[ updated December 2015 ]
The Purpose of the Diamond Approach Teaching
The purpose of the Diamond Approach teaching is to realize, actualize, and develop the potential and essence of the human soul as an expression of True Nature. Its aim and orientation are the development of students so that they attain spiritual maturity and completeness—an open-ended, on-going, unlimited unfoldment. The larger aim is to contribute to the evolution of humanity in the service of our True Nature.
The Purpose of the Ridhwan School
The School is fundamentally a vehicle for Reality to express itself in the world in the most refined, evolved, and mature manner possible. The School is the living field of interaction between the teaching, the members of its spiritual community, and the various organizational and legal structures needed to support its functioning. In this way the School is involved in the unfolding of the logos of the Diamond Approach teaching. The School is dedicated to disseminating the teaching of the Diamond Approach, and to supporting, preserving, and safeguarding the integrity of this teaching. The School fulfills this purpose by:
- Making available for public benefit the teaching of the Diamond Approach through structures and forms that are accessible to those who have an affinity and resonance for this path.
- Training, supporting, and ensuring the quality and integrity of qualified members of the Ridhwan Foundation to assume the position and responsibilities of spiritual teacher/ministers.
- Publishing and disseminating Diamond Approach teachings.
- Forming and evolving a community of individuals who feel a deep connection and affinity with this teaching, and who are inclined to express their spiritual maturity in the world as their contribution to the world and to human life.
Our Guiding Principles
The core principles that orient and guide the operation of the School and our behavior as individuals are implicitly informed by True Nature in all aspects and dimensions and the freedom that ensues from realizing it. However, as people interact together in the field of the organization, the following essential guiding principles are particularly relevant: Truth, Freedom, Life, Heart, and Discriminating Intelligence.
We want these principles to be expressed through an effective, responsive organization and instruments that manifest themselves with integrity according to the needs of the time, the place, and the people. This includes all parts of the organization: the Obsidian Synod, the Ridhwan Foundation Board of Directors, the teacher body, the Ridhwan Academy, directors, administrators, staff, and student body. While it may not always be possible to express these principles in their fullness, we are committed to doing our best to live, act, and operate according to them.
Further Definitions of Guiding Principles
Truth – Love of truth and a steadfast commitment to it are fundamental values of the Ridhwan School. We want to function and interact with truthfulness, openness, sincerity, and integrity, while maintaining appropriate transparency in our structures and operations. In serving the truth we want to consider the total truth of any situation, including all aspects and levels of reality.
Freedom – We want to support and respect the personal and unique qualities each individual has realized and naturally expresses as an outflow of his or her freedom and autonomy. Autonomy includes taking personal responsibility as well as acting in ways that express one’s true individuation, authentic creativity, and unique contribution. We also want to function in ways that are mindful of the freedom and well being of others and the whole field of the School.
Life – The School is a living system that expresses a living teaching, and hence we respect and appreciate the dynamic evolving transformation of both individuals and the organization itself. We recognize and honor each individual as a manifestation of the same Living Being. We want to live and operate responsively in life-enhancing ways according to the true needs of the situation, thus embodying and manifesting life’s vibrancy and optimizing creativity.
Heart – Expressing heart means communicating, collaborating, and acting in considerate ways that promote harmony and support the functioning of individuals and the whole organization. We want human heartfulness to inform and guide our interactions and decision-making, so that we function with love, courage, compassion, sincerity, attunement, and selflessness. We value working with and through disagreements and conflict, while aspiring to express, appreciate, and safeguard that which is most true and precious.
Discriminating Intelligence – Discriminating intelligence helps to guide the expression of wisdom, objectivity, and efficiency in our actions. It leads us to value differences and to appreciate subtlety and creative discovery. It is also important in finding a dynamic balance within the natural tensions that may arise between the guiding principles. We are interested in intelligent precision, not unnecessary details. We want to function in a manner that is elegant, economical, and effective.
Dissemination of the Teaching
The Diamond Approach is a particular teaching that addresses and speaks to particular people. Our intention is to reach those who have a real affinity for and resonance with the Diamond Approach; these are the main people to whom we want to respond and whom we want to serve. We want to be able to reach and impact these individuals as deeply as possible, and we want to ensure that at least some of these individuals have contact with the deepest, most subtle parts of the teaching.
Not everyone who joins the School or is attracted to the Diamond Approach has such a deep connection with our teaching. While contact with our logos can still be of benefit in many ways, the primary purpose of the teaching is to reach those who can be deeply transformed by this path. By fully engaging in the path and practices of the Diamond Approach, such individuals can become living vessels for the teaching, keeping the teaching alive and enduring through their embodiment of it. A subsidiary objective is to contribute to the spiritual knowledge and methods of humanity, something that may benefit individuals following other paths in other traditions and disciplines.
