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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Mystery?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Mystery

A Spontaneous Recognition that Happens to Most People When they Find Themselves in the Absolute

When we learn to accept the mystery that lies all around us, and to recognize that what we know, regardless how immense, is nothing but a blip in an ocean of darkness, we give up the search for security, we relax and let go. We learn to live in mystery, and recognize that the world we live in is full of mystery. We learn to love to know, for it is the knowing of this mystery; but at the same time we learn to love the mystery, for it is the rest of our hearts and the home of our souls. To know is to move nearer to our home, and to behold the mystery is to be at home. Being at home is one of the most characteristic feelings the soul receives when beholding the luminous darkness of the mystery. The soul frequently has this feeling the instant she feels herself abiding in its luminous darkness. It is not a conclusion, not a reasoned understanding, not the result of understanding or consciously knowing something about the absolute. It is a spontaneous recognition that happens to most people when they find themselves in the absolute. We have the instant and joyous recognition that this is our true home. We finally feel completely at home; we understand why we love to feel at home, and why it is so difficult to feel at home. The soul realizes that she has been estranged from her source, exiled from her home. She realizes that she has been roaming the universe looking for her home, feeling uncomfortable and unsettled, lost and bereaved. She has been looking mostly in the wrong places, in manifest objects and places, when her home is within, totally within, within but beyond all of manifestation.

All Realizations are Way Stations

On this path, many of the realizations that we learn about seem similar to the realizations of other teachings. We might begin to compare: “This teaching is deeper; that teaching has a different understanding of this dimension; this teaching is a more complete expression of that state.” These discriminations may be true and may contain useful knowledge but, at some point, we understand that it is not up to the individual to choose where to land or where to abide or what realization should manifest. Reality is bigger than the individual. Reality is an immensity, is a mystery, is a Living Beingness that is constantly manifesting and revealing its possibilities. This is why in the view of totality we see the different realizations as way stations. Saying that they are way stations is also not entirely accurate. It’s a useful formulation but, after a while, it is deceptive because it implies going toward a finite end. We might assume that the different realizations are stations on the way to some final destination. But the destination itself turns out to be a way station. All realizations are in fact way stations. This gives us a different view of why we work with aspects and dimensions as we do. We work with aspects and dimensions to learn that reality can manifest in those ways. We also work with them so that we realize them, so that we are capable of being that way, so that we are fully open to Being presenting itself in all these ways through us and as us. It is useful to teach the particular qualities of reality because they help us break out from our habitual ways of experiencing who and what we are. Realizing ourselves as various aspects and dimensions of reality is important for our freedom and for the harmony of our life.

Enlisting the Mystery of Unity

But love has many degrees, many dimensions, and is of many kinds, depending on how close we are to the mystery of truth, the mystery of unity. This mystery of unity has been described as pure light, as enlightenment, as total peace, freedom, purity, perfection. Whatever it is, we are trying to enlist the mystery of unity to help us arrive at that unity by seeing how it emerges in our experience, how its reflection appears in our everyday life. We feel it as a love, as a liking, an attraction that makes us want to get closer. We also feel it as the desire to be closer to what we desire. This attraction is a central expression of life. On the animal level, life is very intelligent. It has learned to use this force of coming together in order to ensure that life reproduces, survives, and continues. What more powerful force than the pull toward pleasurable union can biological life use to continue its existence? Animals do it. Birds do it. Bees do it. Humans do it. They all like it because the power of that mystery is being used, appearing in biological life as the erotic instinct. Initially, this force appears biologically as the desire to come together to continue the race, to continue life. This desire begins as a drive of life for life, and then, in the human being, develops to become a desire not just to reproduce the species but as a more conscious desire to come together, to be close, to be intimate, to be unified, to experience the unity.

