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Obscurations

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Obscurations?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Obscurations

A Matter of Seeing Through our Obscurations with Awareness and Understanding, Rather than a Matter of Making Anything Happen

So Holy Perfection is seeing Holy Truth in a certain way. It is seeing that Holy Truth means that everything everywhere is just right at any point in time or space. When we recognize this, this becomes an important foundational basis for our work. We can then see that working on ourselves is really not a matter of trying to get ourselves to some place where we feel perfect; it is instead a matter of discovering the perfection that is already here, that is intrinsic to us and to everything. It is a matter of seeing through our obscurations with awareness and understanding, rather than a matter of making anything happen. Just being with whatever we are experiencing is sufficient to experience its inherent perfection. This acceptance of what is, is not the ego’s version of acceptance, which is the opposite of rejection. If you say, “I’m accepting this now,” you are making a judgment that now this thing is okay and you’ve decided to accept it. But do you decide that you’re going to accept the sun? The sun’s existence is a fact. So the acceptance that leads to Holy Perfection is a not-saying-no and a not-saying-yes. If you really let yourself be here in this moment, you will find that everything begins to glow. Everything is radiant, luminous, clear, and transparent. That glowing luminous awareness has within it all kinds of wonderful qualities: love, harmony, beauty, and grace. And you will see that there is a sense of perfectness, a rightness about how things are. That is the actual condition of everything, but our lens of perception is not usually focused, so we don’t see things as they are. Since our lens has been out of focus most of our lives, we have come to believe that our distorted perception is how things are.

Facets of Unity, pg. 146

Barriers Already Exist in the Obscurations that Distort Our Perceptions

Guidance works in many ways, not always by giving you flashes of insight and understanding about your situation. If you need to learn about being vulnerable, for instance, it will place you in a situation where you get threatened. The manifestation of relevant situations is one effective method of the guidance. So, as in this example, if a threatening situation shows up, and you believe that you need to learn to not become vulnerable, then you are not reading the guidance correctly; you are reading it according to your filters and obscurations. Guidance, then, can create barriers for us so that we pay attention and learn. But in a deeper sense, it doesn’t need to create barriers, because the barriers already exist in the obscurations that distort our perceptions. So what we call barriers, or difficult experiences and situations, are nothing but the optimizing force coming through our filters and manifesting as a certain kind of experience that we find painful and perceive to be a barrier. If we understand the meaning of that experience, however, we have recognized the guidance. For instance, let’s say the optimizing force is taking you toward the quality of peace. Stillness and peacefulness happen to be the next things for you to learn. But you hit a certain barrier, which is a deep longing for your mother. The conjunction of the two—the movement toward the peace of Black Essence and the longing for your mother—may appear as a pattern of falling in love with people who have dark features. You find yourself always attracted to women with black hair and dark eyes. Every time you fall in love, it feels great. You feel, “Now I’ve got it, now my love is going to be peaceful. Now I’m going to have what I want.” But then you keep losing your lovers; the relationships never work out. You are seeing something true about the peacefulness—that it has to do with the blackness and the darkness. But it is mixed up with a need that you haven’t finished with: You still want your mother. So this combination manifests as falling in love with someone who is like your mother: a woman who also is like peace—dark. You could call that a barrier—you might even say that the optimizing force has created this barrier. It is more accurate, though, to see it as a manifestation of the optimizing force as it interacts with your mind.

Because it is a Reflection, an Emanation or a Particularisation of the Divine Mind, the Diamond Guidance Has the Capacity to Reveal our Experience, to Penetrate its Obscurations All the Way to Clarity and Truth

