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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Infinity?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Infinity

An Infinity of Blackness that is So Black that It is Luminous

In black space we are aware of the absence of the sense of self; however, we experience it not as a deficiency but rather as freedom and release. There is a sense of newness and coolness, of lightness and light-heartedness, of the absence of burden and suffering, and the presence of purity and peace. It is a nothingness, but it is a nothingness that is rich, that is satisfying precisely because of its emptiness. It is a direct sense of endless stillness, of pure peacefulness, of an infinity of blackness that is so black that it is luminous. It is a transparent blackness that is radiant because of its purity. This is not the experience of a self, an observer beholding the endlessness of space; rather, it is the experience of the self experiencing itself as the infinity of peaceful space. It is an infinite field of a conscious medium, aware at all points of it. The medium is totally at rest, with a stillness that is the same thing as the awareness of stillness.

An Infinity of Release

The contemplation of the absolute continues with its own momentum, without my personal prompting. The consciousness finds itself in the mysterious blackness of the absolute, and a process of sensing into its depths spontaneously commences. I keep returning to this mystery, this intimacy, this delicacy, this contentment, this peace, this freedom, this infinity of release. The absolute cannot even be called space, even though it is a vastness. Ordinarily I see it as spacious. But as I plumb this spaciousness, it dissolves into a spaceless or dimensionless nothing. The result is absence, the opposite of existence. Then there is no sense of extension, and also no sense of no extension. Awareness of the absolute remains, but this awareness is free of the concept or sense of extension. In this subtle perception, knowingness borders on cessation.

An Infinity of Transparent Clarity

This precipitates the movement of the student’s identity into a subtler manifestation of Being, a totally nonconceptual realization of true nature. He experiences himself now as nonconceptual reality, beyond all mind and concepts, beyond all specifications and recognitions. He cannot even say whether he is being or nonbeing, absence or presence. Existence is negated, and this negation in turn is negated. His recognition of himself negates both negation and affirmation of any attributes, which is a much more profound experience of Being than that of pure Being. There is now no definite sense of any concept, reality, thing, or manifestation. He is both existence and nonexistence, not existence and not nonexistence. He is both self and not self. This is a very paradoxical manifestation of Being, beyond any conceptualization. This experience is boundless, but it does not feel as clear as presence or fullness. It is like experiencing the inside of all of the universe as a totally clear and completely transparent, crystalline medium. There is no iota of obscuration or impediment, just an infinity of transparent clarity. There is a stunning sense of awakeness, intensely fresh and new. When there are no concepts in our recognition of ourselves, nothing is old; everything is the pure freshness of suchness, the intensity of eternity that has no concept of time. The recognition of ourselves has no mental elaboration; it is the totally pure being of transparent crystalline clarity. There is a solidity of presence, an infinite immensity that feels at the same time absolutely empty and nonexistent. We know our nature as the most solid and fundamental ground of all appearance, without this nature taking on any sense of fullness or substance. It is a totally solid, complete absence, which shatters the mind with its cool transparency.

Eternity is Outside of Time; it is Infinity of Presence

It is interesting that presence or Being is experienced as a nowness, but that this nowness is not a moment of time. The nowness is more of a medium, more of the actual presence, the actual consciousness, the actual substance, of Being. When we realize it is everything that exists, we see that it includes all time. We see, in fact, that it is beyond time, and that time is merely a concept that exists within it. The second insight contained in the definition of Holy Work is that this presence exists as a succession of moments, each experienced as the now, the eternal presence or the presence of eternity. Eternity here does not mean “everlastingness,” since everlastingness is a relationship to time. Eternity is outside of time; it is infinity of presence. It is as though all time is concentrated in the now, not in terms of events, but in terms of feeling. So there is no concept of linear or measured time in the now. Therefore, to talk about unfoldment is to talk about reality experienced as successive moments of now, in which these moments are not disconnected but are always now. Another way of expressing this is that when you experience Being, it is pure nowness; you aren’t thinking about present, future, or past. When you remain in Being, you begin to realize that things change. But these changes do not mean a stopping of Being; they are, rather, a continuum of moments, each experienced as the now.

