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Inner Journey

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Inner Journey

A Journey of Discovery that Opens us to Magnificent, Exhilarating Inner Experiences, Bringing Our Knowledge of the World and of Existence into a Sharp Clear Focus

When we begin to experience consciousness directly, a whole new world opens up. Rather than the normal sense that we are seeing the world as an external object, we begin to perceive the universe from within. The inner journey becomes a journey of discovery that opens us to magnificent, exhilarating inner experiences and perceptions, but also brings our knowledge of the world and of existence into a sharp, clear focus. Inner explorers travel to a world much more exciting and thrilling, much more beautiful and meaningful, much more satisfying and fulfilling, much more amazing and magnificent than any outer explorer will ever behold. Many religious perspectives tend to turn the inner journey into a heavy sanctity, a dull morality, a perverse holiness. Given this tendency, it is no wonder that so many people are no longer interested in religion. But when we explore the soul, rather than leaving it in a static relationship with an external divinity, we penetrate to the ground of the self, to the conscious field of the soul, and begin to know consciousness directly. Then the inner reality becomes a delight and a wonder, and we approach more and more closely a lived understanding of the relationship of our soul to what has been thought of as the divine; thus we approach an appreciation of the source of all discovery and creativity. 

All Meaning is Left Behind when it Moves to the Nonconceptual

One dichotomy whose dissolution many find difficult to assimilate is that of meaning and meaninglessness. People feel that they need meaning in their lives, that without meaning reality has no value and no significance. In fact, some individuals kill themselves when they fail to find a sense of meaning in their lives. Yet, meaning, any meaning, is not ultimate. The inner journey leaves all meaning behind when it moves to the nonconceptual, and at this stage the soul needs to acclimate to life without meaning. At the stage of recognizing true nature, the soul realizes that it is the ultimate meaning of existence and of life. She understands that when she is not in touch with her true nature her mind thinks of it as absence of meaning, which she then tries to find, pursuing a particular style of life, philosophy, activity, or interest. As she realizes her essence she finds that the need for conceptual meaning disappears. She finds that meaning is being, the fact of her existence. But at the stage when the soul moves to the nonconceptual, even being is gone, for being and nonbeing are both conceptual. She may first see this as meaninglessness, as the sense that life has no meaning. Meaninglessness becomes the true condition of things, for any meaning is simply a story the discriminating mind concocts. But precise inquiry into this meaninglessness reveals it to be simply the transcendence of the concept of meaning. Meaning requires recognition, cognition, and now we are simply beyond that. Reality is simply thus, pure awareness without commentary. In other words, to see Reality as ultimately meaninglessness, even when this is idealized as total freedom, is to still view it within the concept of meaning. Reality is neither meaningfulness nor meaninglessness, neither the presence of these nor their absence. It is simply independent of anything that the discriminating mind can grasp. So when we use the term meaningless to refer to nonconceptual Reality we need to realize we are referring to the transcendence of meaning, not the opposite of meaningfulness. 

All of the Inner Journey, All of Spiritual Practice, Ultimately Comes Down to this: that We are Able to be Genuinely What We Are

Many people get caught up in spiritual experiences and perceptions and all kinds of interesting, subtle impressions, some of which can be exciting and uplifting. But there is nothing like the simplicity of being oneself—settling into yourself, just being there, recognizing what you are, and feeling the sense of intimacy and realness of that. All of the inner journey, all of spiritual practice, ultimately comes down to this: that we are able to be genuinely what we are. If you want to do inner practice in order to develop certain powers or go to other dimensions or have special experiences, you still don’t know what spiritual work is. And this is because you are not yet recognizing what reality is or what being real means. On the other hand, you already appreciate being real if you genuinely want to do inner work for its own sake. Being real means being the way you are when you are by yourself and quiet: “I know this is me and I know what that is like and I am comfortable being it. I have no conflict about it. And when I am interacting with someone, it is that reality of who I am that is interacting. People don’t generally make the effort to do inner work if they don’t want to be real, if they don’t feel that being real is something good, something they want, something they appreciate. There is something precious about being real in an interaction, something that cannot be analyzed. Being real has nothing to do with getting something or giving something, being seen or making the other feel seen—none of that. It is just me, as what I am, actually being the one who is doing or saying something. 

