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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Phenomena?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Phenomena

Abiding in the Absolute

As we abide in the inscrutable darkness of the absolute we recede, as if backward, from the world of manifestation. The soul feels: “I am perceiving the world and knowing I am not of it, not part of it, and not in it. When I reflect I do not find myself, either as a person or self. It seems I am some kind of emptiness that does not have any particular feeling, even of self. There is awareness of phenomena, but I am not part of what I perceive, and I am not anything in particular. I am pure subject, which is not an object. I am the source of awareness. I am not the witnessing, but I make witnessing possible.” There is everything, there is the perception of everything, but no self or person, and no reference to them. The mind cannot conceive of existence without reference to a center. There is no frame of reference here. There is lightness, openness, expansion, and joy. As abiding in the absolute becomes deeper and more concentrated we experience ourselves even less in the midst of the manifestation. The soul experiences herself now more clearly as the absolute, a vast peace and an immense stillness. The logos with its universe appears clearly as a surface phenomenon for the absolute, as if it is its outside. The soul here recognizes her realization of the absolute as: “I am the absolute and the logos-universe is my robe. The manifest world is my shimmering apparel, adorning my majesty, and revealing my beauty. I perceive the oneness of existence as a thin surface of appearance, with all of its color and richness, and I am the luminous night peering though all.” It is the perception of the perceived universe as appearance appearing continually and instantaneously in the absolute darkness. Appearance is perceived as grace, beauty, luminosity, and harmony. It is the oneness of the logos, full of golden love and presence

As the Absolute We are the Source of all Creation

As the absolute, we are not only the source of essential qualities, we are actually the source of the situations from which we want the qualities. We are the source of the relationships and activities and life situations that we perceive to possess such qualities. We are, in fact, the source of all creation, all manifest forms and phenomena. We are the source of all; we are the transcendent sun from which everything originates. Recognizing oneself as the source of all can be a very lonely realization. One is the transcendent source of everything, single and alone. However, this is only a reaction based on incomplete understanding of this dimension; for the absolute is not only singularity, but also the very essence of intimacy. It is the source that unifies all of manifestation, just as the center of a wheel unifies all of its spokes. In other words, the question of aloneness returns to her because of her recognition of the singularity of the absolute, that there is only I, as the single source.

Change is Never Local or Individual; it is Always Universal

In other words, we experience the oneness of Being similarly to the dimensions of divine love, pure presence, and nonconceptual awareness, but with the highlighted property of dynamic transformation of the appearance of this oneness. The changes in this fabric completely account for all the changes we ordinarily perceive as movement, transformation, and so on. However, in egoic experience we do not perceive the oneness of all phenomena, because we are not aware of the ground of presence that underlies and constitutes all their forms. Therefore, we perceive the changing forms without perceiving their underlying ground. The result is that we perceive separate and independent forms that move or change. We see a man walking in the street rather than perceiving a dynamic field that takes the form of a street with a man walking in it. We end up taking the view that there is such a thing as a man, and hence all kinds of discrete objects, and separate phenomena and processes. We miss not only the sense of oneness and unity of existence, but also the throbbing and vital dynamism. The dimension of dynamic presence reveals that Being is not only the ground and ultimate constituent nature of everything, but that it is the only thing that changes. In other words, change is never local or individual; it is always universal. The totality of the universe, in all of its dimensions, changes as one indivisible Reality; the perception of these changes, when combined with ignorance of its true nature, gives us the impression that there exist objects that move and change.

Essential Presence is the Ontological Ground of all Phenomena

We have seen that essence is the true nature of the soul in both of these senses: it is her ultimate existential mode and ground, and it is the most objective truth of what she is. In the same way, essence reveals itself at this juncture of the inner journey as the essence and true nature of everything. Essential presence is the ontological ground of all phenomena. It is their ultimate substance. It is the true nature of plants, animals, rocks, atoms, elementary particles, energy, light, oceans, planets, galaxies, whatever universes exist, and so on, and the true nature of all thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, and all processes involving any of these objects. Nothing is outside the compass of true nature. We saw in our discussion of the soul that her essence is not composed of distinct isolated parts, not composed of atoms. Essence is a homogeneous and indivisible medium, a true unified field. Seeing this indivisibility, it is actually a short logical step to recognize that it must be everywhere, as the essence of everything. More fundamentally, however, we increasingly appreciate the characteristics of true nature; it is timeless and infinite, beyond time and space, transcendent to all manifestation, and so on. Here we can explore these characteristics more specifically, to develop our understanding of the transcendence of phenomena, especially of time and space, from the perspective of true nature itself.

