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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Looks Like . . . ?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Looks Like . . .

A Black Diamond-Like Presence with a Layer of Brilliant Radiance

The inevitable question fills my consciousness: Sorrow about what? Concerning what? Not clear. This night, it happens that my friend Karen is visiting me, and as usual on these occasions, we discuss the latest in our discoveries. I describe to her my observations in the last few days. When I describe my present state of poignant sorrow, which has by now been eclipsed by awareness of the pebble, she sees that the pebble looks like a black diamond-like presence, with a layer of brilliant radiance covering it. I cannot at this point see the blackness of the presence, but I can feel that the hardness has a sense of lightness mixed with the sorrow. The nous begins to radiate brilliantly, with a deep golden hue. The insight emerges: the sorrow is about the feeling of badness, and the conflict of being myself and how it causes pain, for others and for myself, even though it is a selfless movement towards truth. The sorrow is about human suffering, mine and others’, and about leaving it behind. It is also about leaving the human personal sphere, as I move deeper into the mysteries of Being. I do not feel that those I am leaving are strangers, for the human sphere represents in a deep unconscious manner my mother, the first human I had known and loved. I see that the sorrow is about the unavoidable suffering, real and imaginary, that results from the process of realization. There is sorrow whenever the movement towards the truth causes unavoidable difficulty for myself or others.  

A Noetic Form, which when Looked at from the Normal Dimension, Looks Like Reality

So the nonconceptual is like one big block with nothing differentiable in it. Then this becomes carved. And this carving is what we see as Universal Mind. Remember, it is not a mind like the personal mind. We cannot understand Universal Mind until we differentiate between personal mind and Universal Mind. And in Universal Mind all manifest existence appears as concepts. When we say that the heart is a concept, for example, what do we mean? It is true, that seen from a certain place, the heart is an idea, an image. But it is not the usual idea or image. It is a noetic form, which when looked at from the normal dimension, looks like reality. It is reality. The nonconceptual has a powerful effect on the ego. The ego continues to believe that the physical and essential realms are the real things, until you get to the nonconceptual. Then you realize that the whole thing is really mind. And then you wonder, “If the whole thing is really mind, why do I believe it so completely?” At that point, your belief in the ultimacy of what exists gets really challenged. If you begin to see that everything is mind, then you wonder, “What does it mean to die?” It’s not that death and life don’t exist, but they lose their importance. They do not have the same significance that they have in the conventional dimension. So this realization will bring in more possibility of freedom. The challenges that the nonconceptual presents to the fixations and beliefs of the ego are powerful and fundamental. And of course if we go to the Absolute, the challenge is even greater. There, even the consciousness itself doesn’t have to be there for me to be myself. 

A Sticky Mechanism which is Holding On or Eating the Object

You can be attached to anything that you think gives you pleasure or security: a dream, an idea, a thought, a feeling, a person, a car, a house, etc. Some are even attached to hate. A deep root of attachment is the desire for complete unity. On the surface you might just feel that you want something in a casual way, but if you look inside you, at the movement of attachment itself, you’ll see that you really want to be one with it, and you try to get that by grabbing. Sometimes it’s called the octopus state, and that’s exactly what attachment is—“I love you, you’re so yummy”—wanting to consume someone. It looks like a sticky mechanism which is holding on, or eating the object. A love attachment is often motivated by a desire for merging or union or connection, and you might even believe that you’re getting them. But what you get instead is attachment, because real merging, union or connection doesn’t happen with that attitude of grasping. Attachment involves one thing attaching to another, a subject attaching to an object. The desire is for loss of the boundaries, but in attachment boundaries are created, because you make two, one attached to another. “I” want to have “this.” So there is an “I,” there is “this,” and the “I” wants “this” forever. This is a misunderstanding of what union or connection is. Real merging means the boundaries between the two are gone completely. Then there is no one attached to another, no one holding onto someone else, no octopus with its prey; there is only one thing.  

An Infinite and Boundless Expanse that Looks Like Black Space

Because the absolute is not simply nonbeing, we experience it as a field, an expanse, and not simply nonbeing. To understand this we need to make a particular differentiation explicit. We have been using two terms interchangeably, namely absolute and absolute dimension. Strictly speaking, the absolute is the ultimate nature of Reality, and it is beyond dimensions; for dimensions are the experience of manifestation. Yet, we do experience the absolute as a dimension, boundless and infinite, an infinity that contains and holds all manifestation including the other boundless dimensions. We can say that the absolute is the unmanifest, the ultimate truth and mystery of Being, beyond all dimensions and qualities. But when it begins to manifest appearance, this manifestation appears as if in an expanse, an infinite and boundless expanse, that looks like black space. Manifestation appears always in the context of time and space. It always possesses an expanse in time and space. Therefore, when we witness appearance from the stance of the absolute we see an expanse appearing in a more vast, dark expanse, the absolute. We have the sense of the absolute as an expanse, as a vast infinite black space. The absolute appears in this perception as a boundless dimension that underlies all other dimensions. But in reality the absolute is beyond space and time, for it is beyond manifestation.  