At the Deeper Stages of Her inner Journey Home, the Introspective Soul Utilizes Her Essential Nous in Her Inner Investigation

Self-reflection is important for self-perception and knowledge. In fact, many people believe that self-reflection is what differentiates human beings from other life-forms; they believe that it is unique to human consciousness. It is a potential of the human soul that arises as part of normal development. Without it a human being would be ignorant of his inner motivations, impulses, conflicts, and so on. It is necessary for self-examination, which includes the appraisal of one’s beliefs, assumptions about reality, and so on. This is obviously important for the development of human understanding, and human knowledge in general. This capacity is thus important for the soul’s eventual self-recognition of her true nature. Through self-reflection we can find out that we do not know ourselves; without it we cannot explore what we know of ourselves, what we believe we are, which is a necessary requirement for undergoing the spiritual journey. The journey is to a large extent a form of introspection that is a development of the capacity for self-reflection. Furthermore, this introspection goes through a development in which it ultimately becomes the soul’s recognition of her true nature. At the deeper stages of her inner journey home, the introspective soul utilizes her essential nous in her inner investigation. This gives her introspective consciousness a discriminating capacity with objectivity, precision, sharpness, and brilliance that enables her to make very subtle discriminations in her awareness of herself. This reveals essential presence to her in various degrees of subtlety and objectivity until she finally discriminates both its ultimate truth and its completeness. Self-reflection is necessary for the development of ego structures, and becomes a factor in the soul’s self-conscious awkwardness and neurotic self-criticism. It also tends to dissociate the soul from her ground, for by reflecting back on herself, the soul takes the position of a subject that observes an object. Thus self-reflection develops into the dualistic mode of experiencing oneself. Yet it is necessary as a stage in the development and maturation of the soul toward self-realization. In the total self-realization of true nature, the soul is not self-reflective, for true nature does not look at itself. It recognizes itself by being itself. This capacity for discrimination is not present in early infancy. (See The Point of Existence, chapter 35, for a discussion of essential self-seeing and self-recognition.)

Essential Development Goes Through Stages

We see that essential development goes through stages, beginning with the recognition of the dynamic field and medium of the soul. Then essence arises in its various aspects, resolving the soul’s issues and providing her with the real elements necessary for her life and development. Next the diamond vehicles arise, providing the soul with a personal, direct, and objective knowledge and wisdom about true nature and its relationship to the soul and her life. This wisdom transforms the soul further, and she becomes able to transcend her most fundamental structures and limitations, and to open up to the presentation of true nature in its primordial ground, with its formless and boundless dimensions. In this process the soul, with the help of essence and its wisdom, confronts her various limitations, obscurations, and opaque structures. Essential diamond guidance sharpens her inquiry and gives it the capacity to penetrate and transcend these barriers. These limitations appear as issues of different types, reflecting the characteristics of the barriers and of true nature. The various types and levels of issues are interconnected; although many wisdom traditions focus on certain of these issues in isolation, it is actually artificial to dissociate them in one’s personal work. We find that the various levels of personal issues follow a natural progression in the unfoldment of the soul in the inner journey, but only in terms of predominance; for they all continue to be interconnected throughout the whole journey. In the Diamond Approach, we organize them into the following categories, which we discuss briefly here in the order of predominance: psychodynamic issues, structural issues, existential issues, and epistemological/phenomenological issues. 

Experiencing the Condition Before All Expression, Prior to Thinking and Speaking, Prior to the Word

