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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Forgetting?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Forgetting

Forgetfulness about Practice

Continual practice includes that kind of attitude, that kind of devotion, that kind of interest, that kind of love, that kind of commitment that is continually remembered. I don’t simply mean mentally remembered, although it might sometimes be like that. I mean that as we are living our life, we recognize and don’t forget the deeper values that are reflected in our practice. When I say we put into practice what we have learned, I mean to whatever degree we are capable of doing that. So when we recognize the value of practice, then whatever way we are doing it—whether partially authentic, partially an attempt, partially trying and not knowing, or partially successful—reflects the many degrees of practice. And sometimes we might not be practicing at all if we forget or we go unconscious. We can become identified with our usual self to such an extent that we completely forget the value of truth, the value of realization, the value of freedom. Then we are no different from somebody who hasn’t yet engaged spiritual work at all, who hasn’t yet thought of other possibilities. This unconsciousness is how we fall out of continual practice.

Forgetting About the Causes of Suffering Perpetuates Suffering

Our work exposes the extent to which we blame our parents for our suffering. When we delve deeply into the matter, we realize that the lack of understanding is more basic than what happened with our parents. What happened in childhood caused the suffering in some sense, but not knowing those causes, forgetting about them, not understanding them, is what perpetuates our suffering. Our work is based on the insight that understanding the causes of suffering is the best way to relieve it. Understanding, knowledge, and awareness are the tools, are the method, are the path. All our methods are ways of actualizing self-knowledge. As our knowledge develops, as we understand the historical causes of our suffering and the patterns generated by them, different energies and qualities are liberated in us. Our potential is freed as those causes dissolve. Some of what is liberated is beingness, the presence of essence. Qualities that were closed off because of our lack of understanding become open again. And these energies, these qualities, support us in looking further, opening more, understanding our situation more deeply. We begin to experience things that we never imagined. It’s not only that we didn’t know about the actual negative events from childhood that caused our suffering; we realize that part of the situation is that we didn’t know fundamental aspects of our being. And this turns out to be a large part of our suffering: that fundamental aspects of our being were cut off, suppressed, and forgotten.

Forgetting All that You Think You Know Opens the Centers in the Head

Not knowing, forgetting all that you think you know, opens the centers in the head. The centers of perception and understanding are blocked by the belief that you know something when you don’t actually know. It’s that simple. If you believe that you see things as they are, or that you know things as they are, the centers of perception and understanding are blocked because you are taking an illusion to be reality. You are looking at your mind instead of at reality. So the way to do it is to always be ignorant. Why do you need to know anyway? Why do you need to feel that you already know all the time? What’s so wonderful about that? The transition from not knowing to knowing is far more wonderful than the feeling of “I know,” because the feeling of “I know” is not a discovery.

Forgetting Our Humanity

However, the moment we feel insecure in our sense of ourselves, the moment we sense that we are not centered in what and who we are, this whole picture reverses. A heavy darkness descends on our experience; we cease to be open or generous, and we find ourselves forgetting our humanity. We begin to feel self-centered and self-conscious, and we become anxiously and egotistically concerned about ourselves. An obsessiveness over how we appear to others develops, and we find ourselves needing an unusual amount of admiration, approval, and recognition. Our self-esteem turns extremely fragile, and we find ourselves unusually vulnerable to feeling hurt and insulted over the slightest lack of understanding or empathy. Our sense of ourselves grows shaky and, rather than coming from within, depends upon feedback from others, making us defensive. Our actions and expressions tend to become false, inauthentic, and reactive, making it difficult to know what authentic action would really be. Without a spontaneous and free sense of who we are, we can only feel empty and unimportant; our lives will lack meaning or significance. Rather than experiencing a sense of value and esteem, we find ourselves feeling worthless and ashamed; rather than enjoying our interactions and activities, we find ourselves beset by anger, rage and envy; instead of being generous and magnanimous, we slide towards exploiting and devaluing others.

Forgetting that there is a Reality Beyond the Usefulness of Things

And the ultimate outcome of that perspective, that there are objects to be used, is materialism. If you keep going that direction and forgetting that there is reality beyond the usefulness of things, finally you arrive at a completely material universe of discrete objects. And these objects are completely disconnected from the spirit. Then we start looking for the spirit inside ourselves, or inside one of the objects, while it is everywhere. It is everything. So, what we want to see from today’s experience is the fact that Essence or Being or God or truth is not somewhere else, is not something else, it is not something otherworldly. It is quite worldly, in the sense that it is all that we experience any time, at any moment. That is it. There is nothing else. But that it is it. It is the truth only when we realize its mystery, its unknowableness. As long as we perceive it as something we know, we’re not seeing the truth, we’re seeing our minds. The world we live in, including us, is an unknowable mystery. We do not actually know it. We have concepts about many things—the table, the rug, electricity, life, earth. We have all these concepts, all these words, and from these we construct stories, theories that explain the world, explain us to ourselves. We call that knowledge, and we rest then in the security that now we know. There is me, and there is you, and there is the world. I have this life, I’m going to die one of these days, I have kids, and I do not have this or that: this whole big story that you explain and use. But this story is made out of the building blocks of words and concepts, so all the world that you know is a story.

Looking for a Remembered Reality

You cannot go about looking for reality by looking for something you know, because what you know is a memory of what you perceived in the past. A memory is already something dead. And since you are remembering it, even if you are remembering some experience of reality, the memory is not the reality. The reality cannot be remembered because it cannot be put into words, images, or concepts. The reality itself is the very explosion, the very incineration of those ideas and concepts, so how could you remember it? You can only learn to forget. You can forget what you know, forget what you want, and continue forgetting until you have no mind whatsoever—until you become like a newborn baby. Only when your mind becomes as innocent as that of a newborn baby is it possible to see what is here, what you actually are, and what reality is. When you see it, you do not really know it; it is more like you smell it, you taste it, but you can never say what it is. The moment you are about to know it, it is old. So what we really know of the world we live in is a continuation of the past, which means it is in the mind. It is completely in the mind.

Remembering the Process of Our "Forgetting"

Human beings are born into the realm of Being, and from the beginning manifest the true differentiated aspects of Being. This Being is never totally lost, and actually manifests in the child in predictable and supportable ways. It is true that awareness of this Being is lost in the process of the structuring of and identification with ego, but by understanding in detail the structuring, and the patterns of identification, we can actually remember in detail the process of our "forgetting". We can remember, understand and undo this forgetting, retrieving what has been suppressed and opening the way for growing into true maturity and realization.

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