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Journey of Ascent

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Journey of Ascent?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Journey of Ascent

A Simple Overview of the Path of the Soul

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.

A View that Departs from the Progressive Way of Looking at Things

In this book, I am presenting a view that not only expands the view that we have been developing over the years in our teaching contexts but, at the same time, also departs from the progressive way of looking at things, departs from the view of aspects and vehicles and dimensions of true nature. The view of totality is basically a departure from the view of the journey of ascent and descent. So far in the teaching, we have mostly been working from the perspective of a journey of ascent—going deeper and deeper into the nature of reality—and a journey of descent, in which we integrate those realizations into our life. This doesn’t mean that, instead of the gradual path, I am now presenting the sudden path to enlightenment. In fact, the question of gradual or sudden is irrelevant to the view I am presenting …… The view I am presenting here is that this journey has no end. The moment we see that the journey has no end, everything changes. The whole idea of progression, of the journey of ascent and descent, appears differently. That sense of progression is one way in which we can understand reality, but reality doesn’t have to be understood only in that way. It is precisely because the teaching has proceeded in a gradual and progressive way that we can now see reality in novel and unexpected ways. What I’ve noticed in my experience is that it is always the case that when we are working with the manifestation of true nature, learning about something means transcending it. In other words, learning about reality—realizing it and understanding it in a particular, awakened way—always means going beyond that reality.

Apex of the Journey of Ascent

The absolute dimension can be considered the apex of the journey of ascent, but it is also the point from which descent commences. The dimension that actually begins the descent is the core dimension, and hence we consider it a transitional dimension. More exactly, the core dimension is the first dimension of descent, and hence the first step toward the movement from transcendence to immanence. As usual, the clearest way of understanding the major characteristics of a boundless dimension of descent is to see it in terms of the relation of the absolute to the essential aspects, the manifestation of its perfections. In this dimension each essential aspect arises as a faceted diamond, whose core is the absolute. The core is a sphere of blackness and emptiness of the absolute, but the rest of the body of the diamond is constituted by the dynamic presence of the logos. This dynamic presence assumes the color and quality of the particular essential aspect. In other words, the core of the diamond is always black emptiness, but the external part changes color and quality depending on the arising aspect. The external layer is substantial and full, unlike the ethereal radiance of the absolute diamonds. These diamonds are similar to those of the point diamonds, except that the center has changed from the radiant point of light to the dark emptiness of the absolute.

Characterizing the Journey of Ascent

The journey of ascent is characterized by the movement up the ladder of this ontological hierarchy. Each step is a penetration of a dimension, which is the same thing as the shedding of its characteristic mode of experience. The movement upward is also a movement toward greater simplicity, for what is shed is basically fundamental concepts and differentiations of Reality. And what we find through this shedding is that there is actually no leaving of the old dimension, but a movement to a greater ground that contains and supports the previous one. A metaphor that illustrates this is the dimensions that exist in our bodies. Molecules form a dimension larger and more fundamental than the dimension of organs. Yet, the dimension of atoms is larger and more fundamental than that of molecules, and the dimension of elementary particles is more fundamental than that. Each deeper or more fundamental dimension is simpler, but contains the one previous to it.

