Main Pages

By Region




Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Ontology?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Ontology

Activities Don't Have an Ontological Presence

This is a very important difference. It means that emotions don't really exist except in the sense that activities exist. They are activities, and activities don't have an ontological presence. Essence, on the other hand, is not an activity. As we saw in chapter 1, essence is a presence, and its basic quality is its existence as an ontological actuality, as a “suchness.” An emotion is an activity that starts and ends, whereas essence is a presence. An emotion is like the movement of water, the activity that is the motion. The motion of water is not the water. Water can be still, without motion. Essence, on the other hand, is like the water. It exists whether there is motion or not.

Ego is a Structure or a Structured Process Whereas the Pearl is an Ontological Presence

The pearl is the real, complete, balanced, and rounded personality that psychologists believe they are talking about when they are discussing the ego. We must remember that the ego is a structure, or a structured process, whereas the pearl is essence, which means the pearl is an ontological presence. We call it the personal essence because among all the essential aspects it alone is personal. It is experienced as having a personal flavor to it, in contradistinction to impersonal. All aspects of essence, even love and kindness, are impersonal. But the pearl is personal. And this is its miraculous quality, totally unexpected and unfathomable. Some people interested in inner development try to become objective and impersonal, to move away from identifying with the personality. The personality is personal, and so the personal feeling is mistrusted and avoided. However, the pearl beyond price feels personal without being the personality. It has the capacity to make a personal contact with another human being and still be free, totally unconditioned, free from the past and its influences.

Essence is an Embodied Presence, an Ontological Actuality

There are other classes of mental experience that are customarily regarded as the experience of essence when in fact they are not, such as the experiences of insight and intuition. In psychotherapy, for instance, one might have an insight about oneself, about others, or about the nature of reality. It often occurs as a flash of illumination and is accompanied by a sense of expansion and certainty. Such insights can provide valuable information and affective satisfaction. Still, the experience of insight is not itself essence, not yet. An insight is an event, and essence is a presence. An insight is an experience of understanding a specific truth, whereas essence is an embodied presence, an ontological actuality

Essence Reveals Itself as the Ontological Nature of All Existence

This essentialization can include all aspects. So the soul’s action can be intelligent, compassionate, clear, steadfast, etc., in a total and full way. And this action can be physical, expressive, or mental. She is presence of essence, but also a dynamic living presence whose morphogenic transformations express the pure perfections of true nature. In this transformation the soul has progressed from the stage of the human soul, the attainment of the second journey, to the stage of the angelic soul, or the essential soul. The second side of the development of nonduality in the journey in presence has to do with essential presence manifesting its ground of true nature. Essence here reveals itself not only as the ontological nature of the soul but as the ontological nature of all existence, all manifestation. True nature begins to reveal its omnipresence, disclosing that it is the ground and nature of everything. This appears as true nature revealing its boundless and formless dimensions that transcend the limited boundaries of the ego-self, even the individuality or personhood of the soul. The soul does not experience herself here as an individual soul, but as a boundless and nonlocal presence that transcends all spatial extensions, as eternal nowness that transcends all time, and as a mystery that transcends all determinations. She is all and everything, she is Reality.

It is Possible to Experience Ourselves as the Actual Ontological Presence that We Are

Our experience of ourselves can be transformed from identifying with our mental self-images to having awareness of less contingent, more fundamentally real aspects of the self. It is possible to arrive at a place where we can experience ourselves as the actual phenomenon, the actual ontological presence that we are, rather than as ideas and feelings about ourselves. The more we are able to contact the actual presence that we are, the less we are alienated in a superficial or externally defined identity. The more we know the truth of who we are, the more we can be authentic and spontaneous, rather than merely living through concepts of ourselves. Among the many methods that shift the quality and depth of experience, those used by religious and spiritual traditions are more effective in contacting deeper dimensions of the self, with a more thoroughly developed understanding of these dimensions and their significance for living life than those used by the newer science of psychology. However, psychology has contributed powerful new knowledge about the human being that allows us to systematically work through the barriers to these deeper levels of self, especially the barriers to integrating these levels into one’s identity. In particular, the current understanding of narcissism is very useful for the process of inner realization, the process of learning to contact and appreciate the deeper levels of our nature and allowing these dimensions to actually affect our identity

