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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Nothingness?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Nothingness

Completely Experiencing the Nature of the Mind

The nature of mind is seen as space, but even the notion of space must be transcended to deeply understand the nature of mind. As long as there is space, there is someone there experiencing something and calling it space. But completely experiencing the nature of the mind involves complete openness, or complete nothingness; when you really experience the nature of the mind, there is utter stillness with no observer observing anything, no experience, thought or label. Any experiencer would be just one of those contents, just a thought or feeling or constellation of thoughts or feelings. You continue finding nothing, you don’t even find space; there will be space but no one to find it. This is sometimes called the ground of existence. In this perspective, then, the mind is taken to be everything, and the ground for everything. Everything is the mind because the mind is known in its most absolute nature as nothingness, as the absence of anything, which is seen as the ground for everything.

Fullness of Being and the Nothingness of Space are Two Sides of the Same Thing

Fullness of Being and nothingness of space are two inseparable sides of the same presence, of the same perception and sensation. Each side may dominate experience, depending on the particulars of experience. Sometimes we feel ourselves as the boundless truth in its full beingness; at those times, we feel the whole world as the fullness of Being, real and substantial. We are the solid ground of everything, the true existence of all forms and appearances. At other times, we feel light and empty, like a boundless nothingness. Everything is nothing, where the nothing is what truly is. Nothing has any substance or sense of existence; all forms appear as empty appearances, like a mirage reflected in the clarity of nothingness. We feel like nothing, totally light and empty. But it is a wonderful emptiness, for it is a lightness and delight, a freedom and release. There is no heaviness or depression of any kind, not even the weighty fullness of presence. We are lighter than light, emptier than space, a nothing that is the ground of all things. Sensing ourselves, there is nothing to find, just a lightness and an infinite openness. At the same time by remaining with this nothingness we realize it is also fullness, beingness, and presence.

Nothingness as the Deepest Nature of Reality

Nothing exists without that nothingness. Anything that exists needs some sort of space in which to exist. So, not only is it the ground of all experience, it is the ground of everything. It is seen as the basic nature of reality, as the deepest nature of reality. When everything quiets down, ultimately there is nothing. It is not that someone is looking, and can't find anything; in that process of looking, you start looking for yourself, and you don't find it. And finally, there is nothing. This doesn't mean that the physical body doesn't exist. There is simply no entity there producing, proceeding, or organizing these impressions, beyond the impressions themselves. There are simply the impressions that come and go; they come from nowhere and go nowhere. And then all impressions can cease, revealing complete emptiness. This is taken to be the most basic nature of reality, the ground of all existence. We call it space here because this experience is more like space.

Nothingness is the Unstructured and Unimpeded Nature of Pure Presence

In some sense, nothingness is the unstructured and unimpeded nature of pure presence. We experience this nothingness psychologically as total openness. We feel we are completely open, with no limitations, boundaries, restrictions, differentiations, or any recognizable features. We are the total openness of true nature, open for any arising and perception. The openness is both phenomenological and psychological. We feel our presence phenomenologically as the openness, nothingness so total that it does not impede anything.

Out of Complete Nothingness Appears All that We Perceive and Experience

When we realize the happening of all that happens, we see the magic and the power of true nature and we understand the question of action and activity. This mysterious ground, this empty presence, this spacious lucidity, this fullness that is at once nothingness, is not a static presence. It’s full of energy, full of life, full of dynamism, full of throbbing, orgasmic, convulsive movements happening all the time. This dynamism and power and force are what manifest each and every form, spontaneously every instant. This simple stillness full of graceful clarity, in its depth and silence, is gently and effortlessly manifesting everything in a process of effulgence and light. The enlightened view includes the process of manifestation, includes this constant effulgence that creates all the things in the world from the void, that materializes each thing from nothing. In that sense, reality is a wizard. Out of complete nothingness appears all that we perceive and experience. And it’s as simple and as easy as dreaming something. When you dream, you create a whole universe that feels like solid matter; people get hurt and various things happen, but it’s really not taking any effort. You are completely asleep, completely resting, and it is all happening. It is the same with Quintessence; it is completely still and silent, and at the same time it is unfolding everything with effortless ease and spontaneity.

The Absence of the Absence of Everything

Because our normal consciousness can only experience things as someone experiencing something else, we cannot experience nothing without its being changed, mellowed down, bounded, because our usual awareness is very restricted and limited. Its tendency is restriction, limitation, specialization, labeling, and conceptualizing. The only way we can experience complete nothingness is for the usual consciousness to go. When it is gone, it is experienced as its absence, and its absence is seen as the absence of everything. It is not seen only as the absence of everything, but is also the absence of the absence of everything. This experience is called cessation or extinction: complete death. It is what people usually think of as death. It is exactly how death is. You don’t have to die physically to experience it. This does not mean necessarily that if you die physically you’ll experience this kind of death. It is the complete cessation and absence of everything. As I said, this experience is needed partly because the personality has its own consciousness, which has to go. However, after it goes, it is possible for another kind of consciousness to be there to experience the complete, unbounded, limitless space as it is. There is a need for a complete, unbounded, limitless consciousness to experience nothingness. With your own consciousness, you cannot experience real unboundedness, real limitlessness. In the experience of the actual, unbounded, complete infinity of nothingness, your consciousness itself is unbounded, limitless, and infinite, which means not individual, not restricted, and not separate from what is experienced. When that kind of consciousness manifests, it is what is called cosmic consciousness, or universal consciousness, or primordial mind.


The Nothingness Within the Genital Hole

Within the boundaries of the genital hole there is the sensation of nothingness, of voidness, of no existence. If the person senses or looks deeper, the nothingness deepens and expands. The hole expands into more of the pelvis and later into the rest of the body. Under normal circumstances, awareness of this hole in the unconscious body-image is defended against through many different means. The most obvious is physical contraction, tension. Typically there is a tension around the pelvis, centered at the sacrum and the perineum. This ring of tension is normally accompanied by another tension ring around the head, especially around the ocular region. We recall that the genital hole is one end of a column of emptiness running through the body, so we see then that there are tensions which block the two ends of this column or tube. There are other tension patterns in the body relating to the column, but the pelvis and head are the major and most frequently encountered ones.

The Void, pg. 79

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