Everything is the Unfoldment of Being

Everything is the unfoldment of Being, and hence, everything is always intimately connected to Being. In fact, the various phenomena we perceive are the unfoldment of Being. This is a deep and radical perception, although it is subtle: We see that everything we experience is nothing but Being itself appearing to us in various forms. We explored in the preceding chapter the Idea of Holy Work, in which we saw that reality is always unfolding, Being is always transforming from one form into another. Like a movie, reality keeps rolling, and with the perception of Holy Origin, we see that what appears in that unfoldment is never disconnected from Being, since it is Being. The fact that reality is appearing right now as your body or your thoughts or your environment does not mean that these things are disconnected from Being. Everything, then, is intimately and inextricably connected to Being. Being is the Holy Origin, and everything is connected to, and completely inseparable from, that Origin. So Holy Work emphasizes the fact that there is always an unfoldment taking place, and Holy Origin emphasizes that this unfoldment is always the unfoldment of Being. So as appearance manifests, it never leaves Being, which means that you never leave Being. The interconnection of everything, including ourselves, then, is by virtue of the fact that everything has as its inner nature the reality of Being. You are connected by virtue of the fact that Being is your true reality. Just as the body is inseparable from its atoms, so appearance is inseparable from Being. There is no such thing as a body separate from its atoms; likewise, there is no world, no existence, no manifestation, no appearance separate from Being.

Facets of Unity, pg. 186

Experiencing the Soul Coemergent with the Absolute

I recall a concern, which occasionally becomes a fear, that complete absorption into and unification with the absolute means cessation of all experience and loss of everything. I thought that total merging with the absolute might mean total and permanent cessation of consciousness, and hence all perception. I could not anticipate what total integration with the absolute might be like. This experience of soul coemergent with the absolute answers this concern and resolves the fear. Everything remains, is not lost, does not disappear. But it is seen not to exist; nonbeing is its ultimate condition. There is no disappearance, there is only the understanding that no appearance actually exists in the way we usually assume. The fear of loss is resolved in another interesting way. As I contemplate the experiential qualities of this coemergence, the insight arises that it is actually never possible to hold onto anything in any case. It is not possible to hold onto anything because nothing exists the way it appears. The true reality and condition of phenomena includes nothing one can actually grasp. One cannot grasp a mirage, or a hologram. Furthermore, there is no one there to hold onto anything. It is not only the object of experience that is emptied, that is seen to be fundamentally nonexistent, even though it is experienced. The subject itself is emptied as well. Both experiencer and experienced are characterized by the fundamental absence of the absolute. There cannot be loss because there is nothing that can be lost. The essential nous luminates now mostly with red and gold radiance, and perception becomes more precise and faceted. The insight that flashes out is that this coemergence of appearance and absolute resolves rapprochement.

In the Experience of Ourselves as the Absolute the Possibility of Self-Reflection Disappears

Because there is no inner content, not even sensation, there is nothing to reflect back on. The moment we reflect on ourselves, and look inward, there is nothing to perceive. Our awareness simply comes back to awareness of “external” phenomena. In other words, in the experience of ourselves as the absolute there is no self-reflection; in fact, the possibility of self-reflection disappears. Reality has a front and a back, phenomena are the front and the absolute is the back. However, since the absolute is actually nonbeing, Reality becomes simply the front. There is no back. There is no back to reflect on, no inside to look into. We are the freedom of the world, the liberation of all manifestation. Alternatively, there is total absence of self-consciousness, on all levels and in all senses of the word. There is no awareness of self, and no knowing of this lack of awareness. This phenomenological absence of self-awareness becomes a psychological or emotional absence of self-consciousness. We cannot be self-conscious, because there is no self to be self-conscious and no self of which to be conscious. And without self-consciousness there are no personal issues or conflicts, no personal suffering.

