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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Mind?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Mind

At the Beginning of Mind there is Being which We Experience as Undifferentiated Presence

Thus we see that at the beginning of mind there is being, which we experience as undifferentiated presence. We can say that true nature reveals itself at some point in its ontological manifestation as the beingness of all things by clothing itself with the concept of Being. It manifests its nature beyond mind as being-knowing by manifesting the first concept, a concept that pervades the entirety of its manifold. It is then pure being, which is pure knowing, which is pure knowing of being, which is pure being of knowing. Such is the fundamental gnosis, which is the origin of all knowing. To put it succinctly, with being, mind begins. 

Concepts of Mind

In ordinary usage, the word "mind" refers to thoughts, the thinking process, or the thinking apparatus. But there are other usages: in the East, for example, "mind" includes more than just the thinking sphere. And here in the West as well, the word often has a larger meaning. In fact, most of the depth psychologies and the social sciences in general, use the term "mind "to include all inner experience. The mind is then taken to be the field or sphere of our thoughts, images, feelings, emotions, sensations, and perceptions, plus the apparatus or agent that deals with all these impressions. This "mind" is connected not only to the brain, but to the totality of the nervous system. Here, we will use the term "mind" in this larger, more inclusive sense. We will also be open to modifications or extensions of this definition.

The Void, pg. 1

Escaping the Trap of the Mind

Ultimately, everybody loves absolute absence whether they know it or not. You know you love it when you become aware of pure consciousness. Before pure consciousness you are trapped within the differentiating consciousness, discriminating, rejecting, and prizing one aspect of consciousness over another. You want essence or are angry because there is pain; you reject this person because they don't like you, judge that person because they're different from you, and so on. Within the differentiating consciousness, you are busy within the knowable world, trapped within your own mind. To go from consciousness to absence is to break out of the cycle of birth and death, to escape the trap.

Experiencing the Nature of Mind

Different systems emphasize one of three descriptions: the primordial non-differentiated consciousness; the awakened state of mind which is also universal; or the peaceful state of mind which is at rest, in complete peace. The nature of mind can then be experienced as blue, clear, or black aspects of consciousness. Each one of these can be considered a state of the nature of the mind. But we can say further that the nature of the mind is complete emptiness. We can experience complete emptiness as non-differentiated consciousness or as translucency, or as the night sky. There is always a subtle consciousness that perceives emptiness. The subtle consciousness can be restricted by your own personal consciousness, so that you don't see it as it is, or it can be expanded completely.

Freedom from the Mind

If we can be without the mind even for a little while, many of the subtle obstacles and identifications, as well as the conceptualizations underlying our reifications, can be exposed. We can see the discrimination, the labeling, and how all of these activities are the natural activities of the mind—necessary for navigating our practical life but not necessary for us to be ourselves. To be who we are, we don’t need these things. To be what we are—just to be, just to be alive—we don’t need them. But many people think that if mind is gone, there will be no experience. In fact, the opposite is true: awareness continues with more intensity, more clarity, more transparency; colors are more vivid and forms are much more distinct. That is because everything becomes much more itself, since all the veils, all the projections, all the concepts are gone. We perceive without anything intervening, so everything is naked as itself. To believe that when the mind is gone, we won't see anything, we must believe that everything exists only in our limited, discursive mind.

Going Beyond Mind

To return to our example of the soul’s process in the inner journey, we see that as the soul learns about the intrinsic aloneness of essential presence she begins to recognize that she leaves not only the world of object relations when she is presence; by realizing presence and understanding the separation of the red essence, she leaves the totality of her discriminating mind in this radical separation. This can bring up fear of losing her mind, of going crazy, of the unknown, and so on. She also begins to realize how her normal epistemological stance is a great barrier to the continuity and development of her essential realization. She feels the need to go not only beyond her memory but beyond all concepts, for she understands that such concepts are the elementary building blocks of the memories and images that compose her ego structures, structures that limit her realization. Of course, at this juncture true nature can provide the guidance and support to go beyond the conceptual mind; for it is the authentic reality that is transcendent to the mind and that functions as its eternal ground and source. As the soul begins to realize her identity beyond mind, she may return to existential issues. Going beyond mind will initially appear to the soul as going beyond the world, which again raises fears and concerns regarding isolation, aloneness, possibility of loss of love and relationship, and so on. Most deeply it means separation; for at this point it becomes clear that the world stands for mother, who was the whole world at the beginning of the soul’s life. In other words, an epistemological issue can bring up existential, structural, and psychodynamic ones, if these are not completely resolved. The wisdom and guidance of true nature can reveal the projections on and ignorance of the phenomenology of Being, an ignorance that the soul fills with her physical and atomistic view. True nature reveals that its Riemannian manifold embraces all of Reality, transforming the worldview of the soul, and penetrating her original and primordial ignorance.