The unfoldment of the logos is an outflow, a cosmic articulation, a speaking of the Word. All movement must occur against a background of stillness, and all speaking against a background of silence. Stillness and silence are the first properties of the unmanifest that the soul normally encounters in her inner journey. By simply witnessing the process of manifestation, and not going along with the normal enmeshment in the forms it assumes, the soul may find herself outside of her individual form, as the background against which all change and movement occur. She is then simply a silent witness, unmoving and immovable, a vast expanse underlying the process of continual creation. In this process we discover a deeper dimension than the logos, deeper than all other boundless dimensions, a dimension of true nature that forms the ultimate ground of the other dimensions and the ultimate ground of all things. We discover where the unfoldment happens, which turns out not to be a place; we discover the source of all manifestation, which is also its ultimate and absolute nature. We experience a stillness beyond all stillness, an absolute and total stillness, a condition prior to all manifestation, movement, and change. We experience a stupendous silence, empty of all noise, whether outer chatter or inner rumination, whether outer manifestation or inner movement; for it is the condition before all expression, prior to thinking and speaking, prior to the Word. We become aware of being a field that cannot be called a space; for it includes all space and time as an unfoldment within it, but does not touch its pristine stillness and silence. We are the prior, prior to all. We are the immovable, the unchanging, the mysterious ground of all movement and change. Movement and change are the manifestation that arises within it without ever disturbing its stillness and peace, without ever touching its silence and emptiness. We are prior to all manifestation, the source from which creation emerges, and the mystery to which it returns. We are the beginning and the end of everything, the truth without which there will be no awareness, and no experience. 

Initial Ways We Recognize the Soul in the Inner Journey

We will continue our discussion of ego structures by looking at primitive structures of the soul. These are the structures we discover when the soul begins to be activated as a living presence. These structures are often the initial ways we recognize the soul in the inner journey to our essential home. The soul is structured, but only partially, by these primitive patterns. Because this incomplete structuring has not reached the level of ego structures, we can at these levels experience the soul as living presence. In other words, we here begin to experience the soul as a living presence, almost protoplasmic, that is somewhat structured but not completely dissociated from the essential ground. The primitive structures are partial and elemental, but also flexible and not as rigid as more developed ego structures. They arise in the early stages of ego development. When we are in touch with these structures we may experience much more aliveness and lability than in ego structures. The soul’s experience is characterized by dynamism and flow, but not completely free and open. Because of the primitive nature of these structures, we experience not only the protoplasmic living presence of the soul, but also her two primary potential forms of experience, the essential and the animal, more directly. More accurately, we may experience these structures as primitive and animalistic, but still full of essence in its various qualities, which is how the infant’s soul experiences her animal forms. 

Journeys of Ascent and Descent

The second element of this book, largely in the second half of the book, is a simple overview of the path of the soul’s journey to the realization and embodiment of Being, as developed in the Diamond Approach, and again referenced to the best of our knowledge to various traditional and psychological sources. Here we explore the essence of the soul, her true nature, its aspects, dimensions, and integration into the soul. In the second half of the book, the exploration of the essence of the soul develops into an explication of the inner journey as it reaches and integrates the ultimate true nature, the final ground of all existence. We discuss this journey in terms of five coemergent boundless dimensions of Being, clarifying our understanding of both normal and enlightened awareness, and how they relate to each other. We refer to the inner journey discussed to this point as the journey of ascent, in which the soul ascends the various subtle dimensions of Reality. To complete the story of the soul’s path we discuss the journey of descent, in which the soul integrates the ground of true nature, with its five dimensions, into everyday life, which brings the soul to a realization of nonduality. This takes us to a discussion of mature and complete human realization, in which the human being becomes not only a microcosm and mirror of Reality, but its agent, organ, and servant. We end with an exploration of how the three facets of reality—the triad of soul or self, God or Being, and cosmos or world—are related to each other in enlightened awareness, and unfold our vision of Reality as it is revealed in the inner journey of this particular path of wisdom. This book presents the larger view of the Diamond Approach, its metaphysical underpinnings, its overall structure, and its metapsychology. This will clarify its logos, which structures its methodology and which in turn is grounded in the articulated understanding of the five boundless dimensions of true nature. The reader will notice that certain segments of the view are discussed in detail while others are described only briefly. This is because we have discussed many subjects in detail in previous publications, so we only refer to them in this book, giving the appropriate references. Thus this book can be used as the central organizing presentation of the Diamond Approach. The elucidation of the path of the Diamond Approach appears in many previous books, to which we refer readers for more detailed discussion of various aspects of the understanding of the Diamond Approach

