Main Pages

By Region




Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Openness?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Openness

Complete Openness Means the Lack of All Separateness

You see, we are afraid. We believe we need to separate ourselves, create thick shells and defend ourselves against impressions of all kinds, because we feel separate from the invulnerable reality, the state of unity. And we separate ourselves from the invulnerable reality by trying not to be vulnerable. By trying not to be vulnerable, we become vulnerable in a negative way. We believe that complete invulnerability would mean complete defensiveness, complete isolation and detachment from all experience. We don’t see objectively what vulnerability is; we don’t see that complete invulnerability means complete openness. Complete openness means the lack of all separateness. The absence of all boundaries means unity, which means invulnerability.

Dynamic Openness in Inquiry

We have seen that, more than anything else, inquiry requires an openness to transformation, to new presentations—an openness to seeing the truth. It is a dynamic openness, an openness that has the potential to unfold, to open up to new possibilities. It is not just space, it is a fertile space, and the fact that it is a space allows manifestations to emerge within it. It is a space that has the potential for creation, for creating content within it. Not-knowing is the way we enter into this dynamic openness, and this unknowingness is the essence of a question. The dynamic openness manifests in inquiry as a question, as a questioning movement. So the central element of a question is the unknowingness that expresses this dynamic openness. Furthermore, the dynamic openness needs to be multi-directional, directed not merely toward what you think you are inquiring into, but toward the totality of the experiential field. This means that when we are inquiring into a certain experience or manifestation, there is a constant questioning of the inquirer throughout the process, regardless of the object of inquiry. The openness is only maintained when the questioning moves in both directions. If you are focused only on the object of inquiry without looking at yourself, your questions will be dictated by your biases, positions, and unexamined assumptions. This ordinary knowledge will then guide the questioning. However, if the questioning also includes an awareness of and an inquiry into where you are coming from, then you will have a greater openness to seeing more of the truth of the situation.

Having the Quality of Openness

To have the quality of openness is to let something that you are not directing come out and emerge by itself. You’re not saying, “No, what’s next is a pomegranate.” How can you know? If you’re a tree, you don’t know what’s going to come out of you. A human being can predict that a pomegranate will appear on a pomegranate tree, but the tree itself doesn’t know that. Let’s say that after a while you see that you just want love; that’s what you really want. But love as you know it is an emotional thing, an emotional kind of excitement or high. To let yourself change, maybe you have to experience love as a drop of honey inside your heart. You may say, “No, there’s no such thing as honey in the heart. Bees make honey. I use it on my toast, on my granola.” You don’t allow yourself something else: the possibility that at the next stage of development, your heart is full of honey. If you don’t allow that, you’ll never experience the deeper, finer quality of love. So, you need to be willing not only to allow your dreams and your self-image to change completely, you also need to allow your inner experience, your inner sensations, to change in kind and in quality. Otherwise you’ll stop your growth. After a long process of growth, you will discover that some of the deepest and most cherished inner sensations you can have are sensations or experiences of being yourself, the experience of your true identity or Essence.

Openness in a Relationship of True Personalness

In addition, to have a relationship of true personalness, true contact—whether you have eye contact, physical contact, or just consciousness contact —both the quality of presence and the communication need to also have an openness in which neither person is trying to defend himself or herself, or selfishly trying to gain an advantage. Instead, each person is committed to being authentic and allowing both parties to find out what is possible for the relationship. For this to happen, we need to approach relationship in the same way that we approach our own personal experience—from a perspective of openness and curiosity, so that we can find out what our relationship is. We can say to ourselves, “What is this relationship? Who are we? What is happening right now between us? I am curious to know. I want to know myself and I want to know you. And I want to know myself with you. I want to know how you feel with me and how the two of us, as we come to know each other, feel together, because these are important truths and I value knowing them.” This attitude requires an openness that has no defensiveness, does not try to protect itself. It needs the kind of trust that takes time and honest communication—trust that comes from a sincere interest that arises out of the connection because we care about the quality of the contact. This openness and caring is bound to bring up in us a kind of vulnerability and tenderness that most human beings feel ill at ease with. But we cannot be transparent to the divine in its erotic dimension if we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable. “Vulnerable” means “not defended”; when we are not protecting ourselves, we are free to feel our delicacy. We are free to feel the exquisiteness and softness of our consciousness. If our consciousness is thick, opaque, and dense, then it is self-protective. It is not vulnerable, it is not transparent; subtle qualities and forms in our experience don’t freely arise. And most important, we cannot completely receive the other person. We can’t feel them, we can’t recognize them, and we can’t see their uniqueness. We can’t see who they are.

