Main Pages

By Region




Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Fluid?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Fluid

Being is Very Fluid, Continuously Arranging and Rearranging the Pattern of Appearance

Being is very fluid, continuously arranging and rearranging the pattern of appearance. The contemporary Buddhist teacher, Tarthang Tulku, describes this in his book, Time, Space and Knowledge: A New Vision of Reality, in which he calls this dynamic flow, “Great Time.” “When fully appreciated, Great Time is seen to be a kind of perfectly liquid, lubricious dimension—it is quintessentially ‘slippery’” (Tulku, 1977, p. 161). When you feel the flow, you realize that Being is not static, but constantly moving like quicksilver. So this is one way of seeing Holy Law, as a continuously changing flow of Being. A second way of perceiving it is as creation. In contrast to the Biblical creation story, this is the idea of continual creation, of the universe being continually created instant by instant, always new. The focus in this perception is not on the fact of the flow and process of change, but on the fact that the flow is not in time, not coming from the past through the present and into the future. The perception of the flow as creation reveals that it is from non-existence to existence, a flow that is continuously being renewed. When we think of water flowing, we usually think of the same water moving, but here, it is more the sense of a fountain of newly-arising water, constantly being created. Seeing that the flow is always in the now, you realize that it is a new creation. Everything is constantly manifesting, as in a magic show when a rabbit is pulled out of an empty hat. So when we talk about creation, we see that it is not a flow from the past to the future, but rather, a flow from non-manifestation to manifestation.

Facets of Unity, pg. 261

Being’s Dynamism is a Positioning that is Always Fluid

You see, our nature is positionless. Or, more accurately, reality always presents itself in positions—especially when we speak about it—but these positions are never fixed or rigid. Being’s dynamism is a process of positioning, but it’s a positioning that’s always fluid, always changing from one position to another. Being cannot be pinned down in one position. We can take these positions as pointers, but not as a frame into which to fit our experience. Being is not an image to fulfill and not a goal to try to attain by pushing our experience in that direction. When you are inquiring, you want to be totally open to what is present without any preconceptions, without any preset ideas, without any particular orientation. So you cannot take a position that I may have enunciated at one time or another—or that you got from some teacher or teaching, or even from your own previous experience—adhere to it rigidly, and expect your inquiry to be free and open ended. Your inquiry will be predetermined, set in a particular direction. It will not be free. And it will very likely distort what is going on or obscure the clear perception of what’s truly arising in your experience. 

Boundaries and Partitions Seen as Fluid and Changeable

The Merging Essence seems to be needed by the organism at that time for healthy maturation and growth. Its presence brings about the symbiotic connection to the mother needed for survival and psychological development. It is a differentiated aspect of Being, in contrast to the nondifferentiated aspect of oneness characteristic of the normal autistic stage, in which there is no perception of boundaries at all. So it is a step toward differentiation, and part of the perceptual and cognitive development towards the ability to discriminate. It allows a certain limited capacity for discrimination. More accurately, it allows discrimination in perception, but it does not allow the fixation of boundaries and partitions. Boundaries and partitions are perceived but are not seen as fixed; they are fluid and changeable. It appears that one of the first boundaries experienced is that of a common boundary around mother and child, in what Mahler calls the “dual unity.” Perception becomes more discriminative when the Strength Essence dominates consciousness, in the differentiation subphase. It brings to perception the capacity to see partitions as more fixed and stable. Still, even here, partitions are seen as porous, transparent and permeable. The impermeability of boundaries is the effect of ego development, and not that of Essence. 

Completely Fluid Intelligence

So intelligence needs to have as its source that indeterminacy, that complete mystery which gives it its maximum power, where intelligence can use all the understanding, all the knowledge we have without limiting the functioning of that intelligence. It can use its power, it can use its compassion, it can use its gentleness or determination, without the limitations of preconceived ideas or already established positions or beliefs about what is supposed to happen. It is completely fluid. So for inquiry to engage the hyperdrive, it has to be powered by the freedom of this nonconceptual openness. This amounts to inquiring without having an identity, since identity is based on the positioning we take. We take a position in order to establish a sense of identity. So not having a position means we cannot have identity. That is why the essence of Being, the Absolute, is the experience of no position. When the inner core of intelligence is this absolute indeterminacy, then your inquiry flows without operating from any established position. You do not even adhere to the position that you are a human being—or beyond that, that you even exist. The next dimension might be complete nonexistence, so if you adhere to the position that you exist, how are you going to arrive at that dimension? Believing that you exist, or that anything exists, could become a barrier. But indeterminacy does not say there is either existence or no existence. It does not say anything. Indeterminacy means that you do not take a position, no assertion whatsoever. Complete freedom. 

