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Reality

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Reality

Characteristics of True Reality

True reality is a presence that has self-pervasive awareness that possesses at the same time a discriminating knowingness. This fact, which is important for inquiry, can be recognized in your own personal experience. Your normal experience is of being a person with awareness and the capacity to discriminate. But this discrimination is not a result of the mind’s labels; the labeling comes later. The inherent discrimination happens as a part of the awareness. You might discriminate the pattern of a tree outside your window and call it a tree, but your ability to discern the pattern of the tree is already there before you call it a tree. It is the same with the capacity to discriminate your inner impressions, such as various emotions, sensations and thoughts.

Endlessness of Reality

One way I understand what we are doing together is that you are reading and I am writing as an expression of our shared interest in and love of the truth. We are true reality communing with itself, and we are fundamentally the essence of reality expressing itself as you, me, and all others. As I see it, when our love of the truth becomes total, we cannot help but follow where reality leads. Reality itself begins to live our life in all of its daily expressions. Our life can become an endless revelation of reality, an adventure with neither beginning nor end. This book that you find in your hands is my attempt to point out the endlessness of reality, the unceasing revelations of the adventure of being.

Experiencing Another Person Completely

It is possible to be an emptiness where you can experience someone completely because you become them completely. There is no position which gets in the way of the experience. When you have no point of view, you can look at a flower and know a flower completely, without reaction or judgments. This perspective where there is complete openness to things, without the rigidity of a point of view, is reality. This is the absence of rejection, judgments, suffering and restriction. This openness allows Essence in all its manifestations.

Experiencing Reality

Reality is one. The reality of who we are is the reality of everyone else, of all beings, all that exists. There are no people in reality, there is just reality. The fundamental reality is a complete, unconditional state of oneness, which is a completely nonconceptual way of perceiving and being. If we do not believe anything, if we become completely separate from the mind which is the product of the past, if we become truly alone, then we see how reality is. Then you do not experience yourself as the person who was born to these particular parents. You experience yourself as never being born. You see yourself as undying. You see everything as undying. There is only one reality, and there is no one there to say it is one.

Experiencing Yourself as a Sense Organ for the Universe

Seeing yourself as a sense organ for the universe means that you realize that your base or your ground is generating everything. Although you’re connected to the source, you are aware of yourself as an individual within the manifestation. When you feel you are an individual connected to the source you can experience yourself as a sense organ for the universe. But if you recede and look as the source rather than as the individual, then you realize that the sense organ is also being generated. The flow of being produces all experience, all perception, all action, all events, all thought, all feeling. Absolutely nothing is excluded. Everything comes out of the hat. Even the hat comes out of the hat. The only value of that realization is that it's fun, like going to a movie. You enjoy movies because you're not that involved in them. You enjoy a scary movie like Alien because you're not on the spaceship being eaten by the monster. You know it's a movie so you're only somewhat involved in it. You enjoy the feelings and sensations and have fun on the ride. Life is also like this. You know life is being generated so you could be somewhat involved and watch it and have fun. Because you know reality is spontaneously manifesting, you could have fun regardless of what’s happening, even if you see yourself being eaten by a monster. You realize that the monster and the you who is being eaten by the monster are what's emerging at that moment. It's one frame of life.

Indeterminacy of Reality

Although in this book I am not discussing reality in terms of aspects, vehicles, or dimensions, which have all been integral to what I have written so far and to how we have been working all these years, I am not discounting any of those things either. The aspects, vehicles, and dimensions of the teaching constitute what some people have come to refer to as the map of the Diamond Approach. The teaching in this book is off the map. It is outside of all previous articulations of the Diamond Approach. We are in uncharted territory. This new view, which I call the view of totality, reveals that the Diamond Approach cannot be mapped because reality itself cannot be captured in a map. Reality is not a monolithic, static truth that can be defined in a fixed way. It is actually way more alive and mysterious than that. We might feel chagrined by this if we believe that we have reached some final, eternal truth about reality; or we might feel delighted by the freedom of not having an end or a goal to reach. Regardless of how we feel about it, recognizing this indeterminacy of reality is crucial to living our realization and our freedom.