Facets of Unity, pg. 169

Experiencing Ourselves as the Vast Emptiness of the Absolute, as the Infinity of the Luminous Night

In the process of dissolution of the conscious presence of the soul into the absolute, or in any experience of inquiring into the nature of the absolute, we discover that the last vestige of consciousness is a multimodal sensory one. As we see and feel the mysterious darkness of nonbeing we feel our presence as a kind of sensation. Our presence becomes simply the presence of simple sensation, sensing itself and the nonbeing of the absolute. As it apprehends the absolute it sees and senses it. The seeing becomes a seeing of darkness, which culminates in the total cessation of perception. The sensing becomes a sensing of absence of being, which culminates in the total cessation of sensation. As we learn to acclimate to the reality of the absolute, and experience it as our truth, we experience ourselves as its vast emptiness, as the infinity of the luminous night. We are then the absolute nonbeing witnessing the emergence of the forms of experience. When we look within we see nothing, just a darkness; and if the darkness dominates, there results either cessation or the extroversion of awareness to the witnessing of phenomena. Also, when we sense ourselves we find nothing, but this finding of nothing is the finding of no sensation. The absolute is so empty that it is empty of the sensation of anything, including the sensation of nothing. This is quite an unusual state, for we are accustomed to having sensations. But here we are completely ourselves, totally in touch with our depths, absolutely intimate with our subjective experience, but experience no sensation. We are aware only of the absence of sensation, which is possible only because there is some remnant of sensation in parts of the body that creates a contrast. 

Heart Becoming a Window into Infinity, Becomes Completely Empty and Completely Open

“The Guest” implies a sense of visitation. When your heart is completely empty, you feel a visitation. When your heart is completely poor, completely devoid of everything, you receive a visitation. That is what I call the Guest. But the visitation is not that something goes into the heart. It is more that the heart becomes a window into infinity, becomes completely empty and completely open. You don’t experience love or no love. The heart is absolutely empty. When the heart is that empty, we glimpse the luminous night of the Absolute through it. Here, I say that the Guest has arrived. In the beginning it feels like a visitation, but when the Guest actually arrives in the heart, then it is everything. The Guest is how the experience begins. That is how it arises. But I also call the Guest the true owner of the heart. The Guest is the true possessor of the heart. That is why the deepest longing a human being has is for complete disappearance.

In the Experience of the Actual, Unbounded, Complete Infinity of Nothingness, Your Consciousness Itself is Unbounded, Limitless and Infinite

Because our normal consciousness can only experience things as someone experiencing something else, we cannot experience nothing without its being changed, mellowed down, bounded, because our usual awareness is very restricted and limited. Its tendency is restriction, limitation, specialization, labeling, and conceptualizing. The only way we can experience complete nothingness is for the usual consciousness to go. When it is gone, it is experienced as its absence, and its absence is seen as the absence of everything. It is not seen only as the absence of everything, but is also the absence of the absence of everything. This experience is called cessation or extinction: complete death. It is what people usually think of as death. It is exactly how death is. You don’t have to die physically to experience it. This does not mean necessarily that if you die physically you’ll experience this kind of death. It is the complete cessation and absence of everything. As I said, this experience is needed partly because the personality has its own consciousness, which has to go. However, after it goes, it is possible for another kind of consciousness to be there to experience the complete, unbounded, limitless space as it is. There is a need for a complete, unbounded, limitless consciousness to experience nothingness. With your own consciousness, you cannot experience real unboundedness, real limitlessness. In the experience of the actual, unbounded, complete infinity of nothingness, your consciousness itself is unbounded, limitless, and infinite, which means not individual, not restricted, and not separate from what is experienced. When that kind of consciousness manifests, it is what is called cosmic consciousness, or universal consciousness, or primordial mind.

Infinity Seen Not as the Endlessness of Time or Space, but Rather as Lack of Limitation

We have discussed how true nature is timeless and spaceless, but this does not say much about the actual experience of timelessness and spacelessness. Such an experience is so miraculous and magnificent that describing it in metaphysical language ends up sounding empty and drab, heavy and dull. We say that true nature is without qualities, but we also say it is infinite. Here, infinity is not the endlessness of time or space, but rather of lack of limitation. It points to the pure potentiality of true nature, from which arises the universe of myriad things. This infinity can be experienced, but it is very difficult to describe such experience except by giving its impact on body and mind. We can say it is stupendous, it is mind-blowing, it is amazing, it is bedazzling, and all this is true. But such descriptions simply express how we are impacted by the revelation of the infinity of true nature; they do not describe true nature itself. Because of this difficulty, many wisdom teachings take the view that the transcendent true nature is unknowable. In our view this is both true and false. We can definitely know and experience true nature, fully and completely. We can experience ourselves as timeless and spaceless infinity, and respond with wonder. We are then the ground of everything, the source of all manifestation, the essence of reality. We are total freedom and bliss, with no conceptual limitations. We are what makes anything exist, the source of all that appears, and the very substance and nature of everything. At the same time we are totally autonomous, absolutely independent of any form or quality.