Manifestation of Five Coemergent Boundless Dimensions of True Nature

Even though true nature is composed of five coemergent boundless dimensions, these dimensions generally manifest in the inner journey one by one, in a specific order. The order seems to be of increasing fundamentality and subtlety, moving from the dimension closest to ordinary experience to the one nearest to transcendent truth. These dimensions arise in an order that reveals the characteristics of manifest true nature in increasing depth, subtlety, and precision. The latter levels are simpler than the ones preceding them, possessing less structure and hence less accessibility to our ordinary consciousness. Yet they are all true and authentic dimensions of true nature, spanning the totality of its Riemannian manifold. When a boundless dimension manifests, it relocates the consciousness of the soul to a whole different realm of reality, where she experiences herself and the world in a completely new way. All the elements of her world continue to appear, especially the objective ones not constructed by her mind, but they begin to appear on a different dimension. So the body, physical reality, emotions, thoughts, images, actions, essential aspects, and diamond vehicles all continue to appear, but in a different light. They appear explicitly as manifestations of true nature, with the quality and characteristics of the particular boundless dimension. The elements are all grounded in and inseparable from a boundless and infinite field of presence. Therefore, the experience of each of the boundless dimensions includes the perception that all of reality is one. All manifestation is one Reality, unified by the boundless dimension that forms the ground and substance for all forms. Hence, self-realization on the boundless dimensions is the experience of unity, oneness, and nonduality. It is the knowledge of the indivisibility of true nature, reflecting its nondimensionality, but appearing in the multidimensional manifestation as oneness and unity. The experience and understanding of this indivisibility becomes subtler as deeper boundless dimensions arise, moving toward the truth of nondimensionality. 

Our Home Turns Out to be Our Depth and Our Depth Turns Out to be Our Beloved

We realize that our beloved is in the most absolute depth of our soul. We discover that our beloved is not only in the depth, but is the depth of our soul. We learn that the absolute is pure depth, depth with no end. The darker it gets the deeper we feel, and the more profound is the truth. The deeper and darker it becomes the more empty, the more free, and the more intimate. The absolute turns out to be the principle of depth, and all manifestation is surface. We tend to think of depth in terms of feeling, thought, and knowledge. In the inner journey home we find out that these are actually part of the surface, for they are an expression of the horizontal world of everyday life. We discover that, in fact, true nature in all of its qualities and dimensions stands for depth in our experience and life. We experience the unfoldment of our soul as taking our experience deeper because we are following the dimension of depth. When we arrive at the realization of the absolute we understand depth most clearly and distinctly, for it is the dimension where we know depth most specifically. The absolute, we can say, is pure depth. It is absolute depth because it is the source of all. So our home turns out to be our depth, and our depth turns out to be our beloved. And it is absolute depth because it is nothing at all, complete absence, total nonbeing, which is the ground of all being. We discover that to be at home is to be home. To be in the depth is to be depth. To unite with our beloved is to be the beloved. To be at home as an autonomous self is a contradiction; for by becoming an autonomous self we got lost, and became estranged. To be at home is for the soul to recognize that the absolute, her home, her beloved, which is her depth, is also her nature and identity. 

Seeing that there is No Such Thing as Independent Action, Personal Choice or Volition

In the same act true nature generates forms and perceives them. It is the creator, the created, and the process of creation. Creation is simply generation, a continuous unfolding of forms and experiences. One way this appears to us in the inner journey is the recognition that there is no such thing as individual action. When we realize that there is ultimately no separate and autonomous soul we see that there is no such thing as independent action, personal choice, or volition. We began to understand this in working with the previously discussed boundless dimensions, in the form of questions about action and functioning. In fact, one of the primary difficulties in integrating these boundless dimensions of Being is the question of functioning, of how expression, action, and behavior happen. We understand functioning completely when we realize the dimension of dynamic presence, for we see how all change and movement occur. Since change and movement are limited ways of perceiving universal transformation, we see that individual action is a way of viewing a particular transformation of a certain region in the field of presence. Since an individual is only a form taken by a particular region of the field, one’s action is actually the action of the field. One’s behavior is nothing but the manifestation of the dynamism of Being, just as one’s choices are made by the same dynamic presence. Volition becomes a concept that we cannot apply in this experience, for there are no autonomous entities that can have volition. All is done by the dynamism of Being, all chosen by the dynamic presence, and there is only one will, the dynamic will of true nature. In other words, there is only one doer, one mover, and that is true nature.

