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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Fulcrum?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Fulcrum

Being is Always the Only Arising

Living Being may then appear as the unity of Being, the spontaneous arising of the Dharmakaya, or of nonconceptual freedom. This spontaneity of Being ushers in the fulcrum of realization: the relationship between our individual responsibility and the agency of Being. But as our realization matures, we realize that even to see it as the spontaneous arising of the divine essence or the unity of Being means that we are still looking at it from the perspective of the individual self. Living Being is always the only arising; it is continuously becoming without any appraisal of spontaneity or non-spontaneity. In other words, it is not only arising in the moments we deem spontaneous. That is the perspective of the individual self, looking at reality and thinking, “Oh, something arose spontaneously.” And it is a big deal for us when we perceive the spontaneity of Being. “Oh, wow! I diligently practiced, meditated, chanted, whirled, inquired, and contemplated. I lived authentically and then, without warning, God showed his face, or Dharmakaya arose spontaneously, or the divine essence appeared in my heart!” There is truth to these perceptions. They are one way that we can experience the arising of Being, and there is some true understanding in those experiences. However, from the perspective of Living Being, we can see that this understanding is still an approximation of what is actually happening. In other words, we can understand how Being arises in a way that gives us a more complete and more thorough understanding of practice and how practice is realization.

Dual and Nondual Perspectives are Different Ways that Being Manifests Itself

The important thing to understand for what we are doing here, which is exploring the fulcrum of realization in the Diamond Approach, is the relationship between, on one hand, the conventional view of the self and the world and, on the other hand, the nondual view, which is the view of recognizing the unity of reality as one beingness. And what we’re doing is not a matter of supplanting one view with the other, replacing the dual view with the nondual view. We want to see the relationship between the two in an intimate and detailed way. The view of totality recognizes that dual and nondual perspectives are different ways that Being manifests itself. Seeing how these two views interact opens up the possibility of experiencing reality in ways that are neither dual nor nondual. Simply moving from the conventional view to the view of the realization of pure awareness or absolute reality, which are dimensions we have explored in past teachings, gives us some understanding of the conventional view from the perspective of realization. But it doesn’t provide a thoroughgoing understanding of how the two conditions relate to each other. The view of totality, because it can hold both perspectives at once by being outside both of them, can give us a more complete understanding and appreciation of how they interrelate.

Riding the Razor's Edge of Our Responsibility

The involvement with the logos, the involvement with a particular path or a particular teacher, is one of the ways that Living Being manifests in our life. Living Being manifests the influences that are necessary for us to be open to realization. This is how Living Being naturally moves toward realization. When our realization matures to the point of recognizing that it is Living Being practicing as we practice, then we are beyond the question of what causes what. This is more a stage of realization than simply an unfoldment of experience. The more that develops, the more we naturally and spontaneously begin to gain the wisdom of nondoing and noninterference with our experience. Practice becomes the spontaneous recognition that realization is a matter of our getting out of the way. But getting out of the way is not something we do. This is what I call the paradox of nondoing. How do we not do when we are doing? We are once again at the fulcrum of the path, the dynamic interaction of apparent opposites. How can the practice of inquiry, where we are doing something—inquiring—be a practice of nondoing? In this stage of maturation of practice, inquiry becomes a matter of riding the razor’s edge of our responsibility and our openness to revelation. This capacity develops by truly recognizing that true nature is a self-revealing potentiality, a self-manifesting reality, a self-realizing truth. So the practice of inquiry combines nondoing with an active engagement. We are actively questioning, we are actively investigating, inquiring, and experimenting while, at the same time, we are inquiring in such a way that we are not interfering with our experience, we are not trying to change it, and we are not attempting to move it in any particular direction. Not interfering with and not trying to change our experience is a nondoing and, at the same time, there is an active engagement of exploring, questioning, and challenging.

The Conjunction of Opposites During Practice

Many traditions, including the Diamond Approach, talk about all sorts of states and dimensions. And every time we teach a new state, you think, “Yeah, that is what I need to get to. That is the answer to everything. How do I get there?” So, in a way, we are constantly confusing you, telling you we are not going anywhere and then telling you where we are going. That is part of the conjunction of opposites, part of the fulcrum of realization. And it’s not only you who are subject to this; I still go through the same process myself. I’ve been duped many times, and I’m still liable to be duped again! But being duped is part of the practice. Getting duped and recognizing how you get duped is part of the practice. If that doesn’t happen, there really is no path, no progress, no discovery. During the course of engaging the spiritual path, it is difficult to practice without a goal and without motivation. But as the practice becomes subtler and deeper, we realize that intention is not necessary, a goal is not necessary, motive is not necessary. Not only are they not necessary, but if they remain, they will obstruct the arising of reality. Recognizing the ways in which our practice is limited by our aims reveals further subtleties of practice. In this teaching, we come to understand, especially in the nondoing practice, that we don’t want to do anything to our experience. It is not only that we don’t orient toward some goal but also that we don’t act on that orientation. To do something to our experience means that we have some idea or hope or desire
for something different to happen.

