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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Intimacy?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Intimacy

A Sense of Intimacy, an Exquisite, Personal Intimacy, the Feeling that You are You

Universal love is an expression of the harmony of the totality. Everything is in harmony with everything else. Nothing is excluded. Your will is in harmony with your compassion. Your compassion is in harmony with your joy. Your joy is in harmony with your anger. Your anger is in harmony with your body. Your body is in harmony with your ego. Your ego is in harmony with other people. There is no conflict anywhere. Everything fits and functions as a togetherness, as a oneness. That oneness is you. That oneness is the true feeling of who you are. You are not the personality, or any particular aspect of essence. You are the whole thing, including emptiness and space, and you experience everything in complete harmony. When this happens, there is a sense of intimacy, an exquisite, personal intimacy, the feeling that you are you, with nothing excluded, nothing rejected. You also feel that you are both a person and a universal existence, that what is personal and what is universal are completely harmonious and can coexist. When your whole organism is in harmony on all its levels, there is no conflict. The expression and radiance of that harmony is love. You become a channel of love, a manifestation of love. You feel completely yourself and not separate from anything. It is possible to be you, completely you and not separate from the other at the same time. This is the action of love. The action of love is to unite, to reveal the connectedness. A loving person doesn’t love you—a loving person is love. Love isn’t given. It overflows. It’s not even your love—it’s everyone’s love interacting. Love emanates from us like the scent from a rose.

A Sweet and Delicate Intimacy in the Heart as I Contemplate Death and See the Blackness

At this point I am sitting in the living room, with dim lights, and the darkness of the night pouring through the window. The darkness of death feels deeper and much more profound than this darkness of night, but the two become one, and I am enveloped by a deepening blackness. The blackness peers at me through everything. I begin to feel a curious aloneness, peaceful and poignant. This is what death is: total aloneness. In fact, it is simply the acknowledgment of my already existing fundamental aloneness, the aloneness of Being.

I am alone, in death.

My experience of my existence is all there is, and this existence is the presence of death itself. The awareness now is that the mysterious blackness is the face of death, which is aloneness—a peaceful, pure aloneness. The aloneness begins to reveal a quality that I do not usually associate with aloneness. I begin to feel an exquisite intimacy, as if the atoms of my consciousness have become its very essence. Death seems to coincide with both intimacy and aloneness. The mysterious blackness of death brings aloneness and intimacy together, joining them into one quality. There is a sweet and delicate intimacy in the heart as I contemplate death and see the presence of blackness. Contemplating the intimacy and sweetness pervading my chest, I realize that my body has lost its usual boundaries; it is now all of existence. I am the room, everything in the room, and everything beyond the room, all as one presence. The sense of what I am is an immense, adamantine crystal presence, an indivisible totality. This totality which I experience as my body is all of the universe. Also, curiously, at the location of my physical chest this unity of existence is a sweet intimacy. The contemplation of death has led me to the mysterious blackness underlying all of existence, and this has made it possible for me to experience the unity of Being as my body. The contemplation of death continues for days, each time taking me to the mysterious blackness, and ushering me into the unity of all existence. If all existence is my body, then what does it mean to die? It seems I am learning that death is the entry into the undying cosmic body.

An Indescribable Intimacy

I am more distant from phenomena than in the experience of the colorless and transparent crystalline presence. I am as distant from phenomena as in the experience of the universal witness. However, there is a difference: phenomena appear not only as images in me, but as my own radiance. I am neither absence nor the universal witness. I am like the clear crystalline presence, a crystal black reality. The blackness is total, absolute. This gives the experience a sense of mystery and magic, a majestic beauty and splendor. The sense of depth is stupendous, and inseparable from a magnificent peacefulness. The peace is itself the presence, which is complete stillness of mind and consciousness. Total transparency, complete purity, and absolute absence of obstruction. The feeling is an indescribable intimacy. Phenomena are the same thing as the perceiving of phenomena, because of the total absence of time. There is no separate perceiver, no separate act of perceiving. The appearance of phenomena is totally inseparable from the act of perceiving the phenomena. Appearance and perception are the same in this experience. Also, the absolute blackness is where all phenomena appear. All phenomena and functioning appear to perception. I am not involved in what appears. In other words, I am the silent vast black presence, and all phenomena merely appear in me.