God is a Word and Truth is a Word

The real world is nothing but the beauty that expresses the truth, the reality, the mystery that, in itself, is completely unknowable and inexpressible. Seeing this, we see that God is not somewhere else, that spirit is not something else, it is nothing specific, nothing in particular, nothing in the past or the present or the future, here or there, and has nothing to do with these. All these things are words anyway. God is a word. Truth is a word. If we are simply knowing a word, what is the mystery then? The mystery is not somewhere else; the mystery is nothing but our world, reality itself when we truly perceive it. There is nothing else, nowhere else; there is no heaven somewhere where God lives, running the show. This is God and he’s not running the show, he’s just living.

Inexhaustibility of the Mystery

I think this is a very clever and subtle way of understanding the indeterminacy of the essence of our Being. However, the adventure of inquiry is based on a slightly different perspective on the mystery. Some would say that you cannot say anything about the mystery because whatever you say is going to be inaccurate, and therefore it is better not to say anything. The perspective I prefer is that the essence of Being is amenable to descriptions. You can actually say a great deal about it, just as the mystical poets have been doing for thousands of years. You can say it is emptiness, you can say it is mystery, you can say it is stillness, you can say it is peace, you can say it is neither existence nor nonexistence, you can say it is the ultimate beloved, you can say it is the annihilation of all ego, you can say it is the source of all awareness, you can say it is the ground of everything, you can say it is our true identity, you can say it is dimensionless nonlocality, and so on. Each one of these descriptions is saying something about it. Thus the mystery of Being can be seen as having two different implications. I believe the more fruitful one is not that there is nothing you can say about it, but that you can never exhaust what you can say about it. We can describe it and talk about it forever. So instead of calling it indeterminacy, I think a better word is inexhaustibility: The mystery is characterized by the fact that it is inexhaustible. You can never know it totally.

Inquiry Takes Us from Knowledge to Mystery

Being reveals its mystery through revealing its truth. By revealing to us more of what it is and how it functions, being shows us how little we know. It also shows us that the more we know, the more we know how little we know. The journey of inquiry takes us from knowledge to mystery. Our inner guidance reveals to us the truth and richness of our Being, but the more it reveals the truth and richness of our Being, the more we are in touch with the mystery. It is a strange paradoxical situation: inquiry reveals to us more and more about our true nature and about reality. However, the more knowledge and understanding we gain through this revelation, the more we approach the depth of our Being, and its essence, which is mystery. To go from knowledge to mystery means to jump into the unknown.

Mystery of Being

We need to remember that the essence of Being cannot be finally determined – this is what I call the inexhaustible mystery of Being. You can know it and know it and know it and know it, but you can never exhaust it. This is true about any manifestation of Being – in fact, about anything in life, anything you experience. You can know the experience precisely but this precise knowledge is never final. It is this ultimate mystery that allows the unknowingness to continue being there, for regardless of how much we know, we still don’t know. There is always unknowingness.

Mystery of the Absolute

We can know it, but to know it is to know it as mystery, the ultimate mystery from which all being and knowledge arise. To feel the explicit intimacy of its nonbeingness and to see the absolute aliveness of its emptiness is to behold a majestic mystery, luminous and deep, awesome and enveloping, yet inviting in its annihilating touch and caressing in its melting embrace. We behold a mystery that we passionately wish to know, and we know that to know is to cease being, yet we long to the embraced by its annihilation and love, to be taken in by its cessation. To know it is to cease, and to cease is to know it. To know it is to not know it, but to not know it is to know it. To know it is to know it as mystery. It is the mystery that must remain a mystery, which cannot but be a mystery. Its being a mystery saves us from the obsessions of our mind, and from the false securities that our false self thrives on. We behold it as mystery, a mystery that by remaining a mystery liberates us from the traps of the manifest world. We learn to live in mystery, to be supported by ultimate insecurity, and to love the flavor of nonbeing.

Our Knowledge Never Encapsulates the Mystery

The absolute is knowable in the sense that anything else is knowable. We can experience it and know many things about it . . . . . We can know much about it, but the more we know the more we realize how much we do not know, and how mysterious it is. In other words, our knowledge of it, regardless how deep and exhaustive, never exhausts its truth, never encapsulates it. It is knowable, for if it is unknowable then this is its determination, but it cannot be fully knowable, otherwise it will be determinable. It is the inexhaustible mystery.

