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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Nonexistence?

We can also experience true nature as pure nonexistence, as pure nonbeing. And the truth that appeared as much more solid than the physical universe can suddenly appear ephemeral and phantasmagoric because its nature is nonbeing. 

— A. H. Almaas

:Nonexistence is the absence of experience. Not only your body is gone, but also your identity, your ego is gone. As annihilation space arises, the individual encounters fears of death, of disappearing, of annihilation, of nonexistence. This space is actually the experience of nonexistence, of complete extinction of self, of cessation.

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Nonexistence

You are All Existence and No Existence and Both at Once

To go to the Absolute brings a sense of losing everything. Even though I am becoming my truest, innermost, secret nature, I feel I am losing the totality of existence, which I love. For a long time I wondered, “Why do I love it? Why don’t I love my deepest self more?” So in the state of existence, whether cosmic or individual, there would be the longing and love for the Absolute, for absence, for complete peace, for unspeakable reality. And in the state of the Absolute, there was a subtle longing for the existence that I loved. I realized at some point that I loved both equally, and this seemed to be a big problem. The resolution that happens is nothing the mind can conceptualize. Logically, we can see that the resolution is for the existence and nonexistence to become one, for beingness and nonbeingness to become one. But no logic can prepare us for the realization that we are the cosmic existence that is completely, absolutely not there. We completely exist as everything and at the same time there is absolutely nothing there. There is no duality whatsoever, no loss whatsoever. Not only are you all existence and no existence, but you are both at once.

Is Nonexistence The Ground of Presence?

So, first we recognize that being is really fundamentally a nonbeing, nothing, absence. Presence turns out to be the other side of what can only be described as a spacious absence. The ground of the ground, the ground of presence itself, of the luminosity itself, is nonexistence. You feel it . . . it exists. But what is the feeling of existence in it? What makes it exist? What is the ground of the existence of presence? The recognition of the fact that it does not exist, that it is absolutely nothing. Complete transparency, no opaqueness, no thickness, no objects, no solidity, no substance, no mass, no atoms, no time, no space . . . nothing. But we get accustomed to believing in and living according to our ideas of what we think our existence is—an objective existence such as that of a rock. Thus, recognizing the actual underlying nature of our existence—the nonbeingness of it—requires such a subtle understanding that we tend not to see it.

Movement of Objects from Nonexistence to Existence

One of the most common ways of perceiving the phenomenon of universal transformation is the recognition that objects do not move from the past to the present. Such movement depends on reification and absence of the perception of the unity of Being. It also implies the belief that each object is old, that it has existed from some certain moment in time, and now time passes on it, this way changing or moving. We instead see the object coming into existence each moment. It comes into existence and passes away as a new object takes its place. The new object looks exactly identical to the one before it, or almost so. In other words, the object is always being replaced by a newer version of itself. The movement is not from the past to the present, but from nonexistence to existence, from nonmanifestation to manifestation. This way the object is always new, for time never passes on it. Since the new object is identical to the one before it, and the change happens too quickly for the eye to discern, we can easily believe it is the same object, and then conceive of the concept of time to account for its changes. Yet in reality, the object is coming into creation continually; it is being continually and newly created, instead of being created—coming into existence—at some point in the past and after that existing in time.

Paradoxical Ground that is Nonexistence

The absolute is not something other than the consciousness that contemplates it. It is not something outside of the awareness that inquires into it. It is not a product of consciousness or perception, but their very source. It is also not a percept that can be delineated completely. In fact, it is not a percept, even though we seem to have the experience of perceiving it. It is the ground of all perception, all experience. And this ground is paradoxically not only nonexistent, it is nonexistence. This nonexistence is also mysteriously inseparable from all existence, as its ultimate truth and reality. The absolute is what gives everything its existence, without it itself being an existent.