Because Our Identity is Ultimately Depth, when We Get to the Depth, that’s Intimacy

In inquiry, we notice that if we fully understand what we experience, the inquiry naturally sinks inward, goes deeper, becomes more fundamental. Why does this happen? Have you ever wondered why, when you understand something, your understanding doesn’t get more superficial and diffuse but rather more focused and deeper? The reason is that understanding means getting to the point. Getting to the point means orienting ourselves toward the essential Point. And orienting ourselves to the Point means getting closer to our true identity. Because our identity is ultimately depth, when we get to the depth, that’s intimacy. The Absolute is both depth and intimacy at the same time. Another way of saying it is that all manifestations—which include all experiences—are ultimately manifestation out of the Absolute. Everything is the Absolute communicating with us, revealing some of its possibilities and potentialities. And inquiry is a matter of reading and understanding this communication. In its communication, the Absolute is always guiding us to itself, pulling us toward itself. It does this through its emissary, its representative in our personal experience, which is the Point. In the operation of the Diamond Guidance, the Point affects our consciousness by always orienting us to the point of the situation, the meaning of experience, the heart of the matter. In guided inquiry, we are always pulled in deeper and deeper.

Exercising this Intimacy with Yourself

When there is sincerity about understanding the truth, there is beauty and appreciation in the process for both the teacher and the student . . . . . . There is a beauty to the human being who experiences his or her suffering without indulging, and getting lost in it. Truth sometimes leads to the elimination of suffering, but it can also lead to pain. Whichever results, if the student allows the perspective of love and appreciation for reality, for truth—whether it brings joy or pain—a feeling of deep intimacy within will result. You could be intimate with yourself, which is satisfying and fulfilling, regardless of whether the outcome of the problem results in pain or pleasure. Either pain or pleasure, grumbling that you didn’t get what you wanted or being elated that you got your way, could distract you from the deeper significance of working on yourself. This is the deeper satisfaction of inner intimacy. This attitude of truth frees us from our usual childish desires, needs, dreams, and wants. When you appreciate the truth and yourself in that process, you exercise this intimacy with yourself, a capacity and a fulfillment you may not have known was possible. This fulfillment is clearly so much more to the point than being seen, feeling important, feeling better than others, having power, riches—all the things that we usually seek. The more you feel this intimacy, the more you see that these desires are vacuous. Even if you reached all these goals and desires, they would never compare to the riches of the heart, this intimacy with yourself.

Experiencing the Intimacy of Nearness to the Absolute Nature of Everything

When we experience the absolute through the heart modality, the absolute attains a sense of gentleness and simplicity. We feel the same fullness and emptiness, but now with a softness, a gentleness, and an amazing contentment. We feel light and simple, easy and at ease. The most characteristic element of the heart experience is an amazing sense of intimacy. Since the absolute is the being of nonbeing it is totally transparent and absolutely free of obscurations. The sense of absence means the absence of all qualities; hence it has nothing to hinder perception and contact. This means there is nothing, no intermediary, between our awareness and whatever we are experiencing. We are experiencing the absolute inside of everything. Such nearness to the secret chamber of any and all manifestation appears as the most total and the most exquisite intimacy. We are not intimate with anything in particular. We are simply experiencing the intimacy of nearness to the absolute nature of everything. We are near everything, because we are the absolute, the inner heart of everything. Our presence becomes the exquisite gentleness and intimacy of no barriers, no intermediaries, not even qualities to be in the way of the heart.

Intimacy So Complete that there is No Duality

We also see a greater depth of the meaning of personal in the experience of Natalie in the previous chapter. She says: “I feel closer to myself—personal—and from this source my energy feels open to make contact and to be real.” So the sense of feeling personal is a sense of feeling close to, and intimate with, oneself in a personal way. One feels very close to oneself as a person, as a being, as a human being. One feels involved with oneself, immersed in one’s unique beingness. One is intimately touching one’s own depth, one’s own substance, one’s own soul. One is touching the atoms of one’s being, in intimate contact, in an embrace where one is embracing one’s own being. He who embraces and he who is embraced are the same being, the Personal Essence. The subject is the object. The perceiver is the perceived. The intimacy is so complete that there is no duality. The personal feeling in this experience is the constituent consciousness of the Personal Essence, the intimate feeling tone of this personal being. Just as water is composed of two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen, so the Personal Essence is composed of consciousness that feels personal. So being personal does not exactly mean that one is aware of oneself as a person, and because of this one feels personal. Not exactly. The feeling of being personal is its own feeling, independent of what one takes oneself to be. This point is difficult to communicate, because on the ego level, being personal is habitually associated with being a person.

Intrinsic Intimacy of Essential Presence

These developments in turn bring about a profound sense of aloneness, for the presence of Being is not connected psychically to any internalized object relation; it is autonomous from the structured sense of self that consists of representations of the self in relation to others. At the beginning the soul inevitably experiences this transcendence as aloneness, which tends to bring a fear of loss of contact, relatedness, connection, and communication. However, deep and persistent inquiry reveals the intrinsic intimacy of essential presence, whose boundlessness and formlessness constitute a much more fundamental connectedness than that known by the ego-self. The soul contends with the notion of death and the fear of death, and learns, with persistent inquiry, that her true nature transcends both life and death, for it is the pure consciousness that forms the eternal ground of all phenomena. We see, then, that even though the inner journey confronts us, often painfully, with existential issues, the experience and understanding of essence provides resolution and a depth of wisdom not envisaged by existential philosophy or any form of psychotherapy.

