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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Space?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Space

Centrality of Space, Personal Essence and the Essential Self

These three aspects, Space, Personal Essence and Essential Self, are the most central aspects of Essence. In the process of inner realization they, in some sense, replace the self-image, the separate individuality of ego and the sense of self of ego, respectively. Most traditional spiritual teachings can be grouped according to which of these three aspects they emphasize. Buddhism emphasizes Space, the prophetic tradition emphasizes the Personal Essence, and most of the Hindu systems emphasize the Essential Self, which they term the "atman."

Dissolution of Boundaries Brings Space

We see that the sense of spaciousness that results from the dissolution of boundaries is a real lived experience when the person's capacity for awareness is developed and refined. It is closely connected with the physical body. It is not abstract or metaphorical. It is as a real as experiencing one's own body.

The Void, pg. 21

Emptiness Does Not Have Spatial Extension

Yet this experience of unity still contains subtle concepts that are difficult to discern. As we investigate emptiness more thoroughly, we can uncover more subtle and hidden senses of self. One of the concepts implicit in this mystical unity of appearance—where everything is pure presence and awareness that is the radiance of emptiness—is the concept of space. That is to say, even though everything is unified, even though everything is at once Being and nonbeing, even though everything is a manifestation of the same Beingness, there are still concepts of here and there. There is a here, and a there, and some distance exists between here and there. When the concept of space is finally recognized and penetrated, we understand that emptiness is not a medium. In other words, emptiness does not have spatial extension—there is no here and no there. Here and there are the same spot. Here is there, and there is here. As long as a measurable distance exists between the two, there is a concept of space. I don’t necessarily mean that spatial extension disappears in terms of perception, because manifestation always manifests in space. What I mean is that spatial distance disappears in terms of a felt sense, because true nature is beyond space. This no-distance realization can even be perceptual, but this is a further subtlety that we will consider later.

Exposure of Concepts and Self-Images that Congregate to Form the Ego Identity

In the experience of boundless space that is characteristic of certain states achieved through various Eastern meditative disciplines, the practitioner transcends the confines of ego identity. The three of us were familiar with this experience, but the clear space that now arose was a channel within our individual consciousness, without the sense of vastness. By putting pressure on the ego’s bounded state, this space, rather than producing an experience of transcendence, would now begin to expose the layering of concepts and self-images that congregate to form the ego identity.

The Jeweled Path, pg. 134

Freedom from Self-Representation Structures

Whenever we become free from our identification with any self-representation, we experience ourselves as free from the structure patterned by it. This always manifests as some kind of space, as an inner field that feels exactly like empty physical space, but it is a state of consciousness a pure manifestation of Being.

Grades of Space

Image Related Space Characteristics Associations
\ self-image
Clear space Clear, empty, and light spaciousness. It is related generally to the external self-image, which is the closest set of boundaries to our normal consciousness... Associated fear is of disintegration
Black space This is an empty, light, but black spaciousness. Its phenomenological relation to the clear space is like the relation of night to day. The loss of this deeper boundary is usually experienced as a loss of identity; associated fear is one of disintegration... the fear is of not knowing who one is.
External body-image (the nucleus of the external self-image) Clear dense space Dealing with the boundaries of the external body image will lead to a clear kind of space, different from the above clear space in that it will paradoxically be experienced as full. It will have a fullness and a Presence, like the body. But at the same time it will be space. It is a compact and dense space experienced at the same time \ as openness. That openness is immense and powerful... The experience of this space allows the perception that the boundaries of the body are themselves space, and hence are not real boundaries.
Internal body-image (the nucleus of the internal self-image) Black dense space Dealing with the boundaries of the internal body image will precipitate the experience of a dense space like the preceding one, but black instead of clear. This space arises when the individual lets go of the sense of identity stemming from inner bodily sensations... The loss of this set of boundaries will usually bring the fear of loss of the body itself. So in dealing with this particular set of boundaries, the individual comes across the fear of death.

The Void, pg. 146

Infinite Space is Not the Transcendence of Space but its Infinite Extension

Total nonconceptuality opens up experience to new horizons of freedom that we may not yet have anticipated. We can further see its implications if we consider our experience of space. In the boundless realization of true nature, we recognize that what we are is beyond the space within which everything arises. We see that all manifestation appears in time and in space and that our being is beyond that. We can experience the sense of being beyond space as a sense of vastness that is other than the space where everything arises, a vastness that is spacious, open, and empty. We can experience spaciousness as infinite and boundless. There are no boundaries to the experience. But that vastness, whether it is the vast clarity of pure awareness or the vast blackness of the absolute, still retains the concept of space. Even though it is beyond the ordinary conception of space, the fact that it feels spacious implies that there is still some concept of space present. Otherwise, why call it spacious? If we examine our experience more closely, we see that infinite space is not the transcendence of space but its infinite extension. Just as the finite is the limited extension of space, the infinite is its endless extension.

Inner Space is Not the Same as Ontological Emptiness

There is a definite relationship between working through ego structures and the arising of inner spaciousness. This manifestation of true nature expresses its absolute dimension, with its emptiness. Inner spaciousness is not the same as ontological emptiness but is related to it in some mysterious way. The point is that because of this relationship, inner space stands for the total openness and lack of determination of true nature. True nature is ultimately formless, and hence any fixed or rigid structuring, as happens in ego development, is antithetical to it. In other words, ego structures, through their self-representations, specifically obstruct the ultimate indeterminacy of true nature, barring from the experience of the soul the aspect of inner space. More specifically, identifying with a self-image automatically blocks inner spaciousness. Therefore, when the soul finally understands a self-image and does not hold on to it, space arises.

Loss of Space During Identity Formation

Space is lost as the mind takes self-image for identity. We have seen that this leads to the building of boundaries in the openness of space. The final result is that instead of the experience of Being without mental images, one ends up with a mental image for an identity. So instead of space being pervaded by Being it gets filled with the self composed of many self-representations.

The Void, pg. 135

Space Cannot be Known Completely Until the Sense of a Separate Mental Consciousness is Eliminated

Primordial consciousness, the non-differentiated knowingness, is the freedom that is needed for any state of the mind to be experienced in its most expanded form. It is the element of expansion into universality. For example, someone might experience a clear mind, but if they cannot experience nondifferentiated consciousness then the mind is restricted to simply clarity in the head. If cosmic consciousness has been experienced then the mind is expanded, and the pure consciousness is integrated into the clear mind so that it is experienced as pure clarity, pure transparency, boundless and centerless. This boundless clear mind is sometimes seen as the emptiness itself or as the consciousness that perceives the void, since it is exactly what is needed to experience the void completely. So to understand the relation of the mind to the cosmos, we must first understand the nature of the mind, which we call space. Space cannot be known completely until the sense of separate mental consciousness is eliminated. When you as a separate person, as an individual, are completely absorbed into the universality of cosmic consciousness, then the mirror consciousness, the clarity, experiences the void completely and boundlessly.

Space Expands Our Awareness

Space brings about expansion in the qualities of our senses, our sensations, and our mental capacities. It deepens our intuition. It expands our awareness into new dimensions of ourselves, some we would never have conceived could exist. It brings new capacities for perception and experience. In addition, space has the surprising and powerful capacity of expanding itself, continuously increasing the openness and dissolution of boundaries, allowing ever-greater understanding of ourselves and our minds.

The Void, pg. 31

Space is a Facet of Being

We find out, as we penetrate our representations of reality, that space is a facet of Being. It is the openness of Being, or the open dimension of Being. We also discover that space is not only a manifestation of our being, of our true nature, but that it also deals directly with the question of representations. So space is the facet of our true nature that specifically and directly deals with the barrier of representations. The work on becoming aware of representations, seeing through and being free from them, has to do with the understanding of space.

The Void, pg. 154

Space Ultimately Dissolves the Self-Image

Not only does space correct the distortion of body-image and dissolve the psychological boundaries of the self-image, it ultimately dissolves the self-image as a rigid structure bounding experience. This provides a hint regarding the ontological truth about self-image. Since we see that space makes the body-image objective and realistic, i.e., correcting it according to objective reality, we can assume that it also corrects the self-image according to objective reality. That is, ontologically, self-image is simply boundaries frozen in space, frozen by their cathexis with libidinal energy. When the cathexis is undone, the boundaries dissolve into empty space, which is what actually exists as the nature of the mind. Therefore, we can say that pursuing the psychodynamic understanding of the self-image all the way to the end will leave us with, among other things, a real and objective body-image and the experience of mind as open space.

The Void, pg. 52

The Feeling of Space is Definitely Not a Sense of Richness, Fullness, Solidity, Substance or Presence.

The experience of emptiness as space, however, as illustrated in the preceding case histories, is seen to be far from deficient; it is seen and felt as an experience of lightness, freedom, clarity, and health. The void as space is experienced as empty of the sense of deficiency; there is no deficiency in self-esteem, sense of reality, or sense of self. The feeling of space is definitely not a sense of richness, fullness, solidity, substance, or presence. However, there is no feeling of lacking or missing these qualities. Space is experienced as complete, as not needing anything. It is experienced as having its own value. It is the light and expansive sense of no burden, no heaviness, no tension, and no mental anguish. We see then that there are two experiences of emptiness: one spacious and liberating, and the other deficient and depressive. The subjective experience is definitely different and distinct for each of these kinds of emptiness. The presence of these two types of experience of emptiness could lead to much confusion and misunderstanding, especially when one reads the literature of existentialism or psychoanalysis and then contrasts it with the literature of Far Eastern philosophies and religions.

The Void, pg. 117

The Role of Space in Inner Change

Space always manifests in one's consciousness as the self-boundaries disintegrate. We can say either that space melts away boundaries or that the dissolution of boundaries allows space to manifest. It is one phenomenon. The dissolution of boundaries cannot be separated from the emergence of space. So here we see the role of space in inner change: there is no lasting change without a change in self-image. There is no change in self-image without the dissolution of self-boundaries, and there is no dissolution of boundaries without the action of space.

The Void, pg. 105

Total Nonlocality

When we transcend the transcendence of space from finitude to infinity, when we are truly free from the concept of space, we realize that there is no here and no there and no everywhere. There is simply no location. I call this experience of no space “total nonlocality.” Nonlocal usually means that one is not located here but located everywhere. Total nonlocality means something different. It means that there is no extension and, thus, no space. It is experience without being here, there, or everywhere. There isn’t an everywhere to be. So what is present if there is no here and no there? We are back to the simple experience of the lizard—pure perception. We are back to simplicity before conception. This condition of total nonconceptuality is free both from the concept of space and from the freedom from the concept of space.

When "Here" and "There" Are One Spot

There are further consequences to the understanding of emptiness as non-being, which takes the enlightened awareness to new mysteries. For instance, in the perception of the unity of reality, in which everything is at once being and non-being, there can remain the perception of “here” and “there.” There are here and there, and distance between here and there. When we penetrate the concept of space, there is a feeling of no here and no there. We recognize that emptiness is not a medium. Non-being does not have extension; it is not a medium. We sense that here and there are one single spot, that here is there and there is here. Space does not disappear in terms of perception; as long as there is a distance between here and there that can be measured, there is a concept of space and a perception of space. Even if space as extension is perceived, in the realization of non-being it disappears in terms of a felt sense. Manifestation always manifests in space; True Nature is beyond space, and our realization can reflect that.

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