Main Pages

By Region



Physical Matter

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Physical Matter?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Physical Matter

A Fundamental Ground Which Consists of Physical Concepts

Reified concepts are the main barrier to penetrating to what is, and the basic concepts that form our experience are physical. You are more convinced, for instance, in the existence of your body than in the existence of inner freedom, because while your body is a physical thing, freedom is not a physical thing. It is particularly these physical concepts that we have to penetrate in order to perceive what is. The ground of the personal mind is constituted by physical concepts. Our perception of relationships between things are based on that ground of personal mind. We perceive that this object is round and this one is square; this object is distant from that one, and this object is near that one. This object is free from that one, this object likes that one and doesn’t like this other one. These relationships develop as a superstructure on a fundamental ground which consists of physical concepts, the concepts of what we call physical objects. Because we believe the physical universe is the most fundamental reality, we are afraid of death. Why is death a big deal? Because you believe that you are fundamentally your body. More than anything else, your body defines who you are. And because you believe your body defines who you are, there is such a thing as death. What we mean by death is death of the body. And because we think it is who we are, the idea of death of the body is deeply frightening for us.

Diaphanous Forms of Presence

In complete coemergence, Reality includes not only the boundless dimensions of true nature, but also the dimension of shakti energy and that of physicality. The physical dimension is more difficult to understand, because it is not a dimension in the sense we have been discussing. It is basically physical matter always in the form of one object or another in space. In fact it is not possible to think of physical matter except in the form of an object. We do not find a continuous field of matter that takes the forms of the various objects. When we observe physical objects from the perspective of true nature we do not experience them as physical the way we normally do. They lose their opaqueness and sense of solidity, and appear as diaphanous forms of presence. In other words they simply appear as forms that the presence of true nature assumes. Yet they are not essential forms and not like essential forms, even though all forms appear similar in the boundless dimensions of true nature. Thus it makes sense to think of these forms as constituting a dimension of their own. These forms have characteristics different from essential forms, or mental and emotional forms, even though from the perspective of true nature they are only forms that true nature takes. The main difference they have from essential forms is that two physical forms cannot exist in the same time and space. For instance, you cannot have two apples at the same exact location of time and space. In other words, physical forms displace each other. This is not true of energetic or essential forms, for they can coexist at the same time and space, as an overlap that is impossible for physical forms.

Expressions of the Creativity of Being

We ordinarily think of physical reality as solid matter, of objects existing on their own. In terms of objective reality, there is no such thing, but this does not mean that there is nothing there. The forms exist, but in a different way than we had thought. They exist as articulations that are expressions of the creativity of Being. That creativity is what we see as the world. So there is no question of whether physical reality ultimately exists or not; the question is: What is the nature of what we are perceiving?

Facets of Unity, pg. 195

In Objective Reality there is No Such Thing as the Physical World We Know

For instance, our knowledge patterns our experience to the extent that we actually experience a physical reality. We end up believing that there is such a thing as physical reality and physical matter. In fact, we are completely convinced that physical reality is a fundamental truth. In objective reality, there is no such thing as the physical world that we know. If we experience our body without the filter of ordinary knowledge, we will not experience a physical body, we will experience a fluid patterning of luminosity. Our experience is so conditioned and determined, that not only do we believe we have and are a body, we believe in something more basic that underlies this belief: that the body is the body as we take it to be. For most people, this is absolutely true: The body is physical matter that is born and hurts and dies. From that point of view, how can we possibly think of it as a fluid patterning of luminosity? This is just an example, maybe a little extreme, to tell us how far the patterning of ordinary knowledge goes.

Neither Life Nor Consciousness is an Epiphenomenon of Matter

Our question is, where does this self-organizing property of the universe come from? The soul is the self-organizing open system par excellence. Is it possible that when we understand the wave side of the universe, the complement to the particle side, we might find it to be responsible for the self-organizing properties of open systems in the universe? This has already been posited by many thinkers. The understanding we come to is that neither life nor consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter. Using the complementarity principle of quantum theory as a metaphor, we find that the wave complement to our physical universe is a field of consciousness that, similar to the soul, possesses self-organizing properties. Consciousness, in its purity and ontological presence, is the basic ground, and self-organization is one of its properties or dimensions. Consciousness emerges later in evolution because it is more basic and fundamental, meaning less differentiated, and life emerges earlier because it is a property of this consciousness, an inherent part of its potential. It seems that if we take the evolution of the universe as the action of spirit or consciousness, as Hegel and others did, then we can recognize that the more primordial and less structured dimensions of spirit emerge later in cosmic evolution.

Seeing Physical Objects Having No Substance, No Density

And then my experience of this reality, of me and the world, begins to lose its sense of significance. I begin to experience myself—especially my body—and the whole of physical reality, as empty and insubstantial. It’s strange to see physical objects having no substance, no density. They’re the same objects as before, but their physical reality seems different. They’ve lost reality and substance. They’ve become empty and flat. There’s a flatness, a lack of color or vitality, which makes everything feel less real.

