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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Intention?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Intention

Ego’s Intention is Separate from Natural Forces

Intention: Ego can intend, and can act according to intention. However, because of the presence of unmetabolized experience, ego’s intention is separate from natural forces. The intention of ego is a sign of its separateness from the realm of Being. Realizing the will aspect of Essence makes this rather subtle point clear; one sees that when ego intends and acts real will is usually blocked. For the Personal Essence, on the other hand, intention has a different meaning. It is related to the integration of essential will. When this happens, one realizes that one’s actions must be in harmony with all natural forces, even on the level of Being; otherwise, there is a splitting from Being, and an incorrect action will result. So instead of intention one experiences a spontaneous flow of intelligent and purposeful action, realizing that Being flows through one, as one, and it is the flow that determines one’s life, action, interests, creativity and so on. Students who have only partially integrated the Personal Essence become aware of this reality. So there is nothing in Being that is similar to the function of intention of ego. One is so integrated into reality that it is reality that is the source of one’s actions. As the Personal Essence, one becomes the spearhead of reality. Reality acts through one by one being the individual manifestation of it. In religious language this is called surrender to God’s will, or flowing with the Tao.

Essential Will as an Expression of Being Has No Goal, No Direction, No Effort and Hence No Intention

The commitment to the inquiry—the determination not to give up or let yourself be distracted—is also a commitment to the quality of your experience. It is not a commitment to an ideal of being a good person. It’s a commitment to experiencing yourself and reality in the here and now regardless of whether you like what’s here or not. It’s a commitment to maximizing and optimizing the quality of your experience at each moment through being real, authentic, and focused on the truth. The challenge is for our commitment to be free of any goal orientation. Will is what underlies our determination and commitment. And essential Will, as an expression of Being, has no goal, no direction, no effort, and hence no intention. However, for a long time, our identification is with our ego-self—regardless of the presence of Being and its manifestations. So we will tend to experience our essential Will and inner commitment as an intentionality: the intention to begin inquiring and the intention to stay the course. Intentionality is the basis of the ego-self’s commitment, which manifests as a kind of stubbornness and bullheadedness. So commitment implies intention, but it also reflects what you value. Commitment to the truth means that the inquiry is more important to you than the distractions that can arise. It means that the open endedness of inquiry is more important than any particular aim or result. It means that you prefer the truth to anything else, that you love it more than merely feeling good or relieving yourself of difficulties.

It Usually Requires a Conscious Commitment for the Soul to Progress to the Essential Stage

We find another parallel here, between the development of the soul and Earth as a whole. Therefore, the potential development of humanity toward pearly organization can be seen as one level of the development of the Earth’s self-organizing system. We need to remember in applying our parallels that the development of the soul rarely progresses beyond ego structure. It usually requires a conscious commitment, a great deal of intentional work, a tremendous wisdom, and the essential guidance of Being for the soul to progress to the essential stage. Therefore, even though Western thought possesses the potential to redeem itself in a genuine movement toward triadic unity, this is statistically improbable. There are, however, many indications of this movement, as we have discussed above, which may mean that it is a real possibility. But we view it as a long-term possibility, which may take thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps, or even more. In our view, the development of Western thought has not been haphazard, nor was it fundamentally a wrong turn. The various wisdom traditions tended to see the ego development of duality as a going astray, as the fall of man. However, since this development happens to all human beings, it makes more sense to view it as the lawful and natural development of the soul. And if it does in fact express the same evolutionary movement that Western thought has gone through, then the present stage of Western thought, that of triadic dissociation, is a lawful stage of development. If we recognize it as such, and appreciate it within the context of a larger process of evolution, we will have a better chance of moving toward its redemption.

Some Insights, Realizations, and Even Actions Will Come to You as Gifts that Just Happen, but Some of them You Will Have to Work For

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

The Intention of Keeping Experience to Yourself, for Your Presence, for Your Understanding

Having self-respect, self-consideration, and self-love means doing and learning whatever is needed to maintain that integrity and self-respect. It means that if something needs to be learned, you go ahead and learn it; if something needs to be done, you go ahead and do it; and if something needs to be said, you go ahead and say it. To have self-respect and integrity means not complaining about how things are. It means acting towards others with respect and consideration regardless of what you feel. Having self-respect means that even if you are dying, you are still considerate and respectful towards yourself and other people, because who you are is much more important than whether you are going to die. It is much more important than whether you’ are losing your business or losing your boyfriend or girlfriend. Human dignity is much more precious than any of these things This is why we sometimes practice the non-expression of automatic emotions. When you do this, you not only pay attention to yourself by sensing yourself continually, but you also pay attention so that you do not express any automatic emotion that you feel. Keep it to yourself, feel it, understand it, and use it as a fuel for your presence and your understanding. You might not be able to do this all the time and it is important not to attack yourself when you cannot do it perfectly; the point is to put forth as much conscious effort and dedication as possible. This means that if you are angry for some unconscious reason, you do not just yell at someone; you keep it to yourself for your understanding. If you are hurt because someone is rejecting you, you keep it to yourself. You do not tell the other person, “You are rejecting me and I think you are terrible.” You let yourself feel rejected, you work to understand it by yourself or with your teacher if you are working with a teacher. You use the energy, the fuel, the heat that comes out of that Work with the intention of keeping it to yourself for your presence, for your understanding, for the transformation of your personality.