Essential Experience from the Beginning of the Journey of Ascent

We have used the concept of Being in two primary ways. The first is that of existence, of the ontological dimension of all forms. In this meaning Being is the same as presence, for it is the beingness of the forms. In other words, when we inquire into the ontological dimension of forms, the fact of their existence, we come upon the experience of presence. The existence of a form is its presence, which is a palpable category of experience and not an abstract idea. We have seen that the dimension that clarifies this fact most fully and precisely is the boundless dimension of pure presence. And because essential experience, all the way from the beginning of the journey of ascent through the realization of the dimension of pure presence, is always the experience of presence, we have tended to use the term Being interchangeably with true nature. However, we have seen that in the dimensions of pure awareness and that of the absolute, and in all the dimensions of descent, true nature is not simply presence or beingness, but rather the coemergence of being and nonbeing, presence and absence. This brings us to the second sense in which we have been using the word Being. We have frequently used it to mean true nature, not just the beingness of forms. We used it to mean true nature in general, regardless of dimension or quality, regardless whether it is presence or emptiness. This is a larger category, but we have used the term this way because true nature is the ontological dimension of forms, regardless of whether this ontological dimension is existence or nonexistence. In other words, the ontological mode, or the mode of existence, can be presence or absence, or both or neither. The other reason we have used the term Being in this sense is simply following tradition. The tradition is not exactly that of equating Being with true nature in all of its dimensions, but more of equating it with Reality as a whole, whatever its nature or ontological mode. We have followed this classical usage of the term Being because in our view such usage is not different from our usage of it as referring to true nature. Our view, as we have been discussing in this chapter, is that Reality is actually true nature, for there is no reality separate or apart from true nature. Reality is nothing but true nature, in its various dimensions, coemergent with its own manifestation in the various forms. The forms are forms that true nature takes, so true nature is nothing but Reality seen in its subtlety. Alternately, Reality is nothing but true nature seen in its wholeness, totality, and completeness.

Familiar Phenomena in Her (Soul) Journey of Ascent to the Absolute

The soul feels any sense of movement away from total intimacy with the absolute mystery to be an intolerable loss. However, regardless of her resistance and protest, it finally dawns on her that she cannot stay where she is, and that it is not up to her personal choice. At some point she recognizes that her unfoldment is taking her to a place different than the transcendent absolute ipseity. She might feel the arising of a great sadness, tremendous grief. It may take her a long time before she realizes that there is no loss of the total intimacy with the absolute, that she does not have to actually leave her home to go on to these further stations. As she surrenders to the dynamism of Being, and ceases to hold on to her realization of the absolute ipseity, she recognizes and surrenders her attachment to the absolute realization. In this process she discovers that while it is true that she is on a journey of descent from the heights of transcendence, this journey is not a separation from the absolute. The descent is a descent into limitation, but it is the descent not of her individual sense of herself, but the descent of the ipseity itself. In other words, she descends into the limitations of the world not as a soul entity, but as the absolute mystery itself. Nevertheless, this process feels like separation and loss; it is more than the soul has wanted, and a journeying further when she wants to journey no more. However, she recognizes these manifestations of a sense of loss, separation, resistance, and grief, which became familiar phenomena in her journey of ascent to the absolute. Whenever the dynamism of Being unfolds her experience to another dimension of Being, the soul always feels that she is going to lose whatever she has realized. Every time her unfoldment takes her to a further dimension, she cannot but feel it as a separation from, a leaving of, and a loss of, the station at which she has stabilized. As the soul begins the journey of descent, the station she feels she has to leave is that of union with her ultimate Beloved and home, which she clearly knows as the deepest of all truths. She finally learns to surrender to the flow, mostly out of love for the absolute ipseity, for she recognizes that it is the source of all unfoldment.

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

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.

In the Journey of Ascent, the Individual Soul Penetrates the Various Dimensions of Creation and Manifestation

In the journey of ascent, the individual soul penetrates the various dimensions of creation and manifestation, which are the garments in which the absolute was hidden. The journey of descent, however, is the conscious donning of these garments by the absolute. The ascent is like a movement inward, while the descent is a movement outward; in the first the absolute regains its conscious awareness, and in the second it retains this awareness within manifestation. Hence, the descent is into manifestation, but not into exile and alienation. Therefore, just as the journey of ascent is that of shedding and separation leading to the simplicity of singlehood, the journey of descent is that of integration and union leading to the richness of wholeness. The journey of descent is actually a further understanding and realization of the absolute. It is a matter of understanding the absolute as not only the transcendent truth but also as the immanent ground and essence of all Reality. This includes the view and understanding of all of the dimensions and forms of Reality from the vantage point of the absolute. Hence, this and the next chapter can be viewed as a continuation of the previous chapter’s discussion of the absolute.

