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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Purification?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Purification

At Some Point, the Purified Soul Becomes Transparent Awareness

Understanding is ultimately a precise, clear, objective awareness of our true nature, for as we understand ourselves, our soul keeps unfolding and manifesting her hidden potentials until we are just our true nature, our real self. Ultimately, understanding coincides with the total realization of our true nature. In other words, understanding is the vehicle for the integration of the soul—which is our normal consciousness—with its source and nature beyond time and space. In the process of inquiry and understanding, the soul first throws away her old garb—all our accumulated images, patterns, and self-concepts. This is a process of purification, part of the overall process of revelation in which inquiry reveals the hidden potentials in our soul. At some point, the purified soul—the soul that has gone through the process of clarification—becomes transparent awareness. What we call true nature becomes the soul’s identity. Self-realization and awareness coincide as a coemergence of soul and identity. Our experience continues as an unfoldment in which the identity stays the same and only the content that presents itself to our awareness changes.

Awareness and Understanding are Needed for the Purification of Ego Identification

Spiritual practice is primarily the cultivation of presence, understanding, awareness and surrender. These are the capacities needed for the later stages of psychic metabolism. Awareness and understanding are needed for the purification of ego identification. Presence and surrender are needed for the process of absorption itself. One learns to be open, vulnerable and present to one’s experience, in order to allow effective metabolism. This means that one learns to be in direct contact with one’s experience, which in turn requires the presence of the Personal Essence, which is the aspect which can make such direct contact without defensiveness. Thus, when one is realized as the Personal Essence, metabolism becomes a natural, spontaneously occurring process. Effective metabolism leads to the realization of the Personal Essence, and the Personal Essence, in its turn, makes metabolism a natural process of living. The life of the Personal Essence is a continuing, ever-expanding process of integration and individuation.

Curiosity is Required for the Purification of the Ego

Another quality, which usually accompanies the love of truth, that of curiosity, is required for purification of the ego. One can have the capacity to be objective, but if one is not curious then one will not have the opportunity to apply it. One must pay attention and be involved in the experience in order to see the truth, and this requires curiosity. Curiosity does not necessarily mean searching for truth. The seeking for truth, realization or enlightenment is a pale reflection of the true quality needed for them. Searching implies desire, it implies an end in mind, it implies preconceptions and assumptions, and hence it is counter to the attitude of love of truth, and counter to objectivity. On the other hand, curiosity involves love for truth, and joy in the truth. True curiosity is a rare quality. It is a quality of Being, and ego usually kills curiosity to avoid exposure of ego’s falsehood. We can often see true curiosity in the play of children. Often when a child finds a new object, he will be so curious and so involved in investigating it, that he becomes completely absorbed in the activity, pulling the object apart or putting it back together, or whatever. He is not seeking a result, or trying to gain something. In fact, after a while, when his curiosity is satisfied, he will probably throw the object away, as if it is of no more interest to him. But during the investigation, which has the character of play, he is totally absorbed, completely enraptured, fully enjoying and loving the investigation.

Ego is Absorbed Into Being Only After It is Completely Purified

We come then to the understanding of what is required for inner transformation: impressions will be completely metabolized, to the point of absorption into Being, only when completely purged of falsehood. Ego is absorbed into Being only after it is completely purified. This is the original sense of spiritual purification, which has nothing to do with morality but involves separating the true from the false. This understanding is one reason the Sufis call the process of inner transformation the “purification” of the ego. We see here, too, the role of truth in this process: since human development is constituted by the metabolism of personal experience, and for this metabolism to be complete the true must be separated from the false—the former to be absorbed and the latter to be discarded—we can see that the specific requirement for growth, maturation and development is truth, the truth garnered from personal experience. In general, the process of eliminating falsehood is spontaneous; the mind generally lets go of an impression when it recognizes it to be false. Since it can no longer be used for purposes of identification, and cannot be absorbed, the false impression simply dissolves. An exception to this pattern is when a clearly false belief is part of a larger system, most likely unconscious, which the mind still takes to be true; then the mind will hold on to the falsehood until the larger belief system is revealed.

In this Process of Clarification and Purification the Soul Loses Her Identification with the Historical Person

I begin to see that the processes of clarification, integration and confrontation with death are the direct effect of the absolute on the soul, as the mysterious emptiness penetrates the soul’s substance, and the invisible light reveals its various hidden corners. The influence of the absolute on the soul exposes ego structures, refines the soul’s substance, and metamorphoses its consciousness toward the nature of the absolute. In this process of clarification and purification the soul loses her identification with the historical person and identifies more with the absolute. With this decreasing self-identification based on mind and memory, experience becomes the natural, spontaneous realization of true nature, as nonconceptual abiding. The more I contemplate my experience of the absolute the more I appreciate how mysterious it is. At first I saw it as absolute being, as the immensity that underlies everything. Yet this immense presence reveals itself as total emptiness, a complete absence of any substance. It is both a presence and an absence, but recently my experience has been focusing mostly on the sense of emptiness.