Knowing Ourselves in Our Fundamental Mode of Existence

When we apprehend consciousness in itself, independently of the function of consciousness of objects, we experience presence. The term field of consciousness is an attempt to describe the ontological presence of the soul, her being. Furthermore, as we recognize that consciousness is fundamentally presence, the knowledge of our depth begins to open up. This is because our inner depth is nothing but the experience of our consciousness, and presence is nothing but the nature of this consciousness. Recognizing presence teaches us a great deal about consciousness, soul, and essence of soul. In this recognition, we can know ourselves in our fundamental mode of existence. We begin to see, perhaps for the first time, that what we are is more fundamental than all the content of our experience. We are more fundamental than our sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, images, symbols, ideas, concepts, and so on. We awaken to our essential nature, which is more fundamental and more basic than our body, heart, and mind. We experience the fabric that is ontologically fundamental, necessary for the existence of all that we have taken to be ourselves. We begin to recognize our real self, our soul. More precisely, by recognizing presence we become aware of the fundamental ground of our soul; we discover the inner fabric that holds all of our experience; we are enlightened to what we are beyond time and space.

Narcissism Itself is due to the Distance of Our Experience of Ourselves from Fundamental Ontological Presence

The nearness to experience is determined not only by the distance of abstraction from the lived experience, as the concept is ordinarily understood in psychoanalytic thinking, but also by the distance of the experience from the primordial presence. This is because experience is relatively abstract on all dimensions of experience except for that of primordial presence, since these dimensions are characterized by the lack of complete immediacy in the experience as a result of the intervening veil of mental concepts. This is a significant issue for understanding the status of any knowledge, but it is useful specifically for our present study of self-realization and narcissism, since narcissism itself is due to the distance of our experience of ourselves from fundamental ontological presence. This returns us to our earlier observation of the impoverishing effect of the lack of appreciation of the deeper spiritual dimensions of the self on the prevailing psychological theories of narcissism. Putting this simply, our conceptualizations of the self, and of its manifestations and difficulties, are bound to be limited by the limitations of our experience of the self.

Ontological Nothingness is Phenomenologically Openness

Ontological nothingness is phenomenologically openness, whose psychological effect is total openness to everything. The soul integrates here the openness of Being necessary for the free emergence of all potential, which is her psychological freedom. Her openness now is the openness of true nature, primordial and without limitations, making it easier for her to know her true unlimited nature. At this point it is easy for the soul to recognize that the fullness -nothingness, with its openness and transparency, is familiar to her. A little inquiry may reveal to her that it is nothing but her ordinary awareness, the awareness that she has always had, without which there is no perception or experience. She has always known it, for her conscious experience is inseparable from it. Yet she has not recognized it before, partly because she has always exclusively looked at the content of her experience, the objects of her awareness. She has never simply looked at her awareness itself; she has always deeply thought of it as a function, and not an ontological reality on its own. Now she recognizes that this awareness has always been the ground of her perception and experience. She recognizes her awareness for what it is, a presence that is also nothing. She recognizes its fundamental status and its timeless characteristics, and how it is her own true presence and ultimate nature.

Ontological Presence

It is possible to arrive at a place where we can experience ourselves as the actual phenomenon, the actual ontological presence that we are, rather than as ideas and feelings about ourselves.

Ontologically, Self-Image is Simply Boundaries Frozen in Space

Not only does space correct the distortion of body-image and dissolve the psychological boundaries of the self-image, it ultimately dissolves the self-image as a rigid structure bounding experience. This provides a hint regarding the ontological truth about self-image. Since we see that space makes the body-image objective and realistic, i.e., correcting it according to objective reality, we can assume that it also corrects the self-image according to objective reality. That is, ontologically, self-image is simply boundaries frozen in space, frozen by their cathexis with libidinal energy. When the cathexis is undone, the boundaries dissolve into empty space, which is what actually exists as the nature of the mind. Therefore, we can say that pursuing psychodynamic understanding of the self-image all the way to the end will leave us with, among other things, a real and objective body-image and the experience of the mind as open space.

