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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Gift?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Gift

All Experience is a Gift From True Nature, from the Source of All Manifestation

Nonattachment means we have reached a place of realization of true nature or spirit, and we experience ourselves as the spirit, which is inherently nonattached. In the Western traditions, the question is looked at from the perspective of soul, not spirit, where soul is the individual total consciousness through which experience happens. It is useful here to recognize the distinction between soul and spirit. Poverty means the soul has learned to recognize that everything she experiences, everything she has, is not hers. All experience is a gift from true nature, from the source of all manifestation. In monotheistic language, the soul recognizes that whatever richness she experiences, whether material or spiritual, comes from God, a gift and grace from him. She owns nothing because there is only one owner. Even her actions and accomplishments are not hers, for without the capacities and qualities that God gives her, she won’t be able to do anything. The soul recognizes that the spiritual qualities and experiences are not hers; they are God’s qualities, and are bestowed upon her, and just as easily can be taken away. She recognizes that even her very substance, her very existence, is a gift from God. She is nothing, possesses nothing, and can do nothing. This is the dark night of spirit, which is an actual experiential condition, and not only an insight or understanding. As the soul recognizes her truth—that as an individual soul she possesses nothing—she begins to experience the true condition of being an individual soul. And this is the condition of being totally empty, totally poor, totally incapable, totally lacking. This is the state of poor in spirit, traditionally referred to as mystical poverty.

Diamond Guidance is One of Being’s Greatest Gifts to the Human Soul

The Diamond Guidance is one of Being’s greatest gifts to the human soul. When it descends into our consciousness, this living presence gives us access to the magnificent depth and richness of the spiritual life. It guides our journey of inner awakening. It reveals to us the true meaning of our experience. It aligns us with our potential for Clarity, Peace, Joy, and all the essential qualities of Being. And as we integrate this wisdom of the Diamond Guidance, we come to understand our true home in the larger unfolding of all creation.

Our Experience Now is What We Have Been Given

Since we are always measuring and making moral judgments about our situation, it is difficult for us to recognize that our experience now is what we have been given: “What I am experiencing now is the only thing that the universe is giving me, and in fact, it fits me one hundred percent. If I really take it on and begin to understand it, it contains everything I need to know about myself.” Because the experience you are experiencing now is all about you: whatever’s in it that you think is good, whatever you think is bad—everything that is about you is in it. Having your friend’s experience might be nifty for a while, but it doesn’t nourish you much because it isn’t telling you about you. So when comparative judgment becomes dominated by the superego, you are missing the capacity to appreciate your experience in the now. You are cut off from recognizing that it is precious, and you cannot see that this is the gift you are being given right now to understand yourself. You don’t recognize that it is the reflection of the harmony that is the true primordial harmony. So you try to push it in a different direction.

Our Potential is Not Only the Gifts and Special Qualities and Capacities that We Have

Everything we experience is the forms this potential manifests, unfolding one after the other. All of our life is nothing but the unfoldment of this potential. Our potential is not only the gifts and special qualities and capacities that we have. This is the normal meaning of potential, but this is only part of our potential. Our potential is everything we have ever experienced, everything we will ever experience, everything we can ever experience. From the perspective of this pure potential we recognize that human potential is infinite, and miraculously free. We also can see that it is the potential of all human beings. Human beings are not different at this basic level of potentiality. We all have the same potential, which is the potential of humanity. Practically speaking, however, we are different in terms of how accessible it is to us. This depends on our environment, our circumstances, our history, our times and culture, our physical constitution, and many other factors. Our environment, including our bodies, may constrain us, not only by putting up barriers and difficulties in the way of our potential, but also in not eliciting our potential by providing the opportunities and the supports we need. Our potential arises mostly as a response to needs, and its unfoldment requires not only activation but also holding and support.

Pure Presence is the Gift of Brilliancy to the Soul

If our consciousness is hovering in a place that is not deep, then by knowing where it is—I mean, knowing exactly what our consciousness is experiencing —it will drop down. When it drops down, it will expand time and become more focused in the present. And when you know precisely where your consciousness is in this next moment, it will drop down even further. The further down it drops, the more present you are, until you recognize exactly where you are in your process at this moment. This is the way to find the thread of your unfolding, where you and presence come together. If the work we’re doing, the teaching you are receiving, is falling on some kind of a mental construct of who you are—a mental part of you that is not where you truly are at this moment—then it will not take root. You will not know the real response in your soul to what we are studying. You need to recognize where you are in your process in this moment in order to really understand yourself and to use the work we are doing here. Pure presence is the gift of Brilliancy to the soul. It opens the door to timelessness—but even more important, it is the doorway to the depths of our own true nature.