In addition to the affinity and resonance mentioned above, the more a person has some degree of human development and maturation, the more effectively and fully he or she will be able to engage with the Diamond Approach. Many kinds of individuals come to this path and practice within it in different ways and to various degrees. In time the qualities and capacities needed to learn and embody the Diamond Approach are uncovered and developed through engagement with the teaching.
We are open to new forms or modes of teaching that truly express the Diamond Approach. Integrating new practices, methodologies, and even technologies could conceivably be developments in the future dissemination of the teaching. The particular structures and methods are less important than the fundamental nature and quality of the teaching itself. We don’t want to adopt new forms if they compromise our logos, orientation, integrity, or quality of teaching in any way. There is an invisible, essential core of the teaching that needs to be preserved, while the modalities that convey the teaching may change over time.
The Teacher Body
The teacher body is the manifest human core of the School, the primary, essential vehicle through which the teaching reaches the world. We are interested in our group of teachers becoming a strong, robust, vital, open, evolving, and integrated body. While we appreciate individual autonomy and uniqueness, we also want the teacher body as a whole to develop so as to be an aligned and cohesive core. This is ultimately what will hold the School together over the years in the future. We want our organization to operate in a way that serves and supports the teachers in their roles – to be something our teachers can truly appreciate and value, a place where teachers want to teach and work together in bringing the Diamond Approach into the world.
We want to encourage our teachers to coordinate and cooperate with each other in the interests of the greatest good. For example, teachers need to be aware of how their personal decisions about when, where, and how to teach might impact other teachers, students, and the School as a whole.
We want the teacher body, with its knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence, to become an effective and well-functioning part of the School – a body that is largely selforganizing and self-regulating as required by the true needs of the situation. To fill their particular role in the governance of the School, the teachers need to assume certain responsibilities while also operating in concert and harmony with the other bodies of the organization.
Since the teachers will be selecting a significant portion of the Synod, the School’s spiritual leadership council, it is important they remain able to make consistently mature, objective decisions about who should be selected to serve on the Synod, while holding the full view of what is needed for the School and the teaching.
The Student Body
The student body consists of all students, including all the teachers, who are actively exploring and practicing the Diamond Approach teaching within the structures of the Ridhwan School.
As stated at the beginning of and throughout this document, an important aim and orientation of the Diamond Approach is the self-realization of students in the School so that they may actualize their own unique potential and live a true life in the world. The individual expression and embodiment of each student’s realization is valuable in its own right, and also brings True Nature into direct contact with others, thus embodying our larger vision of contributing to the evolution of humanity.
Students themselves have the responsibility to engage fully in our path and practices. At the same time, we understand that for various reasons there may be limitations and degrees to which each individual is able or willing to fully engage. We realize there will naturally be diversity in the depth of participation, in what students want from the School, and in the actual impact and effect of the teaching. However, as the student body as a whole develops and matures, it can become an all-inclusive unified field that holds and expresses the view of totality, valuing all expressions of Being from the least developed to the most refined. To the extent that the Student Body can share in the holding of this view, the fabric of the School can become more and more saturated with this perspective and its implications, making it the foundation from which our community relates and our organization functions.
Diversity and Inclusivity
The Diamond Approach provides a path for the realization of the individual soul as a unique expression of True Nature. The Diamond Approach’s view of totality embraces both the particular expressions of True Nature and the undifferentiated, boundless depth of all manifestation. While the essential templates for this expression are universal, the particular shapes they find are unique to each soul. Souls are influenced not only by personal history but also by culture, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, age, physical ability, and various other differences between human beings. The Diamond Approach appreciates these differences and is open to understanding them more deeply, including examining our blind spots in these areas.
As part of this vision, we recognize the effects on power and privilege arising from these differences, and that these effects may be both individual and systemic as well as visible and invisible. We seek to reduce these effects in individual sessions, group teachings, and the training and development of Ridhwan teacher-ministers. We also seek to express this vision in the organizational structures, policies, procedures, and functioning throughout the Ridhwan Foundation.
We recognize that ongoing action is necessary to make this path available to all who might genuinely benefit from it. At a minimum, we do not discriminate against students based on culture, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, age, physical ability, or other categories of difference. In addition, our vision actively promotes a teaching, an organization, and a world in which all expressions of True Nature are recognized, valued, and integrated into the rich expression of the totality of being. As with the Diamond Approach itself, this vision is growing and evolving, and we understand the need for an active and ongoing engagement with it.