Openness is the Manifestation and Expression of the Depth of Our True Nature

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.

Realizing the Openness of Space

When the openness of space is realized, it has an allowing influence on the other aspects of essence. Space becomes the emptiness that can be filled by any aspect of essence. Very shortly an essential aspect starts approaching consciousness, or descending into consciousness as some prefer to say. But as we have seen, in the diamond perspective, each aspect is connected to, and actively resisted by, a certain sector of the personality. This sector of the personality surfaces to consciousness and a particular set of conflicts and issues starts to dominate the individual's consciousness. Questions that were not his concern before, now become most intimate personal concerns; they become burning questions. This great service which essence performs for us is difficult to appreciate. Neither Kundalini nor any teaching, nor any teacher can do what essence can do. Essence makes us face parts of ourselves that we usually do not face, that we do not choose to face. When an aspect of essence begins to manifest, it changes our perception of the related sector of the personality from ego-syntonic to ego-alien. Sectors of the personality that were never questioned before, start being experienced as an imbalance in our equilibrium, as suffering or causing suffering.

Receptivity to Experience

Openness is one of the main ways we experience the inherent mystery of our nature, the essence of true nature. The free, spacious, infinite, unencumbered lightness of our nature appears in the experience of the soul as an openness. The experience is literally a lightness, a spaciousness, a freedom, but psychologically it is an openness. Literally, phenomenologically, it is like space; psychologically, it is openness to possibilities. So openness means a receptivity to experience – whatever presents itself, whatever arises in our consciousness. We do not say that we want to experience this but not that; whatever arises is welcome, is allowed.

The Clarity of the Supreme Person

You come to realize, then, that the purified, clarified personality, which is what I call the supreme person, is just a clarity. You experience yourself as the clarity. It’s not just that your mind is clear; all of you is a clarity, an absolute openness and clarity, completely light. When all the impurities go, you remain as a lightness, an openness. But this is a personal openness, a person who is freedom. You are not a free person, you are a person who is the freedom. It is complete personal freedom. As the past is digested and eliminated, that personal freedom remains as the freedom of the personal Supreme, or the eternal person. You are a transparent personal form of pure presence, a body of clear light. The supreme person is eternal in that you can experience yourself, personally, as timeless. When you become One, when the personality is clarified and unified, you will feel that it is an eternal oneness outside of time. It has nothing to do with time. Some people say that the self doesn’t really exist; and on this level, it feels like a kind of emptiness, a nothingness. This is because of its lightness. It’s not just that there is no gravity; it feels like empty gravity. You just light up; you’re full of joy. You are full of personal joy, personal happiness. Finally, you are You, completely; yet, who you are is the supreme reality itself, or the personalization of the supreme reality. It is not exactly nonexistence; it feels like nothing but it is a substantial nothing which is a qualityless essential presence.

The Inner Nature of All Forms of Reality

The inner nature of all forms of reality, of all forms of experience, is inherently empty. That emptiness is the deepest characteristic of true nature, the deepest dimension of true nature. Whatever we experience, if we experience it fully, we recognize that there is nothing there. Whatever we experience is ephemeral; it does not have its own substantial existence. The inner nature of reality is not only transparent and luminous but, when you experience it fully, you realize that there isn’t any mass to it. There is no abiding existence, no continuing existence through time. We say that is the emptiness of the ground. The deepest ontological truth about this emptiness of the ground, this openness, this spaciousness, is nonbeing, which is very difficult for most of us to understand. Nonbeing confounds the mental faculties. At the same time that nothing exists, experience arises and forms manifest. For forms to manifest, they manifest being; they manifest presence. Forms are not simply constructed by our individual mind; they are truly manifesting in the field, as a kind of beingness that we experience as presence, as a subtle fullness of the luminosity. The subtle nature of reality is not only radiance, but radiance that has fullness and thereness.

The Open Dimension of Being

We find out, as we penetrate our representations of reality, that space is a facet of Being. It is the openness of Being, or the open dimension of Being. We also discover that space is not only a manifestation of our being, of our true nature, but that it also deals directly with the question of representations. So space is the facet of our true nature that specifically and directly deals with the barrier of representations. The work on becoming aware of representations, seeing through and being free from them, has to do with the understanding of space. The discussion in this book is primarily about self-image and its relation to space. Self-image is the representation of the self, but the realization of space is involved with the question of representation in general, not only the self-image. In dealing with any representation of anything, the question of space becomes important. More precisely, as we explore our experience from the perspective of how our representations determine that experience, Being manifests itself as space. Then we can experience the openness of our being as a boundless and infinite spaciousness, an empty and immaculate space coemergent with the awareness of it. This experience of space then allows our being to manifest its essential qualities, the multicolored richness of its authentic and ontological presence. These are the spiritual qualities that are the source of our humanness, like love, compassion, peace, will, strength, truth, value and so on. In the course of this opening process, our experience becomes marked by the arising of these pure qualities, one of which is space.

