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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Nearness?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Nearness

A Sense of Nearness to Our Own Beingness Without Any Distance

We cannot give any reason for the fact that we love being ourselves. We can come up with reasons, but none of them will be true because there really aren’t any; we just inherently love ourselves and our nature. And in our True Nature, we love everything and everybody. That love is simply part of reality. When we feel that we are being ourselves, we feel real. We feel intimate with ourselves, close to ourselves, but not close in the sense of there being two who are close to each other. It is more a sense of nearness of our own beingness, without any distance. That absence of distance, or of dissociation, has in it a sense of intimacy and of relaxation, of being settled in one’s being. And we are not necessarily trying to describe that sense of being that we are experiencing; it doesn’t matter what quality or dimension of Being is manifesting. We are simply settled in our real self, instead of fabricating ourselves or trying to be ourselves or being in reaction to one thing or another.

As We Move Away from Manifestation and Toward the Transcendent Truth . . .

This experience of no perception, internal or external, is reported by advanced practitioners of most wisdom traditions. This indicates that we cannot know true nature in its absoluteness, because as we move away from manifestation and toward the transcendent truth we lose consciousness of anything. Such a conclusion is supported by the fact that the movement deeper into pure true nature, as awareness relieves itself of the perception of manifestation, is an experience of being increasingly enveloped by darkness, a divine darkness that feels like grace. The sense of the experience is that the light of true nature darkens the consciousness of the soul, liberating her from the perception of phenomena, as it draws her nearer. The soul feels increasingly close to the source as she feels more enveloped by darkness. At the point of complete nearness, that of unity, the darkness is complete, and there is no perception or awareness of anything, including darkness.

Becoming Aware of this Background Feeling of Mother’s Nearness

Also, these attainments are dependent on the internalization of a good image of the mother. The obvious implication is that physical and emotional separation become possible because—besides the maturation of body and mind—mentally and emotionally one remains close to mother. The sense of self does not feel abandoned by the mother, does not feel completely alone, because mother is still around, as a cathected image. So one can feel independent and can function in a separate and autonomous manner because there is a constant (although mostly unconscious) feeling of the mother’s nearness. This is such a deep insight about the development of ego, to the credit of object relations theory, that it cannot be adequately appreciated until one goes very deep in the process of inner freedom from dependence. The deeper the freedom, and the finer the realized consciousness, the more one becomes aware of this background feeling of mother’s nearness, as some kind of omnipresent reminder of her. Since the sense of self and individuality of ego are based on the self-image, one always unconsciously feels the mother’s presence nearby, although one can feel separate from her. This is because her image is firmly established in one’s mental structure, as part of one’s mind. So one can leave mother by taking her with him, in his mind.


“Experience-Near” is a concept we borrow from psychoanalysis; we find it useful in classifying concepts in general. The idea is that concepts can arise in relation to two major sources. They may arise in relation to a lived experience, like the concept of “burning” to describe what happens when we put our hands in fire. But concepts can also arise in relation to theoretical considerations, like the concept of “intrapsychic” relationships, to refer to the interactions between two psychic structures in psychoanalysis, as in interactions between the ego and the superego. The concept “intrapsychic” arises only when we have the theoretical model of the psyche as having different parts, as Freud did in creating his structural theory. The first kind of concept is then referred to as experience-near, because it is nearer to actual experience. The actual situation is not so clear cut, and conceptualizations arise in response to a continuum of considerations with various degrees of nearness to lived experience. So concepts can be more or less experience-near, depending on how close they are to lived experience.

Experience-Nearness of Our Conceptualizations of the Self

The closer our experience is to the dimension of primordial presence, the more experience-near is it possible for one’s conceptualization to be. This gives the already useful psychoanalytic concept, “experience-near,” an unexpected precision that helps us understand and appreciate how far from experience-near are the concepts that dominate conventional experience. The precision of discriminating wisdom also makes possible a continuous range of experience-near conceptualizations, and provides a general way of assessing the degree of nearness. So, experience-nearness of our conceptualizations of the self, and its manifestations, depends on how near to the inner core of essential presence is our felt experience. The nearness to experience is determined not only by the distance of abstraction from the lived experience, as the concept is ordinarily understood in psychoanalytic thinking, but also by the distance of the experience from the primordial presence. This is because experience is relatively abstract on all dimensions of experience except for that of primordial presence, since these dimensions are characterized by the lack of complete immediacy in the experience as a result of the intervening veil of mental concepts.

Experiencing the Absolute Inside of Everything

When we experience the absolute through the heart modality, the absolute attains a sense of gentleness and simplicity. We feel the same fullness and emptiness, but now with a softness, a gentleness, and an amazing contentment. We feel light and simple, easy and at ease. The most characteristic element of the heart experience is an amazing sense of intimacy. Since the absolute is the being of nonbeing it is totally transparent and absolutely free of obscurations. The sense of absence means the absence of all qualities; hence it has nothing to hinder perception and contact. This means there is nothing, no intermediary, between our awareness and whatever we are experiencing. We are experiencing the absolute inside of everything. Such nearness to the secret chamber of any and all manifestation appears as the most total and the most exquisite intimacy. We are not intimate with anything in particular. We are simply experiencing the intimacy of nearness to the absolute nature of everything. We are near everything, because we are the absolute, the inner heart of everything. Our presence becomes the exquisite gentleness and intimacy of no barriers, no intermediaries, not even qualities to be in the way of the heart.

