Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Insight
An Insight is an Event and Essence is a Presence
There are other classes of mental experience that are customarily regarded as the experience of essence when in fact they are not, such as the experiences of insight and intuition. In psychotherapy, for instance, one might have an insight about oneself, about others, or about the nature of reality. It often occurs as a flash of illumination and is accompanied by a sense of expansion and certainty. Such insights can provide valuable information and affective satisfaction. Still, the experience of insight is not itself essence, not yet. An insight is an event, and essence is a presence. An insight is an experience of understanding a specific truth, whereas essence is an embodied presence, an ontological actuality. Most of the time, insights give us liberating information and understanding of how our minds, emotions, and personalities function. They might even help lead us to essence. Insights can be liberating, profound, exhilarating, or powerful, but still they are not essence. Essence is more. Insights can go even deeper, to more profound levels of reality, and can give us information about the nature of reality. But what is this reality? It is nothing but the reality of our true nature, our essence. At such times we are receiving insights about essence itself. For instance, an individual can have the sudden deep flash that “I actually exist,” or an expansive insight that “Love is my true nature.” These are insights about essence, realizing some of the truth about our real nature. But this activity itself is not exactly the presence of essence. It can reach essence and give glimpses of it, but if the person remains at the level of insight, essence will not be realized, embodied, or lived in its fullness and beauty.
Being Coming in Contact with the Mind is What We Experience as Insight
It’s true that the world of the mind, of concepts, is not the truest reality. But understanding is the meeting of that unreal world with the completely real. Understanding itself is neither wholly real or unreal; it is a meeting of the two. The meeting is a transformation, and the transformation is understanding. So understanding happens only when what is completely real in you—the unknowable, your final identity—is in contact with your concepts, with your mind. The process is one of disintegration of concepts. Isn’t that what happens when you understand? You have a certain concept, see through it and then it dissolves. Being comes in contact with mind. This is what we experience as insight. Then there is completion of that level and you move on to the next. If Being doesn’t come in contact with the mind, there is no real insight, only mental knowledge. And because mental knowledge is not real understanding, there is no transformation. The concept is not burned up and dissolved into Being. The person simply goes from one part of the concept to another; it’s just a matter of mental rearrangement.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 161
Brilliancy Arrives at Insight in One Shot
By contrast, Brilliancy arrives at insight in one shot, at a glance, as if intuitively. It doesn’t need to go through the various correlations. It is fast and breathtaking. However, it does not see the details of interactions and relationships between the various elements of the situation. We arrive at
insight, but most of the time we don’t know how we got there. There isn’t as much perception, understanding, or knowledge in the process of arriving at the insight, which often makes it difficult to communicate it to others. However, since the Diamond Guidance has Brilliancy as an aspect, it can use the capacity for direct illumination by simply seeing the gestalt without also seeing how the illumination came about. This direct penetration to the insight is possible and sometimes necessary. But frequently what is needed is the understanding of interactions and relationships that led to the insight. This is specifically the case when one attempts to relate many insights about the same subject matter. In order to reach an overarching insight that synthesizes the knowledge in various insights, we frequently need an understanding of how we arrived at them. A more complete knowledge of the different processes and relationships is crucial for such super-insights, such as those required to develop a body of knowledge.
