We interviewed Diamond Approach teacher Sarala Jungclaussen about her journey with the Diamond Approach as well as the open Diamond Approach group she is co-teaching in South Africa.
How did you first find the Diamond Approach?
In the mid-90s I was living with a friend in Berlin. She told me some about the Diamond Approach, which made me very curious, but I was about to go back to India—amongst other things I worked in a hospital doing aide work, commuting between Europe and India for 22 years, and I had been invited to live with my teacher.
After that year in India, I came back to Germany, and I signed up immediately for an introductory weekend in Hamburg called “The Inner Flame”. Although I had difficulties with the language and the American accent and I probably understood only half of the teaching, my heart was set on fire. I felt intrigued… It was as if there was an inner pull from the teaching itself on me. Then I started signing up for different Diamond Approach courses being offered.
When you were starting out, what were some of the challenges that came up for you?
When I started hearing about the essential qualities and True Nature, and also learning what the obstacles were to those aspects, for quite some time I felt like I was sitting in a golden cage. I could study whatever I wanted, drive a car, choose my relationships, and demonstrate on the streets freely, whatever I wanted – which on the one hand made me feel privileged as it was very different from life for many women living at the countryside in India—but I experienced how my historical patterns and identifications limited my way of being in the world and kept parts suppressed.
This golden cage also implied the difficulty of really grasping letting myself be where I am, and that a problem, let’s say in my relationship, was pointing to something deeper, some deeper part in me wanting to open up. I had many ideas about how spirituality should look, and even more about how I should be as a spiritual being.
What has kept you engaged with the Diamond Approach teaching over the years?
Despite all the difficulties, I had a deep sense of coming home - a flavor, a sense of really landing, and what I started to appreciate deeply over all these years, was the vigor, aliveness, and precision of the teaching itself.
When I was in India, I had been deeply immersed in sadhana (spiritual practices). We had meditation, chanting cycles of bhajans [songs], karma yoga [life practice], and Yagya [fire ceremony], but those practices didn’t teach me how to be with racial conflicts, the caste system, the unfairness with which widows are treated in the Indian countryside. The ceremonies didn’t teach me how to deal with interpersonal problems, or with my own reactivity. In the Diamond Approach, the invitation is to inquire into everything, no matter if it’s a pattern, an identity, object relations, an essential aspect or boundless dimension, to get a deeper understanding. Clearly there is no such thing as only one realization, there are so many dimensions to it! And that is one of the treasures.
What aspect of the teaching is most alive for you right now?
When I heard Hameed [the founder of the DA] for the first time I was especially struck by hearing him say: “There is no end to our realization, including no end to our maturation as a human being.” That hit something in me.
I remember when I was sitting with my Indian teacher, in my early 20s, I was sharing my sadness and frustration with him about the split I experienced between when I did my sadhana and experienced all kinds of wonderful, nourishing, and glorious moments, but then going back into daily life, where I often had a sense of being completely cut off.
I think one of the gifts of the Diamond Approach is its teaching us how to actualize and to live more and more from our innermost nature.
What advice would you share with someone who is interested in attending an introductory DA event?
Sit back, fasten your seatbelt and let yourself be surprised! This path is not just about certain states or conditions, but working with what is here right now, in this very moment, no matter what it is. It could be even something related to your daily life: for instance, you’re finding yourself feeling timid, or there’s a problem at your job and as we start with that, we can actually discover that it is a doorway to bringing up a deeper part, or something deeper opens up in us, when we allow ourselves to start where we are, with openness.
Tell us a little bit about the group you’re leading in South Africa, which is still open to new people.
We have a diverse multiracial group of students and for some of them English is a second language, as it is for me. Since South Africa has been hit dramatically with COVID, we are all still meeting online. This group is very dear to me: it´s small, and feels very alive, with a spirit of a passionate fire burning for the Truth. Sometimes it seems the way students are connected with the elements connects people to boundlessness easily, to a palpable energy.
We are meeting about 5 or 6 weekends per year, with some 3-day weekends, and when it becomes possible, in the southern hemisphere’s winter, we are hoping to have a longer retreat. And who ever feels drawn to this group is wholeheartedly welcome.
How do you see the Diamond Approach helping humanity and the planet?
The DA offers many perspectives, which is really the totality. In being so open, it invites us, gives us a container for also looking at our drives, our instincts. Usually with what we see in the world, there are two ways we relate to it: we identify with it, which means we act it out, or we repress it, which basically means it just leaks out. And at different times we do different things. The Diamond Approach is a corrective for that, in helping us see, inviting us to be with our experience and to deepen our understanding more, and bringing us closer to ourselves, beyond outdated images, into more aliveness and truth.