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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Surprise?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Surprise

Being Ourselves, We Find, is Being Being

The description of self-realization so far merely elaborates the various characteristics of the experience of being ourselves. It does not communicate the sense of the central element. What are we experiencing ourselves as? What kind of positive given are we? This positive given, the actual phenomenon that is present when we are fully experiencing ourselves, is usually a surprise for each individual, and cannot be deduced from our descriptions. It is what characterizes authentic spiritual self-realization and sets it apart from all other psychological experiences. When we are being ourselves fully and directly, free from all influence of past experience, a quantum leap occurs in the experience of the self. The perception of ourselves departs from the conventional dimension of experience, although most of the elements of that dimension remain available in the experience. To be ourselves fully, spontaneously, and authentically, means simply to be. Not to be a reaction, not to be determined or influenced by image or experience from the past, not to be according to memory and mind—is to simply be. This is far more than the colloquial meaning of the phrase “being oneself.” It is the experience of Being. To be—and in the experience we know this with certainty—is not an action, not even an inner action. Being ourselves, we find, is being Being.

Essence is Not Just Presence but Presence that Presents itself in Various Qualities, in Various Flavors

In order to help you see this faculty in a larger context, I can use the example of my beginning experience of essential presence. When I first became aware of presence, I felt a sense of fullness, aliveness, and groundedness. At that time, it was simply presence for me. That was the most I could differentiate: Essence is presence. That’s what I was aware of, and nobody had told me anything else before that; I had never read anywhere that presence could appear in different ways. So Essence, I found out, was presence—a fullness, an aliveness, a thereness, an I-am-ness. After a while, I would feel the experience of the presence changing. It’s true that it was presence, but once in a while it felt somehow different. One day the presence would feel strong and firm, while the next day it would perhaps feel soft, sweet, and melty. That was the beginning of discrimination. And the recognition of what that difference meant brought the jolt of insight: “Oh, Essence appears in aspects.” That was the brilliant breakthrough. It was a big surprise for me, quite an eye-opener. This became a basic tenet of the Diamond Approach: Essence is not just presence but presence that presents itself in various qualities, various flavors. I could have stayed with just that, with the insight that presence appears in aspects. The exploration continued, however. At some point, I realized not only that presence has qualities and aspects, but that these arise at certain times and seem to challenge particular ego manifestations and deal with specific issues.

Brilliancy, pg. 76

Pure Awareness Came as a Surprise

The experience of pure presence and knowingness was sufficient for me; I was happy with that. I didn’t see the need for anything else. So pure awareness came as a surprise. The sense of reality as a unified totality of knowing presence was revealed as an outer manifestation of something more fundamental: pure, transparent, empty awareness. With the arising of this dimension of pure awareness came the recognition that it had been there all along. Both pure knowing and pure awareness are always present in our experience, but we don’t notice them because they are filtered through the constructs of mind and self. We pay more attention to the experiences and the patterns of the structures and completely miss the presence of the unified field of knowing that underlies all experience. And at some point, we recognize that even when there is no knowing, there is still awareness. The arising of this dimension simply makes explicit and dominant in experience something that is already there in an implicit way. Nonconceptual awareness, pure awareness, shows that “nonconceptual” does not simply mean not mental. What people conventionally refer to as nonconceptual is the range of experience beyond the thinking mind—something either felt or experienced immediately. Pure awareness reveals a more radical kind of nonconceptuality, one that is not any direct experience or feeling state but direct experience that doesn’t have any kind of knowing in it. Both cognitive knowing and direct mystical knowing disappear in the radical nonconceptuality of this dimension.

Real Life is an Endless Manifestation and Unfoldment of Surprises

The real cannot be expected, cannot be planned for. It will be a continual surprise. If you work for something and you get it, that something is something you already know. It’s already old. Real life is an endless manifestation and unfoldment of surprises. I am surprised a lot by the things I see. Life is full of surprises when you really don’t know how things are going to be. We need to allow ourselves to be surprised by our experience and by ourselves. Unfoldment involves continual change and transformation. If you try to hold on to something, even happiness or love, and keep it a certain way, it will stagnate and become sour or bitter. This is not an easy lesson to learn, but it is possible to learn it. In my own process, I had no idea what was supposed to happen. I had my assumptions, beliefs, and what I heard from people, or read. Something would develop that was good and wonderful and I would think, “This must be it.” The next thing I knew I’d be hit on the head and something else was happening. I thought that was it. This went on for years. Every time something new happened, I thought, “This must be it.” I finally got clobbered enough times to forget about trying to keep things a certain way. Finally, I learned that there is no end. The end is only an attitude about an end. In terms of experience of life, there is continual surprise. Each surprise is bigger and more completely unexpected than the one before. The life of essence, the true life, has nothing to do with expectations and plans and beliefs. 

Richness that Starts Unfolding Bringing Surprise, Delight, Beauty, Value and Fulfillment

The moment essence is recognized as one's being and experienced as such, a radical transformation occurs. One's life will never be the same. Although the transformation can be total, it is usually partial. Nevertheless, it is a radical transformation: the person knows for the first time what being is and that it is his true nature. As we saw at the beginning in this chapter, this discovery initiates the process of inner transformation. This transformation is both in the mind and on the essential dimension. The mind and personality are clarified steadily, and objectivity becomes more and more complete. Essence transubstantiates into its various aspects and dimensions. Life is no longer the exclusive domain of the personality. As essence unfolds and expands, it exposes deeper and more basic sectors of the personality, bringing about knowledge and objectivity. And these in turn allow essence to displace the personality on more and more dimensions. 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.

Soul Accepting that She Will Accept Whatever Happens, for it is the Will of the Inner Truth, Not Hers

A major insight of developmental psychology is that the sense of being an autonomous individual is based on the ego structure of boundaries; at this point the soul may begin to recognize this fact in painful and intimate personal experience. This is the contribution of the diamond dome; it is part of the wisdom of this vehicle that all such inner activity is the expression of ego activity, as the cycle of rejection-hope-desire, and that such activity is inseparable from the sense of being an individual entity. This is the issue of the inner search, as we discussed in chapter 15 in the description of the diamond dome. (A more detailed discussion of the ego activity can be found in The Point of Existence, chapter 8.) The wisdom of the diamond dome brings recognition that the inner hopelessness occurring at this point is objective, that the dilemma is due to this inner activity. The helplessness is due to the fact that such inner activity only entrenches the soul into being the separate individual. More important, the helplessness is objective because no action on the part of the soul can release her from this trap. What is needed is not activity, not a doing of any kind, but a giving up of the struggle. The soul needs to recognize that she actually can do nothing here; she needs to forget about trying to release herself. She needs to forget even about wanting or desiring the release. The resolution does not usually arise through an inner decision based on understanding. It cannot be a surrender based on a strategy. It is more that the understanding truly renders the soul helpless, and by finally accepting her helplessness she simply lets go and forgets her inner struggle. She accepts that she will accept whatever happens, for it is the will of the inner truth, not hers. It is at this point that the soul beings to realize, usually to her surprise, that she is feeling at ease. She may feel a delicate and light presence entering her head from the top, seeping into her body and consciousness. She tastes a delicate sweetness, sees a beautiful golden white light, and feels caressed and bathed by a soft and loving medium. The delicate and sweet light releases her inner tensions, softens her heart, and soothes her anguish. She cannot help but melt into the gentle hands of this loving and caring presence. There is then no contraction at all, no concern whatever; the body is soft and relaxed, the heart open and happy, and the mind rested.

Soul Witnessing the Revelation that All Forms are Forms of Love and Light

When her rigid structures are made transparent through the unfolding of her process, the soul feels this as an increase in consciousness and presence. At a heightened level of intensity this presence reveals itself as luminous light that now overflows her personal boundaries; the overflow that melts these boundaries is actually the overflow of divine love and grace. Thus it reveals itself as the boundless ocean of Being and love, consciousness and light, the substance and true nature of everything. She experiences herself as a form held by this loving light, inseparable from it. She is an offspring of the divine light, one of its loving and exquisite manifestations. But her light can grow so intense that even her sense of being a form of light becomes outshone, and she recognizes herself as the light itself, in its boundlessness and infinity. She is then the true nature of everything; she is the ground. More exactly, she is everything, as one divine being, where substance and form are wedded into an inseparable Reality. She is ultimately true nature itself, in its divine boundlessness and omnipresent grace. All things are equal, equalized by the unity of appearance. One insight possible at this stage is the experiential recognition that the structure of being a bounded entity is based on identification with the body. The soul begins to see the crystallized nature of this deep conviction that she is the body. However, in the course of penetrating the sense of boundedness through the grace of Being, she is in for a pleasant surprise. As she witnesses the revelation that all forms are forms of love and light, she recognizes that one of these forms is her own body. Her body turns out not to be what she thought it was, not what she was identified with. In effect, she has been identified not with her real body, but with an idea, an image of her body, a reified concept of the real thing. Now her body reveals its own true nature, as a body of light. It glows with the inner luminescence of light, a light that possesses the fluidity and softness of love.

Surprise Arrival of the Diamond Vehicles

The diamond vehicles are not entities separate from the multidimensional manifold of the soul, but manifestations of its infinite potential, appearing as this manifold morphs itself into these majestic structures, as it morphs its field into sacred space. In the Diamond Approach, there is no attempt to visualize or create such forms in our consciousness. The teachers do not even describe the shapes precisely to their students. They are actual manifestations of true nature, which emerge when the soul is ready and her consciousness is oriented in a way that corresponds to a given vehicle’s mode of consciousness and operation. The inner inquiry naturally opens the soul to such manifestations; the soul does not need to know about them; she does not need to even know that such things exist. In the experience of the author, these vehicles manifested totally without any expectations or prior knowledge. Their arrival was a total surprise, and their forms and functions are beyond any human imagination or intelligence. Each faceted gem of the diamond vehicles is an essential aspect with the objective and precise knowledge of what it is from the perspective of essence itself. Each presents the precise knowledge and understanding of one of the perfections of true nature. Each is the universal knowledge of a ray of colored light differentiated out of the colorless clear light of true nature.

