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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Nous?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Nous

Allowing the Nous to Function

Thus, the more we experience the realm of Essence and integrate it, the more the personal mind is corrected through being influenced by the perceptions of the Nous, objective knowledge about how reality is and how it actually functions. This process is what I call the clarification and development of the soul. The soul is then governed not by the personal mind, but according to the Nous. We begin to live our lives according to the truth of Essence and the truth we experience in the Work, not according to what we learned from our conditioned existence. The more we see the Nous and allow it to function, or allow ourselves to see that it operates, the more we experience a sense of harmony, beauty, love, and all the essential qualities. We then experience an expansive sense of release, a lack of constriction. Constriction comes from trying to oppose the Nous, from believing that we are separate and independent from it, and from operating according to beliefs that have nothing to do with what actually exists. Consider the idea that life is better than death. Who says that? Not the Nous, or the Logos. The Universal Mind in its dynamic form is what is called the Logos; it is the level of the changes and transformations within reality, according to the noetic forms of the Nous. The Logos has both life and death in it; it does not say that one is better than the other. One simply comes after the other, or more accurately, things just change and transform. Ocean becomes rain, and rain becomes ocean. The Logos does not say which one is better. It just does both.

Diamond Guidance is the Nous on the Level of Essence

What is this territory we are exploring? The totality of all that exists, with all this variation, is the Universal Mind, or Nous. The Nous includes everything that exists in reality, with all the differentiations. It includes everything that can be perceived or experienced, and anything that can be conceptualized. What we call in our Work the Diamond Guidance is the Nous on the level of Essence, the manifestation which allows the individual soul to be affected by the Nous. The Nameless or nonconceptual is beyond the Nous; it is the ground of the Nous, which wouldn’t exist without it. The Nameless is beyond mind, and the Absolute is beyond that.

Operation of the Essential Nous

The essential intellect or nous operates not only with the enhanced intellectual capacities of discrimination and synthesis, but even though it is essential presence it can operate in conjunction with the soul’s normal intellect, with its logic, reason, and ordinary knowledge. Here, instead of ordinary knowledge obscuring our basic knowledge, the nous uses it to reveal and unfold the infinite potentials of basic knowledge. The essential nous can also operate in conjunction with reason and logic, applied to spiritual experience in all its dimensions and subtlety. The essential nous is one of the natural secrets of the wisdom teachings; it was mentioned and discussed a great deal, but most contemporary investigators miss it for they do not understand it. They cannot understand it because they are subject to the dissociation of knowing and being. We can mention one more thing about the functioning of the nous: it can combine with ordinary thinking to the extent that thinking becomes the flow of essence and its aspects, in a stream that scintillates with insight and understanding. Thinking becomes objective thinking, intentional, truly rational, steady, focused, and to the point. It is the operation of true nature in the process of discerning wisdom.

Perceiving the Operation of the Nous

The throbbing lumination at the forehead reveals itself to be a diamond clear and colorful presence. The more passionate the naturally curious contemplation is about the loneliness, the more alive and brilliant becomes this presence, manifesting spacious and discerning clarity. I recognize the variegated, scintillating presence as the discriminating intelligence, the true nous, which appears as a presencing of the intensification of consciousness, at the center of the forehead, to reveal the meaning of experience. The intensification of inquiry coincides with a greater and more definite presence of the discriminating intelligence, revealing its exquisite sense of delicate precision. The experience now is a field of sadness, loneliness and emptiness, combined with the memory of the simplicity of presence, all opening up to the scintillatingly alive presence of the nous. Insights begin to radiate out from the scintillating consciousness. Perceptually, the operation of the nous appears as a multicolored glittering radiance; affectively, it is a delicate and pleasant expansive clarity; cognitively, it is the spontaneous arising of insight. The understanding unfolds: the sense of simplicity in the experience of presence is finding myself as the presence of Being, totally and purely, without thoughts or feelings about it. There is simplicity because there remains only the purity of presence, with no memory and no mind. This absence of mind, in the completeness of being presence, is tantamount to the absence of everything that mind carries.

Seeing the Nous as a Structure or Pattern of Ideas

As we have discussed, when we perceive the physical universe and the essential universe from the perspective of nonconceptual reality, they look like thoughts; this is why we call them “mind.” The Nous can be seen like a structure or pattern of ideas, and just as we perceive mental images when we see through the concepts in the personal mind, we see these ideas in the Nous as images. From the perspective of the nonconceptual, the Universal Mind looks like images. The table looks like the image of a table. It’s not really a table. It remains real from the perspective of the personal mind, but from the perspective of the nonconceptual, it’s not that the table is not real, it’s just not as real as the nonconceptual. The nonconceptual is a much more fundamental reality. And the things in the physical world and in the essential realms are laid on it like images. That is why we call it the Universal Mind. We call it the Universal Mind because when we go beyond it, we see it as mind. But it is not mind as created by me personally. It’s the mind that actually exists as the totality of the Universe. Some people call it God’s mind.

The Discerning Capacity of the Essential Nous

This brings us back to the discerning and knowing capacity of presence itself—the higher intellect, essential nous, or what we call “diamond guidance”—which reveals that freedom has other meanings and other horizons. The thing that we need to understand about this discerning capacity is that it discriminates not only our knowledge and the content of our mind but also our direct experience. It discriminates the immediacy of what we are experiencing by discerning, seeing, and revealing what is there. It can extract the meaning and the implications of the experience, which in any experience of true nature are countless and varied. When I say “higher intellect” or “divine mind,” many people misunderstand and consider these to be mental faculties. But the heart is vital to this kind of creative discrimination. The functioning of this capacity actually happens through the unity of mind and heart because without love, there would be no compassion or sensitivity to the mind’s discernment. The creative discrimination of presence is activated by the participation of the heart. This discrimination arises according to true, deep, existential need and only when we have the right orientation—a loving desire to know the truth.

The Wisdom of Discrimination Viewed from a Limited Perspective

The intellect considered the inner guide for the spiritual journey is not the intellect in the domain of common experience. This latter is only a reflection of what is called the real or higher intellect, the “nous” of the ancient Greeks, which is the appearance of the primordial discrimination, the wisdom of discrimination, in an essential form, a form of presence that can appear in the midst of the dimension of conventional experience. The essential or real intellect, the “nous” of the ancient Greeks, is actually the wisdom of discrimination, viewed from a limited perspective because of the incompleteness in our understanding of ourselves. At this point of spiritual development, we are able to have experiences of essential presence, but we are still not in the full self-realized state. As the spiritual development progresses towards the dimension of primordial and nondual presence, with the assistance of the inner guidance, it reveals progressively the true nature of this guiding presence until it finally reveals it as the wisdom of discrimination at the point that the development reaches the primordial presence.

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