The Void, pg. 52

Self or Identity is a Specific Aspect of Being, a Platonic Form, a Pure and Immutable Ontological Presence

To answer the above questions one must have a certain essential experience, the experience often referred to as “self-realization.” One needs to know the experience of the essential aspect of Self. Self or identity is a specific aspect of Being, a Platonic form, a pure and immutable ontological presence. When one knows the true Self, the Self of Essence, it becomes possible to see and understand the behavior and attitudes that express it. That there is a true and timeless Self, an Essential Self, a Self that is not constructed in early life, is widely known in most religious and spiritual teachings of both East and West. All throughout the ages the quest for this real and Essential Self has been recorded in teachings, stories, poetry and art. We find it more surprising and intriguing that psychologists in most persuasions manage to overlook this fact, although much of the rest of humanity knows of it. What is most intriguing is that this fact is almost entirely overlooked by the very psychologists who make it their scientific work to study the self. Perhaps these psychologists believe that they are studying the same self in their theories, and perhaps they believe that they are studying it more scientifically. But why ignore the insights of individuals and teachings which have molded human culture and history to a greater extent than any of the modern psychological theories?

The Absolute Turns Out to be the Ontological Status of All Things

In discovering this dimension of true nature we realize that this selflessness is the ultimate nature of everything. The absolute turns out to be the final ontological status of all things, the ultimate status of existence of all forms of manifestation. When we inquire into this final ontological nature we find nothing, no object of perception. We simply feel light and empty, free and unencumbered. And everything in manifest reality has the same quality of lightness and emptiness. All forms appear as diaphanous forms, empty of substance. It is as if all forms are holograms, forms of light, empty of any solidity or heaviness. Everything is transparent, with no opaqueness anywhere. The manifest forms—houses and furniture, mountains and rivers, trees and animals, men and women, thoughts and feelings—appear as particulars of a dynamic unfolding multidimensional field; but it is a field of total lightness, as if it is an emptiness that luminates and its lumination is the forms of appearance.

The Ontological Property of Spiritual Light is Presence

Most schools of philosophy and spiritual teachings share our understanding that the fundamental dimension of the self, its ultimate nature, is Being. There are subtle differences between the various teachings regarding how Being is conceived of and how it is described. Many traditions conceive of Being as ontological or nonconceptual presence. But some schools, such as the Hindu tradition, conceive of true nature as pure consciousness. There is actually no difficulty between this view and that of presence because presence is the essence of pure consciousness; expressed in a different way, when consciousness is experienced in its purity, it is experienced as presence, the ontological and phenomenological reality of consciousness. Some schools say that spiritual Essence is some kind of light. This again does not create any difficulty with the view of presence. Presence is nothing but the presence of spiritual light; spiritual light can be experienced as a fundamental reality, which has an ontological property. The ontological property of spiritual light is presence, where light and presence are not two separate things. By spiritual light, we do not mean the common experience of seeing light in one’s psyche. The spiritual light we are referring to is the fundamental light of consciousness and awareness.

To Be Authentically and Fully Ourselves Our Identity Must Include the Ontological Depth of the Soul

We have seen that in order for us to be authentically and fully ourselves, our identity must include the ontological depth of the soul, essential presence, and that to be presence means simply to be. When we are simply being, our experience of ourselves is direct, immediate, spontaneous, and natural, free from the influence of the thick veil of accumulated memories, ideas, ideals, and images. We have also seen that conventional experience does not allow the experience of self-realization because conventional experience is virtually determined by this thick veil of personal history. We have noted that ordinarily the self cannot experience itself separately from the self-representation, and that, in fact, it experiences itself from within, and through, that representation.

When We Recognize Pure Consciousness, What We Become Aware of is the Presence of Consciousness, Its Existence, Its Ontological Truth

If the soul is a field of consciousness, a medium aware of itself, then how is perceiving this different from our normal experience of being conscious of our inner experience? In other words, how is pure consciousness different from the normal subjective consciousness, which also feels like a field of sensitivity? The primary difference between ordinary inner experience and direct knowing of consciousness is that when we discern the inner field that is the soul, we experience it as a presence, independent from and more fundamental than all the content of consciousness and all characteristics of subjective experience. When we recognize pure consciousness, then, what we become aware of is the presence of consciousness, its existence, its ontological truth. We are contrasting the recognition of presence with awareness of the objects of consciousness as well as with awareness of consciousness as activity or process. Experience of pure consciousness is awareness of the thereness, the isness, of consciousness. Consciousness is fundamentally presence, presence conscious of its own presence. The presence, the hereness, the beingness of consciousness, is not something extra to consciousness; neither is consciousness an extra property of this presence. This is one of the primary discoveries in the inner journey: presence is always consciousness, and pure consciousness is always presence. This is similar to how photons are always light, and light is always photons. It is not that photons have the extra property we call light, or light possesses an extra property we call photons. Light and photons are two names of the same thing, emphasizing two different ways of viewing the same reality.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach