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Process of . . . (iv)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Process of . . . (iv)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Process of . . . (iv)

Self-Sacrifice, Constant, Daily

If you do the Work for the self, and you live your life for the self, the way you understand yourself, I don’t see you as bad. You don’t need to be punished. You are just living your life for the self. And that’s what you’ll get —the self, and the life of the self. But you will not get a life of truth. I don’t think it’s bad, and no one is telling you you shouldn’t do it. In the statement we’ve been contemplating, Christ does not say you should follow him. He says, “If any man would come after me.” If you want to, if that’s your choice, then you need to be clear about what is your choice. You have to be clear about what it means, what needs to happen: that this work is a process of self-sacrifice, constant, daily. You daily carry your cross. When I say self-sacrifice, I don’t mean that you have to be a victim, or that you have to suffer, or have a hard time. That’s not the idea here. Self-sacrifice means choosing the truth over the false. You sacrifice what is false to the truth. Christ is not talking about choosing the truth from a preference for the false in the sense of having an insight or an experience of the truth. He is talking about how to live. Do you live from the perspective of the truth, or from the perspective of the self, which is ultimately false? 

Sensing Into the Depths of the Absolute

The contemplation of the absolute continues with its own momentum, without my personal prompting. The consciousness finds itself in the mysterious blackness of the absolute, and a process of sensing into its depths spontaneously commences. I keep returning to this mystery, this intimacy, this delicacy, this contentment, this peace, this freedom, this infinity of release. The absolute cannot even be called space, even though it is a vastness. Ordinarily I see it as spacious. But as I plumb this spaciousness, it dissolves into a spaceless or dimensionless nothing. The result is absence, the opposite of existence. Then there is no sense of extension, and also no sense of no extension. Awareness of the absolute remains, but this awareness is free of the concept or sense of extension. In this subtle perception, knowingness borders on cessation.

The next day. . .

The absolute is indeterminate intimacy, the essence of Being. The sense of intimacy comes from the transparency coemergent with centerless knowingness: I am totally in touch with myself at each point of my presence, with no veils. In this complete in-touchness there is a sense of privacy, of interiority. This delicate interiority is the essence of intimacy. There is no subject being intimate with an object; in fact there is nothing to be intimate with. Intimacy is merely the condition of total in-touchness. The absolute is definitely Being, but it cannot be said to be existence, or even presence. It is Being in that there is an actuality that we do encounter. In fact, it is the only certain being; everything else arises out of it, and is transitory. However, this beingness of the absolute is devoid of the concept or feeling of existence, empty of the concept or sense of presence. There is an immediacy of self-awareness, but there is nothing to say about what the awareness is aware of. I sometimes call it absolute Being.


Inner realization is a process of shedding, of losing what one takes oneself to be, to ultimately become what one is, without need for any external support, not even one’s mind. This description is not metaphorical; one actually experiences the disappearance of great realms of one’s identity. As one goes deeper and deeper, one realizes that one is shedding concepts that one had taken to be absolute truths. The shedding of all concepts is the realization of the Nonconceptual Nameless Reality, what is. Nothing can be said to describe it because one can only use concepts to describe. Yet the shedding is still not absolute. It is true that all concepts are gone, but there remains one more thing—consciousness itself. The nature of the Nameless is pure consciousness, consciousness that is conscious of consciousness, without labeling or knowing anything. There is consciousness, but there is no knowing of what is known, or what knows; there are no conceptual categories. Huang Po says: “. . . you would find it formless, occupying no point in space and falling neither into the category of existence nor into that of non-existence.” [Translated by John Blofeld, The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, p. 87]

Even consciousness, which is not exactly a concept, can be shed. At some point, usually without anticipating it, one realizes that one is perceiving the Nameless Reality as external to oneself. One becomes aware that one is beyond the Nameless, and the world that it supports, as an unknowable mystery. The Nonconceptual Reality, which is the ground of the world of concepts, is experienced here as not absolutely real. In fact, it is experienced as a radiance, ephemeral and insubstantial, in relation to and emanating from an unfathomable Absolute.