Movements to Realize the Absolute Nature of Reality and to Integrate that Realization Into our Life

When we consider the development of this teaching and how it expresses reality, we can distinguish, in its present condition, four broad movements that are turnings of the wheel of the teaching. The first turn of the wheel encompasses the individual phase, which is the learning, development, and realization of the soul or individual consciousness. Here, the soul discovers essence as her true nature. In the second turning of the wheel, the soul realizes the boundless condition of her true nature. This is usually equivalent to the realization of the unity, oneness, and nonduality of reality. If we survey the history of this teaching, we see that we have been working primarily within these first two turnings of the teaching. We work long and hard to realize our essential identity and to wake up to the unity of existence. We can see our work thus far as the movements to realize the absolute nature of reality and to integrate that realization into our life; these are known as the journeys of ascent and descent. In this book, I am introducing some of the wisdoms related to the third and fourth turnings of the wheel of the teaching. The third turning of the wheel has to do with what I refer to as the freedom vehicle. This vehicle signals a move beyond even the boundlessness, unity, and nonduality of true nature. It presents reality from an entirely different vantage. Basically, it is like going to a parallel universe that is altogether different from ours, and then contemplating realization, enlightenment, and spirituality from the perspective of this new universe. We are investigating the same phenomena that we always have, but from a radically different angle.

Realizing All the Boundless Dimensions

We can experience Quintessence as the body of reality, as the medium that manifests everything. Enlightened awareness is a medium that explicitly is, where the feeling of “isness” is singularly clear. At the same instant as the singularly clear isness, we can experience singularly clear “it is not.” Mind and no-mind are seamlessly together. This paradoxical nature of reality becomes playful delight. Enlightened awareness completely confounds the conceptual categories, easily pushes them to their utmost possibilities, plays with them so clearly, so fully, and with utter abandon. You may be wondering how this is related to the Absolute, the Logos, and other boundless dimensions of reality. What I am discussing has more to do with the journey of descent. The journey of ascent has to do with realizing all the boundless dimensions. In the journey of descent, all of the boundless dimensions are integrated as one living being. I usually think of Quintessence as the nature of manifest phenomena. Just as the nowness is how timelessness appears in time, and the spaciousness is how emptiness appears in space, Quintessence is how the Absolute appears in manifestation. So we can consider it the manifest Absolute, and the Absolute in itself can be considered the unmanifest. Some schools of Buddhism make a similar distinction between the unmanifest dharmakaya and the manifest dharmakaya. Quintessence is more like the manifest dharmakaya, the manifest body of truth, the true body of manifestation.

Self-realization in the Journey of Ascent Goes through Stages

The integration of the point diamond vehicle and its wisdom facilitates the shift from the journey of ascent to that of descent. There is now freedom from the fixation of self, for at this juncture identity is essential presence that can flow as any quality or dimension. Identity has been shifting for the soul, from ego identity based on historical impressions, to essential identity in any of the essential aspects, to boundless identity of true nature on the dimensions of divine love, pure presence, nonconceptual awareness, and finally the absolute. Through the self-realization of the absolute dimension identity becomes established as the absolute, for identity has no more place for it to unfold. Before this juncture the identity of the soul, her sense of self-recognition, has been in continual unfoldment, going deeper and subtler. Self-realization in the journey of ascent goes through stages as the dimension of what and who the soul is unfolds to deeper and subtler dimensions of Being. (See The Point of Existence for a detailed discussion of this shift of identity.)

