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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Night ?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Night

As the Guest Begins to Reveal Itself in the Cavity of the Heart

As the Guest begins to reveal itself in the cavity of the heart, we see an amazing brilliance, pure luminosity like lightning that bedazzles you. As it approaches, the brilliance reveals a luminous blackness so absolutely black that it is the most luminous thing you can ever experience. The night of poverty suddenly changes to a luminous night, a radiant vastness so dark it is absolutely black, but so purely black it is luminous. We behold an immense majesty, an emptiness so void it is total transparency. Yet its beauty dazzles, its power intoxicates, and its intensity totally annihilates. To know it further, we can only reappear as the world, for there is no farther to go back. It is like arriving at the edge of the world and there is nowhere else to go. Our inner gaze simply switches to outer witnessing, the silent stillness witnessing all manifestation unfolding as its own bedazzling radiance.

Black Space Appearing as the Night Sky

As ego activity diminishes, it becomes easier to stay with and experience fully the selfless openness of the black space. The student can tolerate the absence of the familiar self with little difficulty and may even appreciate this absence. This sets the stage for the manifestation of the Essential Identity. The black space appears as the night sky where the Essential Identity may arise as a brilliant star in the pure darkness. A brilliant point of presence and awareness takes form in the endlessness of space, with the inner recognition: “I am here now.” The student feels specifically present, as a singularity of presence, totally autonomous from all images, representations, or concepts of self. There is a new element in the experience: The sense of authentic identity is present, and it is experienced as oneself. One does not experience it, one is it. This development takes one to a new dimension of experience, as if one is experiencing things from the other side. When one is completely being the Essential Identity, the experience no longer takes the form of being or seeing a point of light. The sense of size disappears, even the feeling of identity disappears. Self-realization becomes a matter of being, purely being, with an increasing understanding of what this means. There is a sense of simplicity and innocence, of just simply being.

Meaning of the Night Metaphor

The night means no mind and no consciousness. The mind rests on consciousness, and diversifies it into myriad things. But the night is beyond consciousness, beyond mind. The night is absolute annihilation, which is our truest nature. How can it be that all this splendor arises out of absolute annihilation, total nonbeing? It’s like a magic trick. You see, this nature that is our ultimate truth is a strange kind of guest. This guest will not come unless you are a perfect host. A perfect host keeps the house absolutely empty and clean. The house is clarified and purified to be fit only for the guest. You realize that your heart, which is the feeling of the consciousness from which everything arises, is really the house of the guest. The guest ultimately resides in the heart. The heart exists only to serve as the abode for the guest. The guest is very jealous and will not show up if there is the slightest other thing in the heart, if there is the slightest movement toward anything else. The heart is completely clarified when there is absolute detachment, when it is completely empty, totally divested of its other occupants. Then the guest arrives.

The Cosmic Night

Losing the notion of existence doesn’t mean you cease to exist. But the desire is exactly for that: absolute cessation. You wish that you would disappear, that you would cease to know that you had ever appeared. This is the deepest wish, the wish for the most fundamental dimension. And the deep love is a deep fear too, because of the attachment to existence. You realize that your nature can be neither described nor known. You can’t say that you exist, and you don’t know that you don’t exist. If you know that you don’t exist, you exist. Complete nonexistence is complete cessation of consciousness, of knowingness. It is the cosmic sleep, the cosmic night. It is the deepest peace. This is not a permanent state of realization, but a phase for the deeper realization. What is called the divine coma, where there is no experience of sensation or perception, becomes the rite of entry into the realm of mystery, the mystery of the Absolute. To wake up from this divine coma without leaving the mystery of the Absolute is total peace and cessation of suffering. You realize that the end of suffering is not happiness but peace. From that peace arise happiness, fulfillment, love, and all the qualities of being.

The Faith Needed to Face the "Dark Night"

Holy Faith is a specific condition or state, a specific development of this sense of purity and implicit confidence or trust. It is needed to embark on, and to continue traveling the path, because as we journey on our path, we do not have full knowledge of reality. We do not have complete access to this view, and so most of the way along the path, we don’t know what’s happening. We don’t know where we are or where we are going, except for occasional glimpses. Because of this inevitable ignorance, faith is very important; in fact, it is necessary to keep you going when you can’t see the road clearly. When we have complete understanding and perception of reality, faith is no longer necessary. But as long as we are passing through what St. John of the Cross calls “the dark night” of not seeing reality clearly, we need faith. At times, the journey is easy, at times it is difficult, and at other times it feels down-right impossible; and for the most part, we don’t know why, nor do we understand what it is that is happening to us. In the face of this not knowing, our faith keeps us going; and when there is faith, we don’t need to know where we are going or how to feel secure. If we knew exactly where we were heading, there would be no discovery, no adventure, no magic. Holy Faith sustains us on our journey into the unknown.

