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Stream / Streaming / Flow

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Stream / Streaming / Flow?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Stream / Streaming / Flow

As Long as We are Awake, Our Experience is Continuous; it is Always a Flow of Experience

If you consider the Nature of your own experience in the light of all we have discussed so far, you can notice certain things: That your experience is always changing. That your perceptions are always changing. That where you are is always changing. It becomes clear at a certain point in our practice that our consciousness is manifesting itself as constant change and transformation. It moves from one kind of feeling or thought or reaction to another, from one kind of state to another. But have you noticed that it is never a disconnected succession? As long as we are awake, our experience is continuous. It is always a flow of experience. It’s not that we have one particular experience and then there is a gap followed by another experience and then another gap. There are no gaps, really. Our experience is a seamless flow. Even when we go through a transition from one dimension of experience to another, it’s still a flow. Because it is really the same consciousness that is constantly unfolding, constantly transforming. That’s why our experience is often likened to a stream or a river. So “being where we are” does not mean finding where we are and staying there and that’s it. Being where we are is a continuous practice in the sense that as we continue to be where we are, where we are changes and transforms. Thus, being ourselves, being who we are, being where we are, becomes a continuity of being—the flow of being.

Inquiry is a Dynamic Stream that Meanders According to Its Knowingness of what it Does and Doesn’t Know as it Flows Through the Field of the Soul

What does “mystery” mean? When you say, “There is mystery” or “I experience mystery,” you are experiencing not-knowing in a palpable form. Mystery is the essence of Being itself, which manifests in inquiry as an openness that appears as a not-knowing. Entering into that openness of not-knowing is the work we do in the Diamond Approach. We question one thing after another—everything we know about ourselves and about reality. And every time we recognize that we don’t know, a new kind of knowledge is revealed. We need to remember that basic knowingness is the field of Being as it manifests in our soul. Inquiry is a dynamic stream that meanders according to its knowingness of what it does and doesn’t know as it flows through the field of the soul. This field, however, exists within a larger field of not-knowing—a boundless field of mystery and the ground of all of our experience, perception, and knowledge. The not-knowing of inquiry is like a spring bubbling up in the stream of knowing from the underlying ground of Being’s mystery, indicating the undiscovered treasure that lies beneath.

Life Seen as a Flow a Stream of Aliveness

The discovery of essence is the beginning of the true life. Essence, as we have seen, is not a state experienced once and then always experienced in the same way afterward. Essence is rich and endless in its aspects, qualities, dimensions, capacities, and possibilities. All of this richness starts unfolding, bringing surprise, delight, beauty, value, and fulfillment. Life stops being the life of strife and frustration, the wish for success and the fear of failure. More than anything else, life becomes a process of creative discovery. Discovery itself becomes the heart of life. Life becomes a continual creation because essence is the creative element in us. Suffering and problems become less important, and creative discovery becomes the actual process of living. The unfolding of essence becomes the process of living. Life is no longer a string of disconnected experiences of pleasure and pain but a flow, a stream of aliveness. One aspect manifests after another, one dimension after another, one capacity after another. There is a constant flow of understanding, insight, knowledge, and states of being. As this unfolding proceeds, it affects the mind, the personality, and the external life. When conflicts arise, inner or outer, it is the expression of the lack of understanding of incoming essential aspects and dimensions. It is part of the creative process of living. Every new insight or knowledge is preceded by its absence. This absence is seen from the perspective of the ego as a conflict or a problem. However, if the individual is interested in the truth, the conflict is seen for what it is, an absence of a certain understanding. The presence of this understanding is the same as the presence of a certain aspect or dimension of essence, with its qualities, capacities, insights, and mode of living.

Objective Understanding is the Flow or Stream of Real Knowledge

We have already discussed how the Diamond Guidance gives us the capacity for objective understanding. Objective understanding is the felt sense of the pattern of meaning in our experience. Since our experience is continually unfolding, understanding is not a static thing but an unfolding pattern of meaningfulness. This meaningfulness can be expressed in concepts and words that we take from our ordinary knowledge; nevertheless, it is independent of ordinary knowledge. Objective understanding is the flow or stream of real knowledge. The flow of new experience is unfoldment, but understanding is the flow of meaning in this unfoldment, which is inseparable from the unfolding experience itself. Objective understanding is a diamond flow. However, unfoldment can happen without understanding. For example, I may be experiencing a fountain in my chest manifesting different qualities and colors. We would call this perception of the spontaneous arising of immediate experience unfoldment. But I could have this experience without its having any meaning for me and simply relate to it as an unusual, pleasurable occurrence. When the qualities I am perceiving also reveal their meaning and significance, we call it understanding: “I can feel that the fountain arising in my chest reflects the opening of my heart, revealing its true nature as an overflowing fullness. Now I am understanding what is going on.” It is this capacity for effective understanding that makes the Diamond Guidance the revealer of truth in its various dimensions. By giving us the capacity to understand the pattern or structure of our experience, it reveals the truth of our Being.

One State Follows Another, One Feeling Replaces Another, Thoughts and Images Come and Go in a Never-Ending Stream

The dynamism of Being is creative; it is what underlies all change and movement in the universe. At the same time, since Being is essentially true nature, free and open, this dynamism possesses an inherent tendency to reveal true nature, with all its purity, beauty, and subtlety. This revelation appears as an inherent direction of the dynamism in the human soul. In other words, when the dynamism functions freely and spontaneously, without the cramping and distorting influence of our conventional minds, it tends to transform our experience and perception toward greater clarity, knowledge, openness, truth, and freedom. We call this evolutionary tendency the optimizing force of the dynamism of Being. We experience the dynamism of Being in the fact that our personal experience is constantly changing. One state follows another, one feeling replaces another, thoughts and images come and go in a never-ending stream. But when the optimizing force is operating in us, our experience begins to deepen and expand, revealing new states, dimensions, and capacities. We refer to this changing, evolutionary flow of our experience as unfoldment. Our soul is then revealing its inherent potentialities. From this we see that the unfoldment of the soul is a direct expression of the optimizing creative force of Being’s dynamism.

Our Life is the Life of the Soul, where the Life of the Soul is Her Flow and Unfoldment

This line of thought demonstrates that in some fundamental and literal sense our life is our soul. Our life is constituted by the various forms that arise in our consciousness, which is our soul. Our life is actually the transformations and unfoldment of the soul. This is the essence of our life, the felt core of our experiences. To put it differently, our life is the life of the soul, where the life of the soul is her flow and unfoldment. This understanding brings our life closer to home. To recognize this truth helps us to feel our life directly, rather than knowing it as dispersed into various pieces of content. With this understanding and recognition, life becomes more direct, more experiential, more intimate. It is no longer the rarified life of the discursive mind that takes its life to be the external content it reifies and conceptualizes. The perspective of the life of the soul that we present here can allow us to know our lives as integrated into a unified current, an unfolding stream of continual actualization. Our life becomes full of meaning, for it embodies then the fullness of our soul. As our inner journey progresses and our soul unfolds, this way of understanding life begins to prevail. We become so attuned to the actual field of the soul, so present as the conscious presence of the soul, that this field of presence becomes the center of life, the actual substance of life. It is then the current that fills and impregnates all the external situations that we conventionally call our life. We then are present in our contexts; we are the embodiment of life. It is because we are the conscious current that streams in and through our external contexts that we tend to call such contexts our life. These contexts become more our life the more we fill them, the more that the current of life, which is the soul, impregnates them. In other words, as the knowledge and freedom of the soul grows, we have more life not because of how various or how rich is our external context, but because of how present we are in it. The external context does not give us life; we give life to it. We are the life that we live, and the deeper we realize this, the more we have life.

Recognition of the Medium Underlying the Various Forms of Experience

As we disengage somewhat from the self-concept and the content of experience, awareness of the flow brings us closer to recognizing the soul herself. To be attuned to the flow of inner events indicates that we are more aware of the consciousness which is manifesting the various states and experiences, relative to the content of the states and experiences themselves. We normally focus on the forms, one form after another, and are unaware of the substratum, the medium that is flowing and transforming. If we disengage from the focus on the specific forms and experiences, and simply observe them coming and going, we might become aware of the phenomenon of streaming, the sense of flow. This phenomenon of streaming and sense of flow is not merely the experience of various states happening one after the other. Sometimes, for example in sitting meditation, we might observe experiences flow one after the other, and we call that streaming. This is the external experience of streaming, not the streaming itself. We are still perceiving the flow through some conceptual filters. The experience of inner space with emotional states or thoughts arising in it is not the flow. As we become more steadily attuned to the flow of experience, the particular forms and specifics of experience begin to appear as manifestations of a flowing medium. The flow takes center stage in our awareness, and this can precipitate the recognition of the medium underlying the various forms of experience. We no longer experience a succession of experiences, but a flowing medium whose flow is the manifestations of the experiences. It is not then a succession of events, but rather a current that carries events. The flow is of the substance of the soul, the medium of consciousness that underlies the specific experiences. 

What We Don’t See is that Everything that’s Happening is Simply a Change in the Stream of Our Perception

Therefore, we can say that one’s life is a current of experience, a current of perception, a current of impressions. Experience includes all the modalities: vision, hearing, feeling, sensing, thinking, imaging, all together as one unified current. If you close your eyes, the current continues; only the patterns and colors change. Certain things are not there, other things are there. Certain things appear, others have disappeared. You may say that you closed your eyes, which is the familiar way of expressing this experience, but what happens is that the current is presenting different perceptions. At least, this way of viewing it is just as valid as the notion that your eyes open and close. In fact, if you investigate it philosophically, or completely scientifically, you will find no proof that you have closed your eyes. All you can assert without further assumptions about reality is that impressions changed and perception changed, because the explanation that you closed your eyes is itself an impression that is part of the current. This is an interesting shift in our way of looking at things. Things continue to be the same, but we can look at them slightly differently, which can bring in a different perspective. Usually we think that reality is out there and that we’re here interacting with it, and that this interaction creates our experience. In this view, experience comes and goes, sometimes occurring inside, sometimes outside, but always in fragments and pieces: “I had this experience . . . I had that experience.” It is external reality that appears to be continuous, not our experience. What we don't see is that everything that's happening is simply a change in the stream of our perception.  The continuity, the current, of experience is constant and includes everything—there’s really no inside or outside.

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