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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Solidity?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Solidity

Belief in the Primacy of the Physical

We recognize at some point that the idea, and not the actuality, of physical reality determines how we usually experience things. This idea of physical reality determines who and what we experience ourselves to be and how we experience our lives. The assumption of the primary reality of physical reality structures a large part of what we call the mind. The moment we make this assumption, the normal mind is created. If we believe that physical reality is the most important and fundamental dimension of reality, then immediately everything we experience appears as part of that solidity: there is me and there is you; other people; chairs, rooms, earth, trees, stars, galaxies, space; past, present, and future events. Everything comes into being from the assumption of the primacy of physical reality. The belief in the primacy of the physical actually changes how we experience the physical, so that it appears solid and permanent. In other words, the physical world will appear differently when we do not make such an assumption and will reveal how it is simply a manifestation of something more fundamental. Of course, for most of us it’s true that physical reality is what we see; but this seeing is not complete. We are seeing with only a portion of our awareness. This might be a disturbing idea, but this disturbance is a blessing, an opening to something beyond this world of objects. As long as we are working on ourselves from the assumption that we are going to be an enlightened person, a free or happy person, our work is going to be defeated. There is no such thing as an enlightened person. If you have any belief that one of these days you are going to see God or have a relationship with God, you are going to be defeated.

Experiencing the Totality of the Universe

Because of this subtle understanding of the process of manifestation it is sometimes preferable to refer to it as “appearing,” where “appearing” is not only a terminological difference, but actually a different and unique way of experiencing universal transformation. Everything seems to appear, to continue to appear, and to keep changing its appearance. Here there is the sense that there is absolutely nothing, and out of this nothing everything simply appears. This implies several things. First, the process does not take time, for appearing is instantaneous. As the forms appear they immediately disappear, and a new phenomenon appears. Both appearing and disappearing take no time; it is all instantaneous. We see a process only in the fact that appearing continues to happen, in conjunction with disappearing. Another interesting implication of this perception is that we experience Reality clearly as appearance. In other words, it is very clear in this perception that the forms are only the appearance of Reality, and not its substance. We experience the totality of the universe, including the rocks and mountains, as light and ephemeral, possessing neither substantiality nor solidity. Everything seems to be of the nature of light, or even of thought. In fact, everything is of the nature of image, insubstantial and totally empty. Everything spontaneously appears, without ever establishing itself as something solid. We feel light, transparent; everything is free of gravity. The nature of everything is unrestricted freedom.

Impact of Narcissistic Vulnerability

Thus, there are two aspects of the experience of narcissistic vulnerability: The first involves a sense of lack or loss of support; the other, loss, weakness, or lack of identity. The student experiences the loss of external support as a weakness of a certain kind. He may feel as if his bones are getting soft and losing their strength and solidity, and hence cannot support him. He may feel spineless, or that his backbone is soft or brittle. He may feel that his legs are weak and unable to support his weight, or they feel small and skinny, or soft and mushy. He may feel small, helpless and unable to support himself, or structureless and amorphous like a jellyfish.

In Reality, Things are Insubstantial, Transparent and Light, Similar to Thoughts or Mental Images

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.

Inner Solidity is what Makes it Possible for Us to Engage in Inquiry

We will encounter a seemingly endless number of barriers and difficulties in inquiry; that is why we need steadfastness. But we can’t be steadfast by making a decision in our mind. This steadfastness depends on having the inner support to stand on our own feet. Ultimately, it is inner support that makes it possible for us to stay open and to continue being interested in the truth. Without it, we lack the solidity, the groundedness, and the internal center that make us steadfast. The Will manifests as support when you experience an immovability and solidity in yourself, as if you were a solid mountain that nothing can move. This inner solidity, this inner rootedness and groundedness, is what makes it possible for us to engage in inquiry, to commit ourselves to it, and to persevere. At the beginning of the journey, your own inner support is limited or nonexistent, so you need external supports to sustain you. A school, a group, or a teacher can keep challenging and confronting you, keep inspiring you so that you continue inquiring. But little by little, as the inquiry deepens and expands your experience, you will get more in touch with your own inner resources, your own support. One thing this means is that it will be necessary for you to become more conscious and responsible about arranging the circumstances of your life so they can support your inner journey.

