’re doing here has to do with cooperating with the natural intelligence of the dynamism of our Being. Our approach is to piggyback on the natural wave of Being’s optimizing force by harmonizing ourselves with its flow.