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Description of the Ridhwan School

Description of the Ridhwan School

[ updated August 2021 ]


This document introduces some of the main organizational structures of the Ridhwan School, describes the nature of the School, and articulates the roles of various organizational bodies in relation to each other and to how they support the Diamond Approach teaching and its availability in the world. It speaks to some of the history and current status of the organization and looks to the future as to how the leadership sees the organization evolving and responding to the growth of the School and its functioning in the world.


Overview of the Ridhwan School and Its Organization

The Ridhwan School is a mystery school. It has evolved and will continue to evolve, but it remains at its core an invisible mystery school.

The School is not an entity with legal status in and of itself, but rather the network of organizations, teachings, and individuals that comprise the Ridhwan community and its presence and existence as a spiritual body in the world. It is a School of adult spiritual education, and is engaged in developing the logos of the Diamond Approach teachings as well. It was founded and developed by Hameed Ali (A.H. Almaas) and Karen Johnson with the assistance and support of others. Hameed and Karen remain principal sources of guidance and authority for the School’s operations and development.

At this time the School has approximately 4,300 students, located in 42 countries around the world, primarily in the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Australia (approximately 2,000 in the U.S. and the remainder outside the U.S.).


The Ridhwan Foundation

The Ridhwan Foundation is a recognized church. The decision to create a legal church entity was made in about 1983 and was motivated largely by the desire to create a legal structure that supports the Diamond Approach to function in the conventional world. Ministers could be trained in the Diamond Approach, which would support the unfoldment and evolution of this teaching for the benefit of humanity. At that time it was clear that in the United States the church structure, more than any other form of legal organization, best matched the School’s purpose and activities, allowing the greatest latitude and potential to develop the teaching. A church structure allows us to teach the Diamond Approach work and not be mistaken for practicing spiritual psychotherapy, which could have impeded the evolution of the teaching. We can now see there was an intelligence and guidance operating at the time we formed the Ridhwan Foundation, as the Foundation’s structure as a church has worked well so far.

The Foundation was originally formed as a legal organization with bylaws and as a church in 1983. It was recognised by the IRS as a charitable 501(c) (3) corporation and as a church in 1987. The corporation is operated in accordance with the usual corporate structures, with a Board of Directors, officers, Board committees, etc., and, because of its spiritual orientation, with a Synod as its head.

The Foundation is the legal and civic structure that gives legitimacy, protection, and support for the School to do its work in the secular world. The Foundation is the visible organization that deals with finances, legalities, and various other functions. We want this organization to embody the work and to be an intelligent, practical support for making the Diamond Approach teaching available in the world. It needs to be effective, not just legal.

Specific functions of the Foundation are:

  1. Provides support to teachers of all groups and students in the School as a legal umbrella and administrative resource.
  2. Serves as the employer of the directors and teachers of Diamond Heart Academy groups and the seminaries.
  3. Through its offices in Berkeley and Boulder, provides the bulk of the routine administrative services needed by the School, employing an administrative staff of ten to fourteen people.
  4. Ordains and trains teacher-ministers through extensive Academy seminary training programs in the U.S. and Europe and maintains church rules and regulations concerning their conduct.
  5. Makes available to students and the public some of the Diamond Approach teachings, in various media.
  6. Owns and updates the Ridhwan websites.
  7. Owns Ridhwan and Diamond Approach trademarks in the US and abroad, and some of the copyrights of the Diamond Approach teachings.
  8. Manages the updating of Ridhwan’s congregational list.
  9. Owns and maintains its own land and buildings in California and Colorado and pays various related bills (storage, utility, sewage, etc.) to maintain both locations.
  10. Otherwise provides all types of services to Ridhwan as necessary or requested.


​Ridhwan Board

The Ridhwan Board oversees the functioning of the Ridhwan Foundation and is in service of the teaching and the teachers. The Board is an organ of support to operate in a concrete way in the world, interacting with government agencies, banks, and other such entities. It deals with finances, legalities, purchasing and maintaining buildings, fundraising, supporting publications, and overseeing administrative staff.

The Board has responsibility to watch over legal, financial, and operational risks, and to protect the church and nonprofit status of the Foundation. It seeks an appropriate balance between protecting against risks and controlling/dampening the work (which may result from too many rules and regulations).

The Board is also beholden to the law and needs to inform the teachers about what is needed legally and financially. It is at the interface of the invisible mystery school and the visible school. It is responsible for upholding the legalities of the Ridhwan Foundation – the church – so that the invisible may be visible and function in the conventional world.