Purification is a Process of Evolution and Growth. Purification is Not an Experience

So the work of purification, the soul’s essential realization displacing the self-centered ego perspective, transforms us into a transparent face, a transparent window to objective reality. Purification is a process of evolution and growth. Purification is not an experience. Mostly, experience happens suddenly. We’re meditating and suddenly we are the Absolute, suddenly we’re full of grace, suddenly there’s love. Whereas experience is sudden, transformation is gradual. The sudden experience is valuable and necessary, but the impact of the sudden experience takes time to develop. We need a certain kind of commitment to the truth, a certain profound love of the truth, more encompassing than the dedication needed to have an experience, if we are to become transparent expressions of the truth. We have to be willing to allow our very substance, our very life, to transform, so that in time we will not only be a servant but be a slave to the truth. The more deeply we see our inner nature, the more we love it and the more we want to do nothing else but serve it. We begin to wish and pray to become a slave to the truth. In time, the soul recognizes that that’s what it wants in its own heart. Servitude is not imposed from above. Neither is it a decision we make. We have to go deeply into the heart of the soul and see what that heart wants. What makes that heart peaceful and happy? What is its highest aim? If we look at it that way, we see that the work on the passions is indispensable. We need to discover the realm of virtues: serenity, humility, truthfulness, detachment, equanimity, sobriety. We need to learn not to consume our experiences.

Purification Makes Us, in Some Sense, Acceptable for Service but Not Yet Necessarily Capable of Service

So our job is to be a servant. And to serve is to express. And to express is to be a clear and unimpeded medium for the truth. For that to happen, we need to be purified of our coarser elements. If we approach experience as if it were a lollipop, the objective function of the soul is not fulfilled. The more our soul is aware of the deeper realms and the more correct its attitude toward those realms, the more we express the truth. The deeper realm, the realm of objective reality, is ultimately the home of the soul—its origin, source, and nature. The absolute reality is the nature and origin not only of the soul but of everything. What better master to serve than the innermost nature of you and of everything! So being a servant is an exalted position. Purification is necessary, but on its own it is not sufficient in order for the soul to serve. Purification makes us, in some sense, acceptable for service but not yet necessarily capable of service. To be capable of service, there needs to be development of the capacities, development of the knowledge, development of all possibilities of the human soul. So the servant first has to be worthy, and then has to be capable of the service. The purification of the soul allows the attitudes of serenity, humility, and truthfulness toward our experience to arise by dissolving the belief in separate existence. The development of the soul makes the service more objective, more real, more accurate, more to the point. Not only do we express the truth, but we do it exactly and precisely according to the need of the moment.

Soul Regains Through Purification Its Original Essential Nature of Pure Luminosity or Pure Awareness of How Things Are

In the course of spiritual development, as the soul begins to understand the truth and to develop through contact with Essence, it becomes clearer and purer. Eventually, it can be completely purified. The Sufi notion of the Perfect or Complete Soul is the completely developed soul, the completely purified soul. The Sufis say that the completely purified soul is colorless, completely transparent and clear. Thus, the soul has regained through purification its original essential nature of pure luminosity or pure awareness of how things are. At the same time, the soul has developed through maturity a discriminating awareness of reality that includes its nature, its environment, and everything else. The soul can thus have a mirror-like awareness that is transparent and without distortion, as well as a capacity for discrimination and understanding. So the simplest, most elemental nature of the soul is complete transparency without any qualities, just the fact of its awareness, perception, transparency, luminosity. This is the soul’s most basic nature. It is also what is called “primordial awareness.”

Facets of Unity, pg. 292

The Complete Realization of Pure Being Involves a Process of Purification and Clarification of the Personality

In the process of realization of pure Being, the alternation is not between the personality and presence, but rather, between duality and unity. In duality, the student experiences herself as the totality of the ego-self, the personality, separate from the presence and resistant to it. She also experiences and understands it by being it. She experiences the movement of her ego-self directly, in all its details. She experiences it from within, in its totality, with a specific understanding of the nature of its functioning. This is in contrast to the experience of the personality in the dimension of the Essential Identity, where she experiences it from the outside, as the other who is struggling and suffering. In the dimension of pure Being, her understanding of the nature of suffering becomes more specific and complete. The result is that the personality is not necessarily transformed in the self-realization of the Essential Identity; there is only the shift of its identity. The complete realization of pure Being involves a process of purification and clarification of the personality, until there is no difference between it and the purity of Being. The final outcome is the condition of unity in which we experience the personality (the ego-self) as an inseparable manifestation of pure Being.