Loss of the Characteristic of Essence of Abundance and Infinity

The personality has a memory of the endlessness of essence and its inexhaustability. But this abundance is projected outward, and then the personality wants more and more from the outside. So the hole filled by greed is the hole (deficiency) resulting from the loss of the characteristic of essence of abundance and infinity. In this characteristic of greed, we find the pointer to the expansion, endlessness, and inexhaustability of essence. The personality wants what was lost, and what was lost is endless. The personality is not going to be stopped by moralistically accusing it of being greedy. It knows better. Its knowledge is deep. The characteristic of greed will not disappear unless its hole is experienced and filled with the actual abundance of essence.

Realizing Divine Nature Means Not Being an Individual; it Means Being Totality, Universality, Infinity

The resolution of the separateness has to do with going from ego to nonego, from individual to cosmic, from human to divine. We realize that our deeper nature is God itself. Realizing divine nature means not being an individual; it means being totality, universality, infinity. Nothing is excluded from your sense of self. You realize then that whenever you talk to someone, you are talking to yourself. True love, true compassion, and true generosity arise now because there is no separation between you and the other. You could still feel yourself as an individual who sees how you are unique, but you know too that you are fundamentally connected. At a more intrinsic level, that separateness is not there. The moment you go from ego to non-ego you experience not only that you are one with all human beings but that you are one with everything. You realize that the consciousness that has been compacted within boundaries has no boundaries. It is everywhere. Consciousness is the basic substance and nature of everything. The truth you realize, then, is that who you are is not the product of your childhood, is not your body, is not a sense of limited individuality. You are something that is everything, and you are seeing now the nature of everything, not only on the essential level, but on the level of Being itself, on a nondifferentiated level, a nonseparated level.

Singularity is When the Infinity of Reality Appears in a Single Point

In the fourth turning, true nature illuminates even more of its possibilities. We see that true nature is beyond space and time. Because it is beyond space, it does not have a size or shape; because it is beyond time, it does not have duration. When people think of true nature as outside of time, they usually think of true nature as a ground through which all time passes; so it is outside of time and yet present in all times. But to think of true nature as present in all times is to include it in time. True nature has no extension in time or in space. Seeing this reveals that reality can appear as unities that are different from the classical unity of nonduality, which is based on extension through space and time. When reality is truly beyond space and time, it can reveal the unity of singularity. Singularity is when the infinity of reality appears in a single point. All spatial and temporal infinity manifests as one point. All space and all time are one point, where the point is all space and all time without any sense of spatial extension or temporal duration.

Soul Recognizing Herself as the Light Itself, in its Boundlessness and Infinity

When her rigid structures are made transparent through the unfolding of her process, the soul feels this as an increase in consciousness and presence. At a heightened level of intensity this presence reveals itself as luminous light that now overflows her personal boundaries; the overflow that melts these boundaries is actually the overflow of divine love and grace. Thus it reveals itself as the boundless ocean of Being and love, consciousness and light, the substance and true nature of everything. She experiences herself as a form held by this loving light, inseparable from it. She is an offspring of the divine light, one of its loving and exquisite manifestations. But her light can grow so intense that even her sense of being a form of light becomes outshone, and she recognizes herself as the light itself, in its boundlessness and infinity. She is then the true nature of everything; she is the ground. More exactly, she is everything, as one divine being, where substance and form are wedded into an inseparable Reality. She is ultimately true nature itself, in its divine boundlessness and omnipresent grace. All things are equal, equalized by the unity of appearance.

The Immense Infinity of Potential Knowledge

It is easy to become flabbergasted with this sense of knowledge, and with the sense of infinity of knowledge, of the infinite potential of knowledge. We might have assumed that we had a great deal of knowledge, but with this experience of consciousness we recognize how meager is our knowledge, and how it will always stay meager, puny, in contrast to the immense infinity of potential knowledge. There is then in the experience a sense of immensity, power, and amazing energy that can manifest as knowledge, all kinds of forms of knowledge, in many fields and in numerous dimensions. When we open up to pure knowledge, access to real knowledge becomes easier. We are then in touch with the knowledge potential in consciousness, the inexhaustible source of all possible knowledge. When we need to learn something specific about the soul, about mind, about essence, about Reality, we can simply turn our attention there and we will discover that we are guided. Knowledge flows out, unfolds; our eyes will begin to see the right objects, our ears will hear the relevant words, we will somehow pick up the right books, we will find ourselves in the right circumstances. Everything around us will begin to point to the relevant forms of knowledge we are seeking. Pure knowledge will differentiate; the flow from within will manifest, as insights, realizations, understanding. And the more we explore, the more there is of it, an infinite ocean of knowledge.