Experiencing a Fluid Patterning of Luminosity

For instance, our knowledge patterns our experience to the extent that we actually experience a physical reality. We end up believing that there is such a thing as physical reality and physical matter. In fact, we are completely convinced that physical reality is a fundamental truth. In objective reality, there is no such thing as the physical world that we know. If we experience our body without the filter of ordinary knowledge, we will not experience a physical body, we will experience a fluid patterning of luminosity. Our experience is so conditioned and determined, that not only do we believe we have and are a body, we believe in something more basic that underlies this belief: that the body is the body as we take it to be. For most people, this is absolutely true: The body is physical matter that is born and hurts and dies. From that point of view, how can we possibly think of it as a fluid patterning of luminosity? This is just an example, maybe a little extreme, to tell us how far the patterning of ordinary knowledge goes. In the initial stages, the process of inquiry is mostly an investigation of ordinary knowledge. Why? Because it is an investigation of our present experience, and if we have an experience and don’t know its meaning, that tells us there is a piece of ordinary knowledge implicit in it that we don’t see yet. So by exploring your present experience, you are actually exploring how ordinary knowledge is patterning it. 

Feeling Presence as a Medium, Like a Material Medium Such as Water or Clear Fluid

The reason we experience knowing and being as a single phenomenon is that presence is the presence of consciousness, pure consciousness more fundamental than the content of mind. Although we usually associate our consciousness with the act of being conscious of some object of perception, experiencing the direct truth and reality of our consciousness requires no object. When we can finally be ourselves fully, we recognize ourselves as presence, and apprehend that this presence is nothing but the ontological reality of consciousness. We feel our presence as a medium, like a material medium, such as water or clear fluid. This medium is homogeneous, unified, whole, and undivided, exactly like a body of water. This homogeneous medium is consciousness. The medium is conscious and aware of itself. It is not aware of itself by reflecting on itself, but by being itself. In other words, its very existence is the same as awareness of its existence. To continue the physical metaphor, it is as if the atoms of this medium are self-aware. Presence is aware of itself through self-pervasive consciousness, where this self-pervasive consciousness is the very substance or medium of the presence itself, not an element added to it. From the perspective of self-realization, then, the soul is simply our consciousness, free from the occlusive veil of past experience. She can experience herself directly, without any intermediary. She is thus dispensing not only with the veil of past experience, but also with the self-reflective act. She experiences herself by simply being. She knows herself to be a presence, a self-aware medium in which the awareness is simply of presence itself. She is. She is presence, pure and simple. She is aware that she is presence because presence is indistinguishable from awareness. 

Light Seen as a Fluid that is Not Particularized

Einstein believed that the notion of quantum jumps is just an approximation of what happens. We assume quantum changes because we’re not paying close enough attention, and our theories are not precise enough, to see the continuity of change. Reality is actually a seamless, self-existing field. We say that it is light, but this light is not composed of particles. It’s a fluid that is not particularized; it is constantly flowing and unfolding. That is how reality is all the time. Why don’t we recognize our experience in that way? Because we’re not being real, we’re not being ourselves. We are not where we are. We’re not present where we are. The more we are present where we are, the greater the sense of flow, the sense that there is a meaning to our experience, that a continuum, an unfolding, is at play. So our life becomes meaningful because not only are we in touch with the meaning of our life, we are being the meaning of our life. We are at the place where this meaning is unfolding. Sometimes there might be gaps in your understanding of your experience that you haven’t even noticed. When you recognize one, that in itself begins the process of understanding. If we don’t recognize that there is a gap, we would believe in a continuity that isn’t real. Even to identify a gap before you understand what it is about is immensely helpful.

Through personal inquiry, perhaps the gap will be filled in, and perhaps not. So the meaning might include times of not knowing, times of emptiness or blankness. And as we inquire into that emptiness or blankness, at some point it becomes meaningful and helps us understand the whole picture. We discover that our personal thread wasn’t cut—it just was invisible for a while. 

