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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Thinking?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Thinking

Being a Presence Without Thinking You're Being Present

Yes. When I say valuing presence, I mean being content with being a presence without thinking you’re being present. It’s a very simple thing, really. When you’re content with anything, you’re not thinking you’re content, see? You think you’re content only when you’re going into the contentment or going out of it, since at those times there’s a contrast. When you’re completely content with being present, you’re just present. However, if you are simply present, a person observing you from outside might say, “Oh, this person’s content being present.” Now, you’re the one who’s present. You’re not thinking or feeling that you’re present, you just are. It’s very simple. You’re just present. So, that’s it. But, if you think of it in your mind, or someone else looks at it from outside, then there is an evaluation or conclusion about your state. The notion of being content is a concept that the mind creates to explain why the person is not doing something else. For the person who’s complete and present, there is no need to conceptualize contentment. You conceptualize contentment only if you’re not content. If human beings were always content, we’d have no idea or concept called contentment. If it’s always present, you never conceptualize it. You don’t need to separate it out from the rest of experience. Only when it’s absent, can you become aware of it.

Doubt Defends Against the Emptiness of Space

Thinking fills the mind, and in this way defends against the emptiness of space. Thinking is in fact the inner experience that corresponds to the ring of tension around the head. Doubt is an especially efficient form of this defense, because doubt involves a tightening of the forehead and the eyes, and the centers of perception in the ocular region. This not only prevents the experience of space, it also invalidates past experiences of it.

The Void, pg. 91

Everybody Does What He Thinks, in the Moment, is the Good

By mind, I don’t necessarily mean just our thoughts; I mean the totality of the psyche. The mind acts according to what it knows, or thinks it knows. A simple example is that when you want something, you try to get it because you think it is good for you. If you don’t believe it is good for you, you won’t try to get it. It’s as simple as that. When I called this talk “Knowledge and the Good,” I meant that usually everybody does what they think is good. At every moment of our lives, what we are engaged in depends on our belief about what is good for us or others. Even the killer, or the thief, is doing what he thinks at the moment is a good thing to do. The thief who goes and robs a bank clearly thinks it’s a good thing for him to do. At that moment it seems the best thing to do. Otherwise he wouldn’t do it. That’s the first thing I want to establish: everyone does what he believes at that moment to be the good. In his book Protagoras, Plato elaborates on this point, that everyone does the good. This point may not seem obvious; you may think of experiences in which you are acting or reacting in a certain way, and thinking, “Why am I doing that? It seems to be harmful.” But you are rather compulsive about doing it. This might indicate that maybe we don’t always do what we believe is good for us. But with deeper investigation you will see that, in fact, what you are doing depends on a belief about what is good that is unconscious at that moment.

Not Thinking about Separateness

As we discern the concepts implicit in duality, nonduality, and their opposition, as we penetrate that dichotomy, the condition of realization changes character. Instead of seeing that everything is not separate from everything else and all is one nondual wholeness, what we experience is the absence of thinking of whether things are separate or not, dual or nondual, whether reality is whole or not whole. The notions of duality and nonduality evaporate. We forget that such things exist. And then, when we look at things, when we experience things, we simply perceive them. What is the relationship of a subject and an object? Are they dual? No. Are they nondual? No. What are they? Each is being itself. Everything is whatever it is. In this condition, we realize that the luminosity of reality suddenly attains a multi-dimensionality. In a way, we could say that the nondual condition diffuses the sense of the three-dimensional world. But this condition also goes beyond the nondual without reverting back to the dual. The three-dimensionality of the world arises without becoming dual, arises with the purity of luminosity, with the purity of presence—presence that doesn’t say “this is opposed to that” or “this is connected to that.” It doesn’t say that reality is one; nor does it say that it is two. Rather, the presence reveals each particular in its particularity. Reality becomes three-dimensional, but this three-dimensionality is enhanced—extremely luminous, concrete, and foreground. This foreground reality is presence itself in its fullness and its emptiness.