So the Diamond Guidance is the specific manifestation of the Divine Mind arising in our soul as a personal capacity. It is what gives our soul the ability to know exactly what is going on and to understand our experience. Understanding our experience is knowing what it is, directly feeling it, and having insight into that feeling, all as part of the immediate experience. Because it is a reflection, an emanation, or a particularization of the Divine Mind, the Diamond Guidance has the capacity to reveal our experience, to penetrate its obscurations all the way to clarity and truth. I call the Diamond Guidance a vehicle of real knowledge because its specific capacity is to make it possible for the soul to know herself. And if you know yourself, then you know your source, because this source is your ultimate identity. The totality of the soul is a microcosm of all of reality, the unity of Being. The Diamond Guidance is a microcosm of the characteristic of the knowingness of God, the macrocosm of reality. But remember, on the level of true reality, the five characteristics are inseparable. The five facets are all intertwined and happening at the same time. We have described them separately in order to reflect on them, but they are all one reality. Consequently, the Diamond Guidance reflects all the five facets: awareness, oneness, dynamism, openness, and knowingness. However, the most important one, the most central one it reflects, is knowingness.

Beholding the Soul with Total Objectivity, Without the Slightest Subjective Posture or Position, Without Any Obscurations or Veils, We Find Her as this this Essence which is Presence

In other words, if we investigate what the final essence of the soul is, the essence beyond particular manifestations, we find it to be this presence of pure consciousness. Therefore, we refer to this presence of pure consciousness as essence, meaning the essence of the soul. So essence is the ultimate ground of the soul, her final nature, her absolute purity. We also refer to it as the true nature of the soul, meaning that if we investigate our soul and are able to penetrate all of our beliefs and prejudices about her, and are able to behold her with total objectivity, without the slightest subjective posture or position, without any obscurations or veils, we find her as this essence, which is presence. Essence and true nature are the same thing, but viewed from different perspectives: when we view the ultimate and simplest ground of the soul from the perspective of its most basic constituency we refer to it as essence, just as the essence of water is H2O molecules; and when we view it from the perspective of its final and most naked truth we refer to it as true nature. There exist some minor disagreements among the various wisdom traditions about this essence or true nature. Some think of it as presence, some as awareness, some as light, some as love, and some as emptiness. But these views actually reflect fine distinctions and subtle discriminations in the experience and understanding of ultimate truth. We will explore these fine distinctions in some detail in chapters 17–21; meanwhile we can say that that essence is presence that possesses several basic dimensions, dimensions that give our experience of it various degrees of subtlety and discrimination. (See The Point of Existence, appendix B.)

Clarifying is a Process of Cutting Through Obscurations – the Clouds of Prejudice, Opinions, Reactions, Defenses and So On

Objectivity is only one element needed for objective understanding, as we will see by considering the process of inquiry. First we are aware of an experience, perception, or situation. Understanding begins when we realize that we do not understand something about it. Since we love to see the truth, this absence or incompleteness of our knowingness of the objective truth of the situation begins the process of inquiry and understanding. At this point, our lack or incompleteness of understanding usually reflects our lack of objectivity. So our love of finding the truth begins the process of becoming more and more objective in our attitude. Acquiring an increasing objectivity regarding the situation is a matter of clarifying our experience, in terms of both our attitudes and the object of inquiry. This clarifying is a process of cutting through obscurations—the clouds of prejudice, opinions, reactions, defenses, and so on. So we experience the lack or incompleteness of understanding as not being clear about the situation. The movement toward clarification is the process of inquiry. We may ask questions, explore, or study certain things. We may observe more and correlate our observations. All of this is guided by the movement toward clarifying the situation. In other words, understanding commences as the opaqueness in the experience—the various levels of obscurations and unclarities—is dispelled through inquiry. What does inquiry do? It reveals the truth. The truth is already in the experience; we are just not seeing it. In the process of the truth emerging and our discriminating it, experience becomes clearer. Or we can say that we become clearer about our experience. So, as in the example discussed earlier, when that person recognizes that the reason he is angry at me is that I remind him of his mother, whom he is angry at, he becomes clearer about his relationship to me. The process of arriving at the new discrimination is one of clarification. Before that, he feels unclear; there is a dullness, a thickness, a vagueness. There is an unknowingness, an unconsciousness. Now he is clear; the situation is transparent and his experience is more lucid.