Reality is: You Don’t Exist and You Keep on Living

And that is how it is anyway—there is no ground. It is not as though somebody is going to take reality away from us; nobody is going to take anything from us. All that will happen is that we will see through our belief, our position, that there is being and nonbeing. We will see through the illusion that there is existence and nonexistence. We will see through our attachment to the idea that we exist now but that nonexistence means we are going to disappear, that our existence is going to terminate. But these are all concepts, conceptualizations, and reality is nothing like that. Reality is this: We are here and not here at the same time, absolutely. We don’t exist and we continue to exist. This doesn’t make sense to our mind because of our conceptual positions. We carry a deep conviction that if we don’t exist, we cannot eat, we cannot talk, we cannot do anything. Don’t you believe that if you don’t exist, then it’s all over for you, that you can’t live? But reality is not like that. Reality is: You don’t exist and you keep on living. You die and are born again even though you don’t exist.

Soul’s Movement Toward Total Nonexistence

Such dissolving is usually gradual, feeling like a delicious melting, a wonderful and lovely embrace. However, this experience is quite informative, for it reveals further mysteries of the absolute. As the consciousness of the soul thins away, she recognizes the effect of the surrounding blackness and nothingness on her presence. She feels herself as a thin and dispersed mass, so delicate and so fine, as if she is composed of the most minute atoms. Each atom is conscious of itself and of the surrounding emptiness. Each experiences itself as presence, and the surrounding emptiness as the absence of presence. In other words, the surrounding darkness is not only the absence of light and consciousness, but also the absence of presence and being. It is total nonexistence, absolute nonbeing. As this nonbeing comes into contact with the presence of consciousness it annihilates it, turning it into itself. The consciousness of the soul thins out much more, where the experience becomes of a few particles of conscious presence within an infinite expanse of nothingness. There is simply nothing around, not even the sensation of space. Just the distinct sense of oneself as a conscious presence, right at the precipice of annihilation. All around there is absolutely nothing, only annihilating absence. As the conscious presence apprehends this annihilating absence it comes into contact with it, and it instantly dissolves and disappears; only annihilation is left.

The Nonconceptual Realm is Beyond Existence and Nonexistence

From the perspective of the nonconceptual, you cannot say whether something exists or doesn’t, because existence and non-existence are concepts. When your awareness of yourself is nonconceptual, there’s no one there saying, “I exist” or “I don’t exist.” When you are contemplating existence or nonexistence, you have already distinguished two things, and are thus in the realm of the conceptual. So this realm is beyond existence or nonexistence. And even though there is consciousness, there isn’t an idea of consciousness. Consciousness is not saying “I am consciousness.” There is consciousness because there is consciousness, not because it is saying, “I am consciousness.” It’s very subtle. Then, when you go to the Absolute, even that is gone. There is complete darkness. The Absolute and the Nameless are both nonconceptual. With the Nameless there is consciousness, and the Absolute is beyond consciousness. It’s the difference between the night and day. The night is Absolute, and the day is the Nameless or the nonconceptual. There is light. This light doesn’t bring any particular knowledge; it’s just pure light.

What is The Ultimate Nature of Things ?

In the true experience of emptiness, the subjective feeling and belief in the substantiality and solidity of things is exposed for what it is, a subjective feeling based on a belief. Emptiness reveals to us that things do not possess such substantiality or solidity. Their mode of being is not what we have called existence. More accurately, their ultimate nature is not existence, but nonexistence. They appear, but are characterized by nonbeing. Experientially, phenomena appear and we perceive them along with their usual qualities, but we do not feel that they exist. They are felt to be empty of the solidity and reality that we believed they possessed. In other words, the true nature of things is that they manifest, or appear, but that is all. In appearing they do not give us the feeling and belief that they are real or that they exist in the way we have assumed. We are accustomed to believing that things exist in the way we normally experience matter, solid and opaque. In reality, things are insubstantial, transparent, and light, similar to thoughts or mental images. But they are also luminous, so they are more like light. However, even light as we ordinarily know it does not express the absolute lightness and emptiness of things. Things are actually diaphanous forms, holograms floating in nothing, glimmerings of this nothing.

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