Concepts Describing Reality are Not Reality

For example, you hear or read about certain ideas or possibilities, but when the experience you thought you understood arises, you realize that it is not exactly as you conceived it. You might have been close to the truth, but your understanding cannot be exact because you learned about the experience conceptually, and conceptual learning never exactly matches the experience. In fact, the traditional teachings always state that. They warn that the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. They say that the concept describing the reality is not the reality, it only points to it. But the mind takes that pointing and begins to look for something that looks like the pointing finger. And the truth isn’t going to be something like that at all. You see, our nature is positionless. Or, more accurately, reality always presents itself in positions—especially when we speak about it—but these positions are never fixed or rigid. Being’s dynamism is a process of positioning, but it’s a positioning that’s always fluid, always changing from one position to another. Being cannot be pinned down in one position. We can take these positions as pointers, but not as a frame into which to fit our experience. Being is not an image to fulfill and not a goal to try to attain by pushing our experience in that direction. 

Consciousness that Looks Like Daylight

What determines whether a soul has basic trust? Basic trust is the effect on the soul of a particular aspect or quality of Being that we call Living Daylight. We call it this because if one’s perception is subtle enough to visually see and kinesthetically feel the substance of one’s consciousness, it actually looks like daylight, and is felt as an alive consciousness. It is experienced as something boundless, in the sense that it is not bounded by one’s body but rather is experienced as something that everything is made of. It is a universal sense of presence in that it pervades everything and is everywhere. The first level of experiencing it is to perceive that it is everywhere; the second level is to see that everything comes out of it; and the deepest level is to know that everything is made of it. At this deepest level, everything in the universe is seen to be originating in, bathed in, and constituted by, Living Daylight. 

Facets of Unity, pg. 33

From the Perspective of the Nonconceptual the Universal Mind Looks Like Images

As we have discussed, when we perceive the physical universe and the essential universe from the perspective of nonconceptual reality, they look like thoughts; this is why we call them “mind.” The Nous can be seen like a structure or pattern of ideas, and just as we perceive mental images when we see through the concepts in the personal mind, we see these ideas in the Nous as images. From the perspective of the nonconceptual, the Universal Mind looks like images. The table looks like the image of a table. It’s not really a table. It remains real from the perspective of the personal mind, but from the perspective of the nonconceptual, it’s not that the table is not real, it’s just not as real as the nonconceptual. The nonconceptual is a much more fundamental reality. And the things in the physical world and in the essential realms are laid on it like images. That is why we call it the Universal Mind. We call it the Universal Mind because when we go beyond it, we see it as mind. But it is not mind as created by me personally. It’s the mind that actually exists as the totality of the Universe. Some people call it God’s mind. So from the level of the nonconceptual, the physical universe and Essence and all that exists are mind. They are concepts, like ideas or forms that are filled out with something. What they are filled out by is the nonconceptual, the original consciousness. Until you can perceive and understand things from the perspective of the nonconceptual dimension, you are what both Buddhist and Western philosophers call an “essentialist.” You believe that things and essences exist, each with a permanent self-nature. Much confusion in spiritual work and philosophy rests on the fact that people take one dimension or another to be the final or total truth. Having some capacity to perceive from the nonconceptual level brings a lot of clarity to our understanding of the various dimensions and their relationships. 

Merging Essence Looking Like a Delicate, Clear, Honey-Like Flow which Has Luminosity

  1.  It has a sense of nourishment, contentment, satisfaction and happiness. When one feels Merging Essence one basically feels satisfied, contented and happy in a complete and deep way. One feels gratified.
  2. Its most characteristic property, which distinguishes it from all other aspects of Essence, is its feeling of melting. It feels melted and melting. It feels melted like melted butter, but clear as some kind of very light and delicate honey. It has the effect of melting one’s sensations, one’s tensions, one’s mind. When it emerges in consciousness, one feels melted by a sweet and delicious kind of love. The heart melts and flows, and the mind becomes rested and contented.
  3. It has the characteristic color of clear gold. When seen with the inner senses of Essence it looks like a very delicate clear honey-like flow, which has a luminosity, as if the sun is shining through the delicate honey. This probably accounts for using the golden color in popular expressions describing intimate, romantic or gratifying situations.
  4. It has an intrinsic sense of pleasure. It feels like a pleasurable sensation. It has the feeling of gratification.
  5. The melting quality of this aspect of Essence makes one feel merged with the environment, not separate and not differentiated. So it basically melts one’s sense of boundaries. The melting is felt throughout the whole body. The whole consciousness feels melted and merged with the environment or the object.