Living in Our Minds

So much is going on in the world and in our minds that it reminds me of being in a movie theater nowadays. You go there to relax and enjoy a film, and more often than not, you are assaulted by loud noises. You can't even feel anything about what you are watching because of all the clanging and explosions, all the yelling and screaming, all the loud action and intense suspense. It is like entering a war zone. Everything is turned up to the maximum. Living in our minds is actually like that. Have you noticed how busy your mind is just reading these words? The mind is always occupied with reactions, judgments, questions, associations, desires, and attitudes. And we have become like teenagers who are used to all that noise. We think the noise is what reality is and no longer recognize what is truly real. We are not feeling ourselves in that intimate, simple, relaxed way that we like but may have forgotten exists—the feeling we would like to have when we go to a movie to relax and watch something interesting.

Mind and What Lies Beyond Mind

And if I want to penetrate beyond my mind and see what is there, it is a mystery. It is unknowable, completely, one hundred percent unknowable. It is so unknowable that the moment you begin to get a glimpse of it, your mind is blown to smithereens. You realize that your mind lays a kind of curtain over things, a veil, a colored sheet with drawings on it that overlays our reality and says, “That is reality”. But the reality is beyond that: you open that curtain, open the window and it is unknowable. If you truly look, you do not even know you are looking, and you disappear. Your mind is there, but nobody is looking. The reality is there and you do not say there is mind or there is reality. And then, what you perceive, although it is mysterious, it is unknowable, we give it a name. We call it truth, we call God, we call it reality. These are just words, words to refer to the unknowable, to the unknown, to the mystery.

Mind as Content and Mind as Ground

We have seen so far that awareness of the self-image brings about the experience of space, or of the mind as openness. In other words, dissolution of boundaries imposed by the self frees space. It literally expands the mind. Understanding this dynamic relation between self-image and space, we can theorize about the development of psychic structure: The development of the self-image simply represents a gradual building and structuralization of boundaries in the mind space. Here we see the relationship between mind as content and mind as ground. Space is mind as ground. Mind as content is a result of boundaries in this space. In fact, these boundaries are the mind as content, are what constitutes the psychic structure.

The Void, pg. 33

Mind Can Be Deceived

This is an important difference between the mind and Being. The mind can absorb and identify with any psychic material it believes to be true. It does not have the capacity, on its own, to discern what is objective truth and what is not. In other words, the mind can be deceived, even by itself. Being, on the other hand, is pure reality. It is the actual stuff and consciousness of truth, and cannot be deceived. It does not try not to be deceived; it is simply truth by its nature, a self-conscious medium made of pure sensitivity.

Mind Knows that Mind Cannot Know Everything

As the mind understands more and more, it reaches a place where it knows that not everything can be known conceptually. It knows definitely, absolutely, that something is there, but the mind, itself, cannot know it. Beingness, however, knows itself, and knows itself not by a reflection on itself, but just by being it.

Mind of the Heart and the Heart of the Mind

The nature of the mind is emptiness, and the subtle consciousness that perceives that emptiness is the heart of the mind. But this relationship of the heart to the mind is even more complex. There is also the mind of the heart, the consciousness of the heart, the knowingness of the heart, the curiosity of the heart, and the sensitivity of the heart. The heart is seen as the sensitive organ, the knowing organ. It is conscious and perceptive. The heart is sometimes called the mind because the heart is the source of the heart of the mind. In this way, one could also say the mind is the mind of the heart. But their unity goes even further than the mind of the heart or the heart of the mind. They are the same. At the level of understanding the mind as a subtle consciousness, as an aspect of Essence, there is no heart and no mind, there is only one thing. It is experienced as one consciousness with no separation of the centers.

Mind Rarely Settles in the Moment

How do you experience now? How do you get a taste, a flavor, of now? This flavor, this texture of the now, is the immediacy of the experience of awareness, consciousness, presence. It is like trying to find out what fluid light is made of. It is made out of now, out of now-ness. It is an unchanging, condensed now, a full, indestructible now. It is a now that is at all times, for it is the now that is the present of all times—past, present, and future. And it doesn’t change from an instant in the past to an instant in the future. It is the same now—always fresh. Time doesn’t have an impact on the now. What is useful to recognize, then, is that our time orientation will disconnect us from our True Nature because it contradicts the now-ness, the timelessness, of our True Nature. It is paradoxical, of course, to think about things that way because we are always thinking in terms of time. The time axis is very important for the mind. The mind is always thinking of things in the past and of what it is going to do in the future. It rarely settles in the moment. If it did, it would become quiet. When you settle into the moment, you realize that there is not much happening—a few things here and there. The primary awareness is of the immediacy of the moment. This is because presence—being in the now—is characterized by beingness, simply being here now. In contrast, our familiar self is based on doing, going, making things happen. We do not trust that action can arise and proceed from inner stillness; we do not recognize that Being is the ground of everything. To be in the now connects you with that quiet beingness that underlies all changes, all activity—the simple hereness where what is most basic is not activity but presence. So when we are not settled, all the images, all the reifications, all the projections from the past arise and influence the present. We don’t see the present as the present; and we don’t experience the presence of the present.

