Main Pages

By Region



Subtle Perceptual Capacities

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Subtle Perceptual Capacities?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Subtle Perceptual Capacities

The Many Capacities for Perception

The human organism has in it many capacities for perception. The physical senses are the capacities available to ordinary humanity. However, there are many other organs or capacities for perception that are subtle and in a sense invisible. There are capacities for inner seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and so on that have to do with the perception of the inner realm, that of the essence. There are capacities for intuition, direct cognition, synthesis, discrimination, and so on. All of these capacities are fueled by the substance of essence. Essence is what animates them. It is their life and light.

If Your Perceptual Capacities are Clear You Recognize that Other Dimensions Exist in Addition to Physical Reality

The most important understanding of Holy Truth is that physical reality and true existence are not separate. Physical reality is made up of objects which can be discriminated. If you perceive the world exclusively through the physical senses, you perceive only discrete objects, such as people, trees, animals, rocks, clouds, oceans, earth. If you experience this level only, which is the basis of the egoic perspective, the universe that you see is dualistic. But if your perception is unobscured by your beliefs, your inner perception becomes unblocked, and the universe looks quite different. If your perceptual capacities are clear, you recognize that other dimensions exist in addition to physical reality, such as love, Beingness, and awareness. At this level of perception, you see that there is only one existence, one homogeneous medium. This medium encompasses physical reality, which is one particularization of it. Objects are seen as objects, but they are not discrete—they are more like waves on the surface of an ocean, lacking existence without the whole of the ocean. So differentiations exist, but not ultimate divisions.

Facets of Unity, pg. 86

Inner Hearing

Then there is subtle or inner hearing. Inner states have sounds and vibrations, just as they have shapes and colors. We can hear rushing winds, flowing water, crashing and crackling, and so on. Essential states have their own characteristic sounds, such as the gentle sound of streaming water, the delicate tinkling of jewelry, the ringing of bells, flute sounds, and the hum of bees, to mention just a few. We can hear inner music and uplifting sounds. Our experience becomes magnified, attaining new levels of vividness.

Inner Seeing Has an Extensive Range

The subtle capacity of inner seeing is centered in the forehead, and it has many varieties and degrees. When it expresses the level of development of the Diamond Guidance, you realize what I call the diamond eye—objective sight. Just as our physical capacity to see has an extensive range, so does our inner seeing. The range of inner seeing can be so wide that you can see your own inner state or the inner state of somebody else. So for example, you feel the strength of the Red Essence, and you can also see fiery red, or a flame, or liquid fire, or lava. When the Green latifa is present, you can see emerald green or an actual emerald—a shaped, faceted, beautiful emerald of consciousness. This seeing capacity can operate on different levels, just as the other subtle senses do. You can see not only the presence of essential states but also when emotional states are manifesting. For instance, you can tell if somebody is lying or telling the truth, because you can see the person’s images and thoughts. We see our own images, don’t we? In the same way, you can see somebody else’s images—not just the energy of thoughts but their content as well. That’s because thoughts have different images and different colors. And when you have realized the diamond eye in your inquiry and your thinking begins to reflect the true condition of what is arising, you can become aware of thoughts as diamond thoughts. This means that they are objective and have their own presence that can reflect essential qualities.

Inner Smell

In addition to having a texture and a taste, essential aspects have a smell as well; you can begin to smell the inner state. Some people say that they can smell fear. We do have a capacity to smell emotions. Not only can you smell fear, you can smell love. Love happens to have the smell of roses, or sometimes jasmine. If you smell the Green Essence, it smells like mint. You can smell freshness, you can smell staleness, you can smell rottenness, you can smell depression. You can taste, smell, and touch the quality of restraint, which is much like leather. You can do the same with the state of inertia, which feels like lead, or with the state of deadness in the soul, which feels like wood. As we see, all of these familiar ego states have textures, tastes, and smells just like external physical objects do. And different people have developed different capacities for sensing these states. Some people use mostly the inner touch. Some people can perceive taste easily but haven’t developed their sense of smell much; others develop smell to an unusual degree. But the development of a given subtle capacity has a direct relation to the corresponding physical capacity. For example, people who develop a fine appreciation for different kinds of food and a discrimination of their subtle differences can develop the inner capacity of taste more easily than the other subtle capacities, and more readily than individuals who are not so attuned to their taste buds. The same is true with smell and with touch. But this is not so in every case. Some people who are great connoisseurs of food and wine, for example, never develop the capacity for inner taste.

Inner Subtle Capacities Have to Go Through the Process of Clarification so that You Don’t Deceive Yourself

The capacity for inner seeing goes through a process of clarification as it develops. Whether you see visions or experiential states, inner seeing can be contaminated and distorted, just as our regular vision can be. Projections and beliefs can make us see something different from what actually is present in our experience. Or it can cause us to interpret its meaning according to our subjective biases and positions. In fact, all of the inner subtle capacities have to go through the process of clarification so that you don’t deceive yourself. 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.

Inner Taste

Another important subtle sensitivity is the capacity for inner taste. When you experience your inner taste, it is as if your soul had a tongue. It can taste the personality states. So, for example, resistance tastes like bitter rubber. If you experience the state of the false ego—what I call the false pearl—it often tastes like snot. Everyone knows what snot is like—you need a tissue to get rid of it. Ego-personality states exist in our consciousness as waste products that we hold on to. When a person, for instance, feels he is full of shit, with subtle perception he can actually sense the texture, the taste, and the smell of his own state: pure shit. It is not just a metaphor. But you can also taste the qualities of Essence. You can taste the sweetness of Love; the minty, cool quality of Compassion; the metallic, warm, gold quality of Truth; the licorice quality of the Black Essence. Differentiating the qualities with taste adds another enchantment to the soul—taste intensifies the experience in a different way than texture.