Structuralization of the Mind

The concept of the undifferentiated matrix is later enlarged to denote the lack of differentiation between, and the existence of, the constitutional factors that later differentiate into the ego, id, and superego. Thus the psychic structure exists only in potential form for the neonate. However, the emphasis is obviously on the absence of boundaries in the sense of absence of differentiation, i.e., differentiation is seen as the development of boundaries. The undifferentiated matrix is characterized by a lack of differentiation between its various contents: between inner and outer, pleasant and painful, mind and body, libido and aggression, self and other, and so on. The development of the psychic structure and hence of the self-image is seen as a process of structuralization of the mind. In fact, object relations theory is primarily an understanding of how this structure develops out of an undifferentiated state of the mind.

The Void, pg. 34

Transformation; Development and Maturing

Realization does have an immediate impact on the individual consciousness, but the consciousness requires a lot more  for there to be a capacity to express in life the realization of  the enlightenment that has happened. This is the process of transformation, which takes time because it is a process of development and maturing. Some teachings think of transformation and realization  as a sequence with one occurring before the other: first the transformation and then the enlightenment, or first the enlightenment and then the transformation. Other teachings, including this path, see them as interrelated. For us, realization and transformation are two interacting threads, intertwined in a dialectic of mutual influence. 

Transformation; Metabolism; Absorption

So as you see, we are not looking for states, nor trying to get rid of anything. The Work is nothing more than being present in your experience in an undefended way. When you are present in your experience without defenses, then there is contact between this beingness or presence and whatever happens in internal or external experience. When this contact happens, there is a process of transformation which we call metabolism or absorption. This process of transformation causes you to get bigger or more expanded. That is how you grow up. Just as your body grows up by eating food, your soul develops by eating experience. From this perspective, there is no bad experience since any experience can be metabolized if you are present in it. Some experiences are painful, some are pleasurable, but they all can lead to maturity. The only exceptions are experiences beyond your capacity for metabolism, whether painful or pleasurable. We are seeing that understanding is not a matter of ending up with words and ideas in your mind about who you are or what reality is. Genuine understanding leads to greater maturity, to an enhanced capacity to live in this world harmoniously. So understanding is a very practical thing; it is the very process through which growth happens on all levels and in all dimensions.

Uncovering Essence

Although it is possible to make this hierarchical arrangement, we find that experience does not correspond with it. We find that, at least to some extent, different aspects are discovered in different orders by different individuals. We also find it misleading and confusing for the student to think of essential aspects in a hierarchical order. We prefer to look at the different aspects as different parts of essence, all important and necessary, although some are more central than others. The closest analogy is the human body. All organs are necessary, and it is possible but misleading to think of them in an order. It is true that the brain is more central than the lungs, but the brain cannot function without the lungs. From our perspective, what is discovered and realized first depends more on what sectors of the personality the individual happens to be dealing with than on an innate order of the aspects of essence. From this perspective, it is immaterial whether we look at the process as a development or an uncovering. They are equivalent formulations, provided the process is looked at experientially. Theoretically, from the perspective of an overall understanding, the process is, so far, a process of uncovering. Essence is lost, then it is retrieved. 

Understanding the Truth; Understanding and Relieving Oneself from Suffering

So to really deal with the issue of suffering, we need to understand reality. We need to go all the way through the process of realization. The process of realization, of understanding the truth, is a process of understanding and relieving oneself from suffering. There is no shortcut; there is only one way. What’s causing suffering cannot be surmounted, cannot simply be dropped, cannot be ignored, cannot even be erased by some essential awakening or realization. Suffering is a fundamental factor in our lives that has to be dealt with. We need a lot of study and understanding; we need to go through all the dimensions before we can exit the realm of suffering. Many of us hope we can exit right away, hope we can transcend our problems through spiritual experience. But unless we actually penetrate our beliefs and identifications, our life will always involve suffering. As we continue, we will come to challenge even deeper notions than the belief that we are our bodies. We can realize that we are not our body but are our essence; we can realize the essential nature of the world. Although this realization and actualization fulfills much more of our potential, and brings creativity and knowledge, still our suffering hasn’t vanished. If we remain where we are without continuing to deepen our realization and expand our understanding, our suffering might increase again. Ever more fundamental beliefs and concepts about reality will arise and be challenged. 

