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Mind (Ordinary Mind)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Mind (Ordinary Mind)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Mind (Ordinary Mind)

A Perspective on Guidance and Spiritual Realization that is Quite Accessible to Our Ordinary Mind

We integrate the Diamond Guidance when we understand understanding. The word “understanding” is normally used in a more limited way than how we use it in the Diamond Approach. Therefore, we need to discuss understanding more extensively than we have done in previous chapters. The idea that guidance and spiritual realization can be discovered through understanding our experience is a perspective that is quite accessible to our ordinary mind, even though it is not common in traditional teachings. I like this approach because it doesn’t require any esoteric or exotic ideas, beliefs, or symbols in order to engage in the inner work. Understanding is something that we can relate to directly. Our everyday life and our ordinary ways of experiencing and thinking are all we need in order to begin working on ourselves. If we simply deepen these, we arrive at true realization of ourselves without getting into strange or mysterious concepts or rituals.

Our Ordinary Mind Adheres to Dichotomies as if they are Solid and Ultimate Reality

Much of the work of realization of the nonconceptual dimension is a matter of recognizing the basic mental dichotomies, and recognizing them for what they are. They form the solid bases of our mental universe, and hence function as the final underpinnings of the structure of self and world, a structure that we generally accept as reality. Our ordinary mind adheres to these dichotomies as if they are solid and ultimate reality, unquestionable and eternal. This view of reality inherently supports the structure of the ego-self, for this structure is built using images and representations that are ultimately conceptual, but also depend on the basic dichotomies for their reality. As long as we adhere to them as truth they structure our experience in such a way that reality appears to conform to them. It is difficult to challenge the fundamental dichotomies, for we cannot see them as conceptual fabrication until we stand on the nonconceptual ground. Only true nonconceptuality, which is the ground of pure awareness, can expose them for what they are, through contrast. Some approaches to realization try to penetrate the conceptual dichotomies through thought and reason, but how can a dimension of being comprehend a deeper and more fundamental dimension than itself? Access to the deeper dimensions is what frees the soul from its inherent limitations of thought.

Perceptions of the So-Called Ordinary World Which are New and Unfamiliar to Our Ordinary Mind

Also, even though the Absolute is the ultimate natural condition, human beings will want to experience everything that is possible as consciousness unfolds from the Absolute. As our consciousness becomes clarified, all kinds of things will be revealed, such as perceptions of essence, of dimensions of reality, and perceptions of the so-called ordinary world, which are new and unfamiliar to our ordinary mind. Our lack of understanding may be experienced as a kind of opaqueness or obscuration. As an unfamiliar and unexpected state of consciousness arises, you might experience a subtle contraction against it because your mind resists the new experience. The resistance to a new manifestation may get connected to something in your past that reminds you of this new experience. You may see a personal issue about it. Although the personal issue might not be what’s most relevant, it still needs to be worked out and made transparent. Furthermore, there is not a single definitive way of experiencing the Absolute. The experience and realization of the Absolute reveals many unexpected mysteries of reality. We will be amazed at how many subtle concepts we have, many of which we take to be ultimate fixtures of reality. These become transparent, transforming the realization of the Absolute to further and deeper realizations.

The Mind that is a Prisoner of Concepts Will Never Know the Night

From this perspective, the many things that people say about giving, loving, serving, and sacrificing mean seeing through the entity and all of its attachments. What you surrender is your mind. Being a giving person means not holding on to an entity. Surrender means losing the belief that you are an entity. Service means that being an entity is not the end. All of these are conceptual ways to approach the reality. But, in a sense, the reality cannot be approached, because the moment you approach it, you are already dealing in concepts. You are already taking yourself to be something approaching something else. Reality doesn’t really work that way. The reality infiltrates you, your mind, your soul. The reality acts on you from within and without, like a corrosive acid that eats more and more, dissolving you gradually and completely. You have many kinds of experiences and realizations as the reality feasts on you inside and out. You think you are gaining something, but you are actually being thoroughly consumed. You wake up one day not knowing what’s happened. You thought you were going to be happy and realized, but now you see that you’re gone. The ordinary mind cannot fathom the reality, cannot know what to do and how to get there. The mind that is a prisoner of concepts will never know the night.

The True Underlying Fabric that Can Bring Unifying Meaning to Our Life is Beyond Ordinary Mind

This advancing globalization, happening at the same time that we are becoming increasingly aware of the subtle emptiness of modern secular Western life, is resulting in many people feeling confused and questioning, consciously or unconsciously, what it means to be human in our times. The destructuring effect of cultural diversity is making many feel the stripping away of the substance of their value systems, reflecting the denuding of the three elements of the triad. They feel it as the loss of the sense of living in a meaningful world. Many now have no sense of having a world that can psychologically hold them and their aspirations in a clearly meaningful way. The pervasive questions become: What is life on Earth? What should life be? How will we live? What are our values? What is important? What is real? What will work? What is appropriate for our times? If we do not want to simply regress to past solutions, as many fundamentalist movements are trying to do, we will have to ask: What is the vision of being human that is appropriate for our times? To refer to the past for solutions would involve our interpretations of what that was like; this is what fundamentalism does. However, going to the past will not enable us to reach the true underlying fabric that can bring unifying meaning into our life; this fabric is the presence of true nature, which is always in the now, and beyond ordinary mind.

You Would be Out of Your Mind if You Were Practicing for No Reason

As we continue to examine practice from the perspective of realization, as we see how practice is realization, we can recognize another position, another attitude that we tend to have in relation to practice. As we challenge one assumption, we encounter further ones. We explored how practice needs to become continual in order for it to be an effective practice. But effective toward what end? We realize at some point that practicing doesn’t mean that we are practicing for a reason. For most people, before realization matures, practice seems to be both pushed and pulled: pushed by motivation and pulled by a goal. So we are motivated because we usually have a goal in mind. Motivation and goal orientation are two ends of the same delusion, the same misinterpretation of reality. Or we could say that they are two facets of the same approximate, but ultimately limited, view of reality. Most of us are practicing for a reason; we are practicing so that something will happen. Isn’t that why you are practicing? Otherwise, why would anybody practice? You would be out of your mind if you were practicing for no reason. And that is true; you will be out of your mind—at least out of your ordinary mind. So, from the perspective of the individual soul, one of the holy cows of practice is that we practice in order to become realized, awakened, enlightened, and free. When we say that practice is realization, we mean precisely that: Practice is not for realization, it is realization. This challenges the conventional belief that we practice so that we can become enlightened. If we practice with the intention of attaining realization, we have an aim in mind; we have a goal toward which we are oriented. Motivation is impelling us to keep going, and the promise of a particular result is beckoning us forward, inviting us to go in that direction. Realization that is practice shows the folly of having a goal as the end of our practice. As our practice matures and as our realization deepens, we can understand more and more the perspective of true practice.

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