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Universal Nous

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Universal Nous?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Universal Nous

Diamond Guidance is the Essential Nous, the Microcosm of the Universal Nous

Almaas: The Guidance comes and goes depending on two things: the objective need of the situation and how open you are to the truth. The more open you are to the truth, the more the Diamond Guidance arises. If you forget about the truth, then the Guidance disappears for a while. Diamond Guidance reveals the truth, so if you are not interested in the truth, why should it stick around? Its mode of operation is not being invited at such times. It is always interested in guiding us, it is always there ready to show itself. But when we don’t invite it, we won’t see that it is there, and we won’t provide the openness it requires for its operation. So we need to turn toward it. The Guidance is guiding us all the time. Much of the time, we don’t want to listen and don’t want to recognize it or listen to it. We are busy with all kinds of other things that we think are more important. That is why the more we attune ourselves, the more we are open, and the more we are interested in the truth, the more we will see guidance everywhere. Guidance appears throughout the whole world. Everything that happens has some kind of guidance in it. We need to remember that the Diamond Guidance is the essential nous, the microcosm of the universal nous. It is nothing but the expression in our souls of the inherent true discriminating knowledge of Being—what I have termed God’s mind. So as we open up to its guidance, it guides us to this universal knowledge, and then guidance is everywhere we look.

Essential Aspects are the Differentiations of the Absolute

The more frequent confusion about the essential aspects is to equate them with the Sufi divine qualities and names. There exists an overlap between the two sets of qualities, but the logoi of their differentiation are different and unique. The essential aspects are the differentiations of the absolute as reflected in the dimension of pure presence, or universal nous. So they are differentiations of the presence of true nature, as noetic forms, which also appear on the dimension of pure awareness as prenoetic forms.

The Essential Nous is the Expression in the Soul of the Universal Nous

We already have a capacity for discrimination in the conventional dimension—we call it intellect. That capacity for discrimination deepens and becomes much sharper when the Diamond Guidance affects our consciousness. In some very real sense, our ordinary capacity for intellectual discrimination arises from the Diamond Guidance. The degree to which our discriminating intelligence has developed, however, depends on how in touch we are with this diamond manifestation of Being. The farther away from it we are, the less sharp our capacity for discrimination is. Intellectual discernment is an expression of this inherent discrimination, but the capacity for discrimination that the Diamond Guidance provides is not only on the intellectual level. It is on the feeling, experiential, sensing, and perceptual levels as well. The discriminating capacity of the Diamond Guidance can be seen and appreciated as the prototype of the capacity for discrimination at all levels. It is the essential nous, the expression in the soul of the universal nous—the wisdom of discrimination. To effectively and fully operate using the Diamond Guidance, we need to be able to function on all levels of discrimination. It is important to have intellectual discrimination, for example, not because we are primarily intellectual, but because intellectual discrimination is necessary for describing a feeling, a sensed discrimination, or a perceived one. It is also necessary to have emotional and sensate discrimination to appreciate the subtleties in our lived experience.

The Individual Soul’s Version of the Universal Nous of the Greeks

I sometimes call the Diamond Guidance the essential nous, the individual soul’s version of the universal nous of the Greeks, as described by Plotinus. In Sanskrit, the essential nous is referred to as prajna, while the discriminating awareness—the universal nous—is called jnana. It is known in both Buddhist and Hindu teachings that you use prajna to arrive at jnana. Prajna is referred to as discriminating insight and jnana as inherent knowingness, or discriminating awareness. So prajna is the recognition of patterns, understanding, insight, realization, while jnana is the inherent self-knowing of pure awareness. Jnana is not the experience of a specific insight or understanding; it is the recognition that all experience is knowledge, and that you exist as knowingness, as knowledge. Now, as I said, true nature is also dynamic, and its dynamism is creative. It is always creating new forms, and this creation of new forms is a development, a change. So the Diamond Guidance implies a dynamism, a creativity. With this creativity, what is known is an evolving, changing knowingness. You do not just know something and that’s it: “Oh, I’m sad,” and nothing more. You can relate to a feeling in that way, but not much will.

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