The Void, pg. 154

The Openness that Allows Being to Disclose the Truth of the Situation

Inquiry invites basic knowledge to speak—for instance, in disclosing the limitations in our knowledge and experience. It investigates the possibility that knowingness can appear within what we do not know. Inquiry involves a not knowing, but it also involves investigating what you do not know, which allows knowledge to emerge. In inquiry, there is an interplay between knowing and not-knowing, but the ground is not-knowing. This ground of not knowing is what expresses the necessary openness. And as you investigate, this openness allows Being to disclose the truth of the situation. Finally you arrive at new knowledge, but this knowledge emerges within not-knowing and continues to be surrounded by it.

The Openness that Will Truly Invite the Soul to Open Up Her Pain

Sometimes we can avoid feeling pain by closing down our sensitivity, and sometimes pain is simply unavoidable; we can’t help feeling it. But essential Compassion responds to and welcomes all forms of pain—whether mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual, whether exposed or hidden. The moment the Green latifa is present in our inquiry, sensitivity and openness increase and deepen from all sides. Inquiry is more open and sensitive, and the openness becomes more attuned and empathic. This means that the soul is now more open to reveal her suffering and her vulnerability. When we are not in touch with our true nature, the emotional pain of our everyday life can begin to feel intolerable. But the more we recognize ourselves as our true nature, the less significant our emotional pains become. Regardless of how deep the emotional pain goes, our true nature is infinitely deeper. But without access to the depth of who and what we are, intense pain feels overwhelming. It threatens our sense of who we are, so we close down or clam up. Over time, we block the pain by deadening ourselves, by making ourselves insensitive, thick, and gross. Without the soft, radiant warmth of Loving-kindness, we aren’t going to trust enough to open up. Our field of experience needs to have this sensitivity, because we have become insensitive. So if our inquiry is going to invite openness in our experience, it must be open to the possibility of experiencing the pain, hurt, and suffering. It not only has to be open in the sense of allowing the suffering to surface in consciousness, but the openness has to embody a gentleness, delicacy, sensitivity, softness, and considerateness. Only this will truly invite the soul to open up her pain.

When We are Just there for the Ride

Openness includes openness to the mind and its accumulated knowledge, but it is also open to the mind’s being wrong or incomplete. Furthermore, there is openness to going beyond the mind and its ordinary knowledge. Openness of inquiry also means that whatever knowledge or insight we get to, we do not wrap it up in a package and put it on a shelf. The moment you do that, you close the path of inquiry. No insight is an ultimate insight. As soon as you believe that you have arrived at the ultimate insight, you know you are stuck. Gurdjieff called that position Hasnamous, which means a crystallized ego. You can crystallize your ego around very divine ideas. The moment you know reality and then believe your knowledge is final, inquiry stops, the dynamism comes to a standstill, and the old repeats itself. But if our mind is always open, the revelation is endless. Then we are just there for the ride. We merely enjoy the journey itself as an adventure of discovery.

You are Basically an Openness and a Sensitivity Which Has No Point of View

It is possible to see that everything that happens is a creativity, is the process of life itself moving, changing, transforming. Suffering occurs from taking a position; a position is rigid and goes against life’s movement and change. It is possible to be an emptiness where you can experience someone completely because you become them completely. There is no position which gets in the way of the experience. When you have no point of view, you can look at a flower and know the flower completely, without reaction or judgment. This perspective where there is complete openness to things, without the rigidity of a point of view, is reality. This is the absence of rejection, judgment, suffering and restriction. This openness allows essence in all its manifestations. It is possible to see that the reason you’re suffering is that you’re always filling your self with the activities of the positions you take. When this is happening you cannot experience things freshly, directly, purely. You even experience your body as heavy and sluggish. If you allow emptiness, your body can become light, rather than a hindrance or a boundary for your experience. Your body is your orientation in the physical universe but your experience does not have to be limited by its shape or contour. You are basically an openness and a sensitivity which has no point of view, which is not restricted by any boundary of any kind—emotional, essential, physical or mental. When you allow yourself to be that openness and freedom, you will experience yourself as giving, as a flow of love.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach