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Veils

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Veils

Accumulated Images Functioning as a Veil Over the Genital Hole

In psychotherapy, patients or students sometimes spend a tremendous amount of time dealing with their feelings of lack, and with their fears and defenses. The analyst can spend much time analyzing all the associations and childhood experiences relating to these feelings. The personality is full of such memories, associations, and reactions, so there appears to be a lot of understanding. But there is generally no fundamental change. With the method we are introducing here, we can go directly to the empty hole in the unconscious self-image. Instead of analyzing and understanding every association and reaction to this lack, we can cut directly into all of them —they are only later accumulated images functioning as a veil—and go to the central experience, that of the genital hole. The associations and reactions to the hole are infinite; the student can try to understand why he feels passive, why he feels weak, why he is afraid of losing his strength, and so on, by connecting them to childhood experience. And of course when the genital hole is being dealt with directly, some of these associations do come up. However, they are not the point. The individual feels worthless, for instance, not because he or she was treated badly and not valued in the past. The worthlessness is maintained in the present by the deficient emptiness, which is due to a loss of an aspect of one’s Being. This loss is the primary event, not the events which led to it. Understanding one’s worth in terms of one’s relations to others in childhood can be useful and is often necessary, but it is not what will lead to transformation. Only seeing and understanding the lack, the hole itself, will lead to transformation, to the retrieval of what was lost.

The Void, pg. 93

Aiming for any Particular End (in Inquiry) Becomes an Obstruction, a Subtle Veil Over Our Immediate Experience

In the Diamond Approach, the central practice of inquiry reveals clearly the pitfalls of practicing with any particular aim. Practicing toward any end already implies that we know what is supposed to happen next. We are second-guessing reality about what it is going to present. Having a goal for our practice also assumes that what is happening is not enough, is not sufficient. When we strive toward some end or another, we are rejecting what is actually happening. Aiming for any particular end becomes an obstruction, a subtle veil over our immediate experience. One of the basic principles of inquiry is that we simply stay with wherever we are, we see the truth of the moment, we don’t try to get someplace. Where we are is where we need to practice, without judgment and without a goal. Seeing the truth of the moment develops and unfolds the moment in whatever way it needs to go, independent of our desires and beliefs. In the practice of inquiry, it is vital that we are not trying to orient what is happening, to direct it in one way or another. We don’t inquire, we don’t practice, in order to change where we are. We inquire simply to see what the truth is in that moment—and that might or might not change as we inquire. We cannot know ahead of time which way anything will go. What is happening might change toward something we like or it might change toward something we don’t like. Letting go of aims is difficult because we all have our preferences and our ideas of what is good and bad. And we also have all manner of spiritual ideals that we have absorbed throughout our lives from reading books and hearing stories and learning practices.

An Increasing Veil of Memories Intervenes in the Experience of the Infant

Narcissism develops when the soul loses touch with its wholeness, especially as it loses touch with its true nature. The soul loses awareness of its wholeness through the loss of the immediacy of experience, which results from experiencing itself through past impressions. The loss of immediacy is identical with the loss of awareness of presence, and since presence is the “glue” that unifies all aspects of experience, wholeness is gone. The baby loses her primary self-realization (and her primary narcissism) as she begins to experience herself as an object. An increasing veil composed of memories (and reaction-induced results or consequences) intervenes between the subject—the self—and the object. This duality gradually transforms the infant’s experience in such a way that she ultimately loses her identification with the sense of presence. As the infant develops an identity situated in dimensions of experience superficial to her essential presence, she loses her capacity to simply be herself. In a sense, rather than actually losing this capacity, the infant simply forgets it as she gradually finds herself reacting to and manipulating her experience, and becoming increasingly alienated from her true nature. Thus, the loss of contact with her true identity involves the loss of the sense of the perfection and wholeness of the self.

Asserting Myself as an Individual I Become a Veil Over the Absolute

The absolute is majesty; when it manifests its crystal brilliancy it also has beauty. The beauty evokes passionate love; the crystal form of love attains a deep pomegranate color. The feeling is more than love; it is more like bedazzlement. The beauty bedazzles and enchants. I feel a deep devotional and passionate love, and desire for it to take me and completely annihilate me. That is what I have always wanted. A subtle understanding further illuminates my situation. I see that when I feel increasing longing, devotion and love I become more identified as the person, the one who longs. As the longing person I am only a shell over the mystery, veiling it even while longing for it. In other words, even by loving the absolute I assert myself, as the individual, and thus become a veil over what I love. To completely have the beloved, my love must annihilate me totally. I can have the beloved when only the beloved is.

