I've learned the importance of being with all of my experience, including the parts that are uncomfortable. The Diamond Approach helps me go right into the places in me that are afraid of things falling apart - losing what I think I know, not getting what I hope for, not being who I think I am. If I feel pain or fear, I can move into my direct experience of it and understand who it is that feels that, what I believe about it, how I came to hold those beliefs and what keeps me from letting go. I can find out what in me dissolves and what remains in the immediacy of my experience, and I can trust that whatever is happening in me is a meaningful part of coming to know who and what I truly am.
I had been involved with teachings that basically said “leave yourself at the door when you come in to practice” and it wasn’t working for me. I had issues in my life that were challenging and I felt my emotions strongly. I did a lot of retreats and had some wonderful openings, but in my day-to-day life, I kept coming back into the same sense of myself, the same reactions and beliefs about the world. After one of my Sufi teachers joined a group and began to include inquiry in some of our retreats, I started seeing a private teacher and going to introductory weekends. I knew very quickly that this work was right for me. Through inquiry into what was actually happening for me, my ordinary experience of myself and my life, which I had thought I should be transcending, became the doorway to seeing more and more of who I really am. Over time I moved from wanting to have “better” experiences and repeats of the intense openings, to a much more open-ended exploration of whatever is arising in the moment, without any particular goal or knowing of how things will unfold. Hameed’s analogy of the spacecruiser feels very real for me – I often experience myself as being right at the nose of the spaceship, encountering new worlds that I could not have imagined.
There isn't one universal enlightened state that we are trying to get to.The presence that we are arises in countless ways, from the most personal and unique, to the vast unbounded oneness of everything, to the pure freedom of life living itself with no-one in the way. The depth and precision of Hameed’s discernment of the spiritual path is enormous, astounding, and constantly being revealed. Some people get the impression that there are a lot of concepts in the teaching but actually it is the continual dismantling of our concepts that allows reality to keep showing up in new ways. The DA has integral practices of embodiment that hone our subtle sensing and perception, and we come to know our experience as directly felt and clearly differentiated forms of being that can be described. These descriptions become a kind of map because certain forms of inner experience have shown up repeatedly as people engage with the practices of this path - they are essential and real. But you can’t just read the map and make your experience conform to it. The map offers directions, mostly as questions about what’s true in what you feel and think and what is just the conditioned constructed personality that helped you more or less get by. And it helps you understand more about what you personally encounter in the space where the familiar sense of yourself has lost it's compelling hold on you.