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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Perspective?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Perspective

Different Ways that Being Manifests Itself

The important thing to understand for what we are doing here, which is exploring the fulcrum of realization in the Diamond Approach, is the relationship between, on one hand, the conventional view of the self and the world and, on the other hand, the nondual view, which is the view of recognizing the unity of reality as one beingness. And what we’re doing is not a matter of supplanting one view with the other, replacing the dual view with the nondual view. We want to see the relationship between the two in an intimate and detailed way. The view of totality recognizes that dual and nondual perspectives are different ways that Being manifests itself. Seeing how these two views interact opens up the possibility of experiencing reality in ways that are neither dual nor nondual. Simply moving from the conventional view to the view of the realization of pure awareness or absolute reality, which are dimensions we have explored in past teachings, gives us some understanding of the conventional view from the perspective of realization. But it doesn’t provide a thoroughgoing understanding of how the two conditions relate to each other. The view of totality, because it can hold both perspectives at once by being outside both of them, can give us a more complete understanding and appreciation of how they interrelate. Instead of alternating between views or progressing from one to the next, this view of totality has the advantage of understanding how practice is realization. We can come to understand what we are doing when we practice because we understand how things happen behind the scenes.

Entrenchment of Your Physical Orientation

When you see how fundamental, how pervasive, how deep and entrenched your physical orientation is, you will notice that you don’t look at even your deep experiences from a total perspective. You look at them from the perspective of the body, from the physical perspective. Most of your issues arise from that perspective. When you feel that you are disappearing, what is it that is disappearing? Usually, it's the image of your body. You are terrified because you believe your physical body is the most important, fundamental, lasting, real, fundamental, solid you. If that goes, you go. You don’t think, “I’m just seeing myself from a different place. My perception is detaching from the physical senses, and as a result, I am seeing something deeper than the physical.” If you do see it that way, you won’t feel that you are disappearing, you will be aware that you are not just seeing through your physical senses.

Facing a Radically Different Perspective on the Diamond Approach

We’ve taken several steps so far in approaching the understanding of the dynamic of realization and practice. We’ve been exploring the role of our responsibility and the role of the dynamism of Being. I’ve been presenting a perspective, a view, that might appear radically different from the teaching of the Diamond Approach as we’ve known it so far. This view we are exploring does not really negate or contradict anything—it includes everything in a wider perspective. This wider perspective accommodates all views without being limited by any one of them. I am not asking you to believe me. You can take this teaching as a proposal or as a hypothesis to seriously consider and test in your own experience. It requires a great deal of basic trust, a deep inner grounding in the goodness of reality, to even give it serious consideration. I really mean it—being open to learning is not a matter of taking anything I’m saying as an article of faith. I’m basically challenging all the articles of faith that we’ve had so far. So we don’t want to substitute one dictum with another one that says something different. We need to find out the truth from our direct experience. We each need to have the understanding, and the development of our capacity needed for such depth of understanding, and the true and satisfying realization of our heart. Learning what reality is by grappling with the immediacy of our experience brings a completeness to our engagement with the spiritual path.

Freezing the Ordinary View of Reality

When we see life from the perspective of living reality, of Living Being, we see that the ordinary view takes one possible manifestation of reality and freezes it, fixes it in place so that reality continues to present itself in that particular way. But that particular mode becomes a recycling of the history and the characteristics of the individual self. At the same time, we can see that freezing or fixation can never be absolutely complete. Light always comes through. Life breaks out and novel things happen. That, of course, helps us recognize that reality can be different from how we think it is. And we might then think, “Yes, that is the ego view, the fixated view, the deluded view. And we are going to learn the correct view by becoming free from those constraints.” That is true for a while. It is a good way of looking at things because it loosens what is stuck and fixed in place, and makes whole what is fragmented and partitioned. Seeing the limitations of the dualistic view can liberate the dynamic livingness of reality to manifest other ways of being itself.

Perspective of the Diamond Approach on Reality

In the Diamond Approach, we primarily hold the second vision—that reality appears to us in many dimensions and planes. For us, the Work is not a matter of leaving the false and at some point alighting on reality, but rather involves traversing one level and moving to the next, so it becomes a journey of more and more discovery as we go along. This is a vision of reality that we share with Rumi. As you remember, in the poem we heard earlier, Rumi describes the journey as To fly heavenward. To rend every instant one hundred veils. Notice the sense of movement, the continuous movement and progression. It is not a progression in falsehood, but a progression from falsehood to more reality. Every time you rend a veil, there is more reality, more light, and more truth. “Rending” does not mean that you have come into full union with the Absolute; it means that you are getting nearer. This experience of nearness is important. Nearness is not the same thing as union, but you can definitely appreciate the difference between being nearer or further away.

Love Unveiled, pg. 26

Perspective of the Self on Practice

But we can go still further toward understanding what is happening in practice. So far, our understanding continues to lend itself to the perspective of the individual soul, the individual self, appropriating the realization, appropriating the insights, appropriating the understanding and the manifestations. We have seen how our practice contains an assumption of causality that appropriates the action of Being. We are exerting effort, we are being responsible, we are being committed, we are practicing—all of which exertion and sincerity we assume results in realization. In addition to the assumption of causality in this attitude, there is in it a persistent self-centeredness. We are still looking at things from the perspective of the self. Now I’m not saying that looking at things from the perspective of the self is a bad thing. I am not even saying that it is a wrong thing. I am simply saying that it is one way, and that there are other possibilities. And we can observe that looking at things from the perspective of the self, after a while, doesn’t feel very good. People are unhappy with it. And it’s good to know that there are other possibilities that Being can manifest, in which people find themselves full of joy and happiness and freedom.

Taking the Perspective of Truth

To want to do the Work, to take the perspective of truth, means paying attention all the time. Loving the truth means trying to live according to the truth that you already know, instead of having to learn it all over again each time. For instance, if you experience oneness and loss of boundaries, that one experience should be enough for you to start living from that perspective. What does it matter if next week you don’t experience oneness? You already know it. You start living your life from the perspective you know. Why wait for the next experience, and then for the one after that, and then for the final one? Often, even after three thousand experiences of oneness, nothing changes because we don’t live the truths we know.

The Perspective that Creates Suffering

The perspective, which assumes the ultimate reality and value of the physical universe, to the exclusion of other dimensions of reality, is the source of the difficulties of the egoic mind. This perspective creates most of our suffering – the way we approach death, sickness and disease, pleasure and pain, issues of acceptance and rejection. In the course of our process of spiritual work, of discovering the true Presence that we are, the basic identification with the physical body and the conviction in the physical world persists as an ongoing phenomenon, concern, and barrier.

Two Primary Perspectives on Reality

We can understand reality from two primary perspectives. The first one views reality as existing in two states: true reality and false reality. This perspective recognizes only the Absolute to be real; the relative is considered to be unreal. The second vision of reality sees truth as manifesting itself in successive dimensions. This perspective recognizes that there are many layers of reality, from the outermost, superficial layer to the deepest layer, with the most superficial being the furthest away from the Absolute truth. All approaches to doing inner work can be divided into these two perspectives, or visions. And each teaching has a different methodology, a different way of looking at the path, in accordance with its vision.

Love Unveiled, pg. 25

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