Comparative Judgement is a big Veil Over Your Perception that Makes it Impossible for You to Know Where You Are

Comparative judgment is a big barrier. It is a very powerful barrier even though it is very subtle. But subtle doesn’t mean unimportant. This barrier affects your state, your experience, and even your perception. It pushes you this way and that way. It is a big veil over your perception that makes it impossible for you to realize where you are. So if we understand and embrace the attitude of open and open-ended inquiry, and if we integrate this dimension we’re discussing, the dimension of the Point Diamond, we are not concerned whether where we are is better or worse than where someone else is. Someone else’s experience can actually become a source of learning rather than generating comparative judgment and rejection of oneself or the other. When someone expresses something that you don’t know, that can help you be open to other possibilities. In fact, when you’re curious about what you are hearing and learning, the communication will influence you, and your state will shift one way or another as you consider both that influence and your own experience.

Contemplating Death Through the Veils of Ideas

As I continue walking, now slowing my pace, I realize that the blackness that I see in front of me, the blackness I seem to be walking into, is veiled. I see it through obscurations, through what looks like many subtle veils. The contemplation of death appears to me now as the dissolving of veils. I realize that throughout all these days of contemplating death, I have been going through and dissolving these veils. Each question, each realization, each feeling, each intuition moves the awareness through another veil. I have been contemplating death through the veils of my ideas, and as my consciousness sinks deeper into the contemplation, the deepening of consciousness rends further veils, allowing a deeper penetration into this mystery. Now this penetration reveals a blackness that pierces through all physical appearance. I am looking death right in the face. I see death everywhere, all around me, penetrating everything. At this point several insights fill my consciousness, creating an overall understanding and furthering the ongoing contemplation. First, I am aware of a direct, spontaneous acknowledgment of my mortality as a human being. Death is certain for me, as I experience myself as a human being. At this point I am sitting in the living room, with dim lights, and the darkness of the night pouring through the window. The darkness of death feels deeper and much more profound than this darkness of night, but the two become one, and I am enveloped by a deepening blackness. The blackness peers at me through everything. I begin to feel a curious aloneness, peaceful and poignant. This is what death is: total aloneness. In fact, it is simply the acknowledgment of my already existing fundamental aloneness, the aloneness of Being. I am alone, in death.

Creation of a Veil of Conceptualization Between Ourselves and Our Experience of Ourselves which then Blocks the Condition of Self-Realization

This quality arises as the student continues to explore the narcissistic sector of his personality. It becomes more explicit as the student’s understanding achieves increasing clarity and precision about this level of self-realization. Further investigation into the issue of external influence, and an increasingly objective understanding about how experience unfolds, brings us to the understanding that to arrive at self-realization is not a matter of trying to get somewhere; it is not a question of working to actualize a specific state. If we engage in the process of self-realization from the perspective that there is an end-state to realize, we tend to interfere with the process. To attempt to generate or move towards a certain state indicates holding a particular conceptual position. Not only will this tend to force the unfoldment of the self to go into directions that might not be appropriate at the moment, but it is this very attitude which underlies the development of self-representations. To work on self-realization by attempting to move towards a certain state implies that we have some concept of what this state is, which will influence our experience of ourselves according to that view. This is bound to create a veil of conceptualization between ourselves and our experience of ourselves, which then blocks the condition of self-realization. We cannot go about working towards self-realization by taking a position that negates it. What is left for us then is only open inquiry into our experience. We can only engage in a process (which is not a technique) of finding out where we are. Finding out where we are is a matter of recognizing the self in whatever state one happens to be in. It is not a matter of manipulating the soul into some state, but rather, of being clear and fully present in whatever state the soul happens to be presenting itself in.