Our Consciousness, Our Awareness is More Like Mercury, Very Slippery, Very Fluid

We have many reasons for trying to keep our experience from changing. We just don’t want to lose what we like about what we are experiencing, what we have, what we know about ourselves, or what we take to be reality. When we begin to do inner work, we have a certain view of reality and who we think we are. After some investigation, inquiry, and practice, we form a different view and can learn to abide in that, but there are no guarantees that things are going to stay that way. Our reality changes in so many unexpected ways and directions that the next moment could be, and often is, different. Change is difficult for the ego. Ego wants stability, sameness. We believe that our sense of self cannot find or keep its mooring if things keep shifting. But the fact is that reality is always a shifting ground. And our consciousness, our awareness, is more like mercury—very slippery, very fluid, easily changing and flowing. So when we talk about remaining where we are, it does not mean that we remain static; it implies being at ease with the continual transformation of where we are. Our tendency is to want to stay the same and have our experience remain the same, especially when we like it. And that becomes a rigidity in our consciousness, an inflexibility that is not natural. How can we approach this situation and understand what is at work here?

Perception Becoming Lighter, Clearer and More Fluid

A discovery that we may come upon in the process of seeing through representations is that the reality we experience through representations tends to be fixed and rigidly structured. This rigid structure blocks the openness that allows the dynamic flow, the true change and transformation of our experience of reality. When we go through the representations things open up. We begin to see things more freely, in ways that are not determined by our previous experience, not determined by the representations in our minds. We become more open to experience, and our perception becomes lighter, clearer and more fluid. Things literally open up, meaning that when representations dissolve an open dimension of reality is revealed. This open dimension we call space. So it is not just that things become open in the psychological and metaphorical sense, but things are open in the sense that reality reveals a dimension of itself that is actually openness, that is actually spaciousness, that is literally space. 

The Void, pg. 154

Perceptions Beginning to Have the Freedom of Movement Through a Fluid Medium

Another sign of the presence of intelligence has to do with a sense of brilliance. If your mind is operating in an intelligent way, after a while you notice that there is pleasure in your brain, as though the cells themselves were having orgasms. They are illuminating from within, bursting with living intelligence and brightness. And using the intelligence of your mind will feel smooth and pleasurable. Things start to happen easily, and your thoughts, ideas, and perceptions begin to have the smoothness and the freedom of movement through a fluid medium. The operation of intelligence becomes like the flow of mercury. Such smoothness is the basis of the penetrating power of intelligence. This penetrating power has to do with the fluidity and delicacy of the movement and physiognomic properties of intelligence. The capacity to pierce to the heart of the matter is seldom as evident in other aspects as it is in Brilliancy. The presence of intelligence has a delicacy and smoothness that is so refined, so exquisite, and of such gentleness that there is nothing it cannot pierce and penetrate. 

Brilliancy, pg. 99

Personal Essence is an Organic and Fluid Presence

One not only feels one is a full personal presence, but that this very same presence includes the presence of Love, Joy, Strength, Compassion, Merging, Peace, Intelligence, Will, Consciousness, etc. Aspects are simultaneously personalized, with their capacities and functions integrated. This is a condition of completeness, of an amazing degree of integration. One is full and firm, strong and soft, sweet and warm, and so on. One is a complete person. This does not mean that one’s personal presence from now on is always this complete state. It indicates that one is able to be present in this expanded state of Being. The Personal Essence is an organic and fluid presence; there is no rigidity in it at all. All its states, through the whole process of its realization and development, are available to it now, manifesting according to the situation. Practically, this realization allows the capacity to be personal in any of the essential aspects, or any combination of them, depending on the demands of the situation. The complete state of the Personal Essence brings a perception of one’s presence as preciousness, beauty and regality. It is no wonder that the Personal Essence is called in some stories, the Princess Precious Pearl. 

Soul Can Appear as a Formless Fluid Presence

The soul can be experienced in many ways. It can be experienced patterned by an ego structure—image, notion or concept—so it appears as a shell, veil, tube, thickness, hardness, and so on. It can also manifest as free from structure, and the experience is then of a formless, blobby or watery substance. It can manifest as imbued by its essential nature, and it is experienced then as an alive and dynamic presence. And it can manifest in its basic mode, before any structure or development, and then it appears as a formless fluid presence. This basic substance of the soul is experienced specifically as a plasmatic fluid, similar to the plasmatic substrate of the physical body. With the recognition of the soul as a shell around the emptiness of the absolute, its substance begins to dilute and become watery. I feel it now as tears, warm deep tears, as the blackness of the absolute begins to penetrate and pervade it. The soul melts, becoming an ocean of tears and sadness. As the perception develops, I become the depths of the absolute, aware of the totality of the universe as made out of soul substance in the process of diluting. The state of unity of appearance manifests now from the perspective of the absolute. The universe exists as a beautiful appearance, as the apparel of the absolute. This leads to further understanding of the absolute, what it is, how it affects consciousness. The understanding is that the absolute is divine ipseity, divine essence, the secret, the inner of the inner, the source, the unknowable, the guest.