Consciousness is Like a Spring, Uncoiling as Obscurations Arise and are Revealed, and the Obscurations Simply Dissipate

Almaas: Even after experiencing the Absolute, things remain in the unconscious that are not necessarily clear. When we truly realize the Absolute, the things that remain obscure will arise on their own. You will experience them as some kind of lack of understanding, but not necessarily about the Absolute. The Absolute erases the primary illusion, that is, the illusion of who you are. But the Absolute does not erase attachments. These attachments are habitual and will have to work themselves out. But now the attachments are not supported by the illusion of what reality is and the illusion of who you are. Consciousness is like a spring, uncoiling as obscurations arise and are revealed, and the obscurations simply dissipate. The things that need to be worked out are parts of consciousness that are still somewhat compacted and need to be opened and relaxed. Also, even though the Absolute is the ultimate natural condition, human beings will want to experience everything that is possible as consciousness unfolds from the Absolute. As our consciousness becomes clarified, all kinds of things will be revealed, such as perceptions of essence, of dimensions of reality, and perceptions of the so-called ordinary world, which are new and unfamiliar to our ordinary mind. Our lack of understanding may be experienced as a kind of opaqueness or obscuration. As an unfamiliar and unexpected state of consciousness arises, you might experience a subtle contraction against it because your mind resists the new experience. The resistance to a new manifestation may get connected to something in your past that reminds you of this new experience. You may see a personal issue about it. Although the personal issue might not be what’s most relevant, it still needs to be worked out and made transparent.

Each Form that Appears at Any Stage of the Journey is True Nature Manifesting Something to Us in Order to Reveal Itself – Even Veils and Obscurations, Barriers and Obstacles

We have said that the things that appear in our experience at the early stages of the journey are the same as in the later stages when reality reveals itself directly. In those beginning stages, veils are in the way, keeping us from seeing things directly, preventing us from seeing them completely and accurately. Instead, we see our experience through all our reifications. But each form that appears at any stage of the journey is True Nature manifesting something to us in order to reveal itself—even veils and obscurations, barriers and obstacles. Every experience is here to teach us. So the issue is: How good a student of experience are we at each moment? And what does it mean to be a good student? To practice, to learn, means to perceive the teaching that is coming through each moment of our life—not just during a meditation retreat or while reading this book or doing the practice exercises or pursuing our inquiry, but in each moment of our life. There needs to be no differentiation or separation of these activities from the rest of our life. A good student is one who recognizes that in every moment, everything that happens—whether we think it is bad or good, painful or pleasurable—is nothing but True Nature teaching, manifesting its truth. The more we recognize this, the more our soul becomes suffused with the juices, the nectars, of fulfillment and satisfaction. The more real it becomes to us, the more our heart becomes full and pregnant with the natural fruition of recognizing the truth. We begin to recognize that we are all children of the moment, which means we are all children of True Nature. So when we are learning the practice of being where we are, we recognize at some point that we won’t be able to pay attention to where we are if we don’t value the moment. If we don’t recognize that each moment has nutrition, has truth that helps us grow, we won’t be able to let ourselves be where we are.

Holding onto and Fixating on the Obscurations that Block Truth

We move to deeper dimensions of truth only if understanding expands and deepens. And, for the truth to go deeper, for understanding to reveal the greater dimensions of truth, the truth we discover needs to be integrated into the rest of our life. We need to start living the truth that we find. We can’t just discover it, experience it, understand it, and then go on living our life as if our discovery were an isolated experience. If we do that, truth won’t keep revealing itself. In other words, if we do not include—if we do not integrate into our actions and choices—the truth that we have found through our understanding, the process of deepening revelation will stop. Why? It’s very obvious. If we take action and make choices without taking into consideration the truth that we have discovered, then we are holding on to and fixating on the obscurations that were blocking that truth. It means we believe in this ignorance more than the truth, which amounts to the same as not recognizing the truth as the truth. Then we are living a life of lies when we already know the truth. And how is the truth going to reveal more of itself when we are disowning the truth we have discovered? How is that truth going to expand to deeper and deeper dimensions? It isn’t. Our consciousness is going to go back to the surface, to the place it was before we discovered that truth. So, if we want to cooperate with the process of revelation of truth, we need to live the truth that we know.

