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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Hologram?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Hologram

All of Existence is a Hologram, An Insubstantial Hologram

The truth of our existence reveals itself only when we start to wonder why we are always moving toward solidity. If we inquire into this, we can follow the thread of why we keep doing it, as if something were pushing us toward reifying, objectifying, making things concrete. Why don’t we just relax and let things be whatever they are? Because if we really did that, we would discover that the whole universe is just an event horizon. We would sense the infinite nothingness “within” all of reality. All of our experience, everything that manifests, is existing just on the edge of a huge black void of absence. It is all a glimmering surface of an infinite black hole, meaning that all of existence is a hologram, an insubstantial hologram. What would happen if you didn’t try to squeeze yourself into something solid and just let yourself relax? Just by relaxing, you would realize that things start to feel lighter. If you continue, everything becomes so light, so free, so transparent, that it feels as though you could put your hand through it. You can see through everything—and behind everything there is nothing, absolutely nothing. That is why you cannot see anything—because there is nothing. You look and it is pitch dark, like the universe before the Big Bang—no stars, no light, nothing there. But that nothingness is really the back of everything we see; everything you see is just the front. In fact, it doesn’t really have a back at all.

Forms Appearing as if All Forms are Holograms, Forms of Light, Empty of Any Solidity or Heaviness

Emptiness: In discovering this dimension of true nature we realize that this selflessness is the ultimate nature of everything. The absolute turns out to be the final ontological status of all things, the ultimate status of existence of all forms of manifestation. When we inquire into this final ontological nature we find nothing, no object of perception. We simply feel light and empty, free and unencumbered. And everything in manifest reality has the same quality of lightness and emptiness. All forms appear as diaphanous forms, empty of substance. It is as if all forms are holograms, forms of light, empty of any solidity or heaviness. Everything is transparent, with no opaqueness anywhere. The manifest forms—houses and furniture, mountains and rivers, trees and animals, men and women, thoughts and feelings—appear as particulars of a dynamic unfolding multidimensional field; but it is a field of total lightness, as if it is an emptiness that luminates and its lumination is the forms of appearance. Such realization challenges our normal perception of the opaqueness and solidity of forms. When we perceive a rock we do not only see or touch a form. We see a totally opaque shape, and touch a solid and substantial object. By realizing the absolute nature of the rock—by perceiving the form of the rock while simultaneously recognizing its final ontological mode—the rock seems to lose both opaqueness and solidity. Loss of opaqueness does not mean we can see the physical objects behind it; it means we can see through its appearance to its deepest nature. We see through the color and shape, as if its appearance suddenly becomes thinner, so thin it is transparent. We can look inside, so to speak, but then we simply see nothingness, an infinity of space. This shows that the normal opaqueness is due to cognitive filters, whose absence makes all objects transparent to their inner nature, their final constituency. We do not necessarily see the atoms and the elementary particles, for these are merely the smaller constituents of physical appearance, which also become transparent to reveal ultimate nature.

If We Feel Our Nature Completely, We Don’t Need to Sit Anywhere, and We Don’t Need a Ground of Any Kind

So all our attempts at conceptualization, reification, identification, rejection, are ways of trying to make the hologram solid because we think that is what reality is, and we think that is how we can exist. We are not yet comfortable being an emptiness. We are not comfortable living with nothingness. Our soul, our consciousness, still doesn’t know how to be settled without being settled on top of something. It doesn’t know how to be on nothing or how to just float. We always have to sit someplace. We haven’t recognized that if we feel our nature completely, we don’t need to sit anywhere, and we don’t need a ground of any kind. And that is how it is anyway—there is no ground. It is not as though somebody is going to take reality away from us; nobody is going to take anything from us. All that will happen is that we will see through our belief, our position, that there is being and nonbeing. We will see through the illusion that there is existence and nonexistence. We will see through our attachment to the idea that we exist now but that nonexistence means we are going to disappear, that our existence is going to terminate. But these are all concepts, conceptualizations, and reality is nothing like that. Reality is this: We are here and not here at the same time, absolutely. We don’t exist and we continue to exist. This doesn’t make sense to our mind because of our conceptual positions. We carry a deep conviction that if we don’t exist, we cannot eat, we cannot talk, we cannot do anything. Don’t you believe that if you don’t exist, then it’s all over for you, that you can’t live? But reality is not like that. Reality is: You don’t exist and you keep on living. You die and are born again even though you don’t exist. So how are we going to get comfortable with this? First of all, we cannot get it with our minds; let us start with knowing that. If we try to wrap our mind around it, it will become a reification. It has to be something that stings you, just like a bee. When it happens, you don’t know what hit you; you just jump. Then you have the recognition, the thought, “Oh, it’s a sting . . . it’s a bee.” Reality is a bee sting before the concept of a bee sting. So, when we recognize this, then all we do is practice being where we are—but now we remember that being where we are doesn’t mean what we used to think it did. It doesn’t mean that it is “me” who is going to be there; that is just a way of talking, of referring to something.

