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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Manifestation?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Manifestation

1. Process of Manifestation

This simple stillness full of graceful clarity, in its depth and silence, is gently and effortlessly manifesting everything, appearing everything in a process of effulgence and light. The enlightened view includes the process of manifestation, includes this constant effulgence that creates all the things in the world from the void, that materializes each thing from nothing. In that sense reality is a wizard. Out of complete nothingness appears all that we perceive and experience. And it’s as simple and as easy as you dreaming something. When you dream you create a whole universe that feels like solid matter; people get hurt and various things happen, but it’s really not taking you any effort. You are completely asleep, completely resting and it is all happening. It is the same with Quintessence; it is completely still and silent and at the same time is unfolding everything with effortless ease and spontaneity.


All Manifestation is Simply the Expanse of Basic Knowledge that Differentiates Itself into the Myriad Noetic Forms

All manifestation is simply the expanse of basic knowledge that differentiates itself into the myriad noetic forms. All forms of the phenomenal world appear as noetic forms, forms that knowledge takes. This means that all manifestation appears in this dimension as knowledge, basic knowledge but knowledge nevertheless. We discussed in chapter 4 how the field of the soul is pure knowledge, that all its experience is nothing but a constant flow of forms of knowledge, that all thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, perceptions, actions, and so on, are nothing but manifestations of knowledge within a field whose very medium is knowledge. In the realization of the dimension of pure presence, we experience the whole world, not only our subjective experience, as knowledge. We live in knowledge, surrounded by knowledge on all sides. There is nothing but knowledge; knowledge inside, knowledge outside, even inside and outside are nothing but knowledge. There are no such things as rocks and mountains, sky and oceans, animals and people. They are all forms of knowledge, noetic forms inseparable from the boundless field of knowledge. We are knowledge, so are all beings, all souls, and all manifestations of Being.

Appearance of True Nature in Manifestation

From the above considerations we see that even though true nature is fundamentally free from spatial and temporal extensions, it appears in manifestation as the experience of infinity and eternity, boundlessness and nowness. However, the mystical experience of boundlessness and infinity, and that of eternity and nowness, is not the most direct experience of true nature; rather, it is the experience of true nature from the perspective of the timespace grid of manifestation. This is why true nature is usually described as infinite expanse, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, endlessness, infinity, eternity, and so on. In the view of the Diamond Approach, true nature reveals these characteristics, and many others, by revealing itself as consisting of many dimensions, each illuminating some of these qualities. In other words, rather than viewing reality as true nature appearing in manifestation with such characteristics, we view true nature as manifesting itself with many dimensions. More accurately, we view reality to be a Riemannian manifold with many dimensions of Being: the physical dimension of time and space, the dimension of subtle energy, and the subtle dimensions of presence. The latter are those structuring the presence of true nature. This view takes us back to our understanding of the soul as we presented it in chapter 3. We will expand on this view and how it relates to the soul in chapter 20.

Indivisibility of Practice and Realization

Practice and realization are one dynamism manifesting in different ways. One is manifesting as the action of the soul, and the other is manifesting as the arising of true nature. It is one indivisible process. Neither one causes the other. The more I recognized that, the more I had a deeper understanding of how practice is realization and how realization is practice. So we are seeing that there is a force, there is a power, there is a dynamism that manifests. Looking at it from the perspective of individual soul, this dynamism manifests as the interest, the longing, the yearning, the orientation, and the practice. Looking at it from the perspective of reality, this dynamism manifests as Being unfolding spontaneously as grace. They are both part of one process, two complementary expressions of one force, whose intensifying feedback loop culminates in conscious insight or realization. This unitary process appears in the locus of the soul as individual practice and in the locus beyond the soul as the spontaneous functioning of Being.

It's All an Experiment

Everyone says, “God knows.” But God doesn’t have a memory or make plans the way human beings do. God is spontaneous creativity. So there is no purpose, in a sense; reality’s intelligence arises and just manifests itself more and more and more, in a very experimental way. Take the arising of life on Earth: If you study evolution, you will see that it’s very experimental. One species arises here, doesn’t get very far—and before you know it, it’s gone. Another species seems to go much further. So it’s all an experiment—which one works better, which one develops more. The human race tends to believe that it’s not just an experiment; we think we’re the purpose of creation. We might kill ourselves and most other life on Earth because we take ourselves so seriously, believing this is true. But we are just part of the play that is always arising and changing. This concept of creation as playfulness manifests in the inquiry as a playful attitude, which brings the same quality into the unfoldment. This playfulness brings in joy and delight, curiosity and celebration. This is the way we participate in the divine joy. Of course, we can make up whatever purposes we like. That’s part of the playfulness: You make up a purpose for a year or two and believe that it’s the purpose of your life. Wonderful! Two years later, you change it to another one—why not? In fact, people do that all the time, don’t they? You don’t feel bad that for the first twenty-one years of your life, you had a purpose that you don’t have now. You don’t say, “I wasted my life.” No, you say, “Now I have another purpose.” Who knows what will happen next year?