Ensuring the quality and integrity of the teaching is very important to us. Integrity means that when a student comes to a Diamond Approach group, he or she receives the Diamond Approach. The Diamond Approach is a particular teaching, and preserving it means that it continues to be that particular teaching in its fullness. The teachers are free to teach in their own way within the logos of the Diamond Approach, and the more individual teachers realize themselves through the Diamond Approach, the more completely their own freedom will naturally express this teaching. Over time there is a kind of honing process through which teachers become more and more effective instruments of this particular logos; their own freedom and expressing this teaching become the same thing, thus ensuring the preservation of this particular path.
We are committed to doing our best to produce good teachers. When a teacher is ordained, we are endorsing the quality of that teacher. The quality of the teacher will determine the quality of the teaching, the quality of the students in the School, and the depth of the students’ realization. Thus our ordination standards need to be rigorous and we need to apply these standards consistently as to when teachers-in-training are ordained and when new teachers are ready to teach at various levels. Developing and maintaining quality in teaching does not end with the basic or even the advanced trainings. Teachers should be actively committed to continuing their own understanding of the Diamond Approach and developing their own spiritual maturation. At the same time, we need to have some oversight (ongoing supervision, mentoring, and feedback) to help ordained teachers continue to develop and become more effective teachers. We are continuing to explore the best ways to ensure the quality of our teachers without too much central control and without the process becoming too time-or energy-intensive.
The teachers’ effect on their students is one way to ascertain the integrity and quality of the teaching. In addition to teaching teams and peer feedback, students themselves have a responsibility to study and understand the Diamond Approach and to help safeguard the teaching through the dialectic feedback loop between themselves and their teachers. This responsibility is empowering for students and supports their spiritual development and maturation.
A well-organized teacher body can help to ensure high ethical standards and high quality teaching. Effective and well-operating teaching teams are also an important component of the School’s teaching structures. These teams, along with other kinds of structures and processes, can support the development and maturation of newer teachers as well as those with more teaching and life experience. Well-functioning teachers and teaching teams will help to minimize the need for more centralized oversight and administration as the School continues to grow. We expect that the collective intelligence of the teacher body, in collaboration with the Synod and other bodies within the organization, will play a central part in how best to maintain quality as the School expands.
Expansion of our work occurs in response to people wanting to learn the Diamond Approach and because there are teachers who want to teach the Diamond Approach. Dissemination of the teaching does not mean trying to reach as many people as possible. Likewise, making the Diamond Approach available and accessible to people does not necessarily mean generating more students. We are neither for nor against growth. There may be times when the school grows larger and there may be times when the school is not growing or is becoming smaller in size. Regardless of what happens, we want to be sure the quality and integrity of the teaching be maintained. We do not want to sacrifice the quality of the teaching to reach more people. It is more important to ensure the quality of the teachers and the teaching than to have more teachers or a larger organization. This commitment will naturally control our growth; it will be easier to grow as an organization if we maintain high standards for teachers and for students coupled with effective ways of managing our organization.
As the School grows we are open to changing our organizational model in response to what best supports the teaching. We can reorganize to deal with increased size, shaping the organization as needed so that it does not constrain or limit what is possible. However, scale does have consequences and, as the number of people in the field of communication grows, there will naturally be a greater number of issues to consider. Central questions are whether there is a size at which the teaching becomes compromised or the teachers or leadership of the School become over-burdened in some way, and also whether there is a point at which the experience of the students is not optimizing. We intend to monitor the growth of the organization with these factors in mind, and trust we will be able to respond to what unfolds over time.
Leadership Structure and Succession
An orderly and intelligent plan for leadership succession is important in securing the ongoing stability of the School. This is particularly important as we move past the time of Hameed’s and Karen’s leadership roles, a period which will be a significant transition in the life of the School. For some time Hameed and Karen, along with the Synod, the Ridhwan Foundation Board of Directors, and the teacher body have been taking steps to ensure the long term health and viability of the School.
The following are four main leadership structures currently in place. The continuations of these structures are key parts of the succession plan for the School.
At this time, the Obsidian Synod is the leadership council of the School as a whole and the leadership group of the teacher body. Since its inception a number of years ago, the Synod has gradually been assuming the role formerly held by Hameed and Karen of interfacing between the teaching and the organizational structures to ensure that the functioning of the School is in alignment with the principles of the Teaching.
The Ridhwan Board deals with policy decisions regarding finances, legalities, property, fundraising, and other administrative tasks. It performs these responsibilities in consultation with the Synod and will continue to serve in this way in the future.
The Ridhwan Academy is the main teaching structure within the Foundation and serves as the central core of the School. It includes all Diamond Heart Programs and seminary programs for training teacher-ministers. Hameed and Karen are the leaders of the Academy. If something should happen to one of them, the other will continue to head the Academy and that person may choose others to help him or her in that capacity. When both Hameed and Karen are gone, the leaders of the Academy will be chosen by the Synod together with the Directors of Academy programs.
More detailed information about the leadership bodies in the school can be found in the document Description of the Ridhwan School.