There are some important things with which the Board does not involve itself, such as the content of the teaching and the teaching activities of the Teacher Body. The President of the Ridhwan Foundation provides a line of communication between the Teacher Body and the Board.

The Board currently consists of the two founders of the Ridhwan School, the President of the Foundation, appointed by the Synod, a second Synod member, three other teachers, the Executive Director, and five senior students. Other than the founders and Synod members, the other Directors represent various geographic regions and areas of expertise. The Board fulfills its duties through interaction with the leadership of the Academy, the Synod, and the administrative staff. The second Synod Board position is expected to revolve to a different Synod member every few years to help maintain good communication between these two bodies.


The Executive Committee

The Board has appointed certain members to act as an Executive Committee in the intervals between meetings of the Board.

The Executive Committee consists of Hameed, Karen, the President, and the Executive Director. It makes decisions on behalf of the Board when such decisions are required between Board meetings and are either not amenable to email discussion or not important enough to require the full Board’s attention.


The Obsidian Synod

The Obsidian Synod is the leadership council of the School as a whole and oversees the running of the School. The Synod was established in 1998 by Hameed Ali to be the interface between the organizational structures and the teaching and teachers of the Diamond Approach. The Synod provides the spiritual leadership for the Ridhwan Foundation and oversees the activities, proposals, and decisions of the Foundation and those of various other organizational structures within which the Foundation operates. Its goal is to ensure that such activities, proposals, and decisions serve, support, and are harmonious expressions of the Diamond Approach.

At this time the Synod is partly chosen by the Teacher Body and partly appointed by Hameed. After Hameed is gone, the appointed portion of this body will be chosen by the Synod itself, in conjunction with Karen Johnson, as long as she is alive, with the remaining half selected by the teachers. Elections for two or three new Synod members are held every three years, with some previous members rotating off. In this way the Synod continues to have a balance of experienced members and new members with new ideas.

The Ridhwan Foundation President is chosen by the Synod and serves as head of the Synod.


The Teacher Body

The Teacher Body is composed of all ordained Ridhwan teacher-ministers. Teacher-ministers are ordained by the Ridhwan Foundation after extensive training. Becoming a teacher-minister is based on a desire to be of service in this way, which comes from the depth of one’s Being, and is one of many ways a person can be of service to True Nature. There are currently 212 teacher-ministers, working with students in a number of countries around the world.

It is the teachers who most deeply carry the embodiment of the teaching. In this sense the Teacher Body will serve as the core and leadership of the School in its long-term vision. The leadership of the Teacher Body will be expressed primarily through the functioning of the Synod, which is largely chosen by and composed of teachers.


Diamond Heart Academy

The Academy is a teaching structure within the Ridhwan Foundation and constitutes the center and heart of the larger School. The Academy consists of the teaching groups closest to the heart of the School (all Diamond Heart programs in California, Colorado, and Europe), along with all present and future seminaries that train teacher-ministers. The Academy will also include such future programs as Karen and Hameed see fit.

The leadership of the Academy is independent of the Board. The Academy is currently run by the founders of the church, Hameed and Karen. As heads of the DH Academy, Hameed and Karen provide additional leadership to the teachers and oversee the processes through which the teaching is conducted and administered. They ensure that the teaching appropriately reflects the mission of the School and that it is as current as possible in terms of content and delivery.

At such time as Hameed and Karen resign or are no longer able to perform the duties involved, the Synod and Academy Program Directors will determine who will run the Academy.



One of the primary purposes of the School and the Academy is to train future teacher-ministers who have a calling to carry the Diamond Approach teachings into the world. The primary function of the seminary is to educate and train teacher-ministers who fully embrace the Diamond Approach as their spiritual path and who are interested in learning to work with others’ souls to help bring them to deeper realization of their True Nature via the methodology of the Diamond Approach.


Student Body

The Student Body is the community of individuals who are engaged in receiving the Diamond Approach teachings. The unique and individual realization of these students is one of the central fruits of the teaching and brings the beauty of True Nature into visible form in the world.

In addition to participating in the various structures of the teaching (private sessions, small groups, and large groups), students serve in important roles in volunteer positions on various committees that serve the functioning of the School. Ridhwan depends on such volunteers to operate functions such as maintaining buildings and grounds, running audio-visual activities, managing fundraising events, and more. In this way the contribution of students is vital to the optimal functioning of the School.

As one important example, the Ridhwan Board requires that some of its members be students who are not also teachers, and there are five such members now.

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