Mind Seen as Perception, Consciousness

So we're seeing here another meaning of mind, which is pure consciousness. There is perception, but that perception is not anything but the perceptivity itself. At this point we go into mind, not in a sense of it being just space, but of it being perception, consciousness. We see that we always have that consciousness. Every person, and every living thing, has this consciousness. In our everyday experience, there is always a consciousness of something; we never know consciousness by itself. There is always consciousness of the rug, my foot, my mind. The consciousness and the content of consciousness are never separate. The consciousness is always taken to be the content of consciousness, because that is how we operate with our limited consciousness. We never see consciousness itself, in its purity.

No Need for the Mind to Direct Essential Development

There is an inner consistency and order for the process of essential development. There is no need for the mind to direct the process. In fact, directing the process by the mind can only lead to difficulty, for the mind does not know. Commitment to the truth is sufficient for the process to unfold. When the essential aspects are discovered and freed, when the incomparable pearl is realized, the process spontaneously unfolds in the direction of the instincts and ultimately of the survival issue.

Source of Suffering in the Conceptualizing Mind

The conceptualizing mind is of its very nature conducive to suffering. A world created of good and bad entities encourages comparison, preference, judgment and attachment. The concept of a separate self is nothing but a collection of these sensations and feelings that have been lumped together and labeled in a certain way. But what if we don’t look at things this way? What if we stop labeling things, stop saying this is different from that and simply experience what is there without concepts? When we perceive without concepts, we realize that there isn’t a separate self, an essence, an I, an other. There is only consciousness, the presence of consciousness.

The Mind Perpetuates Ghosts

To throw away your mind means to throw away what you think you are, what you think the world is, and what you think is there, what is not there, what is good, what is not good – to throw it away, all of it. Otherwise, what you will perceive, and what you will be experiencing, is nothing but parts of your mind, a continuation of the past coming from your own memory. When I say the world is old, or what we see is old, I do not mean old in the sense that it has grown in time. I mean old in the sense that it has stopped growing. It is dead in its old form, the way you constructed it years and years ago. The mind perpetuates ghosts, dead things; there is no life in them. They are not light – they’re heavy, dark, dank, old, and musty. They are stale. In that dark, old, dank world, you suffer. The suffering is felt mostly because we still believe that old, dark, dead world to be reality, and we live as if it is reality, wanting one part of it, not wanting another part of it, putting part of it against another part of it. You are putting this dead body against another dead body, not liking this dead thing, liking the other dead thing. When you want something because you have experienced it in the past, what you are wanting is a corpse. It is already dead.

We Not Only Perceive Through the Mind, We Perceive Only Our Mind

But we kill that mystery, we separate ourselves from it by putting up a barrier of words and concepts. Then the best thing we can do is know it through words and concepts, through the old. But if you confront your assumptions, you see that in reality, you do not really know. When you say, “I know this table is made out of wood,” what are you saying? What is wood to you? What do you know? Do you really know wood the way wood knows itself? It is something you have seen, you have touched, you have read things about, you have used. But you still do not know what wood is. Wood, ultimately, is a word, and there is a mystery underlying that word, but the mystery is eluding you through the word wood. But you see the words, our mind, is actually what we perceive. We not only perceive through the mind, we perceive only our mind. When I look around, I see the table, I see people, but what I’m seeing is my mind. The table is not separate from my mind, from the word table in my mind. The person is not separate from the concept of person in my mind. It is the same thing. It is my mind that I see around me. And if I want to penetrate beyond my mind and see what is there, it is a mystery. It is unknowable, completely, one hundred percent unknowable.

When the Mind Knows that Its Nature is Nothing Graspable

This is a certain kind of knowledge, but it is not knowledge in the way we usually think of it. It’s knowledge by being. You simply are the reality. The mind can know it only indirectly. It knows the reality exists because it knows there’s something there that it cannot know. Ultimately, the mind also knows that its very nature is that of reality, because the moment it sees that reality is unknowable, it also perceives the absence of duality. This means that there is absolute unity, there are not two; the mind and absolute reality are one. It’s attainable in the sense that you realize what I’ve been describing: at some point the mind sees that there is such a thing as absolute reality. This happens when you reach the limit of understanding who you are, which is the limit of understanding. You also see that reality has always been there; it has always been the nature of things. So, it is attainable in the sense that you know, “Yeah! That’s me, I’ve always been that.” The mind then becomes reality. Actually, the mind has always been reality; it is in a state of “becoming” only at the moment of recognition. In that instant, the mind is enlightened and knows its true nature. Its nature is nothing graspable.

When You Really Experience the Nature of the Mind there is Utter Stillness with No Observer Observing Anything

The nature of mind is seen as space, but even the notion of space must be transcended to deeply understand the nature of mind. As long as there is space, there is someone there experiencing something and calling it space. But completely experiencing the nature of the mind involves complete openness, or complete nothingness; when you really experience the nature of the mind, there is utter stillness with no observer observing anything, no experience, thought or label. Any experiencer would be just one of those contents, just a thought or feeling or constellation of thoughts or feelings. You continue finding nothing, you don’t even find space; there will be space but no one to find it. This is sometimes called the ground of existence. In this perspective, then, the mind is taken to be everything, and the ground for everything. Everything is the mind because the mind is known in its most absolute nature as nothingness, as the absence of anything, which is seen as the ground for everything.

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