Soul’s Arrival at Her Absolute Home

When the soul arrives at her absolute home, recognizes her true beloved, and realizes it as her ipseity, many insights, realizations, and feelings spontaneously arise. One’s life begins to show its overall pattern, seen from the perspective of the inner journey home. This culminates in the personalization of the absolute ipseity, where we learn to be a human being, a person, and to still abide in the absolute. This is an unusual and rarely known realization, where the vastness of the mystery, without ceasing to be the mystery, finds itself walking with two legs, touching with human hands, speaking with a mouth, and so on. (For the details of this process of personalization, see The Pearl Beyond Price, chapter 38.) At this point the soul is surprised by new feelings and realizations that occur spontaneously, as if brought home by the power of the self-realization. What spontaneously arises, without self-reflection or reasoning, is the feeling that the soul is at the end of a certain phase of life and work. She feels she has accomplished the task she had set for herself, or is in the last stages of finishing it. She recognizes her worldly accomplishments and her realization of her true nature. But the feeling is more general than the specific accomplishments. It is a sense of finishing something. There is a feeling of space or room left, open for new possibilities. She begins to feel completely relaxed and settled. Upon inquiry she feels she has reached her destination, even though she did not know it was the absolute that she was looking for. There results a sense of having lots of time, energy, and space to spare. She may feel willing and happy to give her time and energy to others. She feels at home now; her search is ended. It is as if she has been on a journey, searching for her beloved and her true home, but she did not know it consciously, at least she did not think of it in these terms. She does not have to decide to stop the search; the seeking ceases on its own, for the drive for seeking is spent. She sees that she has been consciously or unconsciously seeking, regardless what she was doing or involved in, because she was actually away from home, estranged in the profoundest way. Now she is home, and the reason for her search is gone. It is truly gone, not because she understands there is no need to seek, but because she does not feel the seeking energy anymore. The seeking energy is simply the tension of separation and the love for the union. 

Soul’s Willingness to Participate in the Inner Journey

We have observed that the soul is more willing to participate in the inner journey, and will in fact cooperate with enthusiasm, when this journey addresses her immediate experience and everyday concerns. Inquiry into this everyday content of the field of the soul will bring about understanding of this content. This understanding will at first involve the normal psychological insights and realizations, connecting with one’s various experiences and at some point with psychodynamic material. The soul comes to understand the content of her experience in terms of its sources in childhood experience. This process uncovers a great deal of repressed content, much of which turns out to be difficult and painful. Continuing the inquiry, with the help of essence and its aspects, the student will begin to question the more fundamental sources of this content. This will at some point reveal the structures underlying the content; for example, one discovers that one’s various psychodynamic issues are related to specific self-concepts. There is another reason the psychodynamic, emotional, and psychological work tend to reveal the underlying structures: Psychodynamic work relieves the issues of some of the pressure to remain unconscious, and releases much of the emotional charge associated to them through the history of their development. This makes it easier for the individual to become directly aware of the related structures. In addition, the soul has a new motivation for inquiry resulting from recognizing that the painful content does not simply go away; it has still deeper sources.

Supporting the Soul’s Inner Journey

To support the soul’s inner journey, we need to live a life that holds our realization and our work adequately and objectively; we need to structure our life such that it recognizes, appreciates, and supports our ongoing realization. This life structure can involve participation in an inner work school, but such participation is not enough. We need to structure and develop the totality of our lives in a way that is sensitive to and supportive of our realization and our deepening development. Otherwise, our lives will support the ego-self, for the structures and habits and relationships of our lives have developed as extensions and expressions of the conventional self, the self we were before the deepening of our experience and understanding. The soul discovers that to truly move toward the inner essential truth and to live the life of essence means abandoning her normal identity and its various external and internal supports. The soul’s experience actually shifts to another experiential universe, where she will need to find different supports for her new identity and its life. Abandoning her old supports brings up deep fears and terrors, while discovering and implementing the new supports is usually counter to her habitual stances. Allowing the fear that arises from this and other issues connected with the citadel, particularly issues related to ego deficiency and the need to accommodate the desires and needs of other people, the soul can enter into a clear black space devoid of defensive functioning. The soul’s allowing this space brings the possibility of the emergence of the true support for the path, the citadel. 