Facets of Unity, pg. 252

The Infinity of the Luminous Night

In the process of dissolution of the conscious presence of the soul into the absolute, or in any experience of inquiring into the nature of the absolute, we discover that the last vestige of consciousness is a multimodal sensory one. As we see and feel the mysterious darkness of nonbeing we feel our presence as a kind of sensation. Our presence becomes simply the presence of simple sensation, sensing itself and the nonbeing of the absolute. As it apprehends the absolute it sees and senses it. The seeing becomes a seeing of darkness, which culminates in the total cessation of perception. The sensing becomes a sensing of absence of being, which culminates in the total cessation of sensation. As we learn to acclimate to the reality of the absolute, and experience it as our truth, we experience ourselves as its vast emptiness, as the infinity of the luminous night. We are then the absolute nonbeing witnessing the emergence of the forms of experience. When we look within we see nothing, just a darkness; and if the darkness dominates, there results either cessation or the extroversion of awareness to the witnessing of phenomena. Also, when we sense ourselves we find nothing, but this finding of nothing is the finding of no sensation. The absolute is so empty that it is empty of the sensation of anything, including the sensation of nothing. This is quite an unusual state, for we are accustomed to having sensations. But here we are completely ourselves, totally in touch with our depths, absolutely intimate with our subjective experience, but experience no sensation. We are aware only of the absence of sensation, which is possible only because there is some remnant of sensation in parts of the body that creates a contrast.

The Luminous Night is the Innerness of Everything

Thus the indeterminacy of the absolute is the same as the divine darkness, the inscrutable nature of the divine, the ultimate essence of Being. It is not an ordinary darkness and lack of knowing and being; it is the majestic and luminous blackness of the divine essence, the absolute essence of Being, the most intimate truth of true nature. It is the core of all existence, the depth of Being, the inner of all. Whenever we find an inner quality and dimension, the luminous night will be its innerness; whenever we find a deep truth the luminous night will be its ultimate depth. It is the inner of all, the essence of everything, the back of all fronts, and the ultimate ground and facticity of all manifest forms. It is indeterminacy, but it is also the ground of all determinations; it is nonbeing but it is also the ground of all being; it is darkness but it is also the ground of all light; it is unknowing but it is also the ground for all knowing. It is the primal darkness before there was light, and the eternal night that highlights the appearance of the day. We can know it, but to know it is to know it as mystery, the ultimate mystery from which all being and knowledge arise.

The Midnight Sun of the Subtle Realms

I’m sure that many of us are already using one capacity or another, but you might not have conceived of it in this way. For example, you might have been observing and inquiring and suddenly felt that you were hot and red, without noticing that you were actually seeing the color red. Or you might say, “When I feel space arising, it is really clear and open.” What do you really mean by “clear and open”? Or you might tell someone, “The space goes on forever.” How do you know that? Perhaps you are seeing it. The perception could already be happening without your being aware of it. These perceptual capacities develop initially to discriminate our inner experience, but in time, as our soul opens up and reveals that the whole world is a manifestation of consciousness, the perception of the whole world appears in terms of the subtle capacities. The world begins to have colors, smells, and textures we didn’t see before. For instance, one day you might realize that you are seeing the night at noon; it is daytime, the sun is shining, but you can see the night behind everything. This is called the midnight sun of the subtle realms.

The Only Thing the Night Can do is Incinerate You

Whoever goes into the night will be eaten up, consumed in an instant, incinerated in a second. The night does not love you, does not do good things for you, does not have mercy on you, and does not make your life easy. The only thing the night can do is incinerate you. This is its only effect: absolute annihilation. This sounds scary, but when you see the falsehood of your entityhood and recognize the pure consciousness, you will be consumed with the passion to annihilate what is false. The longing for cessation is the ultimate desire that we have. It is the ultimate death wish, not the usual physical death wish. To die in total and complete annihilation means not knowing that you ever were or that you ever will be. It is absolute darkness, absolute peace. The Sufis refer to this as fana fi al-dhat, the death into the Divine Essence. Christian mystics refer to it as disappearing into the divine darkness. The Buddhists refer to it as the cessation leading to nirvana, or the dharmakaya of the bardo. All genuine inner teachings speak of this death and consider it the most definitive experience on the path.

To Go to the Night Means that Consciousness Itself Must be Consumed

On this dimension of pure consciousness, there is a sense that consciousness is conscious of itself. Consciousness is the basic quality of life, of the day. The day is characterized by light, and by knowing. When you consume all of the concepts that construct your sense of self and world, you become pure consciousness, merging into God, into divinity, into cosmic being. But to have a glimpse of the Guest, of the secret one, consciousness will have to consume itself too. The consciousness itself will have to burn with the fire of passion. The totality of consciousness, which is the totality of all that you perceive, the whole universe, will have to burn. In other words, God himself will have to burn with passion. You cannot do anything about the secret, about the Guest. The initial step is to go beyond the sense of being a person, to realize that there is only consciousness. What is left after the mind is gone is a sense of consciousness, beingness, presence. But to go to the realm of the night means there will be no consciousness. To go to the night means consciousness itself must be consumed. The sense of presence will have to die; God himself will have to dissolve. The word has to die, even the first word, which is “I Am.”

When Soul's Experience is Not Constrained

Our soul is then not constrained to form herself only into what we think of as a person with arms and legs. Our inner experience can be released from this body image, and we become free to experience ourselves as a flowing river of luminous consciousness, a bright star of presence, a rich planet of life, a rose of love, a lava flow of energy, a night sky of depth, a blue sky of inner rest, and so on. Our feelings are no longer constrained to the ordinary emotions of fear, greed, aggression, sadness, depression, and so on. We can now experience our inner feelings as a bright and happy sun of joy, a solid and stable silver moon of will, a warm honey of fullness, a fresh pool of innocence, and so on. Our mind will be freed from obsessive thoughts and limiting self-images, to manifest diamonds of clarity, jewels of lucidity, gems of insight, scintillating brilliance of knowledge, and so on.

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