The Dynamic Interaction of Seemingly Contradictory Views

For a long time in our school, we have been exploring reality in terms of various dimensions and qualities because that is how we learn about those views. Now I am saying that there is also another possibility—a perspective from which we can see all those points of view and their interrelationships. So when we consider various relationships—of the individual and the cosmic, of practice and grace, of dual and nondual—we see that it is not that they are two and they are connected. By looking closely at the fulcrum of their interaction—the exact nature of how they relate to each other—we can begin to understand the dynamic interaction of seemingly contradictory views. In doing so, we resolve the paradox in some sense. We realize that the paradox is not a paradox but a characteristic of the nature of reality. By “the nature of reality,” I don’t mean the ground of reality; I mean the dynamic way that reality functions. The view of totality shows us that an understanding can happen that brings the dual and the nondual together, that doesn’t consider them contradictory. The paradox is resolved only if we can perceive the dual and the nondual at the same time, and see both the value of each and how each is actually related to the other. So dual and nondual are one thing; practice and grace are one thing; the individual and the cosmic are one thing. If we explore the dynamic nature of these paradoxes, we understand something very important about how things happen, which will help us a great deal to be open in all our practices.

The Dynamic of Realization Combines the Dual and Nondual Views in an Inextricable and Indescribable Way

The dynamic of realization—the dance of practice and awakening—is a dialectic that combines the dual and the nondual views in an inextricable and indescribable way. We inquire as an individual who is exerting, who is endeavoring and is fully engaged, fully interested, fully committed, and fully devoted. And yet, being fully engaged and devoted means that it is true nature expressing itself in those ways, and its purity is expressed as the practice of an individual consciousness. This is how grace is inseparable from practice, from our own activity—or, at least, what we consider to be our own individual actions, orientations, and attitudes. How else is true nature going to express itself as Total Being? How is it going to reveal itself, illuminate itself, liberate itself, and wake itself up, except through the individual? The individual is both its organ of perception and its organ of action, the lens through which it perceives and the instrument through which it operates. The dialectic between individual practice and realization—the fulcrum of the path—reveals the mystery of two that are one and one that expresses itself as two. Practice and realization are not separate, yet they are distinct. Neither practice nor realization subsumes or displaces the other, and yet they are inextricably one. They are distinct and yet one; we cannot rightly consider them two separate things nor the same thing. It’s true that we can see their relationship as dual—as two things that are related in various ways—or we can see their relationship as nondual, as the same indivisible unity. But the fourth turning reveals that the relationship of practice and realization is far more mysterious than either of these possibilities suggests.

The Fulcrum Between Individual Practice and Spontaneous Realization

It seems that human beings are not satisfied and are chronically ill-disposed as long as they are not harmonized with how reality functions. By investigating the fulcrum between individual practice and spontaneous realization, we have been exploring this conjunction between self and reality as it happens on a spiritual path. This dynamic of what appear as polar opposites began with the notion of continual practice, the idea that realization—frequently referred to as awakening or enlightenment—is not the end of practice, the idea that practice is the ceaseless orientation toward reality. Realization brings up many understandings about practice—how it continues, how it is total, how it is motiveless. Realization illuminates what practice is, what spiritual engagement is, and what it means to be on a path. What does it mean to care about and be involved in a spiritual journey or to have a true spiritual life? As we all know, what this means changes as we change, and as we learn more about reality.

The Fulcrum Between the Particular and the Whole

This viewpoint opens the possibility that you can be aware of the boundlessness and infinity of the nondual condition and, at the same time, recognize yourself as an individual. The individual can be part of the wholeness, can be a particular expression of the wholeness, or can be the wholeness that does not lose the sense of being a unique individual. You can realize yourself as the universe of Being that fills all space and all time and, at the same time, be a distinct individual. That is a mysterious and paradoxical possibility. How can you be completely the whole and completely the particular at once? As we explore this dynamic, this fulcrum, between particular and whole, reality is revealing itself more and more, and what it reveals is more and more enigmatic. So the individual and Living Being are not two things and, at the same time, they are not one thing. Reality is more mysterious than simply saying that everything is one. Seeing this opens up a new appreciation of the individual. Not only is the individual necessary for any form of realization—including the nondual, which says that the individual is a delusion or an ephemeral form—but also the individual has an intrinsic significance that is fundamentally mysterious. There is a dialectic interaction between the individual—the practitioner or the experiencer—and Being, in its manifestation and in its wholeness. Understanding this dynamic interaction—between individual and whole, between practice and grace, between dual and nondual—begins to reveal a deeper understanding of how things really happen. Reality is far more nonlinear and indeterminate than the boundlessness or the nonduality that true nature reveals. The indeterminacy of true nature allows realization to behold reality in many ways. Yet that perception always happens through the individual consciousness—a consciousness that is always present, whether explicitly or implicitly, in any condition of realization.

The Primary Fulcrum Towards the Completion of the Spiritual Journey

Therefore, since full self-realization requires the realization of the Absolute as one’s ultimate identity, the realization of the Essential Identity becomes the primary and most important fulcrum towards the completion of the spiritual journey. Realization of the Essential Identity is the expression of the realization of the Absolute, as reflected in individual experience, within the world of space-time. The Essential Identity is the spark of the Absolute within the individual soul, and since the central process of spiritual development is self-realization, its realization begins the realization of the Absolute. We will explore in the next two chapters how some spiritual traditions view this process and how they go about accomplishing it.

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