The Insight that Emptiness is the Ground of All Forms is Specifically Significant for the Inner Journey

The insight that emptiness is the ground of all forms is specifically significant for the inner journey, especially for the journey of descent. Through the absolute descending into the world we see that the world is grounded in emptiness, and hence is always insubstantial and lacks any ultimate existence. The soul learns that to live in the world from the perspective of the absolute is to never forget that the world is ultimately insubstantial, that it is groundless; for the absolute ground is simply absence. More precisely, its groundlessness is its truth and freedom and the liberation of the soul is in remembering that she can rely ultimately only on the absolute: it is the groundless ground. She can trust emptiness, for it is the ultimate unchanging ground that is certain to be found at the depth of everything. In other words, the ground of all manifest forms is that when we try to find their ultimate essence they disappear. The unfindability of their ultimate existence is their ground. 

The Power of Soul’s Attachment to the Mothering Person Does Not Become Clear Until it is Brought Up in Deep Levels of the Soul’s Inner Journey

The love of truth, which the soul has learned in the course of her inner journey and through which she has invited the assistance of the diamond guidance, comes up against this basic human orientation. The soul recognizes that to continue to love truth selflessly requires a huge shift in her view of life and her orientation in living it. She sees that truth must come before pleasure, and that she must look inward for what she needs. Most human beings are not willing to make this shift, and are not even convinced of its truth or necessity. The conventionally conditioned soul is not only wedded to the orientation of seeking pleasure externally, but this orientation is part of a larger one, which is her allegiance to the world and loyalty to its view. This orientation has its roots in the soul’s very early experience of receiving pleasurable gratification from her mother. This early gratification creates an amazingly deep bond, such that the soul grows up deeply loyal to the mother who satisfied her needs and desires. Every soul with normal ego development grows up deeply, though often unconsciously, loyal to her mothering person, the first love object and object of gratification. Thus the soul has a much deeper loyalty to her initial object of gratification than most of us suspect. The power of this attachment does not become clear until it is brought up in deep levels of the soul’s inner journey. 

The Soul Constitutes a Medium in which all Our Inner Events Occur, a Unified Container and Vessel that is the Very Fabric of Our Subjectivity

When we are finally able to experience the soul directly, we can recognize that she constitutes a medium in which all of our inner events occur, a unified container and vessel that is the very fabric of our subjectivity. We can actually experience her as a sensitive field, a field of consciousness or awareness, where all experiences arise and pass away. We can imagine the soul as completely coextensive with the body, forming its experienced interiority. Whatever we perceive as happening within us, whether a thought, an image, an emotion, or a sensation, occurs within the body, but more intimately within the soul, because the soul functions as the sensitivity or awareness of the body. This kind of perception leads us to the understanding of the soul as the inner vessel, necessary for the inner process of transformation. It is then clear why the development of this perception will help hold and support our inner journey. To understand the soul as locus of experience is important for the direct experience and development of the soul. Without this understanding we simply remain in the normal experience of the ego. In this egoic experience there is the experiencer and there is what we experience; the locus is not perceived. Thus, to perceive the locus of experience is to begin to recognize the soul. 

The Transformation Through Which the inner Journey Takes the Soul is Not a Change of Her Character but a Self-Realization of True Nature

The transformation of an ego structure is not a changing of its topography, but primarily a thinning of its form and a diminishing of its power. How much the particular structure loses its conditioning and patterning power depends on how much one has worked with it, how deeply and accurately one has understood it, and how intensely have been the resulting essential experiences. The final outcome will be its metabolism, its absorption into the presence of Being, which happens after a long process of clarification, as we discuss in The Pearl Beyond Price, chapter 14. It is important to recognize this to understand the true inner spiritual transformation. The transformation through which the inner journey takes the soul is not a change of her character, but a self-realization of true nature. This means one’s field of consciousness ceases to be configured by ego structures, and becomes completely permeable to essential presence. One’s identity ceases to be determined by one’s history and becomes simple abiding in true nature. One’s identity shifts dimensions, leaving that of historical content and abiding in timeless presence.