Perception Setting Aside the Knowledge of the Mind and Apprehending Things Nakedly

There is a sense that all my apparent knowledge of the world, primarily ideas and stories in the mind, is peeling away, leaving something unknown underneath. There is mystery all around me. I feel a profound sense of ignorance. I wonder about life and death, about the life of the body, about everything that I have thought naively and arrogantly that I know. I realize that all life, and all objects and processes in life, are full of mystery. I do not really know anything The not knowing is not threatening. I accept it with a sense of wonder and bafflement. The center of the operation of the nous, at the forehead, feels like an open window, transparent and clear. In this openness the activity of the nous is so intense that it feels like a continuous series of explosions. The contemplation, which is bursting with insights, acts on the mind like dynamite, shattering its long-held complacency about its knowledge of the world. At such moments it seems that the perception sets aside the knowledge of the mind and apprehends things nakedly. The chair now looks like the usual chair I have known, except that this is only the external appearance, which I am now acutely aware of as merely appearance. Everything else, the walls and the doors, the floor and the carpets, the lamps and books, all seem to be appearances, surfaces of something much more fundamental, external facades of a more basic reality. I perceive the chair and everything else around me becoming transparent, as if the shapes and colors have become so luminous that they have lost all opaqueness. And through this transparency, naked reality peers through. It is clear to my understanding that the ordinary knowledge of the world, the knowledge put together by memory and thought, veils the luminosity of appearances, and makes the various forms appear opaque. This opaqueness obstructs the perception of the underlying reality of the forms, by eliminating their inherent transparency. Thus the world is solidified into something inert and dismembered. 

Realizing that the Very World We Live in is Really the Love that We Feel in Our Heart

Living a normal life is an important cornerstone of our work because it tends to ground the work in our life instead of making it some kind of mystical, spiritual, otherworldly thing that exists apart from our daily experiences. This is the other world. This table, as you see it, is God’s back. In the beginning, you might have all kinds of far-out experiences that separate the face from the back, the depth from the surface. In time you realize that the very world we live in, what we see, everything around us that looks like stone or rock, is really the love that we feel in our heart. The world lives in harmony and luminosity. And the more you see that, the more your need for love from other people relaxes. You pine after love, and one day you open your eyes and see that the rock is made of love. People see love manifesting all around them all the time, and yet they still want this one person to love them. Who cares about all this other love! But in time the love and the true beingness touch your consciousness. Your sense of ego dissolves a little and you relax. You become more reasonable and less of a brat.  


Satisfaction and Joy Beyond Anything the Personality Can Experience

I don’t mean that we shouldn’t want anything besides Essence. Not at all. If that’s what I meant, then we would be somewhere in the desert, being monks and nuns, wearing white robes and long strings of beads. That is not what I mean. What is meant is that Essence should be the primary concern in our lives. Everything else should come second and should function in the service of Essence. You need to do whatever in your life will enhance and support your essence. Whatever it is, absolutely. That is the true source of rules, the source of morality and right conduct. It is the rule for nobility in living. Sometimes it looks like the person living this way is suffering, not going after the satisfactions that most people associate with happiness. The reality is that when life is lived in this way, there is a satisfaction and joy beyond anything the personality can experience. Most people say they want to feel good; they want to feel happy and have a good time. They go after illusory satisfactions that only increase their suffering. If a person really wants to be happy, then she should go about it in the right way—which is to value Essence over everything else. If you do that, you are happy. If you don’t, you are not. It’s that simple.  

