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Nonconceptuality (Total Nonconceptuality)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Nonconceptuality (Total Nonconceptuality)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Nonconceptuality (Total Nonconceptuality)

Being Beyond the Dichotomy of Conceptual and Nonconceptual We are Free to Conceptualize or Not

Because total nonconceptuality is beyond the dichotomy of conceptual and nonconceptual, we are free to conceptualize or not. This condition makes it possible to discern concepts and the absence of concepts, and considers these simply different kinds of experience. For example, one important concept that we transcend in realization or in nondual enlightenment is time. Our conventional experience always has the notion of time in it; our daily life happens within time. But as we experience presence, we realize that presence is immediate nowness; it is a now that transcends time, a now that is not simply the present moment. Yet another way of transcending time is that when we are free from the patterning effect of the passage of time, we can experience our being as timelessness. Timelessness characterizes the classic mystical experience—that of our true nature as beyond time. Or sometimes we can experience the transcendence of time as an eternal now or a sense of eternity, where eternity doesn’t mean a long or infinite time. Eternity is similar to timelessness, except it is more like all time being compacted into one time. Although there is no passage of time, it feels like all time all at once. Sometimes we say, “This feels like an eternity,” by which we mean, “I can’t wait until this is over.” But the mystical experience of eternity is more like being in the eternal now, which is beyond the happenings of time.

Dimensions of Nonconceptuality that are Vital to Revealing and Challenging Primitive and Preconceptual Structures

What I call nonconceptual is the experience of no cognition. In the Diamond Approach, we work with three dimensions of nonconceptuality: two of these dimensions I refer to as “radical nonconceptuality” and the third I call “total nonconceptuality.” These dimensions of nonconceptuality are vital to revealing and challenging the primitive and preconceptual structures that we discussed in the last chapter. To be truly free, we need to understand and illuminate these structures that obstruct the dynamism of reality. We first encounter the dimensions of radical nonconceptuality when presence reveals that it is not only the nature of the soul or the individual consciousness but also the nature of everything. To be able to understand both radical and total nonconceptuality, it is necessary to appreciate reality viewed from this new vantage, which I call the boundless dimensions.

Realization that Things Neither Exist nor Don’t Exist and there is no Concern Either Way

For example, total nonconceptuality reveals further understanding about the question of existence and nonexistence. From the perspective of the absolute, nothing truly exists. The absolute depth of reality shows that existence is a matter of appearance. This does not mean that the world is a hallucination, but that things don’t exist in the way that we think they do. From the perspective of the absolute, nonbeingness is the fundamental truth about experience. When we see that the emptiness of self, the emptiness of everything, is the fundamental realization, it brings a great deal of freedom from the self. But this realization still harbors subtle concepts, one of which is the concept of emptiness, the idea and experience that things don’t exist. There is a further understanding that is referred to as the “emptiness of emptiness,” which is the recognition that emptiness is not something that exists. From the perspective of total nonconceptuality, the challenge is not that emptiness does not exist; rather, it is that whether things are empty or not, whether they exist or not, is simply not relevant to this type of realization. Here the recognition and experience of the realization of true nature are that things neither exist nor don’t exist, and there is no concern either way, because we are not operating with the concept of existence.

The Individual Self Seen as a Window for Experiencing No Self

We first experience the total nonconceptuality of our true nature as we delve more deeply into the nature of pure awareness and absolute awareness. As we explore the nature and the very substance of these nondual dimensions, as we consider their sense of nothingness, emptiness, and absence, that opens the door for true nature to manifest itself in a way that reveals degrees of freedom that we haven’t even imagined possible. In the usual trajectory of our work, our unfolding development or realization reveals the realization of the absolute—the absolute depth of true nature that is complete freedom from self. Some teachings think of the absolute as the big self or the ultimate self or the ultimate subject. But it is actually the experience of total selflessness, of no self of any kind. The individual self is seen simply as a window for experiencing no self. It is not the center, and there is no center. So the absolute is a profound realization of emptiness of self. It also can appear as the emptiness of everything, the nonbeing of everything in the sense that nothing has an ultimate identity. Things appear and we experience them, but they don’t exist in the way that we usually think.

The Move from Radical Nonconceptuality to Total Nonconceptuality is One of Greater Inclusion

For now, it is enough for us to know that nonconceptuality can go beyond what we usually experience as nonconceptual, whether that is the conventional sense of the nonconceptual as direct experience or the nondual sense of it as the transcendence of concepts. This going beyond nonconceptuality is not a negation of anything. Even to say “going beyond” is not an exact description but rather an approximation of the situation, because there is no “going” and no “beyond.” The move from radical nonconceptuality to total nonconceptuality is one of greater inclusion. Because it is not patterned or bound by polarity, total nonconceptuality is open to all the possibilities of experience—conceptual, nonconceptual, and otherwise. Freedom comes not by eliminating concepts but by becoming master of them, so that what we are is not patterned by them in any fixed manner. As our freedom becomes unconditional, we are able to experience and utilize concepts and no concepts with comfort and ease, with a simplicity that is beyond the need for fixation and an openness that refuses to be limited.

Total Nonconceptuality is Not Opposed to Anything

The true nonconceptuality, total nonconceptuality, is not opposed to anything. The moment we oppose one thing to another, we are within the realm of concepts and conception. The reality of Total Being is innocent of all that. In the totally nonconceptual condition, time and timelessness can both happen, but neither patterns the sense of what I am, the sense of Being. Because space and spacelessness, whether finite or infinite, do not pattern what I am, I am free to experience either or both at the same time. The creative, discerning intelligence of Being can reveal many further implications of total nonconceptuality.

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