Participating in the Mystery

So there is a mystery of existence. There is a participation in the mystery of existence. The way to participate in the mystery of existence is to know who you are. And to know who you are is to start from where you are and to be open and relaxed and curious about what you might be. That allows the unfoldment, the emergence of your being in its various facets and dimensions. But saying that is still a little vague. As we know it is not that easy.

The Absolute Limit of Mystery and Indetermination

We might view this pure experience of transcendence as indicating that the source of awareness is inherently not aware of itself, that it is aware of itself only when it manifests the world with its light of consciousness. Another view is that true nature is inherently a mystery, a pure black light where there is nothing but light, this light preceding not only what we usually know as light, but also Being itself. Since its nature is mystery and indetermination, increased intimacy with this dark light will not produce more knowledge; it will instead produce more mystery. To experience mystery is to know the mystery as mystery. It is absolutely empty of any determination, devoid of any quality or form, and so to know it is to have no experience. This total absence of experience is not darkness, but rather total and absolute knowledge. It is the absence of all obscuration, but also the absence of all manifestation. Since there is no obscuration, no obstacles, not even the distraction of the forms of manifestation, why would we think of it as ignorance or darkness? Why think of it as not knowing or unknowing? Since the transcendent true nature is inherently mysterious and indeterminable, this is the absolute limit of mystery and indetermination. It is absolute knowing. It is the mode of knowledge of transcendent true nature, Being without mirrors, not even the mirror of awareness

The Heart’s Love of Mystery

There is another side to us as well. In addition to our relationships, another realm draws the attention of the heart: the love of mystery, the fascination with what might lie beyond our normal view. Since ancient times, human beings have been seeking to know and understand whatever is there. This has expressed itself in many ways—through the adventure and exploration of the external world and how it works, and also through our inner exploration, the quest for meaning and the desire to understand our place in the universe. The question “Who am I?” has been a significant part of our evolutionary story. All the questions that arise at the beginning of the spiritual journey become more scintillating as we get a taste of what lies beyond and a taste of our spiritual being and its vastness, its magnificence, its beauty, its lightness, its unfettered nature. Each taste tends to inspire love and appreciation, to make more love available in every way; and the love grows and expands both inwardly and outwardly. The more we know about our nature, our spiritual nature, the more we love it, the more it draws us, pulls us. The more we feel the expansion of how we view our life, the more we feel, know, and are drawn by and to a more fundamental sense of reality. As our questions are answered, more questions come to replace them. The unknown grows as we come to know it.

The Nature of Forms

The intriguing mystery is that the nature of forms, the nature of the body, the nature of consciousness, the nature of all phenomena, includes both emptiness and presence, both being and non-being in a mysterious juxtaposition. This interpenetration of being and non-being in reality is even more mysterious than pure or nonconceptual awareness. Pure awareness is an aware ground, an aware medium that doesn’t know what it is aware of and doesn’t discern one thing from another. By nonconceptual I do not simply mean not mental, not constructed. I mean the barest minimum of sensitivity, the ground that is simply the capacity to be aware, to perceive. Therefore, by nonconceptual we mean noncognitive. There is perception, but there is no knowing, no cognition of any kind. Although we see that nonconceptual awareness is both emptiness and presence, both Being and nonbeing, we cannot say this in the actual experience of nonconceptual awareness. We cannot say anything, because pure awareness lacks recognition, lacks knowing.

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

What we see around us we do not really know directly, right now, in terms of immediacy. We need to see that fact in a very deep and fundamental way. You need to see that when you look at the table you do not know what you are looking at. What you know is a word, the concept of a table. You do not know what you are looking at. And the moment you really see through the word, you see that the reality that you are seeing around you is a mystery; that we live in complete, pure mystery; that the world around us that is old, drab, and normal is actually a wonder, a mystery. It is a mystery that defies our minds, that defies our best efforts. 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.

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