Living Being is the One Who Attains Realization

When I say that Living Being is practicing, I basically mean that Living Being is living its life and manifesting its possibilities, which is perceived as authentic living or the interest in realness and truth. And we have seen how the interest in realness and truth is already caused by the realization, caused by the arising of true nature. We can further see, by going beyond the notion of causality, that the interest in reality is not exactly caused by the arising of true nature but is itself the Living Being manifesting interest and practice. In other words, the one who attains realization is the Living Being. The self does not attain realization. The self is not the one that achieves enlightenment. The Living Being manifests the condition that we call enlightenment as it perfects its practice. When we are not engaging the enlightenment drive, it means we are practicing for all kinds of selfish external reasons and that is not yet true practice. Every time we truly practice, every time the practice is expressing the enlightenment drive, it is the Living Being practicing. That is true practice. And it is possible then to realize that when you are sitting to practice or are engaged in a movement practice, it is Being itself manifesting as practice. Beyond the individual self, this mystery of Being is perfecting its capacities and developing its maturity and manifesting its secrets as discoveries, revelations, and realizations.

Manifestation is Always New

It is simplistic, even mistaken, to think of nonmanifestation as the forms existing somewhere and coming into manifestation through the manifesting power of the dimension of dynamic presence. This would simply be a process of vertical translation, modeling the process of universal manifestation on the physical view of reality. Being is much more mysterious and magical; it simply manifests what is potential to it, in effect, creating it out of nothing. Forms exist in potential, the way a tree exists in the seed. But there is not even a seed, just the mysterious emptiness of true nature. Before manifestation, there is only the unmanifest, the absolute mystery and depth of Being. Furthermore, manifestation is always new. It is not like the universe is manifested and then continues in time. No, it is always manifesting, in different forms and shapes, giving us the impression of change and motion. Manifestation is a similar process to creation, but bypasses the dualistic reification possible in the view of creation. Such reification is possible, and quite common, in the view of creation because creation is easily viewed anthropomorphically. In addition, manifestation is a universal process. The totality of what is manifests at once and continues to manifest with local variations of forms.

Manifestation is the Differentiation of Pure Presence

Manifestation turns out to be nothing but the differentiation of pure presence. Pure presence, a homogeneous manifold field, structures this manifold by differentiating it into the various forms of manifestation. Manifestation is not something that comes out of true nature; rather it is true nature that spontaneously structures itself into the myriad forms constituting manifestation. Thus it is said that manifestation is coemergent with true nature, a state referred to traditionally as nondual reality. It is nondual not because it is two making up a unity; rather it is primordially one, one field with inherent patterns that we recognize as the forms of manifestation.

Manifestation Out of Poverty

To be completely poor is to recognize our true condition as individuals, which is that nothing we have or experience or accomplish is actually ours. It all belongs to the ultimate spiritual truth, the absolute ground of reality. We then experience a phenomenological emptiness, a voidness of all qualities, of everything, including being and existence. When this condition prevails, it becomes possible for the source of all manifestation to reveal itself in this voidness. This is a subtle point. When we recognize our inherent poverty, our sense of self is completely denuded, which makes it possible for the essence of divinity to manifest.

One of the Miraculous Beauties in the Essential Realm is that there are Manifestations that Defy Physical Laws

When we see a color, it may be a brilliant color or not. If it is brilliant, that means it is pure, it is undefiled, it is uncontaminated color. That’s why one of the ways of experiencing the aspect of Brilliancy is the perception of purity. Intelligence is another way of experiencing it. Innocence is another way—in the sense of existing in the Platonic form of absolute and total purity, before any contamination. This quality is truly amazing. In fact, I used to call Brilliancy the amazing amazing because I was amazed whenever it revealed itself. When I said earlier that we will be exploring one of the beauties in our universe, I was referring to this amazing reality of Brilliancy. How can such a thing be? How can brilliance exist as something on its own? According to physical laws, there is no such thing; it is impossible. You can’t just have brilliance flowing there by itself, not qualifying anything but itself. But one of the miraculous beauties in the essential realm is that there are manifestations that defy physical laws, that are far beyond our normal experience and even our imagination. Brilliancy is a pure presence, an ontological presence. It is a beingness, a thereness, a conscious substance, a consciousness. Essence is presence in the most real sense of what presence means. It is not a product of your mind or imagination, or your past knowledge or experience. It is as fundamentally present as the chair you are sitting on, even more fundamentally so. Many people believe they know what presence is when in fact they don’t, and so they miss the chance to really find out. Brilliancy is presence just like any other essential aspect, except that it is the presence not of love, not of compassion, not of will, not of clarity, but of brilliance.