In the Realization of the Boundless Dimensions there is No Separate “I” Experiencing the Dimension

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.

In Truth, the World is Simply Consciousness that Arises from Absence, from Nothing at All

We are so trapped in our usual way of thinking and of perceiving things that we don’t allow the possibility that we are the perception, that we are the awareness of phenomena without being separate in any way from the phenomena. We firmly believe that reality is the physical world that we see, the same world that our mother saw. That is to say, we think the world exists on its own as a solid, basic, and fundamental reality. Everyone believes this. In truth, however, the world is simply consciousness that arises from absence, from nothing whatsoever. But realizing this is a radical experience that arises as part of the culmination of one’s work. One way to realize this truth is to understand consciousness. As long as you make discriminations in consciousness and take these to be true, self-existing realities, it is difficult to realize absence. Going from one state of consciousness to another, you’re simply trapped within consciousness. You go from the painful to the pleasurable, from hate to love, from love to clarity, from this to that, through all of the various kinds of states and objects of consciousness. Once you realize that all of these things are consciousness and allow yourself to be there as consciousness without needing to make discriminations, you become the presence of consciousness. Beyond any of the forms arising within it, this conscious presence will at some point spontaneously dissolve.

Knowing Love by Being Love

Presence is now not only aware of its beingness and hereness, but also of the quality of love. Our consciousness is now manifesting itself, or a region of its expanse, with a quality that appears in all the dimensions of the soul’s manifold. It appears in the inner touch sense as a soft and caressing texture, almost like baby skin or talcum powder. It appears in the inner visual sense as a beautiful and luminous pink, either as a shapeless medium or with a shape like a flowing pink stream, a pink cloud, or cotton candy, or a pink rose. It appears in the inner taste sense as a heavenly kind of sweetness, an uplifting taste that makes us realize why we associate love with sweetness. It appears in the inner olfactory sense as a the scent of rose or jasmine, delicate and so transporting. It appears in the inner auditory sense as the gentle delicate buzzing of bees, tinkling of bells, or a melodious enchanting sound. All these phenomena might only be forms discerned by our nonconceptual awareness, in which case it is not knowing yet. Knowing involves the presence of the dimension of basic knowledge, coemergent with pure awareness of the form, which intersects all of the above subtle sensory dimensions, and synthesizes them as a unified gestalt with a particular affect. With the quality of personal love, this affect is that of liking, appreciation, and a happy enjoyment of whatever we perceive. This affect implies a recognition, a direct apprehension of a particular meaning. The multidimensional expanse of presence recognizes itself not only as presence but also as love. A kind of concept is present now, not mental, not discursive, and not a result of remembering stored information. We know love by being love. Our soul knows it directly because it is a quality of her basic consciousness, not a thought in the mind. There is no dichotomy of subject and object here. I am not a self who is experiencing love. In the full experience of love I am love. The knower is the known, the presence of love. This presence is pure consciousness that is directly cognizant of the quality that pervasively characterizes it. I am love, and my knowledge of love is the presence of love.

Nothing Moves From Past to Future

More precisely, time is the concept we develop to account for the fact that we observe changes and movements. If there were no such thing as change or movement we would not need the notion of time. In other words, we need time to explain processes, the fact that phenomena progress from one form to another. We invent the dimension of time to account for this prolongation of phenomena, for it is not in space. However, we have seen that change is not from the past to the present, but rather from nonmanifestation to manifestation. Each stage of the progress of phenomena simply means that new creations have emerged. We need time, and feel the passage of time, only when we are in the midst of the changing phenomena. But when we are outside of all phenomena, and are experiencing ourselves from the vantage point of the logos, we directly perceive how all phenomena arise, and that nothing moves from past to future. It simply flows out, always in a new edition. We recognize that no time ever passes on anything, for all forms and objects are eternally new. An alternative view is that the logos is the source of the sense and concept of time. Because it is responsible for change and movement it is responsible for the passage of time. Its flow is actually what is happening that accounts for change and movement. We may experience this flow directly, and then we can recognize it as the flow of real time. This is not clock time; it is the time that actually changes and moves everything. And because it flows, we can get a vague intimation of such flow in ordinary experience, which then we believe is the feeling of the passage of time. In reality, time does not pass; rather it is the logos that flows. Continuity of time is a vague intimation of continuously new creation.