Our Consciousness is a Universe of Many Dimensions

Our inner consciousness is a whole universe, a magical universe. Our inner sensitivity operates in relation to the three spatial dimensions, but it also manifests in many other dimensions that we can experience directly. Our soul’s consciousness has perceptual capacities corresponding to our five physical senses. Our tactile sense appears as sensations and feelings; our visual sense appears as visions and images; our auditory sense appears as remembering sounds, hearing inner sounds, imagining or hallucinating sounds; our smell sense appears as remembering and imagining smells and aromas, but also as inner smells characterizing many inner states; our taste sense appears as remembering and imagining tastes, but also as inner tastes of our inner states, common in spiritual perception. Our kinesthetic sense is already felt as an inner experience, but can also reflect our memory and imagination, plus the inner movements of thought and feeling. The awareness of the movement of thoughts, and of changes of inner states, involves the capacity for awareness of the passage of time. Our consciousness is a universe of many dimensions.

Our Memory of the Past is Actually a Reflection of the Inner Seeing Capacity

The capacity of inner vision can also see the unconscious and the past. Our memory of the past is actually a reflection of this inner seeing capacity. You can also see the physical body from inside. You can see the tensions and blockages, you can see the organs and cells, you can see the DNA, and even the molecules and atoms. The Diamond Guidance possesses many lenses, each with its specialized function. You can change the lens to focus on the cells instead of the organs, for instance. You can change to another lens and see the atoms. So you can see all the physical levels and all the essential levels just by shifting focus.

Our Need to Bring in Subtle Senses

However, since we are learning the kind of inquiry that will take us into the depths of our true nature, these organs of perception are not sufficient by themselves, because they are limited capacities. In particular, they are limited by our worldview, our assumptions about reality. We might not know it, but our capacities of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, sensing, feeling, and touching, and our kinesthetic sense all operate through subtle veils. These veils are our self-image and our perception of the world—which are based on accumulated encrustations from our history. So as our inquiry deepens and becomes more powerful, it will require our ability to sense our experience to become subtler, deeper, and more penetrating. Not only do our physical senses need to become more vivid and intense, but we need to bring in subtler senses as well. We need to sense our bodies and our inner sensations more deeply and clearly. We also need to open the heart center so that we can feel our emotions and our feeling states more intimately and vividly. And we need to have greater clarity, spaciousness, and quietness in our mind to be able to perceive thoughts and their processes.

Perception of the Whole World in Terms of Subtle Capacities

These perceptual capacities develop initially to discriminate our inner experience, but in time, as our soul opens up and reveals that the whole world is a manifestation of consciousness, the perception of the whole world appears in terms of the subtle capacities. The world begins to have colors, smells, and textures we didn’t see before. For instance, one day you might realize that you are seeing the night at noon; it is daytime, the sun is shining, but you can see the night behind everything. This is called the midnight sun of the subtle realms. The seeing I am discussing is not necessarily images arising in the mind. It is not what people call visions, because visions are more like fantasies—manifestations in the mental realm. People who are more visual than others sometimes have visions, but this does not mean they are necessarily seeing their inner state. They may be seeing something happening—a presence, a shape, or an event, and this can be a spiritual experience—but that is different from the direct seeing of where you are. The seeing we are discussing means actually perceiving your state. So when the Black arises, you see blackness. You see luminous blackness that shimmers, almost like a black satin curtain that is moving slightly in the wind. This is the pure seeing of the Black Essence, not a vision.

Subtle Perceptual Capacities Perceive the Inner Realm, the Discriminations in Our Experience that Do Not Manifest Physically

The direct awareness of the operation of the Diamond Guidance does not occur until the subtle perceptual capacities begin to function. These capacities can be seen as corresponding on a subtle level to the physical senses. They perceive the inner realm, the discriminations in our field of experience that do not manifest physically. For example, with the inner subtle capacity of touch, we can feel our essence as if we were touching it with our nerve ends. We can feel its texture, its density, its viscosity. It is as if you were touching your essential presence with your fingertips. This inner touch is obviously not physical, because you are recognizing the texture of a state of consciousness, not sensing a state in the physical body. We can make this distinction because it is possible to experience both a state of consciousness and a body state simultaneously in the same location, which indicates that they are on different levels of manifestation. This particular subtle capacity needs to be activated for us to be aware of our soul as a presence, and to be able to discriminate the essential aspects. When we use our physical senses, we are aware only of the effects of Essence but are not directly aware of Essence itself. We cannot physically perceive the presence of our own consciousness. In the presence of Essence, we merely feel clearer and deeper, maybe happier and lighter, but we don’t really feel what is causing these effects in us.

The More Accustomed We are to Inner Stillness and Peacefulness, the More Perceptive We Become on Subtle Dimensions

All of the inner capacities that we have been discussing become active and begin to develop as the Black center opens up. The opening of the Black center brings out the Black latifa, the black subtlety. What does the Black latifa do? It stills our consciousness. It makes it peaceful. The consciousness needs to become still and peaceful, with no mental activity or emotional reaction, for these capacities to first open up and be perceived. This is because they are very subtle at the beginning. You might miss them if you are busy thinking, engrossed in emotions, or reacting. 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. Our spacecruiser can now travel to other galaxies of experience, where perception is different and unfamiliar. 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 of 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.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach

See past editions of the Diamond Approach newsletter