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Essential Experience

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Essential Experience?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Essential Experience

Delight that Comes with Essential Experience

In essential experience the identity is definite and singular, with a sense of freedom, lightness, joy, and the like. There is a sense of excitement, playfulness, and adventure. We feel interested in ourselves, excited about life, wanting to live and enjoy it. We feel our preciousness and specialness and the preciousness and delight of living. Life feels like an adventure with unlimited potential and exciting possibilities.

Embodying Essential Experience

In order for the person to embody the essential experience, Essence must impact the personality; it must transform the personality.

Essential Experience of the Conventional Self

There are basically three ways to experience Being, two of which are related to the functions of the Essential Identity. Let us take, for example, the experience of essential Truth, one of the pure forms of presence. The first way the self can experience essential Truth is easily accessible; the self experiences truth as presence, without experiencing itself as presence. In this condition we retain the normal feeling of identity. We experience ourselves as an individual, with a sense of identity, who is experiencing the presence of Truth. In this situation the subject is the conventional self and the object of perception is the presence of Truth. We might feel this presence to be our truth, but it remains an object. This level of essential experience retains the perspective of the conventional self. We might relate to the presence of Truth as if it is something we possess. But for the self to believe it “possesses” Being is like the body believing it possesses protoplasm. Since this belief is untrue it will tend to disconnect the self from its essential nature, because Truth is an aspect of this essential nature.

Excitement that Comes with Essential Experience

In essential experience, however, the Self is not only definite and singular, but also feels like a sense of freedom, lightness, joy and delight... There is a sense of excitement, playfulness and adventure. One suddenly feels interested in oneself, excited about one's life, wanting to live and enjoy it. One feels one's own preciousness and specialness, and the preciousness and delight of living. Life feels like an adventure, of unlimited potential and exciting possibilities.

Experiencing Being from the Functions of the Essential Identity

The second and third ways of experiencing Being arise from the functions of the Essential Identity. We have said that the Essential Identity provides the capacity to situate one’s awareness in any form or dimension of Being. For instance, we may experience Being in the aspect of Truth, not in a subject-object relationship, but by experiencing ourselves from within and through essential 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. The third way of experiencing Being is similar to the second, with an added quality. The Essential Identity provides the self not only with the capacity to situate awareness within Essence, but also provides the feeling of identity. In the experience of oneself as Truth, the identity is not experienced as separate from the essential presence, Truth, but as indistinguishable from it. So rather than experiencing ourselves as Truth experiencing itself as Truth, we experience the Truth as self. In other words, the sense of identity makes our identity the essential quality of Truth.

The Connection Between Essence and Vision

There is very often a connection between essence and vision, but usually the connection is concealed from the visionary. However, if this connection is seen and understood, then the person can use the vision to contact essence directly. What happens is that the individual experiences a taste of essence but is not directly aware of it. His contact with essence touches him in a deep way and produces deep emotions, which are translated in the mind into religious symbols and images. In some cases the images come first, and seeing the images provokes deep religious emotions. The individual is usually aware only of the images and emotions. But these are simply reverberations in the mind of the contact with essence. The relation of visions to the essential experience is like the relation of dreams to the reality they express. The dreams are distorted and symbolic images of processes that the dreamer is not directly aware of. Obviously, if the person focuses his attention on the images and emotions of a vision, he will miss entirely the true underlying reality, the presence of essence.

The New Kind of Knowledge that Comes from Essential Experience

We see here that by encountering essential experience, we begin to have a new kind of knowledge that we didn’t anticipate when we were within the restricted boundaries of ordinary knowledge. If we were to go along in our inquiry thinking that ordinary knowledge is the only knowledge there is, we wouldn’t find out about this new kind of knowledge, which I call basic knowledge. And even now our mind may simply want to create a category called basic knowledge in which to deposit certain kinds of experiences such as essential ones. This is once again treating basic knowledge as if it were a new kind of ordinary knowledge. The fact that this is a different kind of knowledge, one that cannot be stored and manipulated by the mind, has very profound implications for inquiry, as we shall see. Not only is basic knowledge “live” in the sense of existing only in the present, and thus unstorable like random access memory (RAM) on a computer, but it is also “live” unlike any computer knowledge, in the sense of being self-aware and self-knowing. One of the most important things we learn when we start to experience Essence is that the presence knows itself, but the presence and the knowingness of the presence are completely indistinguishable; they are not two things. This is similar to the way water is wet, yet the wetness is not separable from the water. Our essence has the capacity to know itself completely and directly, independent of what we have known in the past. The knowingness is inherent in the essence itself, in such a way that it not only is aware of itself as existing, but is also aware of the quality and characteristics of this existence. This is an expression of the discriminating awareness, one of the five major characteristics of true nature.

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