Knowing and Living Reality Becomes the Fulfilment of Life

What is revealed as we do this is that reality is far more indeterminate, far more mysterious than anything we can conceive of. No single view—whether dual, nondual, unilocal, or something else entirely—can capture the dynamism of reality. Freedom is the freedom of reality to reveal its dynamism, to express itself as form, as formlessness, as both, or as neither. No single feature and no combination of features can exhaust the potential of reality. It is a mystery without end. Reality is always revealing itself by knowing itself; and knowing reality and living it becomes the fulfillment of our life. The purity of reality expresses itself to us, through us, and as us, all at once. Our life becomes the life of true nature—the purity at the heart of reality—living consciously and expressing itself as us, using us by being us. This is the mysterious and miraculous heart of human freedom.

Objective Reality

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 that 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 kind 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.

Reality Exists Without Concepts, Regardless of Knowing or not Knowing

At some point in the development of our capacity to discern, the cognitive capacity can take itself to its own limits. And that is really what the inner work is about: taking the discerning capacity to its ultimate limit, where reality itself is beyond cognition. Our cognitive capacity knows and knows and knows, until it begins to approach a reality that it cannot know. And the reason it cannot know it is not because our cognitive capacity is not developed, or because there is something wrong with it, or even because there is an obscuration, but because the reality it is now encountering has nothing to do with knowing—it is beyond knowing. When the mind recognizes that to be the case, it basically bows down and bows out. In some sense, the mind has been wanting to do that for a long time because it has been doing the difficult job of inquiry for so long and it needs to rest. It wants to go to sleep. It wants the world to run without it because it has been feeling that it has had to be in charge of everything. So, we find out that one of the dimensions of our True Nature is that it is nonconceptual. We discover that we can be without the discernment, discrimination, and knowing of mind because presence and awareness are ultimately, primordially, nonconceptual. Reality exists without concepts, regardless of knowing or not knowing.

Reality is All One Thing

Let us start with the recognition that reality itself doesn’t actually have levels. Reality—everything that exists—is all True Nature. It is all one thing. But because we go through stages in the unfoldment of discovering the truth—which is the truth of True Nature—it seems to us that reality has layers. Reality is sufficiently intelligent and vast to know that human beings recognize reality with different degrees of completeness. It knows that each degree of recognition has its own possibility of truth because it is still reality; it’s just not reality in its completeness.That doesn't mean that we can have truth only if we see it completely. At every level of truth, comprehension and meaningfulness exists. With every glimpse of even partial truth, what we are seeing is being touched by the primordial reality, by the primordial harmony, and by the primordial truth itself. This provides us with a sense of a path or an unfoldment, a flow of experience that makes being where we are, and inquiring into that, a meaningful practice.

Reality is Independent of Our Minds and Manifestation is not the Creation of Our Thoughts

In recognizing that pure awareness is nonconceptual, we discover new and surprising truths about Reality. We see that our being is fundamentally beyond mind, beyond discriminating knowing. We see that, since nonconceptual awareness is the ground of all manifestation, reality is independent of our minds, and manifestation is not the creation of our thoughts. Without manifestation there would be no awareness, and since awareness is ultimately nonconceptual, the forms in manifestation are not conceptual either. This is a radical discovery. It illuminates the Reality beyond our individual minds, revealing that the differentiation in manifestation is beyond mind. We do not need discriminating knowing to perceive differentiation. Differentiation is inherent in manifest reality, and it ontologically precedes the dimension of basic knowledge, the nous dimension. The basic knowledge of pure presence simply adds discrimination to the already present differentiation of forms in manifest reality.

Reality is Not as Set or Determined as Most of Us Would Like, nor as Fixed as Most Teachings Theorize

Each reality, each way we experience reality, is an experience of the manifestation of Total Being. We can say that Total Being is like a quantum wave. A quantum wave has infinite quantum states, and whatever we experience becomes reality because that is when the quantum curve collapses and becomes what we call reality. When we make an observation, it fixes what reality is. Before this, we don’t know what reality is. This is how quantum theory in physics views reality. When we understand Total Being, we arrive at something like the quantum view of realization, in terms of what we experience as reality. So whatever we perceive, and the view through which we perceive it, becomes what we call reality. This means that reality, including spiritual or mystical truth, is not as set or determined as most of us would like, nor as fixed as most teachings theorize. Truth can lead us to freedom, which is altogether different from anything that we can call absolute or ultimate reality. Understanding Total Being, and the quantum character of its revelations, means freedom loses all bounds and is not dependent on or associated with any one particular realization or ultimate truth. The freedom of Total Being means that we can experience all available realities, can travel through all possible realizations, and not be constrained by any view.