Seeing the Personality as Looking Like an Empty Shell

Space is lost as the mind takes self-image for identity. We have seen that this leads to the building of boundaries in the openness of space. The final result is that instead of the experience of Being without mental images, one ends up with a mental image for an identity. So instead of space being pervaded by Being it gets filled with a self composed of many self-representations. Now, what is the phenomenon of space when it is filled with the self? In other words, what is the mind filled with the psychic structure? On the surface it is the usual experience of the personality with its various manifestations. But, at the core, it is the deficient emptiness. This means that if the totality of the personality is seen objectively and graphically it looks like an empty shell; the shell is composed of many layers, each standing for a self-representation. Identifying with the shell gives the feeling of self or identity. When one ceases identifying with the shell as a whole there will emerge the experience of deficient emptiness, accompanied by the affect of the sense of no self. The sense of being an empty shell, when it is finally perceived, is accompanied by the feeling of being fake and a sense of shame that is a reaction to the fakeness. 

The Void, pg. 135

Seeing Through What Seems Like Many Subtle Veils

One night, I am walking through the hallway, coming from the bathroom and going into the living room. The family is asleep, but I have developed the habit of spending time alone at night, being quiet with myself, doing nothing in particular, allowing experience to arise and enjoying the contemplation of whatever Being presents. The contemplation of death is an almost palpable sensation as I walk slowly through the hallway. The contemplation intensifies as I reach the dark end of the hallway. Here I begin to see a blackness. I feel I am walking into a mysterious, veiled blackness, not the semidarkness of the hallway, but a blackness that I perceive through the walls, beyond the boundaries of the physical world. It is as if the walls around me dissolve away, becoming increasingly transparent, revealing the mysterious blackness. As I continue walking, now slowing my pace, I realize that the blackness that I see in front of me, the blackness I seem to be walking into, is veiled. I see it through obscurations, through what looks like many subtle veils. The contemplation of death appears to me now as the dissolving of veils. I realize that throughout all these days of contemplating death, I have been going through and dissolving these veils. Each question, each realization, each feeling, each intuition moves the awareness through another veil. I have been contemplating death through the veils of my ideas, and as my consciousness sinks deeper into the contemplation, the deepening of consciousness rends further veils, allowing a deeper penetration into this mystery. Now this penetration reveals a blackness that pierces through all physical appearance. I am looking death right in the face. I see death everywhere, all around me, penetrating everything. At this point several insights fill my consciousness, creating an overall understanding and furthering the ongoing contemplation. First, I am aware of a direct, spontaneous acknowledgment of my mortality as a human being. Death is certain for me, as I experience myself as a human being. 

Sensing what the Natural, Spontaneous Evolution of the Human Soul Looks Like

Holy Wisdom, Holy Work, or Holy Plan is the Idea for Point Seven. When there is basic trust in reality, we not only perceive that things are fine the way they are and that what happens is optimal, but we also get a sense of how things are unfolding. We have a sense of what the evolution of a human being toward completeness is about, what the natural, spontaneous evolution of the human soul looks like. The Holy Plan, then, is God’s plan—the perception of the direction of the soul’s unfoldment when it is in contact with Being—the blueprint of what a human being is meant to become. From the perspective of Holy Plan, we see that the universe functions in such a way that human beings can become complete. A human being becomes complete when God is fully replicated in that human life, when the macrocosm is replicated in the microcosm. This is what is meant in some spiritual traditions by man becoming the image of God. 

Facets of Unity, pg. 64

The Flow of the Presence of Brilliancy Looks Like a Liquid Mirror

Physical perception of the natural world reveals no thing, no color, that is just brilliance. Brilliance is always a quality of something. On the essential level, however, brilliance exists independently; it exists as a pure Platonic form, as pure presence, as the actual substance of intelligence. It is like a medium, or a liquid, that is made out of brilliance. If you can imagine taking a mirror and holding it in the sun until you see the brilliance of the reflection, and then taking that brilliant reflection and liquefying it, you would have some idea of what the flow of the presence of Brilliancy looks like. It is like a liquid mirror. 

Brilliancy, pg. 16

The World, Looking Like a Transparent Picture

We experience ourselves as a vastness, an immensity, an expanse so deep it is absolutely dark. Though dark and still, inscrutable and silent, it is the source of all luminosity and light. And within this immeasurable immensity, we witness the process of creation. We see a dynamic presence, the divine logos, flowing out of the absolute, revealing its potentialities as the manifest reality, disclosing its mysteries as the multidimensional manifold of existence and experience. Yet, because of the infinity of the absolute we see this manifold as a surface phenomenon, as if the absolute is so pure and pristine that it glitters and shines, its brilliance forming a surface, colorful and luminous. This colorful and luminous surface of radiance is continually scintillating with colors and forms, shapes and patterns. We witness an unfolding surface of clear and variegated light, whose pattern is the totality of creation. The absolute is prior to light, but also its source and ultimate nature and mystery. The light is the unfolding logos, whose pattern is the totality of existence, a dynamic unified manifold. The scintillating light is one unified surface, with no parts and no partitions, a field of radiance full of intelligence and truth, reality and significance. The background of this unfoldment, the absolute, is so totally dark it appears black, but luminous crystal clear black. We experience it as beyond the world. The world looks like a transparent picture, as if it were a soap bubble with pictures on it. It looks like a reflection on the inside of a transparent bubble, within the infinite immensity of the crystalline absolute. This perception changes depending on how involved we are in the manifestation, or how concentrated we are on the absolute.