Dissolving or Parting the Veil of Ordinary Knowledge

A more encompassing and open inquiry will disclose to us a discriminating knowingness not bound by ordinary knowledge and its positions, but simply aware whenever positions are in operation. The more open your inquiry becomes, the more you are able to see how ordinary knowledge creates a film through which you are always peering into what you are experiencing right now. Through inquiry, you open up this recognition, this basic knowledge; it begins to become available. By dissolving or parting the veil of ordinary knowledge, you start looking directly, immediately, and intimately, and the experience is now more purely basic knowledge. Observer and observed dissolve. This movement, which is a transformation of awareness, happens through understanding. However, this understanding/transformation is not just a movement from ordinary knowledge to basic knowledge. The change can be the unfoldment in the purity of basic knowledge itself. This is especially true in the third journey, where there is no filter of ordinary knowledge. Experience is direct, immediate, and pure presence that manifests with differentiated qualities. The presence appears as differentiated qualities and forms that are recognized and discriminated as they arise. As the quality or form arises, the consciousness knows it. When the Strength Essence arises, for example, the consciousness feels the heat and the strength without having to have a thought about it. Even if a thought arises, the thought is not separate from the presence; it is just a blip, a pulse, in the presence.

From the Perspective of Self-Realization the Soul is Simply Our Consciousness free from the Occlusive Veil of Past Experience

From the perspective of self-realization, then, the soul is simply our consciousness, free from the occlusive veil of past experience. She can experience herself directly, without any intermediary. She is thus dispensing not only with the veil of past experience, but also with the self-reflective act. She experiences herself by simply being. She knows herself to be a presence, a self-aware medium in which the awareness is simply of presence itself. She is. She is presence, pure and simple. She is aware that she is presence because presence is indistinguishable from awareness.

Knowing Ourselves Through the Veil of Memory

Only when we have experienced another way of knowing ourselves is it possible to appreciate the enormous effect all this mental baggage has on our normal experience of ourselves. We see, then, that our awareness of ourselves has become so fragmented, so indirect, so burdened by mental accretions, that even what we take to be authenticity is only a reflection of a reflection of our innate and fundamental authenticity. The mental images and attitudes that determine how we experience ourselves form the basis of a whole implicit world view. We also experience ourselves only indirectly, as a subject experiencing an object. We are aware of ourselves as an object like other objects, seeing ourselves in the world as one object among others. Even when one is aware of oneself as perceiver or subject, this perception is different from the direct sense of our facticity, from the fact of our existence. We still know ourselves through the veil of memory. As indicated above, ordinarily it is impossible to appreciate the extent of the influence of past experience on our sense of ourselves without having some other form of experience as a referent. What gives us the opportunity to see this omnipresent influence is the direct experience of self-realization, which reveals to us the distance between knowing oneself and being oneself. The self is constrained by the subject-object dichotomy: one is a subject experiencing oneself as an object. In the conventional dimension of experience the most intimate way we can experience ourselves is through such self-reflective consciousness.

Lack of Complete Immediacy in Experience as a Result of the Intervening Veil of Mental Concepts

The closer our experience is to the dimension of primordial presence, the more experience-near is it possible for one’s conceptualization to be. This gives the already useful psychoanalytic concept, “experience-near,” an unexpected precision that helps us understand and appreciate how far from experience-near are the concepts that dominate conventional experience. The precision of discriminating wisdom also makes possible a continuous range of experience-near conceptualizations, and provides a general way of assessing the degree of nearness. So experience-nearness of our conceptualizations of the self, and its manifestations, depends on how near to the inner core of essential presence is our felt experience. The nearness to experience is determined not only by the distance of abstraction from the lived experience, as the concept is ordinarily understood in psychoanalytic thinking, but also by the distance of the experience from the primordial presence. This is because experience is relatively abstract on all dimensions of experience except for that of primordial presence, since these dimensions are characterized by the lack of complete immediacy in the experience as a result of the intervening veil of mental concepts. This is a significant issue for understanding the status of any knowledge, but it is useful specifically for our present study of self-realization and narcissism, since narcissism itself is due to the distance of our experience of ourselves from fundamental ontological presence. This returns us to our earlier observation of the impoverishing effect of the lack of appreciation of the deeper spiritual dimensions of the self on the prevailing psychological
theories of narcissism. Putting this simply, our conceptualizations of the self, and of its manifestations and difficulties, are bound to be limited by the limitations of our experience of the self.

Looking at Reality Through Layers of Dead Matter

When we look at something, we do not see with fresh eyes, we see through the veil of the totality of our past. When you look at a table or at a person you know, at yourself, at your life, at your future, you do not see them with fresh eyes. You do not see anything with openness. You look at things with all the ideas and feelings and knowledge and memories of the past. So you are looking at reality through layers of dead matter. So you see darkly, as if through many heavy veils. You do not see reality at all; you see that deadness, and after a while you take that deadness to be reality. You believe it so completely that that deadness becomes even more solid and real. So what you wake up to every morning is deadness again.