Reality is so Fresh It Cannot be Approached Through the Mind

From the perspective of the mind, how can we allow ourselves not to know? It seems impossible, terrifying. How can we be willing to not know, to leave ourselves alone, to not even assume that we exist or do not exist? How can we not assume that we are human beings or not human beings? How can we not assume that this is my body or not my body? How is it possible to not assume that there are people? To not assume there is good or bad? It is terrifying. All these assumptions that we make indicate that we believe that we know. These assumptions are the darkness; they are the veils. This is the staleness, the darkness that obscures the freshness. Reality is so fresh it cannot be approached through the mind. The mind will have to dissolve, thin away, because reality is like a sun of ice, a radiant sun of ice. It radiates coolness,
freshness, crystalline clarity. There is no place for coziness, familiarity, comfort of the usual kind. No hiding, covering this corner or that corner, with dust here, a little old thing saved over there—none of that. Our Work reveals the perception and understanding that we are freshness, we are innocence. We are an unknowableness. True inquiry results in an unveiling, a penetration, a dropping-away, and seeing through things. Everything that you can see, that you can know, fine; know it, see it, understand it, and let it go. It is not the end of the journey yet. The true journey, the journey that will arrive at the direct perception of what is, is a journey that will penetrate without going anywhere. It is like running in place. It is not that you are going anywhere; the running will just consume the darkness. There is nowhere to go. It is just the process of understanding that is important. When you are understanding, you are not going anywhere, you are just penetrating. There is no direction that you are going. That’s what I mean when I say running in place.

Reality Seen as the Coemergent Nonduality of Seven Dimensions

Another reason we consider physical manifestation to constitute a dimension on its own is that in conventional perception, where the perception of the ground of true nature is absent, physical forms have different characteristics from mental, emotional, and essential forms. Yet the underlying ground of the physical dimension, like that of the energetic one, is true nature with its five dimensions. Thus we might more accurately say that Reality is the coemergent nonduality of seven dimensions, the five of true nature and the energetic and physical ones. And we can more accurately state that what we ordinarily call the world is the physical dimension in combination with the energetic dimension. In other words, it is Reality shorn of its true nature. The important insight for us here is that what we ordinarily call the world is not actually separate from true nature, and that only by perceiving an imaginary separateness do we experience the world as fundamentally physical. It is more accurate to think of a Reality whose surface is the world.

Reality, True Nature and Total Being Intersect in Many Ways

When we awaken to reality, we see that reality is the identity of Total Being and true nature. Reality is total being that cannot be separated from true nature. And because of the mysterious properties of true nature, reality includes not only the unity of everything but also the recognition that everything, each single thing, is reality and always has been reality. From this, we can see that each experience, each form, each phenomenon is the expression of reality and is all of reality. Each thing is everything. Each thing contains the totality of true nature without leaving any remainder. Each thing is all things of all times and all space. Reality, true nature, and Total Being intersect in many ways. Reality refers most broadly to everything available to perception and experience. True nature is the underlying heart of this reality. And Total Being is everything that is, throughout all times and all space. These can be three distinct ways of experiencing who and what we are, or we can recognize that they are identical. Taken separately, each of them is useful for referring to something specific in our experience. And their intersection is the beginning of a life of ordinary simplicity. This kind of traceless awakening and realization is reality. There is no sense of enlightenment, no sense that anything has happened, and no sense that anything needs to happen.

Seeing Life from the Perspective of Living Being

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. Reality is always realizing itself, always living itself, always manifesting itself in one way or another. Reality can manifest itself as you in a dual experience with the world, and it can also reveal to itself the worldview—what we call the ego view or the dualistic view—that underlies the ego’s experience of the world. We can think of the ego view as deluded—and it is deluded. Nonetheless, that is one way that reality shows itself. Reality sometimes presents itself by deluding itself in a certain way. It can also reveal other possibilities by liberating itself from those delusions and showing itself without those delusions. We could call those other possibilities realization and enlightenment.