Our Experience of True Nature Demonstrates that there are No Such Things as Discrete Objects

Ordinarily we perceive a world of objects, many of which move in space, such as a moving animal or a hurtling meteor. Many of the objects we perceive transform, for example a human body or a tree. Our inner experiences of sensations, feelings, thoughts, and images are constantly moving and changing. The usual view of these phenomena, as reflected in our scientific theories, is that our world is composed of objects that populate space; these objects are in constant change and/or transformation that occurs in time, as a linear progression from past to future. Yet our experience of true nature and its boundless dimensions demonstrates that there are no such things as discrete objects, that all objects are manifestations of the same field of presence, but that we see them as discrete objects only because we are not aware of the ground of presence that both underlies and constitutes them. Knowing the boundless dimensions of Being, we realize that the normal perception of movement and change of objects is an outcome of a particular point of view, the specific vantage point of egoic experience, and is not necessarily objective or ultimate. So how, from the perspective of true nature, which recognizes that ultimately there exist no discrete objects, do we perceive movement and change?

Pure Awareness of Phenomena, with Complete Absence of Self or Other

It is not until this realization of Absence that one realizes that usually there is a continuous and incessant sense or feeling of self or I. Every experience is related to this I. Now there is experience and perception of experience, but it is not related to an I, not even to the I of oneness. There is pure awareness of phenomena, with complete absence of self or center. The Absence is so complete that there is not even consciousness of the Absence. The complete absorption in this condition is the cessation of all sensation and consciousness of oneself. There is Absence and there is absence of the consciousness of Absence. It is like deep sleep but one is not asleep. Absence is what the Buddha termed the cessation of perception and sensation, which he took to be the ultimate state needed for the end of karma.

Recognizing True Nature as the Coemergence of Being and Nonbeing

The perception of luminosity in nondual realization may allow us to recognize clear light as a form in itself. It is the everlasting ground of all phenomena, but it can also be experienced as a state in itself, as clear essence in the soul. When we experience it thus we experience it as presence. Clear light, or transparent luminosity, turns out to be the ground presence of essential manifestations. It is pure being, authentic nondifferentiated presence. When we experience it in its inseparability from emptiness we recognize true nature as the coemergence of being and nonbeing. But this state is totally nonconceptual, and this conceptual description does not communicate the experience completely. Here we experience everything as radiance, as the presence yet absence of existence. It is a completely paradoxical perception if we look at it conceptually. Experientially it is simplicity itself—clarity, lightness, and freedom.

Seeing that People, Physical Reality, Actions and Phenomena are all Reflections or Manifestations of a Loving Nature

World as Theophany. There are many flavors to this perception. We might experience it as heaven and earth becoming one, bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth, seeing the world as a manifestation of God’s love, the world as a manifestation of God Himself, or the world having true existence. What is common to all these varieties of the experience is seeing that the world, people, physical reality, actions, and phenomena are all reflections or manifestations of a loving nature. It is the perception that the intrinsic nature of everything is a loving, conscious quality, whether we’re talking about physical objects, human beings, actions of a human being, or physical phenomena. All are seen as manifestations of that loving, conscious presence. If we really see this, we are already in heaven. Wherever you turn, there is harmony, beauty, and love. Regardless of whether something looks ugly or beautiful, its intrinsic loving quality transcends all appearances. This is the most fundamental mystical experience. In contrast to other spiritual experiences, such as an inner experience of Essence or the sense of grace descending onto you, the mystical experience is the recognition and experience that everything, with nothing excluded, is a loving, conscious presence. This consciousness can be experienced at different levels and dimensions like other essential qualities, but its central characteristic is an aliveness, a reality, a truth, a profundity.

