The Diamond Approach’s understanding of the essential aspects—the various ways that Essence presents itself—is similar to the views of some of the major spiritual teachings, but each teaching has its own way of defining and classifying these qualities. Essential aspects, such as Love and Truth, are related to the qualities in the various states of Sufism, and to some of the divine names; to the spiritual qualities of the sephiroth in the Kabbalah; and to the Buddha qualities in Mahayana Buddhism. The view we have developed of these different manifestations of Being, however, is not taken from any of these ancient teachings. It is the result of original discoveries based on a new paradigm that is fundamental to the Diamond Approach.
Because Essence is not a physical substance, we do not actually perceive its presence with our physical senses, but it can be clearly recognized through the functioning of subtle, inner capacities that correspond to the physical senses. Though subtle perception is readily available to some people and not others, it is an inherent capacity in everyone. With regular practice and careful attention, one’s ability to discriminate the perceptual characteristics of inner experience becomes increasingly clear and precise.
In time, we can recognize each essential aspect by its texture, color, taste, and so on. Most important, each aspect has a discernible feeling tone—a specific affect or experiential flavor. This becomes more recognizable the more we are able to perceive the other properties such as color, taste, and texture.
Let's take the essential aspect of Love as an example. Love is the experience of the essence of who we are as a pure and authentic presence. It has the feeling tone of liking, of appreciation, which is an enjoyable experiential affect. This pleasurable appreciation becomes more definitely discerned as Love when we recognize the other properties of its presence: when we can taste the exquisite sweetness that is part of the experience of liking or appreciation; when we can sense the softness, smoothness, and lightness of the presence; when we can see the beautiful pink luminosity intrinsic to this feeling. All of these perceptual properties form a unified gestalt that we term the essential aspect of Love.
However, the feeling tone is what is more conventionally understood as the experience of Love, and the one that most obviously differentiates it from other qualities. The other properties of taste, color, texture, and so on, are rarely ever known or discerned clearly in everyday experience.
Our understanding of the essential aspects reveals that they are the elements of the authentic experience of being simply and freely ourselves. This is because they always reflect contact with the immediacy of presence, our beingness in the moment without reference to ideas, beliefs, or memories. They are the richness of the free and creative unfoldment of the human potential of our soul. Their presence indicates a measure of freedom in our experience and a degree of openness to the mysteries of our Being.
The essential aspects also form the authentic ground for all of our subtle capacities. Sometimes termed the “higher faculties,” these are the soul’s deeper-than-ordinary capacities for perceiving, experiencing, and inner functioning. The presence of each aspect imbues the soul with a certain property of consciousness that opens it up and develops its potential, providing it with a specific subtle capacity or faculty of functioning.
The essential aspect of Truth possesses a specific affect discernible as truth. It provides the soul with the capacity to directly differentiate truth from falsehood. Without this capacity, inquiry would not be possible as a path of understanding. In other words, the realization of the aspect of Truth activates in our consciousness a certain faculty that makes it possible for us to recognize truth without having to resort to reasoning or logic.
Over time, this becomes the ability to recognize truth directly and with certainty. One is confident that the capacity to discern truth is functioning because one is aware of the presence of the essential aspect of Truth, which is recognized by, among other things, its clearly discernible affective tone. It feels real, dense, warm, and smooth, but above all, has a preciousness that makes it feel very close to our heart, as if it were the depth of the heart itself.
-adapted from Spacecruiser Inquiry by A. H. Almaas