Memories and Impressions from the Past, Patterns and Dynamics that Recycle and Repeat Old Object Relations and Tendencies . . . at Some Point We Experience them as Obscurations, Obstacles, Contaminations, Impurities

Not being empty of other refers to the predicament in which we experience ourselves with all sorts of added accumulations that are not part of our true nature. For instance, our love is not other, but our belief that we are unlovable is. It is a learned construct that we have come to believe. Our ideas and beliefs are not intrinsic to us. What is other to us is the identification with the constructs and the ideas that pattern our experience, that are not part of the presence of true nature. And those beliefs and identifications are part of what we work with when we investigate the self. They are memories and impressions from the past, patterns and dynamics that recycle and repeat old object relations and tendencies. In time, we learn that they are extrinsic to our basic nature and that we can be without them. This is why, at some point, we experience them as obscurations, obstacles, contaminations, or impurities. When we experience ourselves empty of other, empty of those accretions, we are free to recognize the immaculate quality of our nature—its presence, its luminosity, and its stainlessness. We begin to see that what we take ourselves to be is composed of constructed images and concepts that are remembered and organized. Over time, these accumulated constructs become lenses through which we view ourselves and reality. When we see through and understand these constructs, we recognize that they are not true and not real. We become empty of them and also can recognize their inherent emptiness. In other words, as we become free from the accumulated constructs, they reveal their emptiness; they reveal that they are empty of reality.

Only when We Allow this Emptiness to be, Without Judgement or Rejection, Without Reaction or Opinion, Does it Shed its Obscurations and Reveal its Inherent Truth

The narcissistic emptiness sheds its deficiency and reveals its truth, as an emptiness that has no sense of self, but is spacious and peaceful. The deficient emptiness is actually nothing but this inner spaciousness, experienced through the judgment of deficiency. The state of no self is actually a pure manifestation of inner spacious reality, Being in its openness, we experience it as empty space, immaculate and pure, light and clean, empty of everything structured by the mind. However, the self reacts to the sense of no self in many ways—as a loss, as a deficiency, and so on, plus the associations, memories, and feelings that go with these interpretations. All this psychic content pervades the inner spaciousness so that we lose sight of its lightness, purity, immaculateness, and freedom. Instead, we feel it as deficient emptiness, dull and flat, heavy and dark. Only when we allow this emptiness to be, without judgment or rejection, without reaction or opinion, does it shed its obscurations and reveal its inherent truth: the state of no self, the freedom and openness of our Being. We experience ourselves then as a luminous night sky, transparent and pure, light and happy, cool and virginal, deep and peaceful. An emptiness, yes, but a stillness, a silence, where we recognize the absence of the familiar identity as the absence of agitation. This is black space, an inner spaciousness that manifests naturally when we accept the absence of self with no reaction at all. It arises when the self is free from identifying itself through representations. We experience freedom from the familiar identity and its structure. We experience ourselves without any structure, as openness, spaciousness, as boundless and infinite space.

Our Normal Everyday Perception is Filtered Through a Great Many Obscurations

The way the conventional or ego self experiences things, the way we ordinarily perceive reality, the way we perceive each other, the way we feel, sense, touch, and see are generally speaking not objective. Our normal, everyday perception is filtered through a great many obscurations. An important part of spiritual work, in a sense the point of it—that which is sufficient to take us the whole way on any path—is to experience things objectively: to experience, feel, sense, taste and see objectively. When this happens we say we are experiencing Reality. So, what is called spiritual realization, which is the same as experiencing Reality, does not mean having supernatural experiences. The primary way we lose our objectivity has to do with representations. To experience reality as it is means to apprehend it without our representations of it. In other words, the main reason we don’t experience things objectively is that we look at reality through our representations of it. We take our ideas of it, beliefs about it, images of it, memories of it, etc. as describing it, and then look at reality through these filters. We are using the word “representation” in the general sense of the word, not in the technical, psychoanalytic sense like in self- or object representations. Whenever we need to think, talk, or communicate with others, we need to represent reality. We cannot speak without representing. In verbal representation we take a string of words or a string of letters to represent some percept. Representation makes it possible for us think and communicate verbally, and so, of course, it is important and necessary. And generally speaking, as long as we are using our representations of reality for thinking and communicating about reality, there is no problem. However, we end up using representations not only for thinking and communicating about reality, but also for perceiving it. We end up experiencing reality through the representations we have learned or constructed.