Realization of True Thinking

When the Absolute is realized, is really established, you can see the whole universe emerge again, but in a more real, more living, more organic way. The mind comes back, but comes back in true thinking. For the first time, you understand what thinking is. The thinking, the mind that we thought was a problem for spiritual realization—which it was—is now redeemed and functions in a real way. We realize that there is true thinking, liberated mentation, in which the thoughts themselves are an expression of love and peace and harmony. Then there is true feeling. There is true action. True thought. All redeemed. The dream of the human soul is to live in the real world, with joy and compassion, with harmony and peace and love. The dream of the human soul is to live a human life where life, world, and what is thought of as spiritual aren’t separate. We don’t liberate ourselves by leaving the world. We liberate ourselves by living the world. So it’s as if the shell is redeemed. The shell that is the ego, the empty shell, the fake one, is redeemed as the soul. When we see that the ego is not separate, when we recognize its original sin, the shell becomes connected, continuous with the whole. And that very shell, now made of essence and love and truth, we now realize is the soul. In the Christ perspective, the shell that is the apparent world, the empty world, the fake world, is resurrected as the Cosmic Logos, the true living world, the universal soul.

Relating Mental Elements with Each Other, Thinking Can Become a Dimension on Its Own

Thinking is basically the relating of previously perceived elements of basic knowledge with each other. The original demarcations or boundaries that define concepts, words, and images, originate in basic knowledge. Thinking can then become a dimension on its own, by the process of relating these mental elements with each other, in conjunction with further perceptions in present direct experience, or basic knowledge. This new dimension develops to many degrees of abstraction; we abstract from the original abstractions, and create new concepts and symbols that relate to the relationships of the original abstractions, and to groups of them. This process develops many degrees of differentiation and integration in an evolving spiral of self-organization. The original plasticity of the soul manifests now on this dimension in a much freer way than we know in direct experience.

The Basic Ingredients of Our Suffering

So the mind makes possible many human attributes that other creatures on earth do not share. We have memory, we have conceptualization and thinking processes; along with these come emotional development, a sense of identity, a world view, a perspective on reality. These relate directly to the mind, which registers all our thoughts and experiences as memories. These memories then determine what we expect, how we look at reality, what we think we are and what we think we need. And you probably know from self-observation, this is the cause of our suffering. If you didn’t remember past bad times, you wouldn’t be frightened now; and if you didn’t recall the good times, you would have no desires and longings. Without the capacity for remembering, there would be no suffering. You’d be like a contented tree or animal. These elements of the mind—memory, conceptualization, thinking processes, creation of images, projections into the future, and so forth—become the basic ingredients of our suffering. Ideas and experiences from the past, from early childhood as well as later on, good and bad, form the foundation of your assumptions about who you are. For example, if as a youngster your mother always thinks you’re cute, you’ll build up an idea that you’re a cute person. If she thinks you’re dumb, you’ll build up an idea that you’re dumb. If, for whatever reason, you always feel weak with your father, you’ll build up an idea that you’re a weak person. Not only that, both your mother and father think you’re a person, so you build up an idea that you’re a person. Right? It is very basic. Your mother talks to you as a child in a body; who’s she talking to? You look at your body and decide that it’s you. Your mind holds on to these childhood happenings and stores them in its memory. They become the building blocks of what you think you are, and then you’re stuck with them.

The Process of Manifestation Experienced as Universal Thinking

With this discussion we are approaching the experience of the process of manifestation as universal thinking. We experience the whole unfoldment and flow of phenomena and events as thinking, as rational thought. This may sound like a dry intellectual experience, but in fact it is a powerful and beautiful perception. The whole universe appears luminous and transparent, composed of luminous forms of variegated colors, qualities, and flavors. This whole amazing and enchantingly beautiful panorama is unfolding with intelligence that imbues the flow with a glittering brilliance. At the same time it flows in patterns that are clear, precise, and discernable. The clarity and precision give the experience an exquisite aesthetic sense that is inseparable from the amazing insights that constitute the basic knowing of the forms. The forms are like words, discernible concepts, and the process of flow feels like thinking. This thinking is rational thought, for it is the orderly flow of knowledge, a knowledge inseparable from the intimate directness and richness of presence. The experience is that God/Being is creating the world by thinking it. The thinking occurs in all the sense modalities, for each concept is a noetic form in the multidimensional manifold of the logos.