Shifting Identity of the Soul

The integration of the point diamond vehicle and its wisdom facilitates the shift from the journey of ascent to that of descent. There is now freedom from the fixation of self, for at this juncture identity is essential presence that can flow as any quality or dimension. Identity has been shifting for the soul, from ego identity based on historical impressions, to essential identity in any of the essential aspects, to boundless identity of true nature on the dimensions of divine love, pure presence, nonconceptual awareness, and finally the absolute. Through the self-realization of the absolute dimension identity becomes established as the absolute, for identity has no more place for it to unfold. Before this juncture the identity of the soul, her sense of self-recognition, has been in continual unfoldment, going deeper and subtler. Self-realization in the journey of ascent goes through stages as the dimension of what and who the soul is unfolds to deeper and subtler dimensions of Being. (See The Point of Existence for a detailed discussion of this shift of identity.) 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 sub-process that forms the deeper and most central part of the inner journey.

Soul Recognizing that Her Inner Journey to the Absolute has been a Journey of Ascent

She recognizes that her inner journey to the absolute has been a journey of ascent, of moving from the lowest and grossest dimensions of experience to the summit of subtlety and truth. In this journey of ascent, the process has been primarily that of discrimination, separation, purification, and resolution. Her nature reveals itself as simpler, more subtle, and increasingly devoid of forms, qualities, determinations, and concepts. The journey moves toward absolute simplicity, through a process of continual shedding. All forms and dimensions are shed, to reveal the perfect simplicity and emptiness of the absolute. Absolute simplicity turns out to be absolute transcendence, the transcendence of all forms and dimensions of manifestation. Her journey has taken her deeper and deeper, steadily leaving behind more superficial dimensions, until she has arrived at the absolute depth of all experience, as the dimension of depth itself, which is simultaneously the transcendent summit of all dimensions and manifest forms.

The Boundless Dimensions Both in the Journey of Ascent and the Journey of Descent Have their Own Perspectives About Reality

Many of us can experience various aspects of reality without understanding them fully or recognizing their perspective. What does the experience of different aspects add to our view about reality? In some sense, all of enlightenment, all the wisdom of true nature, is already implicit in any one of the aspects. But it is often difficult for us to fully understand an aspect, to unpack it totally. So true nature, in its endless compassion, offers us one aspect after another in our experience, providing many chances and opportunities to learn about reality. And the same is true of the various wisdom vehicles on this path of realization. They are an important part of what develops the view of totality. And, of course, the boundless dimensions, both in the journey of ascent and the journey of descent, have their own perspectives about reality. As we experience each one of these dimensions, understand them, and integrate them, our view about reality changes and develops. We sometimes view our path as including two major journeys—ascent and descent—a journey toward enlightenment and a journey toward becoming a complete human being. The journey of ascent is a matter of realizing one dimension after another, all the way to the absolute dimension. We recognize and experience that dimension as the nature of reality in its vastness and mystery and clarity, as the ground of everything. Then the journey of descent is a process of integrating all the dimensions and qualities and vehicles into that absolute reality. The path of descent is actually a matter of integrating our lives into our realization. So the view of totality includes the views of all the aspects, all the vehicles, and all the dimensions of reality. It also includes the views of many other paths and teachings, and is open in such a way as to include whatever path we might encounter and from which we might learn. But it is not simply a synthetic hodgepodge of all these views into one state or one view. The view of totality holds, without losing or blending, many particularized views. I use the word “totality” because this is a view that encompasses many different perspectives, as different perspectives, at the same time. Each view is differentiated in its own right. So the view of totality includes the perspective of each aspect, the perspective of each vehicle, the perspective of each dimension, the perspective of integration of the dimensions in various ways, and the perspectives of other paths that we understand well. This view has all these perspectives available to it and many more as well.

The Journey of Ascent Culminates in the Entry into the Absolute

His exterior universe is close to the people. His interior universe is conjoined inseparably to God. To understand this person is very difficult because people think and judge a man by his visible devout attitude and his exterior actions, and they think it is the devout man who is evolved. However, the Perfect Man’s development cannot be seen with the eye of the senses. To be able to see him, you have to have the eyes that have reached him. [Ibid., p. 23]

It might appear in our discussion that this particular attainment is similar to other parts of the process of personalization, but deeper. In fact this particular integration is a whole process on its own, that commences after one attains to the Absolute and its personalization. It is what is referred to sometimes as the journey of descent, starting after the journey of ascent that culminates in the entry into the Absolute. It can be a difficult and painful journey, for it is felt frequently as leaving home, the peaceful majesty of the Absolute. It is the third and last journey in the Sufi path, according to Ibn ‘Arabi. This journey starts from Him, but at the same time it is the station of remaining (baqâ) with Him. That is to say, it is the journey from the Reality (haqq) to the Many (khalq). That is to say, having found the Universe of Oneness, he passes into the state of separateness. The man on this journey is for helping others to know, for clearing a way for others with a spiritual descent, and he puts on the cloak of manhood and comes down from his state to be among the people and mingles with them. [Ibid., p. 23] 

The Journey Toward Absolute Simplicity Through a Process of Continual Shedding

She recognizes that her inner journey to the absolute has been a journey of ascent, of moving from the lowest and grossest dimensions of experience to the summit of subtlety and truth. In this journey of ascent, the process has been primarily that of discrimination, separation, purification, and resolution. Her nature reveals itself as simpler, more subtle, and increasingly devoid of forms, qualities, determinations, and concepts. The journey moves toward absolute simplicity, through a process of continual shedding. All forms and dimensions are shed, to reveal the perfect simplicity and emptiness of the absolute. Absolute simplicity turns out to be absolute transcendence, the transcendence of all forms and dimensions of manifestation. Her journey has taken her deeper and deeper, steadily leaving behind more superficial dimensions, until she has arrived at the absolute depth of all experience, as the dimension of depth itself, which is simultaneously the transcendent summit of all dimensions and manifest forms.

The Personalization of Being is a Process that Goes through All the Boundless Dimensions of the Journeys of Ascent and Descent

The personalization of Being is a process that goes through all the boundless dimensions of the journeys of ascent and descent. It culminates in the personalization of the wholeness of Being, with all of the boundless dimensions in coemergent nonduality with each other and all manifest forms. We arrive then at a personal Reality, boundless and unified Being with a personal quality, a Reality with which we can have a personal relationship. Yet, it is not the normal idea of relationship, for there is no separation between the individual soul and the personal Being; and the personal Being is not an entity, not a particular form, but the wholeness of Reality. One specific characteristic of the personal Being is that it includes in its coemergence the logos dimension. This dimension of creative dynamism gives our experience of personal Being the sense that it personally acts and responds. Being is what creates and sustains everything, through its logos dimension. It is what makes anything happen, what moves and transforms all manifest forms. It is the only doer. However, since it is now personalized we experience it as personal doing. In other words, personal Being acts in a personal manner, where this action is nothing but the creative display of the logos, now integrated with the personal quality of essence. In the self-realization of personal Being, we experience ourselves as the wholeness of Reality, so we do not only feel personal but realize we are a dynamic and active cosmic presence. We can actually experience ourselves, as this cosmic dynamic presence, moving the winds and the stars. We feel that all that happens in the universe happens through our personal will and intelligence. This is not the will and intelligence of the individual soul, but of the cosmic Being, the personal boundless and infinite Being.

The Progressive View Employed by Many Teachings

The teaching stream from which this book is written, the Diamond Approach, contains both this kind of hierarchical view of the spiritual journey, with progressive stages of experience and realization, and also a nonhierarchical view of reality, which expresses the singleness of true nature. The progressive view, employed by many teachings and sometimes referred to as the journeys of ascent and descent, encompasses experiences and understandings that are instrumental to waking up. But at some point, regardless of what path we follow, we can begin to recognize that there is more to reality, that the secrets of the universe cannot be enclosed in any one view, no matter how consistent or vast that view is. One way that I have characterized the different modes of this teaching is by borrowing a metaphor from Vajrayana Buddhism. That tradition speaks about the different phases of their teaching as turnings of the wheel of truth. Each turn of the wheel signifies a particular stage of the teaching, and each turning is an entire teaching in itself. The Dharmachakra, or wheel of truth, turns three times in that tradition. I find the metaphor itself useful even though there is no direct correspondence between the contents of the turnings of that teaching and those of the Diamond Approach. 