The Void, pg. 151

Presence of the Essential Identity, Totally Clear and Devoid of Any Obscurations

At this stage, seeing where we are transforms smoothly into the state of self-realization with objective awareness of ourselves. There is the presence of the point (Essential Identity) and the nondual experience of it; the point is present within a clear and transparent medium. We know ourselves as a transparent and clear presence, crystalline in its clarity and precision, the center of which is the blinding brilliance of the Essential Identity. The presence is totally clear, totally devoid of any obscurations; it is sharp, vivid, and rich, with inherent luminosity. This is the mirror-like awareness, which is now inseparable from the presence of the Essential Identity, but in a faceted and precise diamond-like form. There is a precise, clear, and objective seeing of oneself inseparable from the simplicity of being oneself. Seeing where one is and following the thread of one’s unfoldment is the teaching of this manifestation of Essence. This manifestation of Essence is a whole dimension which manifests as a diamond-like clarity, with the various colors and qualities of the essential aspects. The clear, crystalline medium manifests itself both in a colorless form, indicating clarity, and also colored with the rich hues of the essential aspects. As we become clearer about this self-aware, clear presence as it manifests as and through the essential aspects, we come to understand the various elements needed in mirroring.

Pure Awareness Penetrates the Preconceptual Obscurations and Basic Knowing Discriminates the Specifics as Insight

Crystal guidance functions in another, unexpected way. Beyond the exposing of concepts and dichotomies, its crystalline structure illuminates barriers that developed before the arising of conceptual knowledge. These are the structures of the soul that were established very early in life, before the cognitive capacity developed enough for the establishment of representational structures. We discussed these primitive, prenatal, and preverbal structures in chapter 14. These structures are simply impressions in the soul; they are not cognitive. Because it is the expression of nonconceptual awareness, crystal guidance penetrates these preconceptual structures and challenges their opaqueness. These structures manifest in consciousness and reveal how they are barriers to realization and liberation. Crystal guidance, along with the various aspects manifesting as crystals, brings about the precise and objective understanding of this dimension of obscurations. Such understanding can be simply the recognition of the nonconceptual as the ground, but can also manifest as insight and basic knowledge. We have described how this occurs: pure presence with its noetic capacity can manifest coemergent with that of nonconceptual awareness. In other words, the inner guidance of Being can arise as the coemergence of pure awareness and basic knowing. Pure awareness penetrates the preconceptual obscurations, and basic knowing discriminates the specifics as insight. The nonconceptual dimension of the inner guidance challenges and highlights the nonconceptual differentiations in these obscurations, allowing the noetic dimension to discriminate these differentiations.

Recognizing Space with Complete Objectivity, which is Possible when there are No Obscurations in Our Experience of Reality

It is possible to see that space is present all the time, and that it underlies and inheres in any object that we perceive. So space becomes the inherent emptiness, the inherent openness in experience. That is why in some of the traditions, as that of Dzogchen, Being is described as having emptiness as its essence. Experientially, as we penetrate the representations through which we perceive, we discover that Being is presence whose essence is spaciousness. Our perception and understanding of spaciousness can go through degrees of refinement, which are experienced as the levels of space, until we recognize it with complete objectivity, which is possible when there are no obscurations in our experience of reality. At this subtlety of perception space and presence are so indistinguishable that experience becomes paradoxical. It is both being and nonbeing, both presence and absence, but not exactly, because even being and nonbeing are categories not free from representations. This is the dimension of the mystery of our Being.