So this is what happens as we experience our essential nature; we recognize that who we usually are is just an empty shell, devoid of fullness, devoid of substance, devoid of significance. Just like a bubble. Before that, before your personality is challenged by essential presence, it feels real, right? It feels like there’s you, and there’s the reality of your body, your feelings and your emotions, and you have substance. It’s not essential, but it feels real and significant. Then, as essential presence expands and you start to recognize that your personality is all about images and identifications, you start to feel the insubstantiality of it—it becomes this empty shell, a bubble with nothing inside. This is what always happens when you recognize that something is just a mental construct.

And in experiencing the boundlessness of being, we have this recognition that it’s not only the personality that loses its realness—the experience of the physical universe no longer feels real either. Before that, your ego gives both you and the physical universe some sense of reality. Your constructed sense of self is inseparable from your familiar experience of the world and so all of it appears to be real.

Self-Organization is Inherent in Physical Matter

The Pearl aspect is the essential prototype of integration and organization, specifically of self-integration and self-organization. This capacity, or process, is inherent in life in general, in consciousness in general. Natural science has discovered that self-organization is also inherent in physical matter. It can be seen throughout the natural world. Even on the simplest of biological levels, life is self-organizing and self-activating. We see this in an amoeba as well as in a single cell in the human body, and even in a star or a planet. This integration and organization exists on all levels within the human being: The body, the mind, and the soul are all self-organizing. Similarly, groups of people such as families, tribes, and neighborhoods are self-organizing. The same is true of cities and countries, as well as of ecosystems and planetary weather patterns. The concept of Gaia refers to the same principle at work in the earth as a whole. The more we look, the more we see that the whole universe is self-organizing, self-activating, and self-acting. Self-organization also exists at all levels of evolution. On the soul level, it occurs when the Pearl is realized, at which point self-organization becomes specific and clear as the culmination of the soul’s development from the earliest stages of primitive formlessness. The fact that the universe as a whole is self-organizing means that it too is moving toward individuation and integration, toward being the universal Pearl. On the universal level, complete self-organization is sometimes referred to as God.

The Reality of the World is a Solid Transparency

It is clear to my understanding that the ordinary knowledge of the world, the knowledge put together by memory and thought, veils the luminosity of appearances, and makes the various forms appear opaque. This opaqueness obstructs the perception of the underlying reality of the forms, by eliminating their inherent transparency. Thus the world is solidified into something inert and dismembered. And when the opaqueness is dispersed, through understanding its sources, perception beholds shapes and colors that reveal a reality so pure, so fresh, so new and undefiled that consciousness is totally transported, as if seared from within by a cool Arctic wind. I see through everything, through the surfaces of the various forms, and behold what underlies everything, what fundamentally constitutes all. I penetrate to the center of the universe, to the real nature of existence. What I behold baffles the mind, shatters it and enchants it beyond all knowing: The universe is one infinite perfect crystal, totally transparent, and absolutely clear. A density and immensity beyond comprehension, a solidity infinitely more fundamental than physical matter. The reality of the world is a solid transparency, a compact emptiness so clear it feels like the total absence of any sensation. This sheer clarity, this solid void, is so empty of mind and concept that it feels exhiliratingly fresh, so uncorrupted that it strikes me as the very essence of innocence. It is the virgin reality, before mind arises, before thought knows, before memory is born.

When Duality is Seen Through the Physical is Given More Reality, More Substance, More Existence

Surprisingly, this perception of unity makes physical reality itself appear more concrete, not less. It appears more three-dimensional, with more sense of depth. Ordinarily, when experiencing the state of Oneness, physical reality is seen as the surface, with the boundless dimensions as the underlying depths. But when the boundless dimensions are perceived as interpenetrating the physical, the three-dimensionality is enhanced. Everything stands out, feels more real, more present, and more itself, in a sense. In the experience of nonduality, it is not as though physical reality were a dream emanating from it—that perception would still be dualistic. When duality is seen through, physical reality is imbued with the essential dimension, and the two become one. This gives the physical more reality, more substance, more existence, more meaning, more depth, and more dimensionality. When you look at people, they seem more substantial, and even their bodies appear more physical, in a sense. Every object and person has a concreteness and a definiteness that makes each appear more defined, more present, and more complete, because your experience of them includes the depth of the true existence. When everything is perceived as the Absolute, each atom, each form, has its depth. The Absolute not only underlies everything, but penetrates all of manifestation. Depending upon which dimension you are experiencing, everything you perceive acquires the depth and beauty of that dimension.

Facets of Unity, pg. 86

When You See the Totality Physical Reality Will Appear Differently

When I talk about seeing the reality of what is, I don’t mean that you are suddenly going to see all kinds of strange things in front of you. The physical reality is part of what’s there: it’s just not the only thing that’s there. When you see the totality, physical reality will appear differently, as if you are seeing it in a different light. It will have more color, more harmony, and more refinement. You will see more the sense of beauty, the sense of grace in physical reality. But that sense of beauty arises through seeing the porousness and the consciousness that constitute the physical world. This basic, fundamental, pure consciousness and existence is independent of the various forms. It is specifically what I call nonconceptual. So a table is a table, but at the nonconceptual level it is not a table. The concept exists, but it does not exist on its own. The concept is simply a surface phenomenon of something more fundamental.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach

See past editions of the Diamond Approach newsletter