The Point where Inquiry Cannot Happen Except with Disciplined Determination, Commitment, and Strength

So the more open we are in our inquiry, and the more open ended the inquiry is, the more we can engage the hyperdrive. The unfoldment of our soul then becomes natural and effortless. We can easily move from one dimension to another, for our mind is not limited by what we believe reality is. Then Being is not coaxed, it just manifests naturally, freely, and we are traveling in complete freedom. In the first journey, when we are still using the power drive, we need to use effort, we need to struggle, we need to discipline ourselves. At that point, inquiry cannot happen except with disciplined determination, commitment, and strength, with the intentional application of our intelligence. We have to use our own power. But when the hyperdrive is engaged, there is a spontaneity and a flow. We do not know where we are going; all movement becomes spontaneous, and our spaceship has become a spacecruiser, enjoying cruising from one star system to another. However, inquiry can be so open ended, so open and free, that sometimes it even allows certain fixations or positions for a while. Positions are different states you can experience: “I am this, I am that. I am peace, I am stillness, I am love, I am space. . . .” In its intelligence, inquiry can recognize that one of these positions might be useful for a period of time. So when you recognize the value of taking a particular position temporarily, your Being will allow you that. Within the perspective of inexhaustibility, you can take a position, but you do not adhere to it; you are able to get off that position. The shifting from one position to another has to remain free. In this sense, the infinite number of positions is itself the inexhaustibility.

The Student’s Intentional Work on Understanding Himself

As a soul matures, this inner flame can be sparked through normal life experience. Another way this process can come about is through exposure to spiritual work. The student’s intentional work on understanding himself will gradually expose the superficial defensive structures of the ego, while the discovery of Essence in its various aspects—the true nature of the soul—will exert a pressure on the ego identity. The initial discovery of Essence begins a journey of discovery, a period of wonderful experiences of Essence. It feels like a honeymoon. Little by little, however, it dawns on the student, to his dismay, that there is a big problem. He becomes aware that although he experiences his essence, in some deep and disturbing sense it is still not him. He does not recognize directly and nonconflictually that it is truly him. His experiences of Essence seem to be only experiences that sometimes happen to him, the same “him” he always was. Simply experiencing Essence does not necessarily lead to confronting the shell. Many devotional practices, for example, produce essential experiences without bringing up the question of identity. The experience can be attributed to the guru, or the divine, without shaking up the normal sense of identity. Only one’s consideration of the possibility that the self is Essence will ultimately lead to the understanding of the shell. The student will recognize that it is because of the shell that he does not take himself to be the Essence.

To Take the Position of Doing Anything to Ourselves in Order to Get Someplace Contradicts Our True Nature

During the course of engaging the spiritual path, it is difficult to practice without a goal and without motivation. But as the practice becomes subtler and deeper, we realize that intention is not necessary, a goal is not necessary, motive is not necessary. Not only are they not necessary, but if they remain, they will obstruct the arising of reality. Recognizing the ways in which our practice is limited by our aims reveals further subtleties of practice. In this teaching, we come to understand, especially in the nondoing practice, that we don’t want to do anything to our experience. It is not only that we don’t orient toward some goal but also that we don’t act on that orientation. To do something to our experience means that we have some idea or hope or desire for something different to happen. We don’t want to do anything to our experience because our true nature is presence, is Being. Being doesn’t do anything to itself—it simply is. So when we recognize that our nature simply is, that our nature doesn’t divide itself such that something does something to another part of itself, we see that to take the position of doing anything to ourselves in order to get someplace contradicts our true nature. When we recognize that contradiction, we see the folly and the misalignment of our normal sense of doing.