Understanding and Realizing the Universal Witness

The strangest thing about this awareness is its relation to time. It is beyond time. This is different from the sense of timelessness that arises when the essential manifestation of Being outshines everything else, where it seems that time has stopped. It is beyond time. It seems to be what is there before time begins, and after time ends, and at all times. It clearly is a space with more than five dimensions, for it includes the three dimensions of space, the dimension of time, and the dimension of essence that is the presence of Being. It also feels undefinable, in the sense that no concept can contain it. The more one perceives that it is undefinable, the more there is insight about it. The knowing of it arises by being it, as if it is known only by itself. Looking at it from outside it, or more accurately, when it looks at itself, it simply looks like space. Its relation to time, change and awareness is not seen except through its self-knowledge. The state of the universal witness continues for a few days. I see everything, the house, friends, family, students and situations all existing and happening within my vastness. There is a sense of utter impersonality, totally transcendent impersonalness. Understanding and realizing the universal witness allows me to see and understand the totality of the personal life. At this point the activity at the forehead intensifies, and insights start pouring out about the connection between the personal and impersonal. This begins as curiosity about the relation between the intimacy space, which feels very personal, and the witness space, which feels utterly impersonal.

What Attachment Looks Like from the Outside

All attachments are in the end attachments to one thing. All our objects of desire are ultimately transferences, displacements from the original object of desire. Attachment is a misguided attempt to get to this oneness. You think you want something and you attach yourself to it. So you accumulate things—your clothes, physical appearance, boyfriends or girlfriends, husbands, wives, children, parents, art, creations, feelings, experiences, essence, personality, etc., anything that can be objectified becomes an object of desire. Attachments necessitate objectification; there has to be an object to be attached to, and by its very definition there is a loss of the oneness. When we see this we can see that even God becomes objectified and an object of attachment. If you look at your usual experience, everything in it is an object, and you are attached whether you like it or not. If you like something, it’s a positive attachment, you’re holding on to it. If you don’t like something, it’s a negative attachment, you’re pushing it away. There is attachment in the rejection; by trying to push something away you’re trying to hold on to something else in yourself. This is the external manifestation of attachment, what it looks like from the outside. But these feelings of wanting are not what the actual attachment feels like. You might feel that you can’t let go of someone or something, that you love it, that you would feel a great loss if it were gone. Most people can only focus on the object of attachment; if they really saw the attachment itself they would start falling out of love. 

When the Worst Thing that Can Happen to You is that Your Colors and Forms Will Change

Also, the experience of oneness is not a good experience which you have once in a while. No, you realize that it is a fact. It is reality, not just a passing experience. What is actually transitory is our usual experience. It is not that you are a person who experiences oneness. No, you are a oneness, and at some point you will wake up to this reality. When you do, you realize, “All this time I had this strange idea in my mind that I exist as a person, that I am an individual separate from other individuals, and I have my own things and they have their own things.” You realize what a gross lie it is, what a gross falsification. You realize that the truth is not such that it can be divided. And when you realize this, you realize that it makes sense, that that’s how it should be and it is the best way it could be, and that you wouldn’t want it any other way. When you realize oneness, you realize there are no issues, there are no problems, because all your problems relate to yourself. If there is no you, what problem have you got? You realize you cannot die, that nothing can actually happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is that your colors and forms will change; one day you look like a human being, the next you look like a tree. Your very nature, who you are, is the same; it is the totality of all of that. It is not actually precise to say that one day you look like a human being and the next day you look like a tree; it is actually more like a little part of you, one cell of you, at some point looks like a human being, and the next day looks like a tree. The rest of you is the totality of the universe. From this perspective, it is clear that to think you are going to die is ridiculous. What’s going to die? It is like the paint is being changed. You erase a certain picture. There is no sense of death, so there is no sense of fear, no sense of loss, no sense of pain. You do not need to be loved, you do not need to love anyone, you do not need to get anything, you do not need to give anything to anyone.  

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