Brilliancy, pg. 50

Realization is a Spontaneous Arising, a Gift from the Unseen World, a Blessing

We are continuing engage and clarify the paradox of realization—the dynamic interplay between the view of practice and the view of grace. How do we reconcile the fact that we are responsible for our realization with the fact that realization happens on its own? We have been exploring different aspects of this question, this riddle. On one hand, we need to practice with commitment and to engage the work earnestly. On the other hand, realization is a spontaneous arising, a gift from the unseen world, a blessing. The various teachings, both traditional and nontraditional, that humanity has developed see realization or enlightenment happening along a wide continuum between personal responsibility and divine grace. On one end of the spectrum, some traditions believe that realization is purely a gift from the divine. It is simply a matter of blessings and is not at all in our hands. For example, some Christians believe that if you simply have faith in Jesus, you will be saved. They believe that human beings are cursed by original sin and can only be saved through faith in Jesus. They believe that faith alone will relieve them of original sin. That is an example of how freedom and redemption can happen without our having to do anything but believe. Jesus is the one who does it. This view of divine intervention exists in the East too. In Pure Land Buddhism, it is said that enlightenment happens not through our own efforts but through an act of grace. We only need to have faith in the Buddha, a particular Buddha called Amitabha Buddha, and we will be enlightened. Realization doesn’t depend on our practice but happens through our faith and openness.

Some Insights, Realizations and Even Actions Will Come to You as Gifts but Some You Will Have to Work For

We do our work here so that in time, there will arise in your consciousness many insights and understandings of the personality, of your life, of your past, and of the mind. This understanding will reveal the false elements, and unveil the dimension of Essence. Together with this process of insight and understanding, the path will reveal Being in many kinds of experiences. There will be a series of experiences of different dimensions, and different levels of realization. All these insights and all these experiences are needed for full development, and, at some point, need to be integrated with action. If it does not happen spontaneously, a person will need to intentionally live life according to what has been learned and what has been experienced. This might not necessarily happen by itself. Some insights, realizations, and even actions, will come to you as gifts that just happen, but some of them you will have to work for. You will have to put in the effort to regulate and balance yourself. That is the reality of human life. If you are open, if you are interested in the truth, things will happen to you, but not everything. For some things, you will have to take action, you will have to make greater effort. Both elements are needed: the spontaneous arising and the effort, the expenditure of energy. The first part of understanding is the easiest part. It is sometimes difficult to see the significance of states of being and to allow oneself to abide in these various states of being. Then, the most difficult task is to embody being in action.

The Greatest Gift

Being Able to Live in the World and Act From that Perspective of the Absolute

But what becomes important after a while is not these vast spaces and mysterious states of realization. What takes precedence then is how to live in the world. The greatest gift is not that I recognize my nature as the absolute, but in my being able to live in the world and act from that perspective of the absolute. The soul becomes transparent to the absolute, which then feels an intimacy with everything in the world. The question then is not experience, but action. To really, truly, interact with other people and live in the world, with true sensitivity, with true intimacy. To be with somebody else and experience them deeply, while leaving them completely alone, without the interference of any reactions, ideas, positions, hopes, or fears. And to be able to bring compassion, sensitivity, love, and intelligence to bear on such interactions so that the other person can also reveal that understanding of themselves. This again is the action of grace.

It's All a Gift, You See

It’s all a gift, you see. And it becomes a delicate, subtle matter at this point, because when you get to the boundless dimensions and you experience yourself as presence itself, as true nature itself, it’s possible to forget that it’s a gift. Because you can start to believe, “Well I am the source of everything.” So how do you keep that balance, of recognizing that you are the source of everything while at the same time recognizing that everything is a gift? Well, it’s possible if the path remains based on what I call basic trust. In Buddhism they call it trustful confidence. In Christianity it's called faith. Because basic trust always involves a recognition of our limitations, our helplessness, while at the same time this trust or confidence informs us that just because we’re helpless, it doesn't mean it's the end of the world—it's not bad news. The good news is that there is true nature, there is a reality that is a source of guidance. It is a source that functions as guidance, and the guidance is a function of grace, of blessing, which manifests itself in the various experiences that happen and the knowledge and realizations that come through them. And that blessing, that grace, is the action of true nature; it’s the loving action of true nature that makes it possible for the revelation of reality to happen.

The Opportunity for Spiritual Learning is a Gift and What We Learn is a Gift

In some sense the whole situation we have here is a gift—the opportunity for spiritual learning is a gift and what we learn is a gift. In my experience, this is true even though we may need to work very hard and exert ourselves totally in our practices. This is because exertion or effort is not what really does it in the end, even if it’s often necessary for what does do it to be able to do it. Our practices can only take us so far. We can exert ourselves and walk with great determination through the desert to reach the oasis, but none of that will matter if the oasis doesn’t actually show up when we get there. And that is not something we can make happen. The fact that things do happen that bring abundance, that bring freedom, that bring release—this is a gift.