Thinking Itself is Not Necessarily Uncreative

Thinking itself is not necessarily uncreative. But thinking is uncreative when it is a matter of recollecting concepts from the past, or a matter of logically stringing together concepts. This kind of mental activity is basically computer-like. A computer does not invent anything new. What it can create is already there in the concepts. When we live and know through our established concepts, we don’t have anything new in our lives. True creativity disappears, and everything we might think we’re creating is only new combinations of what we already know. Thinking can be creative when we allow ourselves to be open to what is beyond concepts. Then even words, even thinking can express that reality, can creatively unfold like a fountain of insights coming from explosive perceptions of nonconceptual reality. Thinking can be spontaneous, original, and creative when it directly expresses the experience of the moment. This is true communication. But usually we use our words to relate things about the past, to relate old concepts and memories. So our expression, our thinking, is dead. I’m saying this to emphasize that conceptualizing on its own is not necessarily bad. Thinking can be a creative process when we are in touch with the nowness of experience, and that nowness is the source of our thinking.

Thought Itself is Luminosity with a Certain Flavor and Information

We usually think, “There is me, aware of a thought.” If we inquire a little deeper, we recognize that this statement is based on ordinary knowledge, the belief that there is an observer separate from the thought. If we continue this self-reflection, especially when we go beyond our belief in the observer, we recognize that the thought itself has awareness. We are aware of the thought because the thought itself is luminosity with a certain flavor and information. The thought itself is not separate from awareness, and awareness is knowledge; thus the thought itself is knowledge. It is not that the thought carries knowledge, as in ordinary knowledge; the thought is knowledge. It is consciousness with a certain form, and we call that form information. The knowingness pervades the thought itself as if the thought were some kind of fluid moving around and taking a shape. The shape it is taking is a concept or word that we recognize from ordinary knowledge. But the whole thing—the consciousness arising as thought fluid, which is formed into concept shapes—is knowledge, for it is consciousness with content.

Wanting Something to Think About is an Attachment

As long as we want something that we can think about, it is an attachment and not the true Beloved of the heart. As long as we long for something that we can relate to in a relationship, it is an attachment and not the true Beloved of the heart. These objects of attachment are still not the true passion of the heart. The true Beloved is not an object we can relate to, for anything we can have a relationship with is an object made by the mind. That is why the poem says to divorce heart from all relationships. I do not mean to abandon all human relationships; I mean to abandon the mode of relating when it comes to the search for the inner Beloved. Relating to something implies a duality of lover and Beloved. The true Beloved simply does not admit such duality. Relationship, as any form in duality, is within the realm of the mind, and the Guest is pre-mind, transcendent to mind.

When We Think of People

When we think of people, we are concerned with either liking them or not liking them. We’re angry with them or we love them. There’s something we don’t want from them or there’s something we do want from them. We push them away or draw them towards us. Whatever we do, it has to do with ourselves. Very rarely do we actually look at the other person, or any object for that matter, without relating it first and primarily to ourselves. This is a description, not a judgment. This is the state of affairs. Even when we act in humanitarian ways, serving or helping people, isn’t there some turmoil and anxiety over whether or not you’re doing it right, being loving enough, helpful enough? This is the same ego perspective. You are not as concerned with other people as you are with yourself. You are thinking primarily of yourself in the name of love and service. When you want to please people, why do you want to please them? When you do something for somebody, why do you want to do this? You want to please them from your own point of view, for your own reasons. Then you get disappointed if they are not appreciative. You feel your love or your gifts are not accepted. Regardless of what situation you are in and what you feel, you’re like a shell full of reactions that bounce around inside you like pingpong balls. “Am I comfortable? Did I do the right thing? Will they like me? Did I make the best choice? Does that person really understand what I said?” All this is going on inside the shell.

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