Real Understanding Implies the Possibility of Knowing Through Intimacy

We have seen in chapter 15 that understanding implies a differentiation in experience. Being presents itself, or our experience, in a differentiated form; it does not normally present us with undifferentiated experience. It gives us specifics: anger, sadness, sickness, health, emptiness, fullness, and so on. Knowingness means not only the ability to differentiate these elements, but also the capacity to experientially recognize them for what they are. This kind of knowing is always implicit in experience. In other words, real understanding implies the possibility of knowing through intimacy, instead of only through mental and conceptual operations. You can know your body through being intimate with it, you can know your feelings through being intimate with them, you can know your inner state by being intimate with it. Intimacy means that no barrier exists between you and whatever you are knowing. It’s a direct in-touch-ness, a direct contact. More than that, it is a mixing of your consciousness with whatever it is you’re knowing. There are no barriers, no walls, between you and what it is that you are knowing. This has been traditionally termed knowing through identity, that is, knowing by being what you know. It has also been termed gnosis (jnana in Sanskrit; yeshe in Tibetan; ma‘rifa in Arabic). For example, you know anger by being anger, by experiencing it as part of you when your awareness and consciousness pervade the experience of anger. The nature of the soul is such that when a feeling arises, we can experience that feeling from within the feeling itself. We can intimately mix our consciousness with the specifics of our experience and recognize directly what the experience is. This is the ground of knowingness, which is direct knowing, and it is necessary in the process of understanding. Without this kind of knowingness, this gnosis, there is no possibility of real understanding; understanding remains only a mental operation, which is good for mathematics but is not enough for spiritual transformation.

Recognizing that Intimacy is a Quality of Spacious Consciousness

Intimacy discloses itself as an inherent quality of this black inner space. The intimacy is not only a matter of me being intimate with another person, or with the environment. It is not a matter of a subject intimately relating to an object. The chest cavity is pervaded by the essence of intimacy, a black spaciousness inseparable from delicate lovingness. At this point the jewel-like nous at the forehead manifests mostly black radiance, coextensive with the sensation of delicately faceted, satin, liquid energy. The more I recognize that intimacy is a quality of spacious consciousness, the more distinctly I know it: velvet-fine openness, deep spaciousness, delicate softness, sweet stillness. The chest has become an entrance into an exquisitely heartful night sky. All of this distills itself into something unique and utterly human: intimacy. It is as if the space is a refined consciousness intimately in contact with its very nature at each point of its spaciousness. And this total openness and contact becomes an intimacy with everything, totally independent of mind and memory. No loneliness and no sense of aloneness. Simplicity of Being has ushered me, through the door of aloneness, into its inherent intimacy.

Seeing Intimacy as Merely the Condition of Total In-Touchness

The absolute is indeterminate intimacy, the essence of Being. The sense of intimacy comes from the transparency coemergent with centerless knowingness: I am totally in touch with myself at each point of my presence, with no veils. In this complete in-touchness there is a sense of privacy, of interiority. This delicate interiority is the essence of intimacy. There is no subject being intimate with an object; in fact there is nothing to be intimate with. Intimacy is merely the condition of total in-touchness. The absolute is definitely Being, but it cannot be said to be existence, or even presence. It is Being in that there is an actuality that we do encounter. In fact, it is the only certain being; everything else arises out of it, and is transitory. However, this beingness of the absolute is devoid of the concept or feeling of existence, empty of the concept or sense of presence. There is an immediacy of self-awareness, but there is nothing to say about what the awareness is aware of. I sometimes call it absolute Being.

Soul Feeling an Intimacy with Everything in the World

But what becomes important after a while is not these vast spaces and mysterious states of realization. What takes precedence then is how to live in the world. The greatest gift is not that I recognize my nature as the absolute, but in my being able to live in the world and act from that perspective of the absolute. The soul becomes transparent to the absolute, which then feels an intimacy with everything in the world. The question then is not experience, but action. To really, truly, interact with other people and live in the world, with true sensitivity, with true intimacy. To be with somebody else and experience them deeply, while leaving them completely alone, without the interference of any reactions, ideas, positions, hopes, or fears. And to be able to bring compassion, sensitivity, love, and intelligence to bear on such interactions so that the other person can also reveal that understanding of themselves. This again is the action of grace.