True Nature Must First be Discriminated in Order to Serve as Our Orientation for the Inner Journey

However, when we see without veils, we experience that the whole of existence possesses a single true nature—its common essential ground—and we find no distinction between appearance and true nature, for nothing can be separate from its nature. This is objective reality—all of existence perceived in its true, unobscured condition, in which everything is inseparable from its true nature. Experiencing this is enlightened or realized experience. We understand then that everything is really true nature, that the whole world is nothing but true nature displaying its inherent potentialities. We still see the many forms that reality takes, but those forms are transparent to their true nature, the essential ground of all of reality. On the journey of self-realization, it is important to learn to differentiate true nature from the familiar forms of everyday experience. Our very inability to do this accounts for much of the control that conventional reality has over our awareness. Unless we discriminate this formless ground, we will never be able to perceive the forms of reality in their true fullness. Therefore, true nature must first be discriminated in order to serve as our orientation for the inner journey. In the realized state, this discrimination is transcended and true nature is finally recognized in its truth—as inseparable from reality. 

Truth that is Actually the Basic Spiritual Insight of the Inner Journey

We have described the medium or field of the soul as the presence of pure consciousness. In labeling the field “presence” we point to the significant fact that this field constitutes the ontological dimension of the soul. In other words, the existence of the soul turns out not to be only an abstract concept of being, but a direct experiential truth, a palpable presence. (See Essence, chapters 1 and 2.) This is the reason we frequently refer to this truth as Being, for it is the beingness of the soul. This truth is actually the basic spiritual insight of the inner journey and, in one form or another, common to all major schools of inner work. This field of presence, which is a pure medium of consciousness, is the simplest and ultimate ground of the soul. This ground is not postulated but is discoverable in the process of any effective investigation; that is, if we investigate our experience of the soul and try to discover her final nature, her ultimate ground, if we become aware of what remains after all particular content and specific forms of experience are taken out or transcended, then we find this presence. This process is similar to the physicists’ preoccupation with the most elementary particles of matter; they are trying to find the ultimate building blocks of our physical universe. The presence of pure consciousness turns out to be the ultimate building block of our psychic life, the ultimate ground of our soul. It is not particles or strings, but a field, a homogeneous medium, pure consciousness that turns out to be the actual ontological dimension of the soul. 

Understanding More Clearly and Fully the Locus, Agency, and Field of the Soul

By discussing the experience of soul as pure knowledge, or potential knowledge, we enter more specifically into the identifying experiences of the soul. When we experience ourselves in these ways, we know we are experiencing our soul directly, instead of the indirect and alienated way of egoic experience. In other words, these ways of experiencing soul indicate that we are experiencing the soul herself, the organism of consciousness, instead of one of the inner objects of the soul. We experience then the conscious field of presence itself, rather than the forms that arise within it. These forms of experience indicate to us that we are recognizing our soul, a recognition necessary for the development of the inner vessel, and most helpful for our inner journey. By understanding them we understand more clearly and fully the locus, agency, and field of the soul. These forms of experience reveal to us the basic properties of soul, properties always implicit in the soul, but here experienced explicitly, identified and understood. If the soul is like a mirror and all experiences are like the images in the mirror, then these properties are those of the mirror, and not of the images that appear in it. We will find them in all of our inner experiences, because the images of the mirror always contain the properties of the mirror. These properties are the universal characteristics of the soul, underlying all of our experience, and the sources of all our inner faculties and functions. They characterize soul herself, and hence differentiate her from essence. They also reveal the relation of soul to essence, and to ego. 

Unfoldment of the Soul Always Leads to Greater and More Complete Experience of the Qualities of True Nature

We see this most clearly in its role in the development of the soul. We begin to understand why when the soul unfolds under the guidance of Being it does not stay in the same place or deteriorate. The unfoldment always reveals greater depth, clearer insight, more precise and universal truth, enhanced clarity, and more luminosity. In other words, the unfoldment of the soul always leads to greater and more complete experience of the qualities of true nature. We begin to see that this is due to the action of the optimizing dynamism of the logos, which manifests experience in such a way that it is always tending to reveal true nature in as clear, deep, and complete a way as possible. More specifically, the action of the logos in the experience of the soul, especially when the soul is open and receptive to this action, is to optimize her experience. Because of this, the inner journey is simply the optimization of the soul’s experience by maximizing her clarity, luminosity, awareness, love, truth, compassion, openness, joy, freedom, and so on. Furthermore, the guidance of Being simply orients the soul to be in harmony with the optimizing force of the logos, which appears in her experience as a deepening and expanding unfoldment. 