The More We Understand the Perspective of Purification, the More We’ll Understand Why All Spiritual Systems Work on the Passions

The knowledge of essence is needed to bring about the purification of the soul. How will the soul know it is lying if it doesn’t know truth? How will it know what courage is if it doesn’t know strength? So, in some sense, essence teaches the soul by providing experiences of how to be a real human being. The knowledge of essence exposes the impurities and teaches us the way out, or the way of purification. These experiences are teaching elements, not just lollipops. We need to absorb essential experiences so that we will grow from them and not use them to temporarily fill our stomach. The growth of the soul has to do with its refinement and purification. The more we understand the perspective of purification, the more we’ll understand why all spiritual systems work on the passions, what’s often called the “blamable” qualities. Blamable because they are the qualities responsible for the gross, the unbalanced, the immature approach to experiencing life. Some of the spiritual traditions deal directly with the passions, others indirectly. Theistic traditions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam work directly on the passions and the virtues, and the work of the purification of the soul is seen as the most important part of spiritual work. The Christian mystic does not pray to God so that God will give him a good experience. The Christian mystic prays to God so that God will purify him of his sins. In the Sufi tradition, experiences of Essence and God are not even discussed until a person works on purification. It’s considered dangerous to approach those experiences before the soul is purified, because they could produce an unbalanced development. Other Eastern traditions work on the passions indirectly through meditation techniques and other purification exercises, without necessarily talking about the soul.

The Work of Purification Leads to the Station of Servitude

We cannot separate ourselves from the rest of humanity, or from the rest of the universe, or from the spiritual realms. Thinking that we are separate from our experience, from each other, from the universe, is not objective and lacks balance. In order to approach our experience with a balanced attitude, we need to understand what this maturity is for, what the point of it is. We need balance and maturity in our development so we can live according to the truth. But what is the truth? We’ve explored it in many ways. From the perspective we’re addressing now, we can say that the work of purification, which is a work of refinement—which is the larger part of the inner work—is to qualify you, is to prepare you, is to make you worthy to serve the truth. Serving the truth means living for the truth. What does it mean to live for the truth? What it means to live for the truth changes according to the level of truth you have realized. From the perspective of purification, to live for the truth means first being worthy to serve the truth. To be worthy to serve the truth, we have to be developed and purified enough to know what truth is and is not. We don’t purify ourselves to then live a life of hedonistic pleasure; we purify ourselves to become fit to serve the truth. The true joy and the true celebration will arise the more we realize that we are purifying ourselves to be more worthy to serve the truth. Being the servant of the truth is part of our soul’s nature. The soul is the servant; the master is the truth. Whatever dimension of truth we happen to have realized is the master we serve. This is arriving at the station of servitude. The work of purification leads to that station of servitude, of being a good, worthy, and capable servant of the truth.

The Work of Purification, Ultimately, is the Purification From the Self

We are willing to serve the truth because we love the truth. Without the selfless love for the truth, without loving the truth for its own sake, service will still be for selfish reasons. As long as we create a separate self, we are bound to suffer. So the work of purification, ultimately, is the purification from the self, from the identity of the ego, from narcissism. The work of purification frees the soul from self-centeredness. Self-interest does have a function in the sense that we need to take care of ourselves in our lives, but if we regard self-interest as the highest principle, then we love our unreal separate self more than the truth. So the correct and balanced attitude means one based on the service of a higher principle. If our work is motivated or guided by a lower principle, amore selfish principle, then it will tend to move tangentially or not move at all. At some point on the inner journey, the soul will have to go from the station of servitude to the station of slavery. Now how is a servant different from a slave? A slave doesn’t own anything, doesn’t possess anything, not even his life, not even his existence. A servant still owns his own existence. Although he serves the master dutifully and correctly, a servant still has separate quarters. A slave has nothing of his own; he is owned by the master. So the station of slavery is a more exalted station than the station of servitude. We’re not only humble and truthful and serene and all of that, but we are completely owned by the truth. We are under the complete domination of the truth. We are at the whim of the truth, an absolute extension of the truth. We are completely inseparable from the truth, from the master.

You Go Through a Process of Purification Because You Have So Many Accumulated Assumptions and Beliefs About Reality

When the illusions dissolve, what is real, your nature, will surface and remain. You go through a process of purification, not because Being itself is sullied, but because you have so many accumulated assumptions and beliefs about reality. If you continue to hope, and tell yourself stories, you will remain asleep, because reality is still the way it is whether you like it or not. The mirage hasn’t worked for you yet and it will not work with more persistence. Would you want it any other way? Would you want your happiness to depend on something other than your nature? Our work here is not to get somewhere or to accomplish something, but to allow our being to emerge. Just inhabit your body. We’re not talking about something you do once in a while, when you meditate, and the rest of the time you do the important things in your life. That’s how we think: “I’ll meditate now, and then get on with my day, get on with my important agenda.” What’s important? You’re important. You don’t need to do anything important to be important. You don’t have to achieve enlightenment or accomplish any noble action to give importance to your life. You are. That is the most important thing there is. You’re very special, always. You are not important because someone thinks you’re special, nor because of any unusual capacities or accomplishments. You are important because of your nature; you cannot help being important and precious. Nothing can prove it or disprove it.

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