Perceiving as if All Forms are Holograms

In discovering this dimension of true nature we realize that this selflessness is the ultimate nature of everything. The absolute turns out to be the final ontological status of all things, the ultimate status of existence of all forms of manifestation. When we inquire into this final ontological nature we find nothing, no object of perception. We simply feel light and empty, free and unencumbered. And everything in manifest reality has the same quality of lightness and emptiness. All forms appear as diaphanous forms, empty of substance. It is as if all forms are holograms, forms of light, empty of any solidity or heaviness. Everything is transparent, with no opaqueness anywhere. The manifest forms—houses and furniture, mountains and rivers, trees and animals, men and women, thoughts and feelings—appear as particulars of a dynamic unfolding multidimensional field; but it is a field of total lightness, as if it is an emptiness that luminates and its lumination is the forms of appearance. Such realization challenges our normal perception of the opaqueness and solidity of forms. When we perceive a rock we do not only see or touch a form. We see a totally opaque shape, and touch a solid and substantial object. By realizing the absolute nature of the rock—by perceiving the form of the rock while simultaneously recognizing its final ontological mode—the rock seems to lose both opaqueness and solidity. Loss of opaqueness does not mean we can see the physical objects behind it; it means we can see through its appearance to its deepest nature. We see through the color and shape, as if its appearance suddenly becomes thinner, so thin it is transparent. We can look inside, so to speak, but then we simply see nothingness, an infinity of space. This shows that the normal opaqueness is due to cognitive filters, whose absence makes all objects transparent to their inner nature, their final constituency. We do not necessarily see the atoms and the elementary particles, for these are merely the smaller constituents of physical appearance, which also become transparent to reveal ultimate nature.

So, All Our Attempts at Conceptualization, Reification, Identification, Rejection are Ways of Trying to Make the Hologram Solid

<p>The truth of our existence reveals itself only when we start to wonder why we are always moving toward solidity. If we inquire into this, we can follow the thread of why we keep doing it, as if something were pushing us toward reifying, objectifying, making things concrete. Why don’t we just relax and let things be whatever they are? Because if we really did that, we would discover that the whole universe is just an event horizon. We would sense the infinite nothingness “within” all of reality. All of our experience, everything that manifests, is existing just on the edge of a huge black void of absence. It is all a glimmering surface of an infinite black hole, meaning that all of existence is a hologram, an insubstantial hologram. What would happen if you didn’t try to squeeze yourself into something solid and just let yourself relax? Just by relaxing, you would realize that things start to feel lighter. If you continue, everything becomes so light, so free, so transparent, that it feels as though you could put your hand through it. You can see through everything—and behind everything there is nothing, absolutely nothing. That is why you cannot see anything—because there is nothing. You look and it is pitch dark, like the universe before the Big Bang—no stars, no light, nothing there. But that nothingness is really the back of everything we see; everything you see is just the front. In fact, it doesn’t really have a back at all. So all our attempts at conceptualization, reification, identification, rejection, are ways of trying to make the hologram solid because we think that is what reality is, and we think that is how we can exist. We are not yet comfortable being an emptiness. We are not comfortable living with nothingness. Our soul, our consciousness, still doesn’t know how to be settled without being settled on top of something. It doesn’t know how to be on nothing or how to just float. We always have to sit someplace. We haven’t recognized that if we feel our nature completely, we don’t need to sit anywhere, and we don’t need a ground of any kind.</p>

Solidification of the World into Something Inert and Dismembered

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.

The Citadel Aspect Gives One a Sense of Solidity and Support

When the Citadel aspect is present, it gives the individual the possibility of looking at ego inadequacy in an objective and unemotional way. One feels so supported that the state of inadequacy loses its threatening property. The Citadel gives one a sense of solidity and support, with no grandiose ideas. One is clearly aware that it is an essential presence, and not a physical or mental power, that it is a support for Being and not for ego. The sense of support and protection related to this aspect is much deeper than the state of awesome immensity. One begins to learn that the realization of this aspect requires from one something specific. It is not a matter only of inner understanding. It is a state in which Will and Truth are harmonized, are functioning as one state. This means that its influence is to manifest Will in the service of Truth. It is actually solid Will in the service and support of objective Truth. To embody (realize) this aspect, one’s actions, and all of one’s life, must function according to objective Truth.

The Natural Environment Itself has a Presence

This experience of a situation being filled with a certain presence also may be felt in the purity and aloneness of nature. In moments of quietness and solitude in nature, a person becomes aware that the natural environment itself has a presence that profoundly affects his mind and heart. It is not uncommon, when one is not occupied with the concerns of the world, when the mind is empty and still, that nature presents itself not only as the objects constituting it but as a living presence. A range of high, rocky mountains can then be felt as an immensity, a solidity, an immovability, that is alive, that is there. This immensity and immovability seems sometimes to confront us, to affect us, not as an inanimate object but as a clear and pure presence. It seems to contact us, to touch us. And if we are open and sensitive, we may participate in this immensity. We may then feel ourselves as one with the immensity, the immovability, the vastness. Just as mountains have their particular presence, so do forests, oceans, rivers, and meadows.

We are Continuously Trying to Create Solidity

But that is not the true meaning of True Nature, of presence. When we explore what presence feels like, when we experience its luminosity, we recognize that, though it can feel substantial, it has no substance; it is not solid at all. Even though, when we first encounter it, we know that presence is what truly exists, our mind mistakenly conceives of its existence in the same way that we think a rock exists. But in doing that, we reify it, we concretize it, and miss its very nature. So we take presence to be existence, but the existence of presence is not like the existence of the body, for example, because it is not an object. Even though we say that presence is our being, that it is the authentic ontological ground of our consciousness, neither being nor existence are what we are referring to when we speak of the existence of a rock or a chair. We need to be very subtle in our understanding of what “presence is being” means. We need to recognize the pitfall of the tendency to objectify. This tendency to objectify is always an attempt to get away from this truth, from this reality that I am referring to as the black hole. And we are always trying to get away from it because it is always here; we cannot escape it. And somehow we are aware of that inescapability, we intuit it. We are continuously trying to create solidity because if we let ourselves completely relax, we will find out that the nature of presence itself is completely, absolutely nothing—it is more nothing than the nothing of empty space. It is nonbeing itself. So even though presence feels like being, when you recognize it, it is nonconceptual and therefore it is not—cannot be—the opposite of nonbeing. The notion of an opposite does not exist in the nonconceptual, and neither do being and nonbeing, because they are conceptual.

When Being Reveals Itself to Be the True Existence of Any Manifestation

Existence is an essential aspect of Being. Being reveals itself to be the true existence of any manifestation. However, when Being reveals itself as the experience of true existence it manifests in a specific form, an immense presence of unusual density, solidity and reality. This form of presence has the shiny gray color of the metal molybdenum, but the mass and density of hematite. The aspect of existence functions partly as a form of will. It can be experienced as the will to exist. Here there is a doorway to other dimensions of essential experience, where each essential aspect can manifest in deeper and deeper dimensions of objectivity. In one of these dimensions each of the aspects functions as a form of will.

Will Essence Feels Like a Sense of Solidity, of Inner Support, of Determination and Confidence

The Will Essence is very important for separation and individuation, as important as the Strength Essence. Strength gives the individual energy and the initiative capacity. Will, on the other hand, is a kind’ of strength, but it is the strength of persistence, of being able to stay with a task till the end. It is the capacity for endurance, persistence and carrying through. It feels like a sense of solidity, of inner support, of determination and confidence. If the Personal Essence feels like “I am” and the Strength Essence feels like “I can,” then the Will Essence feels like “I will.” It is confidence in one’s abilities. Its loss leads primarily to a state of castration and ego inadequacy. The individual then feels no confidence in himself or his capacities. He feels no inner support or fortitude, no backbone, nothing to fall back on. This aspect is needed for individuation because it is the confidence that one can be on one’s own. It is really the will to be, the support to be oneself. That is why it becomes most dominant at the end of the practicing period, and at the beginning of the rapprochement sub-phase. It is most needed then for the child to continue in his already partially acquired autonomy.

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