Brilliancy, pg. 73
Insight May Manifest as Truth at Some Point
For example, to believe that I’m not a body but I have a body is very useful at some point when I begin to recognize and deal with my body image. As I begin to realize that I am identified with a body image, it is possible for me to recognize that I am a consciousness or spaciousness that has a body. This insight may manifest as truth at some point, which then transforms my experience. But this truth is not final. A year or two later, I might start having certain issues that I recognize are there because I make a separation between my body and my soul. I think I am a soul that has a body or a body that has a soul. At the time, it was useful for me to recognize that I am a soul that has a body, but a year later that truth becomes a falsehood because I recognize then that the body is nothing but a manifestation of the soul. There is no body separate from the soul. The soul doesn’t have a body, like a possession; the body is as much a part of the soul as my feelings are a part of the soul. If I hold on to the insight that “I am a soul that has a body”—which was a truth, a new manifestation of knowledge that at one time transformed my experience—it becomes ordinary knowledge. And if I adhere to that insight as an ultimate truth, there will come a time when it will limit my openness, and the dynamism of my unfoldment will not flow into new dimensions of experience. So truth is something we recognize at the moment, but it is not
something we need to adhere to forever. We need to take ordinary knowledge tentatively, and that includes whatever we think and experience as truth, for in the next moment it might not apply.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 68
Insight or Understanding are Nothing but Your Being Eating Your Experience
True understanding that arises on its own is simply your own essence touching your mind, or being in contact with the situation. The actual contact of Being with any situation, or with any part of your mind, is understanding. Insight or understanding are nothing but your being eating your experience, metabolizing it, including your inner experience. This is the process of transformation itself. Being comes into contact with a part of your personality, or with an experience, and in that contact between Being and that part of the personality or the experience, the experience or part of personality is absorbed into Being. That absorption is not just a mental thing, it is a real experience of transformation, a metamorphosis. And this metamorphosis, which is itself understanding, never leads to weakness, deficiency, or impoverishment. It always leads to greater capacity, greater strength, and greater maturity. What is maturity, if not the complete absorption and metabolization of your
Diamond Heart Book Four, pg. 28
Insight Requires Concepts
Insight requires concepts. So in some sense, it is not one-hundred-percent fresh. But it is closer, fresher. It’s seeing something about reality that is closer to the immediate experience. If you get completely close to the immediate experience, of course, there will be no form then. The form disappears little by a little.
Diamond Heart Book Four, pg. 293
Insights Appear When You are Relaxed
So what is inquiry, if not seeking and eliminating? How can we understand if we don’t go hunting for states and eliminating old patterns of behavior? It is very simple. Understanding, itself, is very simple. Understanding is there when you are not searching. You do not need to look for understanding; it is not something to pursue. You do not have to make efforts to have insights. Your efforts are not rewarded with realizations. Understandings, realizations, and insights appear when you are relaxed, when for a moment you have stopped your seeking. Look at your own experience: When do you experience an expanded state, or have an insight and deep understanding? Is it when you are busy trying to figure things out? Or is it when you have forgotten about the struggle for a moment? You might see that your deep insights, the true and deeper understandings, arise when you are not doing anything in your mind, when you just are, simply present. Of course, you might be engaged in some kind of exercise, some activity in your mind, thinking, searching for this or wondering about that, when you have some insight, and you might think that is what brought about the insight. However, if you look carefully, you will notice that in the midst of searching or struggling, once in a while there is a gap—you get tired and give up for a moment. At that moment insight arises. However, you often don’t see that gap because it is so short, so you think it is the activity of the mind that was responsible for the insight.
Diamond Heart Book Four, pg. 25
No Insight is an Ultimate Insight
Openness includes openness to the mind and its accumulated knowledge, but it is also open to the mind’s being wrong or incomplete. Furthermore, there is openness to going beyond the mind and its ordinary knowledge. Openness of inquiry also means that whatever knowledge or insight we get to, we do not wrap it up in a package and put it on a shelf. The moment you do that, you close the path of inquiry. No insight is an ultimate insight. As soon as you believe that you have arrived at the ultimate insight, you know you are stuck. Gurdjieff called that position Hasnamous, which means a crystallized ego. You can crystallize your ego around very divine ideas. The moment you know reality and then believe your knowledge is final, inquiry stops, the dynamism comes to a standstill, and the old repeats itself. But if our mind is always open, the revelation is endless. Then we are just there for the ride. We merely enjoy the journey itself as an adventure of discovery.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 19
The Insight that Emptiness is the Ground of All Forms
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.