We Cannot Do Anything in Order to Be, for to Be is Not an Activity

The most important insight needed for a student to move from the deficient lack of support to the actual state of support is the recognition that the feeling of helplessness, of not knowing what to do to be oneself, is not an actual deficiency, nor a personal failing. It is rather, the recognition of a fundamental truth about the self, which is that we cannot do anything in order to be, for to be is not an activity. We can come to this understanding only through the cessation of intentional inner activity. At this point, not to know what to do is a matter of recognizing the natural state of affairs, for since there is nothing that we can do to be, then it is natural that we cannot know what to do. There is nothing to know because such knowledge is impossible. Nobody knows what to do to be, and the sooner we recognize this, the easier is our work on self-realization. In fact, feeling that we don’t know what to do to be ourselves is the beginning of the insight that we don’t need to do anything. This fundamental insight underlies many advanced spiritual practices, such as those of surrender and “nondoing” meditation. We can arrive at this insight by exploring the question of support for identity, but it is another matter to remember and practice it. When we truly learn this fundamental truth, then we have become wise; for self-realization is now an effortless relaxation into the nature of who we are, and this is the presence of Being. Nothing more need be done; the transformation is a matter now of spontaneous unfoldment. This understanding informs the highest teachings of many ancient traditions, although Taoism is the main tradition associated with emphasis on the wisdom of nonaction.

We Want the Inquiry to be a Pure Act of Being

When one first practices the inquiry of the Diamond Approach, it appears very similar to what is commonly done in other forms of inner work: You ask questions, analyze, look at things, experiment, examine defenses and reactions and psychodynamics, and all that. Anybody who has read any book on depth psychology might feel, “Of course, I know how to do that.” However, if these people know how to practice inquiry in the way we do, why don’t they arrive at experiences of Essence and true nature? The differences in methods of inquiry may appear quite subtle; nevertheless, they are profound. We need to recognize these differences in order for inquiry to have any true capacity to bring about the unfoldment of the soul. It is worth looking a little deeper into the confusion that can arise between the type of inquiry I am describing and the analytic exploration you may have been doing. I am not saying that you can never use your mind to do analysis in inquiry—but this is not the method we are using here. We want the inquiry to be a pure act of Being. Analysis might arise as part of the dynamism of Being, but we don’t do it intentionally. As soon as we have a desired end in mind, the inquiry is not coming out of the openness, it’s coming out of a fixed place. When we analyze from a purely open, investigative space instead of trying to get someplace, the source is openness itself.

When a Group Actually Functions Together with the Sincere Intention to be Present and Real

The work we do here involves both realizing the truth of reality and living according to that truth. The time we spend learning to function with presence fine-tunes our consciousness. We learn the value of our realization by living the life of our realization, and in time our actions will embody our awake attention. It is our way of stabilizing and establishing our realization. We can live our lives with a clear and strong sense of presence. We learn to strengthen our spine not only by understanding what is true but also by acting in a genuine way. We perform our tasks even though we are aware of feeling inadequate and lonely. We practice attention in presence while we work, focusing our attention primarily on the tasks. Even though we are aware of our emotions and issues, we don’t waste our energy analyzing them. If we are aware of our inner state without blocking it in any way, our presence will continue transforming. When a group actually functions together with the sincere intention to be present and real, and to treat people and our tasks well, then something is created that is not possible in any other place. This is the only time that the true heart unfolds. The true heart unfolds when each person in concert is living according to the truth. If one person withholds their attention from the work of the group, it will interfere with the overall energy. When we’re here together doing this work, it’s important that we each participate as best we can. Without that intention, it is better not to come. You don’t have to be in the work. The work we do here affects not only ourselves but everyone else too. This is not simply an individual work; the totality of the group is working together. If we all come to the work we’re doing with the same sincere heart, with the same awake attention, we could create something that is very rare. We could create some kind of community. When we work together, when we make one body, we can create a community of truth.

When there is No Intentional Movement Toward or Away from Anything

Perception, intelligence, and understanding operate in a simple and natural way to see through intentional doing or conceptual attitudes and positions. Inquiry spontaneously begins to merely understand the intentional doing, as it arises, or the conceptual attitude we perceive we are taking, or the positions we recognize we are trying to hold on to. It just sees these ego manifestations and understands their significance. There is awareness and knowingness without any conceptually directed interest about any state or condition. Because we hold no position, no state is conceptualized as preferable. No condition is posited as desirable. As a result, awareness is not directed by any of these conceptualizations. There is no intentional movement toward or away from anything; one is just being there—calm, relaxed, with no ideas of what “being there” means. This is true nondoing, which can happen only when we have no interest in any doing because we are not striving toward any state. From this place, there is freedom from all teachings, freedom from desiring specific states, freedom from ideas and perspectives—even one’s own perspective. For it is implicitly understood that any perspective or teaching will be an overlay on whatever is purely arising. Instead, we merely recognize the subtle movement of the psyche toward goals, and that understanding naturally dissolves the movement and liberates our unfabricated and uncontrived naturalness. The pure perception and understanding of what is actually there in our experience dissolves the subtle movement of the psyche. The Diamond Guidance is present and operational as a natural and spontaneous functioning of intelligence and awareness. The result is a discriminating understanding of what is arising, liberating the display of Being from our opinions.

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