Facets of Unity, pg. 57

Seeing the Reality of Change Reveals that there is No Such Thing as Movement

More accurately, the ordinary concepts of change and movement are based on reified concepts of objects and phenomena, the products of a process of reification that dissociates us from the direct experience of our ground true nature. The reification is exposed when we recognize how change occurs from the vantage point of true nature, as on the dimension of dynamic presence. We begin to see the reality of change, which reveals that there is no such thing as movement. Change entails a transformation of appearance over the entire field of presence, similar to cinema frames changing; however, it is a continuous change, not a series of discrete changes as in the case of an actual cinema film. By revealing the nature of change the dimension of dynamic presence also discloses the true meaning and sources of development, growth, evolution, and all processes and phenomena that have a continuity in time. Before we discuss these we need first to explore in some detail the experience of change in the dimension of dynamic being. We experience this universal transformation in various ways, according to the subtlety of our realization; these have been reflected by the various wisdom teachings of humankind.

The Evolution of the World is the Flow of Basic Knowledge

The experience of the logos is then not only the flow of all objects and phenomena, but the flow of knowledge. Just as we saw in chapter that on the dimension of pure presence all manifest objects are noetic forms, we see here that they are dynamic and flowing noetic forms. The manifestation and evolution of the world is the flow of basic knowledge, knowing inseparable from dynamic unfoldment. And since this flow is orderly and patterned, the flow of knowledge is orderly and harmonious. In other words, the flow of basic knowledge follows the pattern of the logos. The Greeks equated logos with reason, because the logos has an order, or a rule, that steers its unfoldment. Reason is originally the order of the logos, the principle or principles that order its pattern. In other words, the flow of basic knowledge is reasonable, makes perfect sense. We may refer to this as basic reason, differentiating it from ordinary reason, in correspondence with ordinary and basic knowledge.

The Separateness of Various Phenomena is Only Apparent

Holy Law shows the unity of existence when seen in its functioning, dynamic mode. This Idea is a formulation of the dimension that we call the Logos in the Diamond Approach, which is the dynamic and creative element inherent in the reality of Being. We have explored the idea of the unity of existence in Holy Truth and Holy Omniscience, seeing that all of reality is a unity, that everything constitutes one infinite and boundless presence. This is the basic spiritual perception: the unity and oneness of existence. This oneness takes the form of a multiplicity of appearance and experience, just as in ordinary perception, but there is no true separateness between one thing and another. In reality, there is no duality, no isolating boundaries or partitions. The separateness of various phenomena is only apparent, and discrimination only differentiates, rather than partitions. When we see this unity in process over the course of time, and understand how it moves and changes, then we understand Holy Law.

Facets of Unity, pg. 257

The Ultimate Nature of Things is not Existence but Nonexistence

In the true experience of emptiness, the subjective feeling and belief in the substantiality and solidity of things is exposed for what it is, a subjective feeling based on a belief. Emptiness reveals to us that things do not possess such substantiality or solidity. Their mode of being is not what we have called existence. More accurately, their ultimate nature is not existence, but nonexistence. They appear, but are characterized by nonbeing. Experientially, phenomena appear and we perceive them along with their usual qualities, but we do not feel that they exist. They are felt to be empty of the solidity and reality that we believed they possessed. In other words, the true nature of things is that they manifest, or appear, but that is all. In appearing they do not give us the feeling and belief that they are real or that they exist in the way we have assumed. We are accustomed to believing that things exist in the way we normally experience matter, solid and opaque. In reality, things are insubstantial, transparent, and light, similar to thoughts or mental images. But they are also luminous, so they are more like light. However, even light as we ordinarily know it does not express the absolute lightness and emptiness of things. Things are actually diaphanous forms, holograms floating in nothing, glimmerings of this nothing. 

When Everything Appears as a Phantasmagoric Display of Dazzling Brilliance Without Ever Existing

The teaching of Nisargadatta Maharaj leads one to believe that the self-realization of the Absolute can only take the form of being aware of oneself as an unchanging, vast subject, witnessing phenomena without being involved in it. However, this is not the case. We can experience the Absolute as presence totally nondual with its manifestations. In other words, all phenomena can be experienced as the display of the Absolute. Everything is the Absolute, not only arising within it and as part of it. We could say here that this puts the Absolute within the category of rigpa or nondual presence. However, there is a subtle difference, even more paradoxical than what we have seen so far. One perceives that everything is the display of emptiness, that the ultimate state of everything is the Absolute. All phenomena appear as a substantial, dynamic presence, but when we investigate this presence, we do not find it. In other words, everything appears as a phantasmagoric display of dazzling brilliance without ever existing.

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