The Possibility of Knowing Endlessly New Things About the Soul

The direct experience of pure knowledge, however, is the experience of the potential of infinite knowledge, of a form of conscious presence that intuitively feels and tastes like the sense and knowing that there is an infinity of new possible things to know, an infinity of new experiences, an infinity of realization, an infinity of insights, an infinity of qualities. It is like looking through a telescope into the night sky. At the beginning we see few stars; when we increase the magnification we begin to see that these stars extend infinitely, more and more of them, as far as any magnification can allow. We become humbled by our potential; we see how we have always been scratching the surface of Reality. It is again as if this medium of knowledge is composed of an infinity of atoms, each one an insight, an experience, a realization, a particular knowledge about a certain manifestation. It has a sense of power, a sense of exploding, a sense of potency, a sense of a fountain that is exploding with brilliant light. Practically speaking, this means there is the possibility of knowing endlessly new things about the soul, for the potential of the knowledge of the soul is infinite.

True Nature Appears in Manifestation as the Experience of Infinity and Eternity

From the above considerations we see that even though true nature is fundamentally free from spatial and temporal extensions, it appears in manifestation as the experience of infinity and eternity, boundlessness and nowness. However, the mystical experience of boundlessness and infinity, and that of eternity and nowness, is not the most direct experience of true nature; rather, it is the experience of true nature from the perspective of the time-space grid of manifestation. This is why true nature is usually described as infinite expanse, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, endlessness, infinity, eternity, and so on. In the view of the Diamond Approach, true nature reveals these characteristics, and many others, by revealing itself as consisting of many dimensions, each illuminating some of these qualities. In other words, rather than viewing reality as true nature appearing in manifestation with such characteristics, we view true nature as manifesting itself with many dimensions. More accurately, we view reality to be a Riemannian manifold with many dimensions of Being: the physical dimension of time and space, the dimension of subtle energy, and the subtle dimensions of presence. The latter are those structuring the presence of true nature. This view takes us back to our understanding of the soul as we presented it in chapter 3. We will expand on this view and how it relates to the soul in chapter 20.

We Do Experience the Absolute as a Dimension, Boundless and Infinite, an Infinity that Holds All Manifestation

Because the absolute is not simply nonbeing, we experience it as a field, an expanse, and not simply nonbeing. To understand this we need to make a particular differentiation explicit. We have been using two terms interchangeably, namely absolute and absolute dimension. Strictly speaking, the absolute is the ultimate nature of Reality, and it is beyond dimensions; for dimensions are the experience of manifestation. Yet, we do experience the absolute as a dimension, boundless and infinite, an infinity that contains and holds all manifestation including the other boundless dimensions. We can say that the absolute is the unmanifest, the ultimate truth and mystery of Being, beyond all dimensions and qualities. But when it begins to manifest appearance, this manifestation appears as if in an expanse, an infinite and boundless expanse, that looks like black space. Manifestation appears always in the context of time and space. It always possesses an expanse in time and space. Therefore, when we witness appearance from the stance of the absolute we see an expanse appearing in a more vast, dark expanse, the absolute. We have the sense of the absolute as an expanse, as a vast infinite black space. The absolute appears in this perception as a boundless dimension that underlies all other dimensions. But in reality the absolute is beyond space and time, for it is beyond manifestation.

When the Heart of the Soul Finally Opens there Becomes Accessible to Us an Infinity of Knowledge

What we are pointing out here is that one of the specific ways of experiencing the soul is as an infinite, ever-flowing fountain of knowledge. We can experience the soul as an overflowing fountain, sometimes out of the heart, and the content of this fountain is knowledge. Sometimes we experience this knowledge as an ocean, or many oceans, as happens in the visions of the heart’s imaginal capacity. The knowledge, because it is the very substance of the soul, feels real, organic, alive, and nonlinear. In this experience of our soul we have the perception that there is available for human beings, as part of the potential of being human, an infinity of knowledge. We not only come upon knowledge, we not only discover knowledge, but we can do these things because we are knowledge: real, alive, and relevant. When the heart of the soul finally opens there becomes accessible to us an infinity of knowledge. We then only need to turn our attention to a particular inner subject, and the knowledge begins pouring out, endlessly. This substance of knowledge, this essence and presence of knowledge, begins to manifest the forms of knowledge relevant for our study. Soul appears here as potential knowledge, the essence of knowledge that is the potential for all knowledge. The subjective experience is that of the presence of the soul as an infinity of knowledge. This sense of knowledge is not mental, not cerebral. It is not an idea that I am pure knowledge, not an insight that I am knowledge, not an image of knowledge. The very conscious substance of the soul is knowledge. We feel it as real knowledge, intuitive knowledge, direct knowledge, useful knowledge, relevant knowledge, with the characteristic organic and nonlinear qualities of the soul.

When the Quality of Infinity and Omnipresence of the Identity Eliminates Duality

At this juncture, we understand that believing that we are separate individuals, or autonomous entities, rather than recognizing ourselves as the oneness of all existence, creates alienation from pure Being. To take oneself as ultimately a separate and autonomous person creates the supreme wound, which appears as an abyss, an abysmal chasm, that alienates us not only from our true nature, but also from everybody and everything. This is the supreme betrayal, and the beginning of endless suffering. We also understand, here, the cosmic shell as the experience of the world devoid of its true nature, the infinite pure Being. Looking through the representational world, we see only a world devoid of Being. The quality of infinity and omnipresence of the identity at this level of experience eliminates duality. We experience Being not only as our true nature, but as the nature of everything. This means it is also the true nature of the ego-self. The pure presence of Being is the underlying ground both for aspects of Essence, and for structures of the ego-self. Both become seen as particular formations within the presence of pure Being. At this level, the movement from the duality between Essence and personality is different from that involved in realizing the Essential Identity.

When We are Truly Free from the Concept of Space, We Realize that there is No Here and No There and No Everywhere

This kind of classic or nondual transcendence of space is the polar opposite of our usual experience of space. It is basically a transcendence of finitude into infinity, but infinity of space is still space. The nondual experience of space retains its most characteristic feature of extension, which means the distance between one form and another. Distance or extension, which is implicit in the ordinary experience of space, persists in nondual experience as the sense of being everything and everywhere. The usual experience of boundless realization is “I am here; I am there; I am everywhere.” But in order to say this, we have to experience a here, a there, and many theres that make up everywhere. When we transcend the transcendence of space from finitude to infinity, when we are truly free from the concept of space, we realize that there is no here and no there and no everywhere. There is simply no location. I call this experience of no space “total nonlocality.” Nonlocal usually means that one is not located here but located everywhere. Total nonlocality means something different. It means that there is no extension and, thus, no space. It is experience without being here, there, or everywhere. There isn’t an everywhere to be. So what is present if there is no here and no there? We are back to the simple experience of the lizard—pure perception. We are back to simplicity before conception. This condition of total nonconceptuality is free both from the concept of space and from the freedom from the concept of space. The spacelessness of the boundless dimensions is freedom from the finite locatedness implicit in the concept of space. But that is still not completely free of the concept of space. When we are truly free of the concept of space, we are comfortable with space and spacelessness. We can experience vastness and we can experience finitude, and we are comfortable with both because we are truly beyond both without that being in opposition to being both.

Witnessing the Process of Creation

We experience ourselves as a vastness, an immensity, an expanse so deep it is absolutely dark. Though dark and still, inscrutable and silent, it is the source of all luminosity and light. And within this immeasurable immensity, we witness the process of creation. We see a dynamic presence, the divine logos, flowing out of the absolute, revealing its potentialities as the manifest reality, disclosing its mysteries as the multidimensional manifold of existence and experience. Yet, because of the infinity of the absolute we see this manifold as a surface phenomenon, as if the absolute is so pure and pristine that it glitters and shines, its brilliance forming a surface, colorful and luminous. This colorful and luminous surface of radiance is continually scintillating with colors and forms, shapes and patterns. We witness an unfolding surface of clear and variegated light, whose pattern is the totality of creation. The absolute is prior to light, but also its source and ultimate nature and mystery. The light is the unfolding logos, whose pattern is the totality of existence, a dynamic unified manifold. The scintillating light is one unified surface, with no parts and no partitions, a field of radiance full of intelligence and truth, reality and significance.

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