The Void, pg. 156

Since the Absolute is the Being of Nonbeing it is Totally Transparent and Absolutely Free of Obscurations

When we experience the absolute through the heart modality, the absolute attains a sense of gentleness and simplicity. We feel the same fullness and emptiness, but now with a softness, a gentleness, and an amazing contentment. We feel light and simple, easy and at ease. The most characteristic element of the heart experience is an amazing sense of intimacy. Since the absolute is the being of nonbeing it is totally transparent and absolutely free of obscurations. The sense of absence means the absence of all qualities; hence it has nothing to hinder perception and contact. This means there is nothing, no intermediary, between our awareness and whatever we are experiencing. We are experiencing the absolute inside of everything. Such nearness to the secret chamber of any and all manifestation appears as the most total and the most exquisite intimacy. We are not intimate with anything in particular. We are simply experiencing the intimacy of nearness to the absolute nature of everything. We are near everything, because we are the absolute, the inner heart of everything. Our presence becomes the exquisite gentleness and intimacy of no barriers, no intermediaries, not even qualities to be in the way of the heart.

The Clarity and Transparency of this Manifestation Challenges the Very Deep Obscurations Inherent in the Structures of the Ego-Self

Unless there is complete spontaneity, we create a shell, so on this level of realization, communication and functioning, including thinking, need to be totally spontaneous. Otherwise, functioning relies on ego activity which depends on conceptualizing the self. In this dimension, we learn that our realization must be totally independent of conceptualization, that our experience and life proceed apart from what we think. We also learn the danger of adhering to any view or conceptualization about the nature of reality and self-realization. We learn to be masters of concepts: Since we recognize our beingness beyond any concept, we are free to create any concept to communicate. 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.

The Inherent Clarity of the Absolute is Prior to Light. There is Complete Absence of Obscurations

I see that the absolute has a luminosity, a clarity, but not the same as clear light or pure presence. Clear light is colorless, transparent luminosity, a very light and delicate presence. Pure presence is also colorless and transparent, but with a sense of fullness. These levels of consciousness can apprehend the absolute, and can be manifest by the absolute as the ground of all appearance. Yet the clarity and luminosity of the absolute are even subtler than these very subtle forms of consciousness. Its clarity and luminosity are implicit, not manifest. Its blackness is not the absence of light, but its source. The inherent clarity of the absolute is prior to light. There is complete absence of obscurations. The fact that it is nonbeing makes it totally transparent, without this transparency appearing as clear light. But since, on the other hand, the absolute is not a vacant emptiness, but what truly is, this transparency becomes awareness. The awareness of its facticity is then inherent in the reality of its facticity. This inherent clarity of the absolute is its own intrinsic knowingness. Its facticity is inherently knowing. I experience this knowing as an implicit clear light, not differentiated as clear light, but which can plumb the depths of the absolute. It is a clear consciousness completely inseparable from the absolute. I experience the absolute as both knowable and unknowable. I can plumb its depths, and gain a great deal of experience and insight. I can describe what I experience in increasing detail, with more and more precision. But it is clear that the nature of this inexhaustible vastness allows no final or definitive knowledge. The absolute is knowable in that we can become aware of it; many poets and spiritual masters spent their lives talking and writing about it. It is unknowable in that our knowledge is endless and cannot be final. Its nature is indeterminable because it is inexhaustible.

The Nondual Dimensions of Total Being Initially Arise Inseparably from Our Obscurations Because Each Dimension Addresses a Certain Level of Obstruction as if it Were Designed Specifically for that Purpose

All the boundless dimensions of reality—realms of love, knowledge, awareness, nonbeing, and dynamism—are nondual in the sense that they contain no dichotomy between subject and object. That is to say, in the realization of the boundless dimensions, there is no separate “I” experiencing the dimension. The sense of I is the dimension experiencing itself as a unified totality. Not only is there no subject/object dichotomy between you and the boundlessness, but also there is no subject/object dichotomy between the vastness and all objects and phenomena within it. Every single form is a manifestation of the same field. Experiencing this kind of presence that is not limited by any boundaries or partitions will put pressure on the structures, beliefs, and ideas that limit our sense of self to a particular shape or size. The nondual dimensions of Total Being initially arise inseparably from our obscurations because each dimension addresses a certain level of obstruction as if it were designed specifically for that purpose. We discover that there is an inherent intelligence in reality: Our obstacles, delusions, and limitations are directly connected to the pure or free dimensions of reality.