Seeing Only the Surface of the Creation You See the World of Objects

There is no physical reality that exists on its own, somehow separated from another world underneath or above it. The exclusively physical, materialist perspective is a partial perspective created by eliminating the other perspectives. In reality, it is one world. If you see the creation in its totality, it is a unity. If you see only its surface, you see the world of objects. So, eliminating the subtle perceptions eliminates the oneness, the unity that is an intrinsic aspect of the nature of all that exists. We are seeing, then, in some detail, what is meant when spiritual teachings say that we are prisoners of our senses… To know that the physical perspective is only partial is not to devalue the physical, but to allow the possibility that there are other perspectives. We actually need to include other perspectives or dimensions to enable our physical senses to function clearly.

The Continual Outflow of Reality

Yes. Like the movie, the frame that appears has nothing to do with the frame before it or after it. The frame appears right now. Everything that is happening now is like a frame, an instantaneous frame. And because the frames move quickly, we think that the forms that constitute their content are continuous in time and space; we think that they operate according to cause and effect. But in some sense the screen is not a flat screen. The screen is sculpted according to the forms you see. Reality is more like a formation, an emergence, a continual outflow, an unfoldment, like how a flower comes out. When you see from that perception of flow, you're aware also of the source. All the forms that appear are transparent to the source. And the source, based in absolute silence and peace, somehow casts an appearance of beauty and grace over everything.

The Front and Back of Reality

It is not only that there is a spiritual world parallel to the physical world. It is not only a question of parallel universes or two worlds that sometimes cross in our experience. There is ultimately only one. They are actually never separate; they seem separate only because our mind sees them that way. And because our mind sees them as separate, we have two loves. But at the very depth of our heart, we love reality. We love the real, and the real is the unity of the outer and the inner, of your body and your soul, of the world and God, of the ordinary universe and the spiritual universe. These are like the front and the back of the same reality. This world is nothing but the front of reality. The spirit is the back of this reality. And you can’t take the back away from the front. It doesn’t work, for the front will always have a back, which is the spiritual nature.

The Intimacy of Just Feeling Ourselves

Reality is not what is usually reflected in our minds. Reality is so much cleaner, so much simpler and, in comparison to the noisy world of our usual inner experience, so much more settled and at ease. There is an exquisite intimacy in us just feeling ourselves, being ourselves. And when we are quiet and settled like that, we simply feel real. We recognize the realness of our Being, the realness of our awareness.

The Seamless Self Existing Field

Einstein believed that the notion of quantum jumps is just an approximation of what happens. We assume quantum changes because we’re not paying close enough attention, and our theories are not precise enough, to see the continuity of change. Reality is actually a seamless, self-existing field. We say that it is light, but this light is not composed of particles. It’s a fluid that is not particularized; it is constantly flowing and unfolding. That is how reality is all the time.

The Subtle Nature of Reality is Not Only Radiance, but Radiance that has Fullness and Thereness

The inner nature of all forms of reality, of all forms of experience, is inherently empty. That emptiness is the deepest characteristic of true nature, the deepest dimension of true nature. Whatever we experience, if we experience it fully, we recognize that there is nothing there. Whatever we experience is ephemeral; it does not have its own substantial existence. The inner nature of reality is not only transparent and luminous but, when you experience it fully, you realize that there isn’t any mass to it. There is no abiding existence, no continuing existence through time. We say that is the emptiness of the ground. The deepest ontological truth about this emptiness of the ground, this openness, this spaciousness, is nonbeing, which is very difficult for most of us to understand. Nonbeing confounds the mental faculties. At the same time that nothing exists, experience arises and forms manifest. For forms to manifest, they manifest being; they manifest presence. Forms are not simply constructed by our individual mind; they are truly manifesting in the field, as a kind of beingness that we experience as presence, as a subtle fullness of the luminosity. The subtle nature of reality is not only radiance, but radiance that has fullness and thereness.

Viewing Reality Through the Dynamism of Total Being

We cannot say that reality is dual or nondual, because only human beings think that way. We need to have a mind that separates things, that knows separation, in order for us to know nonseparation. But when our mind is beyond that dichotomy, reality is simply reality. The experience becomes simply the perception of appearance as it is—the luminosity of particulars arising in a heightened sense of uniqueness. The relationship of subject and object is neither two interacting nor one becoming manifest. It is both and neither, a wonder and a mystery of reality viewed through the dynamism of Total Being.

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