The Ocean of Dynamic Fluid Energy that is the Deeper Nature of All of Us

I had thought the object of my desire was a man or a person, but what the experience revealed was that my wanting was arising as a natural movement toward its source—the source of all consciousness, which includes me. This source—the ocean of dynamic, fluid energy that is the deeper nature of all of us—was presencing into the moment as the one who is me. We don’t ever pop out of our true nature and become something else; we remain part of the source because we are inseparable from it, even though we each experience it through our individual consciousness. Experiencing this opened me to a whole new realm of possibilities. And it showed me that desire, at its root, is the energy of our deeper nature, an explosive energy that is dynamic and rich and bubbling forward. When my attention embraced the experience of desire rather than the object of my desire, I was able to know the truth of that nature as myself.  

Transformation of the Rigid Patterns in Our Experience

When inquiry is open and open ended, it discloses the knowledge that is always available within experience. An open-ended inquiry means that the rigid patterns in our experience can be transformed into fluid patternings of a self-organizing flow. Before we enter into the process of questioning and inquiry, our experience is rigidly patterned; it arises in repetitive, compulsive, obsessive patterns. When we look into and challenge what is determining and fixing these patterns, their rigidity dissolves and our experience starts unfolding in new ways. Even with that dissolution, our experience doesn’t lose its sense of pattern, and this is because pattern is the sense and meaning of experience. We still recognize patterns in our experience, but there is a more fluid and fresh patterning to the flow of experience. It has a fluidity and smoothness, a lightness and spontaneity to it. We feel free. When your experience is in rigid patterns, you are in prison. When your experience flows in fluid patterns, you feel the freedom of experience. This freedom of experience is the adventure of Being. For an adventure to be really thrilling, we have to go to places that are completely different. That kind of adventure, with its exhilaration and wonderment, is implicit in our Being. In time, your response to experience is not only delight but pure wonder. You come upon an experience and your mind hasn’t got the vaguest idea what it is, but it is so beautiful, you are full of wonderment. You can’t experience this wonder, though, if you hold on to a particular identity and frame of reference, if experience continues in its rigid habitual grooves. Wonderment arises when you are open to something that is mysterious, new, and fresh, when your old knowledge is completely suspended for the moment. 

Trying to Keep Fluid Slippery Presence Confined in a Particular Box

We are learning here about the relationship of True Nature to the various manifestations. Part of our ignorance is in not understanding clearly what the relationship of True Nature is to everything else. Everything else is just a form that True Nature takes. Or you could say that True Nature manifests itself in its various forms. But it is still True Nature. So although it is always changing in its manifestations, we are not being something else. We are being ourselves. The ego creates a sense of being oneself as a fixed, unchanging self. True Nature doesn’t need that kind of stability. So even though we try to hold on to a particular form or a particular way of experiencing, ultimately it is not possible. When we do this, we are trying to stop the dynamism. We are trying to keep that fluid, slippery presence confined in a particular box, stopping it from being dynamic and doing its thing. In doing that, we disconnect from ourselves. To be where we are, then, we need to recognize the changeable, slippery, transforming, morphing quality of our Being and of reality. That means we have to recognize our attachments, our identifications, the ways we try to hold on, which requires appreciating what we have taken to be permanent features of reality. Have you ever thought about what things you believe to be permanent? For example, don’t you think that you are always going to be you? Almost everyone believes, “I can change, but it is always going to be me who is experiencing those changes.” We can’t imagine waking up one morning and discovering that somebody else is experiencing them! But if, instead of our usual self, we experience pure awareness as that which is experiencing things, it feels as though it is not us. That’s because we have been accustomed to experiencing everything through our usual self-identity. But now it is just experience happening without that usual self; it is just the light, and because that light is luminous, it is aware of what is happening. 

We are Beings of Light in the Fluid State

If we experience ourselves in our true self-existing condition, we will see what we actually are: We are beings of light. Remember the example in chapter 11 of the spoon, which, when seen without any mental operation of reification, is perceived to be a form of light. We, too, are forms or beings of light when we experience ourselves with total immediacy. We are beings of light in the fluid state—completely frictionless, completely luminous, totally radiant and free. Now, everybody knows that because light has no mass and no weight, gravity does not affect it. So, in our True Nature, we have no heaviness, no thickness, no weight. We are substantial only in the sense that fluid light has a fullness, a sense of body to it. But that fullness, that substantiality, is completely light and smooth. That is the nature of awareness. And because it is light, it doesn’t help us see—it is what sees, it is what perceives. Thus light, awareness, consciousness, perception, sensitivity are all the same thing.  

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach