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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Liberation?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Liberation

Almost Everyone Goes In and Out of Liberation Frequently

Liberation or freedom is not really concerned with any particular essential aspect, quality, or state. It does not matter what essential state exists in the experience of liberation. If you are free from personality, you are free no matter what the state is. In the state of liberation the content of experience becomes unimportant. It is very ordinary. Nothing specific happens, no huge realization or mind shattering experience. It is the most natural state. It is so ordinary and so natural that when we have it, we don't know we have it. It is so uneventful that almost everyone goes in and out of it frequently.

An Unprecedented Kind of Liberation and Freedom

Practice that is realization discloses two kinds of illumination and revelation. One of them is the revelation of development—the development of capacities and the discoveries of ways of being, ways of action and communication and expression. There is no end to that development. You can never exhaust it. The development of the soul itself, the particular vehicle through which realization happens, never concludes. The other kind of revelation is the discovery of what’s called the natural condition, the discovery of our true nature, of the enlightened condition. At some point, what becomes important in this condition is not what the nature of soul or reality is but the freedom of the soul and reality to manifest whatever it wants to manifest. We might think that we will be in some condition like absolute emptiness or pure awareness, which constantly manifests things in various ways. I mean something different from that. What I mean is that true nature might not manifest itself as the absolute or as pure awareness at all. True nature might manifest itself in ways that don’t have anything to do with the absolute or with pure awareness. You might find out that pure awareness and the absolute are simply way stations and that every condition is a way station. So realization is endless—there is no final destination. When I say that practice is realization realizing further realization, I don’t mean that practice keeps realizing further realization until we get to the ultimate realization. That is what many of us think. And we are accustomed to this way of thinking because many teachings assert this view. In the view I am presenting here, there is no need to hold the position of ultimate realization. When we become free from the position of being oriented toward a goal, when we let go of that, we will be amazed to discover new possibilities of experience, new ways of living and being. The freedom that can happen is unimaginable—you are free not only from your conditioning and constraint but also from what your experience tells you is the truth. There is no need to adhere to anything at all. Of course, this understanding of practice without goal is bound to be controversial. Even though many teachings talk about not having goals, they still have goals in the sense that they have the state of no-goal as an end. Many teachings hold not having a goal as a particular state or dimension. I am suggesting something different—that not having a goal is not a particular state, not a particular dimension. I mean truly and literally practice with no goal. This could be quite terrifying. “Wow, where am I going to stand? How am I going to orient myself? How is anything going to happen?” But also it ushers in an unprecedented kind of liberation and freedom.

Barriers to the Liberation of the Soul

The process of liberation of the soul frees her from many issues and barriers. We can organize these into the following categories:
* The soul’s physical preoccupation and external orientation. This is attachment to the external, which is what the world promises her, at the     expense of her depth, her true nature.
* The passions and appetites, drives and instinctual compulsions. These are the forms external orientation takes.
* Attachment in general, with its grasping and tight holding.
* Psychodynamic issues and conflicts with their repression, ego defense mechanisms, and blockages. This includes the difficulties of early experience as they survive in one’s personality and unconscious.
* Self-images and object relations. These constitute the content of the soul’s identifications.
* Fixation and rigidity, which tend to characterize her views and attitudes, but most importantly her ego structures.
* Narcissism, which reflects the soul’s alienation from her true nature.
* General ego structural issues, such as weakness and inadequacy. This includes schizoid defenses.
* Precocious development.
* Underdevelopment. Both this and precocious development may characterize some of the soul’s ego structures.
* Structure in general, more specifically the need for one.
* Underlying all these categories are the fundamental issues of ignorance and duality. These are the central spiritual barriers usually identified by the various wisdom traditions. In Facets of Unity, we discriminate this fundamental barrier into nine fundamental delusions about Reality.

Continuous, Dynamic, Morphogenic Renewal of the Soul

Liberation, then, is not the attainment of a static state or ground. It is rather the freedom of the soul to fully engage in autopoiesis, that is, to reach the flexibility and impressionability, combined with mature autonomy, that allow her to be transparent to the fullness of her potential, in a dynamic responsiveness to her environment. Her self-renewal becomes a continuous dynamic morphogenic process, where she constantly and spontaneously restructures herself, expressing the richness of her potential in attunement with the demands and needs of her environment.

Freedom is the Raw State of Liberation Itself

Throughout life it comes and goes, for some people more often than others. It is a state of release, but without conscious feeling of release; everything is loose. This condition of freedom is not like liberation from some particular oppression; it is the raw state of liberation itself, so liberating that it doesn't matter what your experience is. You don't care what you're experiencing. Your heart is open and your mind doesn't fixate on preconceived ideas or worry about imagined possibilities. You're completely accepting without thinking or feeling that you're accepting. Essence will be there freely in whatever way your being needs at the moment, but still the Presence of Essence is not your focus, it's just who you are, what is present in your experience now.

Liberation from Ordinary Knowledge Means that You Feel What You are Experiencing Right Now Freshly

Basic knowledge means experience right now, the direct knowingness of your experience this moment. It is discriminated information that is happening in the moment inclusive of the observer and the observed. But then you have thoughts about this arising information, reflection on it, and a framework through which you look at it, and that is what we call ordinary knowledge. Inquiry helps you see how ordinary knowledge is affecting your direct experience now. To be liberated from ordinary knowledge means that you feel what you are experiencing right now freshly, without this overlay of old information. The moment you are consciously in touch with basic knowledge, you realize that nothing can escape it. No concept exists outside of it because any concept is ultimately basic knowledge—even God. What is God? Basic knowledge. What is the Absolute? Basic knowledge. Basic knowledge has many qualities, many levels, many refinements, and many ways of manifesting itself. The point is that in any experience, there is knowingness, and if you eliminate the dichotomy of observer and observed, you see that this knowingness is the same thing as the known, which is the same thing as the knowledge. This is a different way of defining knowledge than the ordinary way of defining it. This knowledge is a more direct, immediate, and experienced knowledge, and yet it is still knowledge that includes the discrimination and recognition of the meaning of the experience.

Liberation is Actually a Change of Mind

Understanding is our natural, inherent faculty. We see that this is all we’ve got when finally left to ourselves. When we forget all methods and techniques, when we just rest and be, only our own recognition of what is true is left. From this place, when we recognize our true nature, we understand who and what we are. And when we are convinced—with certainty and without question—that this truth is really our nature, then we change. So liberation is actually a change of mind. At some point, we change our mind about what reality is in a very fundamental way. The Diamond Guidance is the faculty in our soul that makes it possible for our inquiry to arrive at understanding. As we have seen, each essential aspect functions in the operation of the Diamond Guidance as a faculty needed for inquiry and understanding. And together, all the elements of the Diamond Guidance make it possible for our inquiry to become precise enough to arrive at objective understanding.

Liberation is the Freedom of the Soul to Fully Engage in Autopoiesis

To move toward renewal, the soul must recognize and respect her dissipative nature, and allow the process of autopoiesis to resume, or to resume more fully. This becomes the process of inner work, in which older structures are made transparent, dissolve, and allow for new structures of experience to emerge in a way that integrates the learning of the old structures. This is a metabolic process where the conscious medium of the soul is liberated from its rigid structuring, and develops by becoming increasingly structured by her essential nature and qualities. This process leads to realization and liberation, which is the regaining of the full autopoietic function of the self-organizing principle of the soul. More precisely, this function is the way the soul’s inherent creative morphing dynamism expresses itself in evolutionary self-renewal, culminating in self-liberation. Liberation, then, is not the attainment of a static state or ground. It is rather the freedom of the soul to fully engage in autopoiesis, that is, to reach the flexibility and impressionability, combined with mature autonomy, that allow her to be transparent to the fullness of her potential, in a dynamic responsiveness to her environment. Her self-renewal becomes a continuous dynamic morphogenic process, where she constantly and spontaneously restructures herself, expressing the richness of her potential in attunement with the demands and needs of her environment.

Our Liberation is a Matter of Releasing Basic Knowledge from the Distorting and Limiting Influence of Ordinary Knowledge

We have seen that in a fundamental way, experience is basic knowledge, which is the expression of the innate discriminating wisdom of Being. We have also learned that we can be aware of this innate discriminating wisdom of Being in a distorted way or a pure way. When our awareness is distorted, we live inside ordinary experience. When it is pure—liberated from ordinary knowledge—we experience the discriminating wisdom of basic knowledge as a display of luminosity and presence. But for most of us, most of the time, basic knowledge is determined and distorted by our ordinary knowledge. As human beings, we naturally want to free basic knowledge, for this means freeing our experience. That is our liberation. Freeing basic knowledge means freeing Being to manifest itself in whatever form its intelligence guides it to. Our Being is then spontaneous, free, and truly responsive to the particular situation instead of being held captive by the demands of our past, especially the constraints imposed by our conditioning. Our liberation is a matter of releasing basic knowledge from the distorting and limiting influence of ordinary knowledge, so that experience becomes the pure, direct display of the discriminating wisdom.

Reality is Not Designed for Individual Human Beings to Liberate Themselves

When awakening experiences arise, most of us think that they do so because of our practices and what we do, because of our intelligence and understanding, because of our sincerity and diligence. Although there is some truth to this view, the shadow of arrogance persists in it. This is called “the tail of the devil”; the head may be gone, but the tail still trails behind. From the perspective of the fourth turning, we don’t do any of it nor can we do any of it, not because we are failures but because reality is simply not designed that way. Reality is not designed for individual human beings to liberate themselves. Reality is designed for true nature to manifest itself in a way that human beings call liberation. Part of the secret of the philosophers’ stone is that it reveals itself by liberating itself from the shackles that it experiences through whatever human being it is experiencing itself as. And you could say, “It is my nature, my light, my intelligence.” But the situation is tricky: Is it yours or are you its?

Reality Liberating Itself from Delusions

Reality is always realizing itself, always living itself, always manifesting itself in one way or another. Reality can manifest itself as you in a dual experience with the world, and it can also reveal to itself the worldview—what we call the ego view or the dualistic view—that underlies the ego’s experience of the world. We can think of the ego view as deluded—and it is deluded. Nonetheless, that is one way that reality shows itself. Reality sometimes presents itself by deluding itself in a certain way. It can also reveal other possibilities by liberating itself from those delusions and showing itself without those delusions. We could call those other possibilities realization and enlightenment. By liberating itself from those delusions, reality begins to reveal the ground, the underlying nature of all these manifestations. Seeing the fixations and unfreezing them, thawing them, and melting them can begin to reveal their nature and ground as transcendent, as pure luminosity, clarity, and emptiness. For some time now, that is how we have been working in the school. We have been looking at this thawing, this melting, this liberation, and experiencing the opening of this realm of time and space. But, in a subtle way, we continue to see this process from the perspective of the individual self, from the view with which we began. From this view, the process feels like a progression or development, seems like a liberation from one condition and the arising of a freer condition. What is truly difficult is to see reality or experience reality from its own perspective, totally free from the view of the individual self. I am not saying that the perspective of reality is free from the individual self —I am saying free from the view of the individual self.

The Essence of the Soul Stands Apart from the Rest of Her Potential

Only with the actualization of Essence can the soul be free, completely authentic and totally serene. Essence is her true nature, without which she is estranged, lost, inauthentic, empty, and twisted. Regardless how much of her potential she actualizes, regardless how much a genius she becomes, artistically or scientifically, if she does not realize her essential nature her experience continues to be characterized by emptiness and strife, on the same level as most human beings. This is why the wisdom traditions think of their work as the most significant for humanity, as transcending any artistic, scientific, cultural, or intellectual kind of education and development. The essence of the soul stands apart from the rest of all of her potential, for it is the only possibility she has for finding true liberation and fulfillment.

The Liberating Power of the Philosophers’ Stone

As we explore the liberating power of the philosophers’ stone, we are learning a more open way of looking at our experience and our practice. We can begin to recognize what true nature is and to more fully see its role in spiritual awakening and maturation. We can come to understand that true nature is behind all the various revelations, illuminations, awakenings, and realizations that we experience. We as individuals, especially as separate individuals, do not have the wisdom and the capacity to do any of it on our own. But this does not mean that we are off the hook. Realizing that awakening is always an act of true nature, always grace, always a gift, always true nature illuminating itself, doesn’t mean that we as individual human beings do not have the responsibility to exert our capacities. We continue to endeavor, to practice, and to apply our capacities to discover the secrets of existence, to liberate ourselves and all others. This is the other side of self-illuminating true nature. We can come to recognize that realization happens as a dialectic between individual practice and the self-revelation of true nature as Total Being. This dynamic of realization reveals the inner workings of reality.

The State of Being

Being liberated means there is no clinging to anything; there is no worry, no concern, no heaviness. The mind is not fixated, focused or bound to any particular content; you are aware of whatever arises in the mind, without effort, without even trying to be aware. You don't care whether you are sensing your Essence, or even whether your Essence is there. Whether you are happy or sad, whether a person is there with you or not, none of these things seem important. For the moment you are completely free from all the concerns in your life. This state can never be achieved by striving for it. It will just happen one day, and if you notice it you won't think it's a big deal. You'll go on eating your dinner or whatever you are doing. The moment it becomes a big deal, it's gone.

When the Soul Attains Nonconceptual Freedom

When the soul fully understands and integrates the dimension of pure presence, she becomes open to all knowledge, to all the timeless wisdom of Reality. When she attains the dimension of pure awareness, she goes beyond knowledge, and attains nonconceptual freedom. She is now free from the constraints of knowledge. However, if she has been able to realize both dimensions and integrate them in her realization, she will be free to use knowledge without constraints, and without danger of reification. She will be able to recognize concepts and their reifications, to see the usefulness of conceptual knowledge as well as the dangers of the discriminating mind. She is open to knowledge, but is established beyond it, and hence she is not afraid of it and not constrained by it.

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