The Idea that Gives Us the Recognition that We are Not Just a Ghost, Not Just a Hologram

That is why some teachings have been reluctant to say that there is such a thing as True Nature. Because the moment I think of True Nature, then there is me, there is True Nature, and I can sit on it. I can sit in it, I can stand in it, because it is a solid ground of reality. This idea gives us a feeling of security that we won’t disappear. It gives us the recognition that we are not just a ghost, not just a hologram. So we recognize here the subtle tendency in our consciousness to find a place that is somewhat opaque, somewhat solid, somewhat stable for us to stand on, so our mind can feel a sense of existence and presence. But at some point, that place can become a perch for the ego. Presence can, of course, be experienced as spaciousness, fluidity, radiance, or solidity. It can be all of these things, and it is never just one thing, because it is always changing and moving. But we need to understand what we usually end up doing with the notion of True Nature, of presence. We say that our practice is to be where we are, but we can reify that, too: “Be where I am? I’ve got it now! I know what to do—just find where I am and remain there.” The teaching of being where we are condones that; what’s more, it encourages it. We finally feel good about being able to be where we are, and we are happy to have support to keep doing that. But when we don’t understand how our mind works, we can’t see that this is actually a way to continue being. The part of “to be where we are” that appeals to the ego is “to be,” because that translates to us as, “I am going to continue to be.” You might say to yourself, “I used to compare where I am to others, or to where I thought I should be, and now I am just where I am.” But underneath that experience of being where you are is still the sense that “As long as I can continue being, I am okay.” And what about the nonconceptual? “Great! I love the nonconceptual because I don’t even have to think about it; I just continue being here.” Because our mind is so intelligent and resourceful, that’s how our thinking goes. Being where we are has then become a subtle strategy for the self-identity to find stability and solidity.

Thoughts, those Ungraspable Holograms, Always Want to Pin Things Down

In general, what is most real for human beings is the physical. To us, a rock is something that actually exists; it is something to contend with. If everything else fails, we look for a big, solid rock—whatever we consider to be “the bedrock of reality.” Why? Why don’t we naturally move toward liquefying everything? Why don’t we want to make everything gaseous, more like air? Why do we find the solid state preferable? When you think about it, you realize that much of the universe and much of our own experience is not that solid. For example, our feelings are pretty fluid and hard to find. Our thoughts are even more so; they basically don’t exist. They are more like ungraspable holograms. But those thoughts, those ungraspable holograms, always want to pin things down, make everything real and established and known in a concrete, storable way. We can see how this habit becomes the tendency of the ego-self—or what we call the self—to preserve itself. The self is always looking for something concrete, something solid, stable, graspable, to support itself with, to depend on. That is because the self believes that if there is no bedrock, it is going to sink; if the bottom of reality is not solid, the self will get submerged and drown. So we believe that we have to locate some kind of island or rock of solidity to stand on to keep us from drowning.

World Appearing Like a Hologram

After this initial experience of cessation, it is possible to be the absolute reality and to have pure consciousness arise without ceasing to be the absolute reality. Consciousness arises inseparably from the emptiness. This happens when there is awareness of manifestations, of the forms arising within the consciousness. Thoughts arise, and you see the whole world as a bubble and everything as images reflected in the walls of the bubble. Some teachings refer to this perception as the great sphere, the totality that contains the whole universe. This also leads some traditions to say that this world is a dream. The world appears ephemeral, like a hologram. But this is not because the world is not real, but because we are seeing the world inseparably from its absolute ground, the nonbeing of consciousness. We can arrive at this true perception of reality through many routes. If we arrive through the heart, we are burned with passion. If we arrive through the mind, we are eviscerated with clarity. We feel absolutely clean, so clean that we don’t recognize ourselves. We are so pure, so crystal clear, that there is no sense of it at all. This is what living in annihilation means. The moment consciousness arises in absence, there is perception and thought. If we get caught in the concepts of these thoughts, then duality arises. The Absolute is the nonduality of absence and pure consciousness, nonbeing and presence, the unity of emptiness and awareness. The absolute is aware in one direction only because it is not self-reflective. There is nothing to reflect back to, for its inner self is absence, nonbeing, emptiness. The Absolute only sees what is in front. It is like the back of the universe. Sometimes the back becomes what is in the front; the nonbeing and the being become one. If you look to the back, there is nothing to perceive. It is not that you feel nothing or see nothing, but there is simply no perception. At the edge of this no-perception there is a sense of absolute clarity and purity. However, the Absolute in its absoluteness, apart from manifest phenomena, is unfathomable. You cannot know it because the consciousness cannot go there without being totally annihilated.

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