There is a Drive to Give Ourselves Fully to God Our Beloved

On the spiritual journey, our drive to reunite is most fundamentally with our deepest nature. The drive usually starts out as a feeling of wanting intimacy with another human being, with God, or with the natural world. Our drive to seek that union begins with a very important orientation toward, and a potent interest and engagement in, the spiritual, but it builds into an out-of-control drive for union. We want something so desperately and so fully that we can’t help but feel our heart bursting with love for it. We want it with everything we’ve got, and we give the gift of ourselves, for the self that is holding back is what’s in the way. One of the things we say when we are in the throes of passion—when we want our lover so much and feel such love for that person—is “Take me, take all of me—leave nothing behind! I want to give myself to you 100 percent!” There is a drive to give ourselves fully—no trying involved, just a natural giving. We want to take off that last cloak. We can feel this toward God, our Beloved: “I don’t want to feel separate from you anymore. I want you here. I want you here with me now. So come on! I want you, and I will give you everything.” We don’t even know exactly what that is. It is not an image in the mind. In fact, the more that the images of what we’ve been thinking we want fade away, the more we feel the wanting. The love and passion are for the mystery itself. The heart knows what it wants without the mind getting involved: “I don’t even know what you look like, and I’m willing to do anything. I’ve never met you completely, but I want you.”

Ultimately Your Gift to the World is Being Who You Are

The ego ideal is a compensation for a certain loss. Goals are also a compensation, an attempt to fill a certain hole. Society is primarily structured around these compensations. Everybody has goals and ideals and plans, and they’re all compensations for the absence of the essential self. Everyone is living his life as a compensation. That is why in time, when you become more in tune with yourself and know yourself better, the roles you perform in your life, along with your capacities, become different. Ultimately, your gift to the world is being who you are. It is both your gift and your fulfillment. You can then exercise your capacities and abilities, attaining pleasure, joy, and fulfillment in your life.

We Discover that All of Our States and Feelings and Inner Experiences Don’t Belong to Us

The moment that we say some experience is ours, we go back to the same attitude, just like the person who has lots of money. We feel rich again and we support our ego with that richness. To learn to be poor, we have to go very far. The attachment to realization has to go. The attachment to inner states has to go. Needing to have good states has to go, just as needing to have bad states has to go. We learn that our attachment to negative states also can make us feel full and rich with oceans of hatred and mountains of jealousy. We can be rich in envy, anger, and fear. These inner possessions support the identity in the same way that oceans of love and mountains of strength do. The ego says, “These are mine.”

The perspective of poverty requires a continual letting go, a continual giving away, a continual disowning of all possessions, of all dimensions of experience. We have less and less. The less we have, the poorer we feel, and the more there is purity. Saying that we “let go” or “surrender” is not quite precise. It is more accurate to say that we discover that all of our states and feelings and inner experiences don’t belong to us. We cannot sell them, we cannot trade them, we cannot accumulate them, we cannot store them, we cannot have them at will. They are not ours; they are gifts. These phenomena that pass through our souls are similar to the weather. Is the weather ours? Can anyone own the snow, the rain? What comes, comes; what goes, goes.

We Want to Open Up the Wrapping of the Gift Because We Want to See What Is Inside

Openness can go further and further till it becomes absolute. Once it is absolute, it has no position. The greater this openness, and the deeper it is, the more our inquiry becomes powerful, effective, vital, and dynamic, and the more it explodes the manifestations of the ego-self. But we do not want to explode them to get someplace; we want to explode them to find out what is in them. We want to open up the wrapping of the gift because we want to see what is inside. When we are open, inquiry is merely the enjoyment of the exploration, having a good time experiencing the path and the terrain of unfoldment. It is an investigation, and an involvement in the investigation. Then there is a lightness to it instead of the dreary heaviness of trying to get someplace. Dreary heaviness means no openness. When inquiry embodies this openness, it becomes an exciting adventure. It is fun. This fun implies not-knowing, but this not-knowing is not a heavy kind of not-knowing, where there is anxiety and self-blame. It is the not-knowing that is the opening to knowing, the not-knowing that eliminates the barrier—which is the accumulation of what you know. It is true not-knowing. It is innocence.

When Loving Becomes a Joy and Giving a Gift

When we know what we want, and see that our desires authentically reflect who and what we are, our self-esteem improves, and we find ourselves enjoying truly human interactions. The more effortlessly secure we are in being ourselves, the more we can afford to open up to others, and the more we can naturally act with generosity and magnanimity. Then we are able to feel more in touch with our humanity, and more willing to be kind and sensitive to others; loving becomes a joy and giving a gift. 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.

Wisdom is the Great Gift of Embodied Freedom

We are located, but that location does not define us nor does it separate us from one another or from the unity. We are individuated, differentiated forms of the unity . . . the wave of the ocean has matured to recognize its own unique expression of the oneness that it is. In our full humanness, we are the vehicle through which the vastness functions in time and space—seeing through our eyes, thinking through our mind, smelling through our nose, tasting through our mouth, feeling through our heart, and moving through our body. As our heart matures into greater refinement, we become able to communicate with greater empathic skill, our body can become sensitive far beyond the physical level, and the mind becomes more open and bright, all of which enables us to live a mature life. We are increasingly more present and skilled in how we live our lives, how we deal with our relationships, how we do our work, how we spend our time. We become wise in our worldly actions and interactions. Wisdom is the great gift of embodied freedom. This maturation and refinement make the divine prism that we are glow even more brightly with all the colors and all the beauty and radiance of our nature. Each facet is a luminous aspect of our nature, expressing the splendor of living being. We all have this potential and possibility to live and enjoy our lives while meeting life’s challenges with increasing capacity and wisdom.

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