The View of Totality is Basically a Departure from the View of the Journey of Ascent and Descent

How we teach the Diamond Approach is different from some other teachings that present the most complete view from the beginning, and students practice to actualize the state of that most complete view. We don’t do it that way, even when we do present an overarching view. We usually do it from a perspective of the view expanding and developing as the path progresses and as the student’s practice matures. So our view keeps opening and evolving as we proceed on the path. That is one way of seeing how we have conducted this teaching, as many of the previous books have shown. In this book, I am presenting a view that not only expands the view that we have been developing over the years in our teaching contexts but, at the same time, also departs from the progressive way of looking at things, departs from the view of aspects and vehicles and dimensions of true nature. The view of totality is basically a departure from the view of the journey of ascent and descent. So far in the teaching, we have mostly been working from the perspective of a journey of ascent—going deeper and deeper into the nature of reality—and a journey of descent, in which we integrate those realizations into our life. This doesn’t mean that, instead of the gradual path, I am now presenting the sudden path to enlightenment. In fact, the question of gradual or sudden is irrelevant to the view I am presenting. The view of totality, which is both an expansion of and a departure from the teaching as we’ve known it, will feel to many of us as a letting go or a loss of what we have learned or what we have assumed reality to be. When the teaching assumes the form of presenting qualities, aspects, and dimensions, several things are happening. One of them is that we are learning that these possibilities exist. We have not yet known that we could experience reality in those ways. So these teachings point to the possibilities that Being can manifest in our experience, and this helps our consciousness open up to them. For some time, the path involves learning about these possibilities—recognizing them, experiencing them, and opening our consciousness to those ways of being. This reveals that reality is much richer, much more open, and much more fluid than we know, that reality has more to it than what we grew up believing about what we are, what reality is, and what can happen. As the perspective expands in this way, the path moves from one realization to another.

The Whole Idea of Progression, of the Journey of Ascent and Descent, Appearing Differently

The view I am presenting here is that this journey has no end. The moment we see that the journey has no end, everything changes. The whole idea of progression, of the journey of ascent and descent, appears differently. That sense of progression is one way in which we can understand reality, but reality doesn’t have to be understood only in that way. It is precisely because the teaching has proceeded in a gradual and progressive way that we can now see reality in novel and unexpected ways. What I’ve noticed in my experience is that it is always the case that when we are working with the manifestation of true nature, learning about something means transcending it. In other words ,learning about reality—realizing it and understanding it in a particular, awakened way—always means going beyond that reality. We learn about states and dimensions of being because that is one possibility, but we don’t need to stick with that one possibility. Reality has a lot more up its sleeve! That is how we learn in the Diamond Approach. It’s a hard way, in the sense that we get established in particular dimensions or conditions and then reality naturally moves us elsewhere. For example, as we teach the boundless dimensions of reality, we become established and realized in the boundlessness and nonduality of reality for some time; and we focus a great deal on how to integrate and stabilize that particular condition. But then, as that happens, there is always a relaxation and, without our expecting it, the realization moves to a different dimension, to a different mode of experience. In this way, we learn about all kinds of realizations.

This View Opens Realization to Further Dimensions than are Available in the Journeys of Ascent and Descent