Nearness to Being

Although complete realization of the self as Being is a very advanced attainment, we can experience Being in other, less radical, ways. As we have seen, our experience of ourselves can move nearer to or farther away from the dimension of Being. Since one of the functions of identity is that of identifying, that is, the capacity to locate the observing consciousness in whatever manifestation of the self the representation happens to be patterning, the identity can locate the experience of the self more or less near the essential dimension. The nearness to Being will depend partly on the depth of the dimension of the self captured in the self-representation. It is not, however, this particular feature which actually brings about the experience of Being. Rather, it is a feature of the process of identifying itself, namely, the possibility of disidentification, that allows us to experience Being.

Nearness to Experience

The nearness to experience is determined not only by the distance of abstraction from the lived experience, as the concept is ordinarily understood in psychoanalytic thinking, but also by the distance of the experience from the primordial presence. This is because experience is relatively abstract on all dimensions of experience except for that of primordial presence, since these dimensions are characterized by the lack of complete immediacy in the experience as a result of the intervening veil of mental concepts.

Recognizing Ourselves in the Tenderness, the Nearness to what is Real

Being real happens when the noise has subsided and the complexities dissolve and we are experiencing ourselves just as we are in our true condition. Not the reflection, not the picture, not the echo, not the memory, not the thought, not the reaction, but the thing itself. Usually, we assume that reality is full of all kinds of sounds and noise, and we believe most of what we hear. We focus on what the noise is saying or else we are busy responding to it—defending, justifying, reacting, explaining, judging, thinking, planning, remembering. But those activities are just the reflections of what is real. Being real is what we are, what we truly are, and we experience it in the moment. And being real doesn’t require that we experience anything in particular. It is more about the way we are being, rather than what we are being. It is like the difference between hearing one thousand loud noises and hearing one single note, simple and gentle, which makes us feel closer to who and what we are. Closer to our heart. At that moment, we feel that our heart is alive and tender. Our heart has its tenderness when we are feeling ourselves. We recognize ourselves in that tenderness, in that nearness to what is real.

Some Taste of Nearness of the Guest

The more we drop our attachments and abandon our inner idols, the more we are filled with grief and loss and sadness. The whole universe will turn into an ocean of tears. As our heart empties itself of its idols, it sacrifices too its yearning and its longing, and even its love. You don’t feel you long anymore. You don’t even feel that you love anymore. There remains only the direct condition of being consumed by an ocean of hot tears. This is some taste of nearness of the Guest, but we experience it for a long time as the grief over the loss of all the things we are shedding and sacrificing. We willingly sacrifice everything, but we cannot help but feel such deep sadness and tears. However, this again is another story the mind tells us, trying to explain something it does not and cannot comprehend. The mind cannot see that it is the Secret drawing nearer and beginning to melt us, to dissolve us. We can say that it is the heart passionately longing for and loving the Secret. But we can also say it is the Secret touching you, completely and passionately burning you up.

Strength of the Ego Structure Reflects Nearness to the Actual Experience of Ourselves and the World

This paranoia toward, and intolerance of, receptivity and impressionability depends on the strength of our ego structure. Strength of ego structure reflects its secure establishment, its cohesive integrity, and its reality or nearness to the actual experience of ourselves and the world. This strength expresses itself as a tolerance for change, as flexibility in openness for impressions, because of the resiliency of this ego. But when the ego structure develops weaknesses or lacks stable cohesion and integrity it will tend to be brittle and vulnerable, and hence will generally be more rigid, inflexible, and defensive. In other words, the weaker the ego structure and the less secure our sense of identity, the more resistant we will tend to be toward greater malleability, impressionability, and receptivity. This vulnerable receptive state is experienced as quite intolerable. There is terror about it, and all kinds of splittings and distortions happen to avoid that impressionability. On the other hand, even though a strong ego structure can be rigid and defensive, it will be able to regain its structure after dissolving; it will regroup and be able to function. The soul of this individual has a flexibility that is lacking in weak structures.

The Nearness of Essence Does Not Let Us Rest Until We Find the Answer

What a teacher essence is! It exposes the issues, makes us look at them as dystonic, makes us feel the lack of the essential aspect, makes us long for the aspect. Now the teaching about desire becomes our personal concern. It is no more only Buddha's concern, it is now our own personal concern; and it is such a burning issue for us, such a burning question that it makes us ache and long for an answer, a solution. We cannot rest. The nearness of essence does not let us rest until we find the answer, until we come to the solution.

We Need to Realize that We are Totally Bereft Without the Nearness of the Beloved

As the heart is divested of its attachments, we become more and more aware of its empty chamber, a process that is identical to the soul’s realizing her poverty. We realize with full feeling and cognition that we truly do not have anything, that we never had anything, not only objects of attachment, but also spiritual qualities or realization, attainments or accomplishments. We do not even possess existence on our own. In other words, when we quit filling ourselves with false loves, we realize we are totally empty, totally lacking, totally indigent. More accurately, when we first encounter the empty chamber of the heart, we feel it as lack, as poverty. We need wholeheartedly to accept this poverty; otherwise we will fill it again with idols and impostors. We need to realize that we are totally poor as long as the Guest has not arrived, that we are completely bereft without the nearness of the Beloved. To pretend otherwise means that our love of the Beloved is still not complete, is still divided between the Beloved and our own selfhood. We are still in the stage of worshiping idols; we have not arrived at true monotheism.

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