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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Nonattachment?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Nonattachment

Attachment Cannot be Completely Dissolved Unless We Realize the Nonconceptuality of All Existence

In this dimension of Being, much learning and experience are possible, but we are discussing only the bare minimum necessary to understand how self-realization resolves narcissism at this fundamental level. We will mention one more important feature of this dimension of experience: The clarity and transparency of this manifestation challenges the very deep obscurations inherent in the structures of the ego-self. It exposes some of our most basic, cherished attachments about life and world. These attachments are difficult to transform, since they have deep, entrenched roots. Their transformation confronts us with our primitive oral deprivations, needs, and impulses, and therefore with the issues of oral narcissism, specifically with the libidinal ego. We perceive that the attachments originate from this primitive structure of the ego-self. The nonconceptual nature of the arising presence, which is appropriate for understanding these preverbal issues, teaches us about nonattachment, and clarifies that attachment cannot be completely dissolved unless we realize the nonconceptuality of all of existence. We learn that those things we are attached to are ultimately nothing but concepts, and that what is fundamentally precious is beyond all such concepts. It is the suchness of our very beingness.

Attachment Depends on the Dichotomy of Good and Bad

Experientially, the notions of good and bad are connected mostly to pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering, gain and loss, expansion and contraction, and so on. In the unutterable bliss of nonconceptuality, these dichotomies disappear. An important part of this process for the soul is the development of nonattachment. The understanding that arises with the help of the crystal vehicles is that attachment depends on the dichotomy of good and bad. These vehicles teach the soul that nonattachment is nothing but the effect of the nonconceptual presence on the consciousness of the soul. They teach her this wisdom by challenging this dichotomy, which she has adhered to as long as she can remember, and showing her how it is not a fundamental truth, not a timeless truth of Reality. The soul has the opportunity at this point to perceive the development of attachment. It starts with the differentiation of nonconceptual presence. As long as these stay simply as differentiations no attachment is possible, but the differentiations become discriminations, knowable concepts. As long as they remain simply knowable concepts, noetic forms, attachment is still not present. But the concepts become labeled and eventually reified. They become discrete forms, which obscures the unifying ground. The labeling and reification make it possible for the first time to compare the forms, resulting in judgment. This judgment is the beginning of the dichotomy of good and bad. This judgment leads to preference, generally of the good over the bad. Preference based on the entrenched belief in the ultimate truth of this dichotomy becomes a rigid and fixed preference. Such fixed preference easily becomes attachment, which is holding on to what one so prefers, or rejecting what one does not.

Nonattachment is Not Identical to Poverty

For instance, the Buddhist tradition teaches that the last barrier to go as enlightenment is attained is the belief in attainment. When you feel you are enlightened and now you don’t need to meditate, that’s what has to go. Only when you see that you want to meditate even after you are enlightened do you know that you are enlightened. If you say, “I am finished,” then your teacher tells you to go and meditate. That state in which you believe you are finished means that you are still rich; it means that you are not finished yet. The one who is finished never feels finished. Since we are looking at this situation from our Western perspective, rather than viewing it from the perspective of nonattachment, we see it in terms of poverty. The notion of poverty, as we discussed earlier, is part of the Western spiritual tradition. Poverty is the Western counterpart of nonattachment. However, nonattachment is not identical to poverty. To be poor in spirit means to be completely nonattached, but the sense of poverty is a different flavor of experience from that of nonattachment.

Nonattachment is Nothing but Nonconceptual Presence in the Heart

Understanding attachment, and the freedom from attachment that arises through the impact of nonconceptual presence, liberates the heart from its habit of orienting according to fixed preferences. The heart becomes transparent to the operation of essential intelligence, functioning from a ground of nonattachment. Its love and joy are now free, totally unattached. It can love fully without having to possess what it loves, liberating its joy and delight, which become the celebration of Reality, immaculate presence, and pristine awareness. The soul learns from direct experience that nonattachment is nothing but the nonconceptual presence in the heart, as the heart of enlightenment, the crystal heart. Such heart responds openly, spontaneously, without premeditation or prejudice. It responds without hesitation to the objective needs of the situation, with a nonconceptual intelligence that needs no inner recognition. As the discriminating mind dissolves under the impact of nonconceptual presence the dichotomies merge into each other, and all polarities reveal their underlying unity as the uniformly blissful field of awareness.

The Meaning of Nonattachment

Nonattachment means we have reached a place of realization of true nature or spirit, and we experience ourselves as the spirit, which is inherently non-attached. In the Western traditions, the question is looked at from the perspective of soul, not spirit, where soul is the individual total consciousness through which experience happens. It is useful here to recognize the distinction between soul and spirit. Poverty means the soul has learned to recognize that everything she experiences, everything she has, is not hers. All experience is a gift from true nature, from the source of all manifestation. In monotheistic language, the soul recognizes that whatever richness she experiences, whether material or spiritual, comes from God, a gift and grace from him. She owns nothing because there is only one owner. Even her actions and accomplishments are not hers, for without the capacities and qualities that God gives her, she won’t be able to do anything.

The Nondual Teaching Carries the Perspective of Nonattachment

One way of exploring this is to see that the experience of both duality and nonduality is particular to human beings. What was reality like before there were human beings? The universe definitely existed before we came on the scene. Was it dual or nondual? Both of them imply some kind of mind that says reality is either separate or not separate. It’s true that the dual condition, by virtue of being fixed and patterned by our past, somehow clamps down the luminosity and light of true nature. However, it does attend to the particulars of life and the significance they hold. On the other hand, the nondual condition, which is a condition of liberation and enlightenment, makes explicitly manifest the light of true nature. However, if we investigate further, we see that in the nondual condition, the light is manifesting in a way that renders everything the same thing. There is a sameness and equality to all forms of manifestation. In fact, this is an important part of the nondual teaching because it carries the perspective of nonattachment—the freedom from attachment, the freedom from preferring one thing over another. Here we see that everything has the same luminosity and the same preciousness. It is often expressed as “Equalness, unity, oneness; one taste, one flavor.”

The Way of Poverty Includes Nonattachment to All Levels of Inner Possessions

In any case, this is not the meaning of being poor in spirit. Being physically poor does not necessarily lead to spiritual poverty; otherwise, all the poor people in the world would be saints. Havingness is not only about physical possessions. It is a psychological attitude, and the nature of the object is not what matters. We can have literary or artistic accomplishments, opinions, judgments, ideas, preferences, feelings, states, experiences, also family, friends, acquaintances, activities, interests, hobbies, and so on. All these can and do become objects of havingness. We are all rich with these things, even the materially poor among us. It is true that abundance of physical possessions tends to predispose us to an extreme attitude of havingness, but the tendency toward havingness is not fundamentally connected to the physical. Thus, the way of poverty includes nonattachment to all levels of inner possessions too. We can experience all the rich phenomena of our human, essential, and spiritual lives, and we can learn not to be attached to them, not to need them for our sense of self and value.

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