The Process in which the Soul, with the Help of Essence and Its Wisdom, Confronts Her Various Limitations, Obscurations and Opaque Structures

We see that essential development goes through stages, beginning with the recognition of the dynamic field and medium of the soul. Then essence arises in its various aspects, resolving the soul’s issues and providing her with the real elements necessary for her life and development. Next the diamond vehicles arise, providing the soul with a personal, direct, and objective knowledge and wisdom about true nature and its relationship to the soul and her life. This wisdom transforms the soul further, and she becomes able to transcend her most fundamental structures and limitations, and to open up to the presentation of true nature in its primordial ground, with its formless and boundless dimensions. In this process the soul, with the help of essence and its wisdom, confronts her various limitations, obscurations, and opaque structures. Essential diamond guidance sharpens her inquiry and gives it the capacity to penetrate and transcend these barriers. These limitations appear as issues of different types, reflecting the characteristics of the barriers and of true nature. The various types and levels of issues are interconnected; although many wisdom traditions focus on certain of these issues in isolation, it is actually artificial to dissociate them in one’s personal work. We find that the various levels of personal issues follow a natural progression in the unfoldment of the soul in the inner journey, but only in terms of predominance; for they all continue to be interconnected throughout the whole journey. In the Diamond Approach, we organize them into the following categories, which we discuss briefly here in the order of predominance: psychodynamic issues, structural issues, existential issues, and epistemological/phenomenological issues.

The Soul Often Does Not Perceive this Goodness Because of Her Obscurations, but Although the Goodness Can be Obscured, it is Never Destroyed

Boundless Goodness. At this juncture, the soul is discovering an important feature of the timeless truth of true nature. She realizes that true nature is goodness itself, and the source of all goodness. It is unblemished goodness, incorruptible goodness, indestructible goodness. Goodness is a fundamental characteristic of true nature, a timeless potential that it might reveal at any time or any place. This divine goodness is not limited; it is not parceled out to individuals. It is totally boundless, unlimited and endless, for it reflects the transcendence of true nature that appears in time and space as boundless and infinite. It is boundless goodness. The dimension of divine love reveals that true nature is absolute goodness; it is inseparably both light and love. Its presence and impact on the soul is fundamentally that of blessing and grace, in all ways and in all dimensions. Such goodness is often not obvious or recognizable, but our lack of perception does not diminish or sully this goodness. The soul often does not perceive this goodness because of her obscurations; but although the goodness can be obscured, it is never destroyed. The fact that true nature is fundamentally characterized by goodness means that the manifest world possesses an inherent goodness. There is goodness in the world—not in the discrete and reified forms of the world, which are obscured expressions, but in the depth of the world, in its ultimate nature. The soul can see this only when she is denuded of her obscurations, and surrenders completely to this perception. Denuding herself from the false garments of ignorance and identification, surrendering the illusion of a separate self and her own will, the soul will find this goodness. If she lets herself truly fall, all the way, not into the hands of one person or another, one form or another, but absolutely and fully, she will be received with grace and love. Unfailingly.

What We Normally Call the World is Nothing but Reality Seen with Obscurations Veiling Its Underlying Ground and Substance