Unfoldment of the Soul’s Identity is a Subprocess that Forms the Deeper and Most Central Part of the Inner Journey

In actuality the soul is always unfolding, for it is the nature of the soul to change and flow; however, the unfoldment of her identity is a subprocess that forms the deeper and most central part of the inner journey. It is the deepening of the center of the mandala while the unfoldment of the soul is the transformation of its general field. The center keeps deepening until it arrives at the dimension of depth itself, the absolute mystery. When this happens the identity remains the same. Who one is, what one is, is unchanging as the stillness of the absolute. We find ourselves, or the center of our experiential mandala, to always be the unchanging mysterious absolute, beyond being and nonbeing. The mandala is bound to be in continual change: the field of the soul will continue to transform and unfold. Yet, the center and ground of the soul, her conscious sense of her true nature, will always be the absolute. This is one of the implications of the dimensions of descent being all a matter of various degrees of integration of the manifest dimensions into the absolute. The inner nature of all these dimensions is always the absolute; thus, as the soul self-realizes these dimensions, the depth of her identity continues to be the absolute. This understanding becomes specifically clear at the next dimension of descent, that of the core dimension

Viewing the Inner Journey Home as Comprising Two Parts

We can view the inner journey home as comprising two parts, the journey of ascent and the journey of descent. The journey of ascent includes the journey to presence and the journey with presence, as described in chapter 15. These two journeys include the discovery of the soul, that of essence in its aspects, and finally of the diamond vehicles. The last part of the journey of ascent is the revelation of the five boundless dimensions. The integration of each of the five dimensions is like a journey on its own, similar to the two first journeys. It includes understanding the body, emotions, and thoughts on this dimension. It also includes the integration of the soul, essential aspects, and diamond vehicles. The essential development of the soul proceeds all over again, now within a new ground and attaining a new identity, the boundless true nature itself. The journey in presence includes this part of the journey of ascent, i.e., the integration of the five boundless dimensions, but also the journey of descent. The journey of descent includes the integration of the five boundless dimensions into a unified whole, recognizing and understanding them as dimensions of the same true nature, coemergent in such a way that they simultaneously structure the full experience of nondual self-realization. In the journey of ascent the soul climbs up the ladder of Reality until she reaches the most subtle dimension of true nature, the absolute. Then she descends by going back and integrating the various dimensions she has passed through in the journey of ascent into this most subtle dimension. The journey of descent includes other processes and realizations. The most important is the manifestation and recognition of the diamond vehicles specific to this journey of descent. The last vehicle, the diamond vehicle of freedom, reveals the knowledge and wisdom of true nature from the unified perspective of the five dimensions, through the revelation of transcendent true nature and its relation to manifestation through the five dimensions. 

When We Discern the Inner Field that is the Soul, We Experience It as a Presence More Fundamental than All the Content of Consciousness and All Characteristics of Subjective Experience

The primary difference between ordinary inner experience and direct knowing of consciousness is that when we discern the inner field that is the soul, we experience it as a presence, independent from and more fundamental than all the content of consciousness and all characteristics of subjective experience. When we recognize pure consciousness, then, what we become aware of is the presence of consciousness, its existence, its ontological truth. We are contrasting the recognition of presence with awareness of the objects of consciousness as well as with awareness of consciousness as activity or process. Experience of pure consciousness is awareness of the thereness, the isness, of consciousness. Consciousness is fundamentally presence, presence conscious of its own presence. The presence, the hereness, the beingness of consciousness, is not something extra to consciousness; neither is consciousness an extra property of this presence. This is one of the primary discoveries in the inner journey: presence is always consciousness, and pure consciousness is always presence. 

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