The Absolute Intimacy of Quintessence

Quintessence is the Inner of the Inner, totally inner, totally private. The absolute intimacy of Quintessence is emptiness that lacks distance between one thing and another, between awareness and experience. Between our awareness and what we experience is complete nonbeing, so we are completely our aware experience. Quintessence is total intimacy, which we experience as an utter silence, stillness, and imperturbability. At the same time, it also has a sense of fullness, of gracefulness, of presence, a sense of beingness explicitly there as we experience its total absence. Quintessence is at once an inscrutable mystery and a bright clarity. The Kernel of the Kernel has the clarity and the freshness of pure awareness, the nowness and fullness of presence, and the depth of the intimacy of emptiness. They are all present distinctly, explicitly, and yet there is absolutely no separation between them. They are completely one, completely indivisible, and nevertheless explicitly discernible. Even though they are all one explicit thereness, we can feel it as complete absence, completely nothing there and everything there at the same time, in the same shot, in the same perception. This is the paradox of enlightened awareness. The lack of obstruction of the emptiness, of the nonbeingness, makes transparent the actual presence. The absolute emptiness allows the perception or the feeling, allows whatever is there, to be so, fully and clearly. So the absence or the nonbeing doesn’t mean there is an empty space between you and what you experience. Emptiness means that space is gone, distance is gone, you and your experience as two separate things is gone. The intimacy between you and what you experience is total.

The Guidance is Not Simply a Path to the Truth

When you have seen through the doubts that block your faith in the optimizing force of Being, your heart relaxes and opens. As your experience of truth in your life deepens, your heart is nourished. As your knowing of the Diamond Guidance as the revealer of truth grows, your heart awakens to what it most appreciates. The Diamond Guidance is the wisdom that leads you home, to the place where your heart knows its greatest joy. This is the land of truth and true nature. The Guidance is not simply a path to the truth, it is the manifestation of truth, the knowingness of truth, and a discerning intimacy with the truth. So the attitude in the soul that can most directly invite this blessing of truth to arise is one of heartfelt love. This is not only the heart’s openness but its active love and interest in knowing and being intimate with the truth. To love to know the truth means to love the operation of the Diamond Guidance. And to feel the love of truth for its own sake means at the essential level, “I’m happy to surrender to the Diamond Guidance.” That’s why this love is an attitude that more than any other calls the Diamond Guidance to arise and operate. The heart gets what it wishes for much more often than we think. What the heart deeply wishes for, it ends up having in some way. So if we wish for the immediate and intimate knowingness of the truth, that’s exactly what will happen. Diamond Guidance will arise and operate by revealing the truth. The love of truth is not the only necessary element, but it is a basic and fundamental one.

When Mind Explodes Into Absolute Clarity and Brilliance

The student may also come to understand that the love might be passionate and consuming, sweet and heavenly, but even that will tend to separate her somewhat from her beloved, for it relates her to it instead of totally disappearing into it. This only deepens her love to the point of totally annihilating all self-recognition. This precipitates the self-realization of the absolute truth of Being, where she becomes one with this dazzling mystery, totally identified with this luminous, crystal black vastness. The student realizes at this point that she is infinite and boundless, a vastness that has no end. It is as if she becomes the vastness of intergalactic space, seeing that this absolute blackness has a crystalline purity and clarity which make the blackness shimmer and glitter with indescribable brilliance. Her mind explodes into absolute clarity and brilliance, her heart a vastness of annihilating intimacy and bliss, and her body a shimmering which is the appearance of the totality of the universe. She perceives the universe, in all its multiplicity and richness, as a beautiful appearance, as a brilliantly colored robe that she wears. She finds herself to be the immensity of the mysterious blackness, with the universe as the colorful pattern of her radiance. The totality of the universe is a unified oneness, but more than that. Oneness is a poor concept to describe such sheer beauty. She recognizes all of appearance, all that appears to perception, as the brilliant luminosity of the mysterious black vastness.

When We are Not Only Intimate with Ourselves, but Our Very Presence is Intimacy

What does the experience of self-realization feel like?

The experience self-realization, of knowing oneself as self-pervasive consciousness, is felt experientially as an exquisite sense of intimacy. The self-existing consciousness experiences itself so immediately that it is completely intimate with its reality. The intimacy is complete because there is no mediation in the self’s experience of itself. We feel an exquisite stillness, a peace beyond all description, and a complete sense of being truly ourselves. We are so totally ourselves that we feel directly intimate with every atom of our consciousness, completely intimate with and mixed with our true identity. The contentment is like settling down peacefully at home after eons of restless and agonized wandering. Clarity and peace combine as the feeling of exquisite, contented intimacy, which is totally independent of the particulars of our situation, beyond the conceptual confines of time and space. The peace and contentment do not come from accomplishing anything, nor are they a result of anything. They are part of the actual feeling of being truly ourselves. We are not only intimate with ourselves, but our very presence is intimacy.

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