Furthermore, the forms that we recognize as constituting the world are not only inseparable from each other, but also inseparable from true nature in its various dimensions. In fact, they are coemergent with true nature, where true nature constitutes their ground, core, nature, and substance. What we normally call the world is nothing but Reality seen with obscurations veiling its underlying ground and substance. The conventional world is nothing but Reality shorn of its true nature. Only the differentiating outlines of the forms of Reality are then left for our conventional perception. Since we perceive these outlines without the ground that manifests them, we believe they are separate and autonomously existing objects. The ground that is their source of manifestation is what unifies them, and so without it in our experience we simply perceive objects in physical space. This is the essence of reification, taking a manifest and inseparable form and holding it in the mind as a separate self-existing object. In other words, what we call the world is nothing but the reification of the forms of Reality, as we saw in chapter 18. It is the reified world, where the central effect of reification is the elimination of the ground of true nature from perception. Coemergent nonduality simply reveals the world in its totality, both the forms and their underlying ground. What we perceive then is Reality. The forms of the familiar world continue to appear in perception, but now are seen as forms of a formless truth. And instead of seeing discrete objects in space we see jeweled luminous forms that are manifestations and extensions of a mysterious but self-luminous ground. Our mind is quiet and empty, and our body a diaphanous form that expresses and extends Reality into its environmental field.

When Inquiry Cuts Through Obscurations Effectively and in a Way that is Light, Exquisite and Fun

You know that you do not know and you are happy to be on the journey of finding out. In inquiry, you do not know, and you know that you do not know. However, you have some sense of what you do not know, and that means you have a general direction—that is what formulates a question. You are happy that you know you do not know, because that means you are getting closer to knowing the truth, which is the beloved of your heart. The truth is ultimately true nature, and inquiry is nothing but the attempt of the love of truth to reveal the fullness of true nature. If you have an agenda, then you believe that at least you know what is supposed to happen. In this case, there is no longer true openness. But when there is acceptance of not-knowing, an openness about the situation, and a detached curiosity about it, then inquiry becomes quite powerful. It is not only powerful, it cuts through obscurations effectively and in a way that is light, exquisite, and fun. Openness is the basis, the ground, of inquiry because openness is the manifestation and expression of the depth of our true nature, the fact of its total emptiness, lightness, and mystery. This inherent freedom, this complete mystery at the very depth of our soul, engages its loving dynamism to reveal itself. But we normally experience that as a questioning, as an inquiring attitude. This openness and mystery is the essence of inquiry, but we normally do not see that because we are looking from the outside. From that perspective, we see the essence of inquiry as being the activity of questioning. But the more we go into the experience, and inquiry deepens and deepens and deepens, its questioning core meets the original openness and lightness, and we recognize that they are one and always have been one. Inquiry finally unifies the soul with its essential home—with its absolute nature—through the bridge of openness.

When the Self is Seeing Itself Directly, it is Aware of itself in Its Primordial Purity, Without Veils, Without Obscurations

This consciousness—which is the self—has a fundamental existence, an ontological mode of being. And it can be directly aware of this fundamental existence. This is possible only when we are simply being, not conceptualizing our identity, not reacting, and not manipulating. In other words, we experience our ontological ground when our experience of ourselves is completely unmediated. Although the self is always being itself, the experience of the self is incomplete until a certain development occurs: self-recognition. In self-realization, the soul recognizes its own nature, the presence of Being. It is this immediate, intrinsic self-recognition that gives the state of self-realization the sense of exquisite intimacy. What is presence? What is Essence? The self can experience itself either purely and immediately, or through memories and structures created by past experience. When it is seeing itself directly, it is aware of itself in its primordial purity, without veils, without obscurations. It recognizes this pure condition as its ontological nature. This primordial purity or ontological nature is recognized as the self’s ultimate truth. So we say the self has an essence. The central property of this Essence, or true nature, is that it is an actual ontological presence. Presence is the essence of the self, just as protoplasm is the essence of the body. What is identity? As we saw in Chapter 2, one of the most significant characteristics of the soul is that it can identify with the content of experience. It can take any impression, for example self-image, and make itself believe that that impression is itself. It can also take a part of the psychological structure and believe it to be the whole of itself. Identifying with an impression or content of experience makes the self feel that it has an identity, and through this identity it then recognizes itself. Our personal history, constituted by our memories, comprises the basic content of our usual identity. This identification with the personal history provides a feeling of self-recognition, a sense of identity, or a sense of self. So in experiencing itself through the veil of memories, the soul not only loses sight of its primordial purity—its essence—but also identifies itself through and with this veil of personal history.

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