We spoke with teacher Ben Centanni about his initial discovery of the Diamond Approach, his continuing engagement with it, and his new group: Diamond Approach New Orleans.
How did you first find the Diamond Approach?
I learned about the Diamond Approach from a friend I had a lot of respect for. She knew I’d had some major openings and felt the teaching would resonate with me, and it did – immediately. With my DA teacher, things just “popped.” I started experiencing myself in a new way that was free from history. This has led to many life-changing discoveries, and it has been a continuous movement in that direction ever since.
When you were starting out, what were some of the challenges that came up for you?
The Achilles heel for me was issues around essential will; I had a lack of inner support and a lack of follow-through in my life, so that was a major emphasis that I worked on with my teacher—and now I feel like I have it in spades! But it was hard, it was really grueling, and I was resistant to getting in there and “doing life” – I wanted life to be easy. The will grounded me; it was what I needed.
What has kept you engaged with the Diamond Approach teachings?
The wisdom that has been discovered and taught by Hameed and Karen [co-founders of the DA], has been such a profound gift to so many of us. I think what has kept me engaged more than anything else is that the teachings work! I know that when I deeply connect with the Truth of my experience in any given moment that my experience deepens, and what opens up is always a mystery and a wonderful discovery.
What aspect of the teaching is most alive for you right now?
Over the course of the past 21 years, I have benefited from the Diamond Approach teachings in so many ways. The discoveries of True Nature are endless. However, the point of emphasis for me has always been to bring my realization, what I have learned from the Diamond Approach, into my life.
In addition to being a Diamond Approach teacher, I’m also a public-school teacher. For me, teaching kids has been a wonderful complement to my spiritual path and work as a Diamond Approach teacher. I’ve discovered so many ways to connect with kids through presence that are catalysts for learning: The joy of discovery, curiosity, steadfast determination, the fiery boldness of the Red, the mystery of not knowing, and even work with the inner critic. Kids love what is real, and I have learned that teaching from presence has been a real benefit to both their learning and my learning.
Tell us about your new group, Diamond Approach New Orleans, and what you might tell a newcomer interested in attending an introductory event.
We’re open to all newcomers that are interested in receiving an introduction to the Diamond Approach. Each weekend we present some of the principles, practices, and features of True Nature that are unique to the Diamond Approach to give people a taste of whether this path has something in store for them. We also conclude each teaching with experiential exercises so that students can begin to understand and over time open to the majesty of their essential nature. In addition, after each weekend meeting, we provide students with an opportunity to work in a small group to practice Inquiry.
Both [fellow DANO teacher] Dale Sides and I are originally from Louisiana; I’m from outside New Orleans and he’s from Baton Rouge. We have done seven introductory weekends, two in person and five on Zoom. Once things become safe, we’re planning to resume our in-person teachings about half of the time and also continue half of the time on Zoom.
Read more about the online event Deepening into Essential Will: An Introduction to the Diamond Approach, which Ben Centanni and Dale Sides will be leading this month.