Brilliancy, pg. 16

Realization that Each Manifestation of True Nature is All of True Nature

And there is another nonhierarchical realization that does not have to do with duality or nonduality but with the relationship of phenomena with each other, the relationship of one form to another. This realization reveals one of the secrets of true nature: that it is beyond time and space. This does not refer to the experience of timelessness and spacelessness, because timelessness is the polar opposite of time and spacelessness is the polar opposite of space. Rather, one of the understandings that this realization brings in is that each manifestation of true nature is all of true nature, each form of true nature is true nature in its entirety. This realization that each quality, each form of true nature, has in it all of true nature turns out to be a characteristic of reality as a whole. This means that your body, because its nature is true nature, which is truly beyond time and space, contains all bodies and contains the totality of the universe. Don’t worry, you won’t feel overcrowded, because this realization usually occurs by understanding the spaciousness of true nature. That spaciousness is simply a reflection of the mystery of beyond-space. This realization is also nonhierarchical in the sense that it has nothing to do with primordial or not primordial, with ultimate or not ultimate. It is a different way of looking at realization.

The Ground of Manifestation

In other words, manifestation is the appearance of forms that the dimension of pure presence assumes, due to the flow of the logos. Yet manifestation is never separate from the absolute, for it is its radiance. Therefore, manifestation always has a ground composed of both pure presence and absolute, being and nonbeing.

The Various Manifest Forms are Nothing but the Patterns and Shapes that this Infinite Fabric of Presence Takes

From the perspective of the dimension of dynamism, it turns out that there is no such thing as movement. Since there exist no separate objects there are no objects that move. There is only the appearance of movement. We have discussed this in terms of inner objects in chapter 6, when we were exploring the changes of inner experience. But in the boundless dimension of dynamic presence we experience Being not only as a boundless field of presence, and see all manifest forms—both inner and outer—as expressions of this presence, but, furthermore, this presence is dynamic and mutable, perpetually changing its appearance. The various manifest forms are nothing but the patterns and shapes that this infinite fabric of presence takes. There is no such thing as a separate object that moves in space from past to future. What has been seen as a moving object is seen here as a manifestation of a particular location in the field of presence, a shape that keeps appearing but in different locations, giving the impression of a moving object. We go back to our example of the cinema screen from chapter 6. We see a man moving across the screen, but in fact there is no movement. The totality of the picture changes from one frame to the next. Because this change of the frames happens gradually, and because the change occurs faster than our eyes can discern, we see a continuous picture of a man walking. Yet, we know it is a picture that is simply changing from one instant to the next.

This Nonconceptual Field (Pure Awareness) that Gives the Soul Both Her Fundamental Ground and Her Capacity for Perception, Differentiates Into the Various Forms of Manifestation

In other words, pure awareness, a nonconceptual presence and truth, is the ground of all manifestation, more fundamental than any knowing. But this nonconceptual field that gives the soul both her fundamental ground and her capacity for perception, differentiates into the various forms of manifestation, the shapes and colors, the tastes and flavors, the changes and movements. These forms appear differentiated in pure awareness, but such differentiation does not imply recognition, rather it means simple differences, a perception of patterns of color and shape that we do not recognize as having any meaning and do not even isolate as forms. We simply see an indivisible transparent medium with patterns of color and shape, but we do not even recognize these as colors and shapes. We perceive these patterns without abstracting out forms from these patterns, without even isolating any details in the patterns. We see the patterns of appearance in their totality, but without mentally registering that we are doing so. Cognitively contemplating our perception we can then say we saw patterns, shapes, and colors. (See Luminous Night’s Journey, chapter 6, for a detailed description of this perception.)

Ultimate Ground of Manifestation

And since in actuality there is always manifestation, there are always presence and emptiness. We can say only that emptiness does not exist on its own; for it is always the emptiness of manifest forms, always associated with manifestation. There is no such thing as emptiness on its own, nonbeing on its own, without being. In other words, presence and emptiness together are in actuality the ultimate ground. And experiences of dissolution of presence in emptiness until there is total annihilation can only be an individual experience, for the world continues during one's annihilation. Therefore, we call the synthesis of presence and emptiness the quintessence, the deepest core and nature of everything. This does not contradict the truth that emptiness is the ultimate essence because it is the inner aspect of the quintessence. It only points to the fact that the underlying ground and nature of manifestation is always presence coemergent with emptiness.

Unity of the Absolute and Manifestation

More precisely, the absolute has no relation to manifestation, for the possibility of relation does not arise unless there is differentiation. It is a matter of complete unity, absolute nonduality.

Unmanifest Source of All Manifestation

We can have endless, amazing understanding in this absolute Essence of Being; we can describe some of its qualities; but we never feel we have described it because it is inexhaustible. It is the source of all qualities, all possibilities, and all potential; but when we experience it directly we find absolutely nothing. It is a delightful nothing that dazzles and releases. In other words it is the unmanifest source of all manifestation. From this source, everything appears as itself, originating from this unfathomable emptiness, but nothing becomes anything.

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