The view of totality as a whole is larger than the sum of its parts. But each part is also at once the whole. We cannot grasp the view of totality as a mental understanding. It’s a certain development, a specific realization of human potential. When we have understood and integrated the various views of different realizations of true nature, and many other views as well, then it becomes possible to discern the view of totality. Many new perspectives can develop because this view opens realization to further realizations than are available in the journeys of ascent and descent. The view of totality itself can be understood as aperspectival, but this is only partially true. More accurately, the view of totality is an openness that can hold any view or many views of reality and realization, precisely because it does not need to hold any one particular view. Many of you might notice that some of what I’m presenting is familiar to you from other teachings. I am sure that some of you are more familiar with this understanding than you think. You might know some of this in an implicit way, but you haven’t yet thought it out. I am thinking it out for you. The “unthought known” needs to be thought in order to be truly known. To think explicitly what you have only known in an implicit way, first you have to recognize it. I don’t mean sitting around intellectually thinking about it; I mean knowing it explicitly in your experience, which can foster new insight and new realization. Being familiar with this understanding doesn’t necessarily mean you know it explicitly. For a long time, I thought that if somebody has experience embodying this view, he will, at some point, know it. But after extensive experience with many students, I see that is not the case; familiarity does not translate into knowing unless the knowing becomes explicit. That is why the job of the teacher is to help make it explicit.

Two Parts of the Inner Journey

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.

Two Perspectives of the Boundless Dimensions

The Diamond Approach includes two perspectives about the relation of the boundless dimensions to each other. That of the journey of ascent views them as hierarchically ordered in increasing subtlety and fundamentality, while that of the journey of descent views them as inseparable and always coemergent.

We Cannot Bypass the Journeys of Ascent and Descent with their Different Kinds of Nonduality

So even though the experience of aspects and dimensions of reality is instrumental to waking up, even though we cannot bypass the journeys of ascent and descent with their different kinds of nonduality, there is still more to explore about reality, more to live and to find out. The mystery of reality has more angles than we can imagine. And we soon find that by looking at reality from these new angles, we can more easily and readily learn the various aspects of the teaching. So the view of totality makes more available and accessible to experience and to understanding the usual progression of the teaching, both of this particular path and also of many of the nondual approaches, whether gradual or sudden. One way we can think about these different paradigms of the teaching is by employing a metaphor from Vajrayana Buddhism. That tradition refers to the movement through the different stages of its teaching as “turning the wheel of the teaching.” Each phase is the wheel of the teaching making one turn, and each turn is an entire, complete teaching in itself. That tradition identifies three phases of teaching, each of which is one turning of the wheel of truth, the wheel of the Dharma, the wheel of the teaching. Although I am borrowing this terminology because I find it useful, there is no direct correspondence between the phases or turnings of the Vajrayana teaching and the quantum revelations of the Diamond Approach.

When the Conditions of Realization are Not Always Going from One Dimension to Another

So from the view of reality, what we consider a stage or aspect or dimension is how reality is manifesting itself at that time, and it is as real as any other stage or aspect or dimension. In other words, each manifestation has its own inherent value. That is what is presenting itself. It doesn’t need to be compared to something else. All we need to do is experience it fully and appreciate it for what it is. From the perspective of reality, we think of enlightenment differently than we think of it from the perspective of the journey of ascent and descent. Enlightenment here is runaway realization—with the capacity to experience things from the perspective of true nature, not only from the perspective of the individual self. Runaway realization means that each condition of realization leads to another condition of realization and then another, and each realization is free to realize itself in ever-deeper ways, changing and transforming itself to other conditions of realization. Realization begets further realization. Furthermore, the conditions of realization are not always going from one dimension to another, which is the way it is in the journey of ascent and descent. After a while, that model of progressive realization breaks down. The view of totality includes a way of experiencing that is not in terms of the progressive realization of dimensions. The perspective of spiritual awakening as a progression of ever-subtler dimensions is useful in bringing about the relaxation of our fixated views about what and how we think reality is. But as we open up time and space, as well as the fixation of the individual and the other, and the beliefs about motivation, goal, and causality, we discover a new view of experience. This new view is not about increasing subtlety or establishing ultimates. As we discover it, however, we immediately want to freeze the new view. The mind tends to freeze whatever realization arises and to declare that to be all of reality. And we think that if an experience is profound, if it is real, if it is genuine, then it should stay in place. But that is the view of our mind, not of reality’s mind.

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