Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Universal Heretic
We Have to Risk the Aloneness and the Terror of Being Totally on Our Own
To have a free mind is to be a universal heretic. You don’t believe in the ultimate reality of any concept. You can assume any belief you find useful and attractive, but you don’t need to hold on to any of it. Without being captured by your beliefs, you are strong enough and confident enough to throw away any and all beliefs and perspectives, each and every philosophy and story. You can stand totally alone, completely independent of all that comes through the mind, through time and space. This station of realization is difficult and rare. Most of us don’t have the nerve to lose our minds. Although terrifying, it is necessary for true freedom. We have to risk that we may be wrong. We have to risk the aloneness and the terror of being totally on our own. We have to risk cutting all of our supports, burning all of our bridges, destroying all of our boats. They are all ultimately and fundamentally concepts that come from hearsay or, at best, from our own past experiences. Even the concepts and knowledge that have come from our own immediate experiences cannot be relied on. That knowledge is like Buddha’s words—old, unless corroborated in this moment. Maybe a week ago you had an experience of realization, but how do you know that will be the same today? Who said that God won’t change or that self-realization should continue being the same today? In other words, we cannot hold on to any concept past our direct experience of it; otherwise, what we’re doing is believing a story. Whether someone else’s or our own, a story is a story, not true reality here and now. To be truly independent and autonomous, we need to be free from the concepts acquired from others as well as our own past experiences.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 63
We Need to Become Universal Heretics
Of course, it is terrifying to think, let alone accept, that these beliefs exist only in our minds. They may not be true or completely true, or true the way we believe they are true. What if after all these years we find out that Buddha is wrong about emptiness? Or that Moses never spoke to God in the burning bush? We read the stories and we believe them. Maybe the stories are not true, or maybe they were true but things changed. Maybe reality does not remain static and changes even its nature and structure. How do we know that this is not the case? Who says that things don’t change? Who says that what Buddha said then should be true now? Do we have any proof that it should be so? We don’t; nobody does. The stories we have been told may be true or not. We cannot be certain until we find out the truth for ourselves and, ultimately, until the truth is relevant for us. We have to be bold in order to ask these questions and to confront ourselves in this way. If we are to reach certainty and true autonomy of realization, we need to be willing to be heretics. What’s more, we need to become universal heretics, not believing anything that we do not know from direct experience, beyond stories, beyond hearsay, and even beyond the mind.
Diamond Heart Book Five, pg. 63
When Realization has Gone Beyond Knowing and, Hence, Beyond Any Doubt
No sacred cows survive the realization of the nonconceptual, and one’s realization becomes independent from any belief or teaching. He recognizes that who and what he is is ultimately beyond any category, including all the spiritual categories. He realizes that Reality is not a description, and that any description, any teaching or belief system, regardless how useful and accurate, falls short of Reality as it is. He recognizes the uniqueness of his realization without having to compare it with others, and appreciates the differences between the various teachings without having to rate them. His realization has gone beyond conceptual categories and, hence, beyond comparisons and ratings. He believes in nothing, and adheres to no teaching or religion as final and ultimate. He has become a universal heretic, embracing all, yet free of all. In the Diamond Approach, this realization is related to the crystal vehicle of the citadel. It is the timeless wisdom leading to nonconceptual certainty. One attains here a certainty beyond doubt, because it is independent of belief, of knowledge, and of any intellectual or experiential category. One is oneself, and sees Reality as it is, with a nonconceptual conviction. The person’s realization has gone beyond knowing and, hence, beyond any doubt or questioning. It is not that he feels certain because he is convinced, for he is beyond convincing. He is not convinced of anything, not even of the truth of his own personal and ascertained experiences and perceptions. He is certain because there is nothing to be certain about, and nothing to doubt.