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Mental Images

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Mental Images?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Mental Images

Ending Up with a Mental Image for an Identity

An important question remains unanswered: Why, when Being or its aspect of space is lost, is what remains nothingness and not something else? In other words, why do we end up with emptiness and not another content of experience? To answer this question we have to discuss the point at which psychodynamics touches phenomenology. We need to see how psychodynamic processes—which are processes in time—affect felt phenomena—which always involve spatially experienced objects of perception. We first consider how specifically the loss of space leads to deficient emptiness.pace 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.

The Void, pg. 135

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 non-conceptual 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 non-conceptual, 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 non-conceptual, it’s not that the table is not real, it’s just not as real as the non-conceptual. The non-conceptual 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.

In Reality Things are Insubstantial, Similar to Thoughts or Mental Images

In the true experience of emptiness, the subjective feeling and belief in the substantiality and solidity of things is exposed for what it is, a subjective feeling based on a belief. Emptiness reveals to us that things do not possess such substantiality or solidity. Their mode of being is not what we have called existence. More accurately, their ultimate nature is not existence, but nonexistence. They appear, but are characterized by nonbeing. Experientially, phenomena appear and we perceive them along with their usual qualities, but we do not feel that they exist. They are felt to be empty of the solidity and reality that we believed they possessed. In other words, the true nature of things is that they manifest, or appear, but that is all. In appearing they do not give us the feeling and belief that they are real or that they exist in the way we have assumed. We are accustomed to believing that things exist in the way we normally experience matter, solid and opaque. In reality, things are insubstantial, transparent, and light, similar to thoughts or mental images. But they are also luminous, so they are more like light. However, even light as we ordinarily know it does not express the absolute lightness and emptiness of things. Things are actually diaphanous forms, holograms floating in nothing, glimmerings of this nothing.

We Know Ourselves From the Veil of Memory

The mental images and attitudes that determine how we experience ourselves form the basis of a whole implicit worldview. We also experience ourselves only indirectly, as a subject experiencing an object. We are aware of ourselves as an object like other objects, seeing ourselves in the world as one object among others. Even when one is aware of oneself as perceiver or subject, this perception is different from the direct sense of our facticity, from the fact of our existence. We still know ourselves from the veil of memory.

Without Reifications or Mental Images Everything Around You Would Become One Vast Field of Light

Let’s say that you are having a meal and you lift your spoon. What is this spoon? The spoon that you are experiencing is not the real spoon. What you are experiencing is the reification of the spoon—that is, something that your mind is imposing on the situation. You are mentally creating an object that we call a spoon and projecting it onto the form that reality is taking in the now. If you could see this form without the reification, without that mental operation, you would recognize it as presence assuming that particular shape and color at that location. I don’t mean that there is nothing real about the spoon. Obviously something is in your hand that you are using to get the food to your mouth. But if you see the spoon without any mental operation, it will be more like the appearance of a spoon, a hologram of a spoon. Actually, without reifications you will see that it is light. It is a form of light with shadows and colors, stripped of its familiar mental-image identity as a spoon. And it is the mental imaging of the spoon that makes it opaque and solid to the eye. Without those reifications or mental images, everything around you would become one vast field of light shaping itself into holograms. But usually, because of our reifications, we don’t see the light itself; we only see the color and shape the light takes, which we then label as this or that object. This mental object is an opacity that cuts us off from contact with the field of light.

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