Surprising Discovery of the Soul of Hatred Directed Specifically Toward Love and Goodness

The absence of adequate holding in early childhood marks the specific stage at which the soul becomes estranged from divine love. Not only does the soul develop basic distrust, but she begins to lose the precognitive experience of holding and the oceanic sense of presence as her environment. She reacts and takes things psychologically into her own hands. This reaction is generally suffused with bitterness, disappointment, frustration, and hatred. She develops the position that there is no inherent benevolence in the world, within various degrees of distrust. The arising of divine love, at this stage of the inner journey, and its appearance as an eternally omnipresent feature of existence, generally activates the early deprivations and frustrations around the need for adequate holding. We discuss this in other places, but here we want to focus on one particular feature of such regression or activation. The loving and divine features universally activate in the soul an intense distrust, rejection, even hatred. Most people seem to associate the boundless loving light with divinity, and hence with God’s presence and benevolence. Its presence at such stage activates the experience of early absence of adequate holding, and the various conflictual feelings about it; the soul remembers and experiences the effects of early deprivations and frustrations, and also intense hatred. It is generally quite a surprise to the soul to discover upon intimate inquiry that this hatred turns out to be directed specifically toward the love and goodness of the new state. The individual feels full of black crystallized hatred, and wants to intensely direct it toward the universal love. He hates the universal love itself, its goodness and benevolence. He wants to destroy it, annihilate it, obliterate it. He cannot stand hearing about it, seeing, or feeling it. Instead of feeling happy and grateful, he feels venomous enmity and opposition toward it. He sees it as the enemy, and is gripped with a hateful desire to take vengeance.

You’ve Always Been the Supreme Person. All the Time, in Your Very Substance, Including the Substance of the Personality

The surprise is that this is what you have been all the time. It’s never been otherwise. You’ve always been the supreme person, all the time, in your very substance, including the substance of the personality. That’s why you have always identified with it, that’s why you cannot disidentify from it: It is you. How can you disidentify from that? How can you get rid of that? It is ultimately you. Here we see that to try to disidentify from the personality and live from a transcendent identity is to leave the very ground of the reality that was never truly separate from personality. You come to realize, then, that the purified, clarified personality, which is what I call the supreme person, is just a clarity. You experience yourself as the clarity. It’s not just that your mind is clear; all of you is a clarity, an absolute openness and clarity, completely light. When all the impurities go, you remain as a lightness, an openness. But this is a personal openness, a person who is freedom. You are not a free person, you are a person who is the freedom. It is complete personal freedom. As the past is digested and eliminated, that personal freedom remains as the freedom of the personal Supreme, or the eternal person. You are a transparent personal form of pure presence, a body of clear light. The supreme person is eternal in that you can experience yourself, personally, as timeless. When you become One, when the personality is clarified and unified, you will feel that it is an eternal oneness outside of time. It has nothing to do with time. Some people say that the self doesn’t really exist; and on this level, it feels like a kind of emptiness, a nothingness. This is because of its lightness. It’s not just that there is no gravity; it feels like empty gravity. You just light up; you’re full of joy. You are full of personal joy, personal happiness. Finally, you are You, completely; yet, who you are is the supreme reality itself, or the personalization of the supreme reality. It is not exactly nonexistence; it feels like nothing but it is a substantial nothing which is a qualityless essential presence.

“Recognition and Realization of My Essential Nature as an Ontological Presence had a Volcanic Effect on My Life and Process”

The transformation began with my discovery of Essence as presence, and my learning to stay anchored in this presence. This personal discovery of who and what I really am was a surprise, for it did not exactly correspond, as far as I knew, with the teachings I was familiar with. This recognition and realization of my essential nature as an ontological presence had volcanic effect on my life and my process. It became the center and meaning of my life from then on. This living presence began gradually to expand and deepen, revealing many aspects of Essence—qualities of presence like love, will, truth and so on—and various dimensions of Being. This process was a spontaneous unfoldment, what felt like a magical unveiling, a self-revelation of Being’s mysteries. This unfoldment disclosed not only many of the mysteries of Being, revealed as my nature and the nature of everything, but an amazing wealth of knowledge and understanding. The body of understanding that developed during my process is largely the product of the realization of a particular manifestation of Essence, which I came to recognize as essential guidance. This precise, diamond-like guidance became the inner guide that has functioned more truly than any external guide I have ever known. In fact the functioning of this guidance is so specific to the exact state, situation and understanding of the soul that no external guide could substitute for its realization and functioning as the guidance for an individual’s spiritual awakening and development.

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