Projecting the Dynamics of an Earlier Relationship Onto the Present one and Perceiving the Present Interaction Through that Veil

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you are having an interaction with another person. It doesn’t have to be a highly charged situation; any interaction will reveal that you are reenacting a familiar pattern. You see the person in a certain way, you see yourself in a certain way, and you feel a certain way about how the two of you are relating. But even though your experience seems to be simply what is happening—you believe that you are just being where you are with that person—it is really formed by your accumulated knowledge and memories. The way you experience the interaction—and, in fact, almost any interaction—is a reenactment of an internalized experience of someone from your past. You are projecting the dynamics of an earlier relationship onto the present one and perceiving the present interaction through that veil. What is happening is not freely, spontaneously arising; you are forming it, you are making it be a certain way. And one indication of this is the fact that somebody else wouldn’t experience that person in the same way. You won’t see yourself as trying to be a certain way. You will think, “I’m just being who I am,” but it is not truly a spontaneously and freely arising experience. It is determined by your historical knowledge, your learned knowledge—all the beliefs and ideas about who you are and what other people are like and what reality is. It is influenced by your ordinary accumulated knowledge.

Recognizing Assumptions as a Kind of Veil

I am struck by how deeply I have been asleep, in a kind of hypnosis, believing that I know what I perceive. But what I know is not what I perceive. I look around me, at the walls, the furniture, the rugs, and I behold a mystery peering at me through everything. I realize I do not know the wall, I do not know the carpet. What I know about them are only bits and pieces, surface qualities: colors, shapes, textures, functions. But does this mean I know them, know intimately and directly what they are? I realize that I usually assume that when I perceive something, a chair for example, I know it. But now it is as if that assumption is a kind of veil. I look at a chair at the corner of the room. Do I know it? How do I know it? What do I know about it? What I know is merely a description, is nothing but words and concepts put together by mind. What do I know about this chair when I say it is big? Do I really then know this chair, or is it that I am aware of some comparison, which takes place only in my mind? When I know it is an iron chair, what am I really knowing? This is merely knowing a word, iron. This word puts together in my mind various characteristics, like hardness, texture, coldness perhaps. But do I know what iron is? . . . . . . . It is clear to me that when I feel I know it I know only a word, at most the concept chair. Free from such words and concepts, free from memories and information, a chair is a mystery, profound and unfathomable. When I confront the chair directly, without the mediation of my concepts, I realize that I do not know it. This is true about everything in the world, everything that surrounds me.

Seeing the Nature of the World as Beyond Mind

At the beginning of a year of breathtaking revelations, Being disclosed the underlying nature of the world as love. Love was revealed as the authentic body of the universe. The manifestation of Being went further, unveiling its body as pure and undifferentiated presence, in which the particulars of the world are seen to be simply differentiations of this supreme presence, unfolding in beautiful patterns. It divulged the nature of these differentiations as concepts within its spaciousness. At the same time it became clear this presence is both fullness and emptiness. The revelations continued, with increasing subtlety. What was revealed next was the nature of the world as beyond the mind. Being unveiled nonconceptual clarity as the truth of the world, in which the world is nothing but the nonmental concepts as and through which Being manifests. The particulars of how the world appears turn out to be nonmental forms, luminous designs inseparable from the total freshness and clarity of Being. To the ordinary state of mind these forms veil the nature of Being, because we experience them as objects. In this realization the forms become infinite beautiful windows revealing the clear luminous nature of Being.

Veiling the Face of the Beloved

Furthermore, all the issues we have in doing our work as we’re going through our search will have to be seen only as distractions. Issues, difficulties, conflicts, mental and emotional, are to be recognized and understood, so that they stop distracting us from our real search. We
understand our mind and resolve our emotional conflicts not for their own sake but to reveal our true love. As long as we don’t understand our issues, our mind and heart will focus on them and we will be distracted from our true love. Ignorance, conflicts, assumptions, beliefs, and so on obscure our true love and veil the face of the Beloved. We need to see that all of our inner work, all the understanding and insight we gain, is a matter of recognizing what distracts us. Each time we understand something new, we need to sacrifice it, to let it go. We need to learn not to be attached to any object, any form, any insight we can know in our minds. We need to learn not to be attached to anything we can remember, whether it’s an issue we’re exploring, part of our personality, or an essential state. Everything is to be explored, to be understood objectively, and, at the moment it is understood, to be sacrificed completely, absolutely, and willingly at the door of the heart.

