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Knowingness (True Knowingness)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Knowingness (True Knowingness)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Knowingness (True Knowingness)

Inquiry is Based on Remaining Open and Without Positions

We have seen that inquiry is based on remaining open and without positions. It is guided by the true knowingness of what is happening in our experience, and it is not goal-oriented. Its only interest is the revelation of the truth. You could say that inquiry is the aesthetic appreciation of what our Being reveals. So in some sense, as we learn to do it, we reclaim our free dynamism. In fact, inquiry is an expression of that dynamism. It coincides with the true unfoldment of our Being, which we call understanding. Learning the open attitude of inquiry counteracts our tendency to limit and subvert the free dynamism. With practice, inquiry becomes a mode of inner life that replaces the inner manipulation of ego activity. So instead of trying to do something about a particular state or feeling, for example, we open ourselves to find out and understand it. This changes the whole orientation of our psyche, because ego activity tends to limit true openness. In fact, ego activity blocks the dynamism from its natural freedom and spontaneity because it is based on what we believe is true. In ego activity, we take for granted the knowledge we have accumulated, without questioning it. We take our learning to be conclusive, while inquiry is based on recognizing what is possible and not taking anything as final. That is because its kernel, which is a question, is openness, an openness that wants to find out. We choose to invite Being to freely display its richness. So as inquiry becomes central in our lives, and synergistic with the operation of the Diamond Guidance, the Guidance infuses our everyday life as well as our inquiry.

Inquiry that is a Matter of Actively Using the Various Qualities of Our Deepest Nature

The Diamond Guidance can be accessed and used not just in our work but in many ways—for example, in a philosophic or scientific inquiry. In the Diamond Approach, we inquire specifically into our own personal experience. Inquiry is an application of the Socratic method to the immediate reality of our life. It is worth noting that many people, when reading books about the Diamond Approach or when first coming to the Ridhwan School, believe they know how to practice inquiry. This is especially so if they were trained in philosophy or psychotherapy. I am sure that many people know how to inquire, but that does not mean it is the inquiry we are discussing here. We do not practice inquiry as it is conventionally understood; we do it from the perspective of our true nature. Inquiry that is open ended, that is an expression of the openness, true knowingness, and creative dynamism of Being, is not just any inquiry. It is a matter of actively using the various qualities of our deepest nature. This is a very unusual and rare capacity. It takes some people a long time—in fact many years in this work—before they recognize, “Oh, this is not how I usually inquire. It is not inquiry the way I have always thought of it. 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.

Normal Knowingness that Has to do with Thinking, Memory, Reasoning and Labeling

True reality is presence that has self-pervasive awareness that possesses at the same time a discriminating knowingness. This fact, which is important for inquiry, can be recognized in your own personal experience. Your normal experience is of being a person with awareness and a capacity to discriminate. But this discrimination is not a result of the mind’s labels; the labeling comes later. The inherent discrimination happens as a part of the awareness. You might discriminate the pattern of a tree outside your window and call it a tree, but your ability to discern the pattern of the tree is already there before you call it a tree. It is the same with the capacity to discriminate your inner impressions, such as various emotions, sensations, and thoughts. For example, your inherent recognition of sadness—the soft, warm dissolution of holding in the chest—exists prior to your mind’s labeling the experience “sadness.” When the sense of inherent discrimination is obscured to us, it manifests in our normal experience as thinking and labeling, what we ordinarily call knowledge. However, this is a reflection, one step removed from the true knowingness. In other words, the normal knowingness that has to do with thinking, memory, reasoning, and labeling is how true knowingness appears in our ordinary egoic experience. It is ordinary knowledge, in contrast to basic knowledge.

Seeing that “Intellect” is Now Applied Only to Mental Knowingness, the Egoic Reflection of True Knowingness

Whereas the awareness, the oneness, and the openness are constant and unchanging facets of reality, and the dynamism is the experience of change, it is through the knowingness that we experience what is and what changes. Knowingness is the dimension that recognizes all the various manifestations of our life. And the details of knowingness are always different from moment to moment. That is why it is said God never repeats himself. The status of the universe is always different, always new. This is not an esoteric idea. If you think of yourself, you will recognize that no second in your experience is truly like any other. It’s always changing, always different. The knowingness inherent in presence, referred to earlier as the Divine Mind, was called by the Greeks nous, or higher intellect. When the Greeks, as in the case of Plotinus, used the word “intellect,” they did not mean discursive thinking. In fact, in Western languages, the word “intellect” originally meant “the inherent knowingness.” However, this changed mostly in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, when “intellect” began to refer to the representational knowing that goes on in our mind. Now “intellect” is applied only to mental knowingness, the egoic reflection of true knowingness. The inherent knowingness, or nous, was called the logos by some Christians, total intellect by the Sufis, and discriminating awareness by the Buddhists. Now, this discriminating awareness or knowingness is the source of all experience—the various impressions, forms, and colors. Whether they are ordinary physical experiences or unusual spiritual experiences, they are all the same to the inherent knowingness—they are all knowingness, at different levels and intensities of brilliance. The ego experience is just dull knowingness, while the essential experience is a bright knowingness, a luminous presence.

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