Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Subtle Experience
Different Levels of Subtlety
Everything I’ve talked about manifests on different levels of subtlety and refinement. Loving the truth, openness of mind, courage to be where you are, joy of discovery, and steadfastness of will introduce a certain dimension. You have first to see how your ego, your personality, your fixed point of view works with these qualities. As you explore further, the balance keeps changing. That balance that keeps changing is what we call going through the various levels and dimensions. As each level dissolves a certain idea, a certain way of looking at things and doing things, who you are and what the world is becomes more real and defined and refined.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 222
Four Kinds of Objective Truth
So to summarize: I have divided objective truth into four kinds, of increasing depth and subtlety: the relative, the essential, the nonconceptual, and the absolute. You can differentiate the kinds of truth in other ways, but that’s one useful way of doing it. And we can say that truth changes according to your situation and perspective. Every perspective has truth, regardless how limited. And this means that it is possible to use a gradual method of investigation that will reveal more truth, deeper truth, more fundamental truth, as the investigation continues. As we have seen, inquiry invites the optimizing dynamism of Being and its guidance, which is its discriminating intelligence. The optimizing force will transform experience from one level to another, and the intelligence will discern the quantic movement of truth through these four levels. So if we follow the truth, the optimizing force will move understanding to deeper dimensions of truth. It will generally go from the relative to the essential, then to the fundamental or nonconceptual, and finally to the absolute.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 350
Our Life and Our Possibility
The fact that subtle capacities exist indicates that perception can extend inwardly to subtler dimensions, which is necessary for our inquiry to go beyond the conventional dimension of experience. The inner realm has many kinds of miraculous dimensions, and inquiry is an adventure into these new dimensions and universes. This is part of the excitement of the journey, and it is a valid excitement because it is our life and our possibility.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 322
Simultaneous Feeling, Seeing and Tasting Essential States
Therefore, the more accustomed we are to the inner stillness and peacefulness, the more perceptive we become on the subtle dimensions. This can take our inquiry to deeper levels, to a newer kind of knowledge, to a different kind of experience… It is amazing to be able to experience at such subtle levels, to feel a state and see it and taste it, all at the same time. Sometimes you can’t tell whether you are seeing, hearing, tasting, or touching – at these subtle depths, it is all one act. Then your whole soul is ablaze. It is as though each atom of the soul were capable of all the capacities. For although these capacities initially operate through particular centers, just like the lataif do, ultimately they are not limited to certain locations or particular organs. The whole soul becomes an organ of perception, and all the capacities can operate in any part of the body.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 321
Subtle Perception where Space and Presence are Indistinguishable and Experience Paradoxical
It is possible to see that space is present all the time, and that it underlies and inheres in any object that we perceive. So space becomes the inherent emptiness, the inherent openness in experience. That is why in some of the traditions, as that of Dzogchen, Being is described as having emptiness as its essence. Experientially, as we penetrate the representations through which we perceive, we discover that Being is presence whose essence is spaciousness. Our perception and understanding of spaciousness can go through degrees of refinement, which are experienced as the levels of space, until we recognize it with complete objectivity, which is possible when there are no obscurations in our experience of reality. At this subtlety of perception space and presence are so indistinguishable that experience becomes paradoxical. It is both being and nonbeing, both presence and absence, but not exactly, because even being and nonbeing are categories not free from representations. This is the dimension of the mystery of our Being.