Unfoldment and Transformation

To be real means that we need to be able to live in a way that reflects the reality of what we truly are. It is important to recognize, however, that being real doesn’t happen in a moment. Learning what it means to be a real person is a process of unfoldment and transformation. It is not something you fall into or recognize all of a sudden, as it sometimes can be in the discovery of or awakening to true nature. It is a maturational process. And it begins with being honest, truthful, and real about where you are and investigating that. Every moment holds the possibility of more realness and more in-touchness with the presence of essential Being. We want to be human and we want to be real. Real humans are magical creatures, but they are rare. In fact, we are magical creatures beyond our wildest imagination. Hameed once said, “We are actually elephants trying to be butterflies.” And right after that, he said, “We are actually butterflies trying to be elephants.” The first statement reflects our belief that our earthbound self is a heavy, solid mass rather than the luminous colorful beauty of the liberated lightness of Being that we long to be. The second describes our forgotten lightness, as we become a worldly creature and take a more substantial form. Sadly, both statements reflect the unsatisfying existence of most human beings. Our actual situation is even stranger than that. We are not creatures of this world even though we live here. We are not born here and we don’t die here. Being emerges into time and space, creating time and space as it emerges into and as this world. Being arises in forms, birthing itself into existence. One of those forms is the human one, that of you and me, and that form changes all throughout life until it is shed, perhaps for other forms. 

Unfoldment Involving Various States and Dimensions

The Diamond Approach is not the only spiritual approach based on Holy Freedom. Another is the Vajrayana Buddhist practice of Dzogchen, self-liberation, discussed earlier. There, the understanding is that if you are present with an object of perception without interference, it will naturally liberate itself, meaning that it will spontaneously reveal its true nature; or, using the language of the Enneagram, it will reveal itself as nothing but Holy Truth. The difference between Dzogchen and the Diamond Approach is that we see that this revelation of true nature does not usually happen spontaneously and instantaneously. Rather, there is a process of unfoldment involving various states and dimensions before one arrives at the ultimate one of Holy Truth. So another conceptual basis of the Diamond Approach is Holy Work, the Holy Idea of ennea-type Seven, which is the fact that a natural process of unfoldment occurs and that there are many dimensions to that unfoldment. Dzogchen is, in some sense, a purer practice, but a more difficult one because it assumes that there is only one true state, that of Holy Truth. Basically, Dzogchen is a practice for buddhas. If you are a beginning buddha, you can practice Dzogchen; otherwise, it will be very difficult to do, as it is for most people. 

Facets of Unity, pg. 137

Unfoldment; Actually Living Your Unfoldment

However, our deepest nature is not that of a person. We can manifest as a person, but at the deepest level, we are something that is the source of the person. When we come to the understanding that reveals the truth rather than the falsehood, then it is functioning more as a process of unfoldment. Then understanding, which has seemed to be the equivalent of looking at something objectively, is no longer separate from the process of unfoldment itself. Seeing one layer of our reality and understanding it, is the same thing as that layer coming out, unfolding like a flower opening up. Understanding becomes the same thing as the process of actually living your unfoldment. Because you understand your experience of joy, for instance, you experience yourself as joy. You become light, happy and joyous; you start joking and become bubbly and can’t stop laughing. What does understanding mean then? Part of it, which is revealing the falsehood, sees whatever barrier stopped you from being joy. Then you understand what it is to be joy. To understand what it is to be joy means to be joy consciously, means to actually feel it as your very atoms. At that level, understanding becomes clear, or you begin seeing what it is: Being and awareness of Being at the same time. Being is our true nature, right? Essence is Being. So you’re being whatever aspect of Essence is arising, like joy. 

Unlearning, a Shedding or Dropping Away of Mind

Once you can see reality, when you wake up in the morning you won’t see anything you’ve ever seen before. When you can truly see, perceive, and taste something, you will see that you have never actually seen it before. Then you know you are looking without your mind. But as long as you recognize something, in the sense of remembering it, in the sense of giving it names and labels, then it is not reality yet and you are not yet truly seeing. To penetrate to reality involves a process of unlearning, a shedding or a dropping-away of mind, getting rid of all that we know. I am not saying that you need to get rid of all you know so that you cannot go do your shopping. We’re talking about perceiving, penetrating to what is, to reality. We are inquiring into the nature of reality, we are not making assertions about what is needed for practical living. It is true that you need your mind, you need what you know to be able to tell which store to go to buy what you want. But that does not mean that you need that knowledge to look at reality. 

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