We Not Only Perceive Through the Mind, We Perceive Only Our Mind

We not only perceive through the mind, we perceive only our mind. When I look around, I see the table, I see people, but what I’m seeing is my mind. The table is not separate from my mind, from the word table in my mind. The person is not separate from the concept of person in my mind. It is the same thing. It is my mind that I see around me. And if I want to penetrate beyond my mind and see what is there, it is a mystery. It is unknowable, completely, one hundred percent unknowable. It is so unknowable that the moment you begin to get a glimpse of it, your mind is blown to smithereens. You realize that your mind lays a kind of curtain over things, a veil, a colored sheet with drawings on it that overlays our reality and says, “That is reality.” But the reality is beyond that: you open that curtain, open the window and it is unknowable. If you truly look, you do not even know you are looking, and you disappear. Your mind is there, but nobody’s looking. The reality is there and you do not say there is mind or there is reality. And then, what you perceive, although it is mysterious, it is unknowable, we give it a name. We call it truth, we call it God, we call it reality. These are just words, words to refer to the unknowable, to the unknown, to the mystery. We can say these words knowing that they do not describe something, but are pointers to what is ultimately mysterious. It is not somewhere else—it is not inside, it is not outside, it is not in heaven. It is nowhere. It is all that exists without even saying “all” or saying “that exists.” You see? You cannot say anything after a while.

We Ordinarily Experience Ourselves Through the Veil of Ordinary Knowledge

In order to understand inquiry, what to inquire into, and what the point of inquiry is, we must understand how ordinary knowledge can thwart the unfoldment and distort the dynamism. Ordinary knowledge includes what we think about ourselves and reality, what we take ourselves and reality to be, what we think we want and don’t want. Anything we put in a conceptual framework is ordinary knowledge. So ordinary knowledge is old categories, information, beliefs, philosophies, ideologies, positions—whatever we believe we know and take to be truth. We ordinarily experience ourselves through the veil of this knowledge, such that our experience of ourselves and everything else is not an immediate, direct, free, spontaneous contact with what is. It is indirect and filtered through knowledge, and this filtering is largely what patterns the experience. The filter patterns experience to a degree we would be appalled to realize. For instance, our knowledge patterns our experience to the extent that we actually experience a physical reality. We end up believing that there is such a thing as physical reality and physical matter. In fact, we are completely convinced that physical reality is a fundamental truth. In objective reality, there is no such thing as the physical world that we know. If we experience our body without the filter of ordinary knowledge, we will not experience a physical body, we will experience a fluid patterning of luminosity. Our experience is so conditioned and determined, that not only do we believe we have and are a body, we believe in something more basic that underlies this belief: that the body is the body as we take it to be. For most people, this is absolutely true: The body is physical matter that is born and hurts and dies. From that point of view, how can we possibly think of it as a fluid patterning of luminosity? This is just an example, maybe a little extreme, to tell us how far the patterning of ordinary knowledge goes.

You Cannot Know True Nature Conceptually, Through the Discursive Mind

So, as we see, in some sense, our practice is a matter of self-knowledge, self-illumination. It’s enlightenment, a knowing. The knowing we’re talking about here is not conceptual knowing, remember. Conceptual knowing always becomes conceptual ignorance. Even if you know something that is true, even if you recognize something about your True Nature, the moment it becomes conceptual and gets filed away in your mind, it becomes an image. If you take the image to be reality, or start to see reality through that image, it becomes a veil again. It becomes ignorance. So, the knowingness we’re talking about has to be immediate. That’s why we say you not only have to be aware, you have to be fully present. Your consciousness of what you are experiencing has to fill the entire field of your awareness. It has to feel whatever is there, without veils or filters. Whatever you are feeling—hatred, rejection, resistance, anger, happiness, spaciousness —you allow it to fill all of your awareness, so that you feel it directly and completely. And the feeling of that, the experience of whatever is arising, is inseparable from the knowingness of it—because you cannot know True Nature conceptually, through the discursive mind. Nevertheless, the development of the discursive mind is a necessary stage in developing the discriminating capacity of our inherent awareness. And it is useful for performing the tasks of life. But it is not the kind of knowing that is needed for realization. That kind of knowing has to be more of a felt knowing, an experiential knowing. I call it immediate or direct knowledge.

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