Contemplations by A.H. Almaas

Which of the Ultimates is Ultimate, Part 2: View of Totality

BY A.H. Almaas  ♦  February 2014  ♦  Comments

INTRODUCTION: My intention in this blog is to share two or three times a year some of my contemplations on various topics and themes relevant for and expressive of the work I do. I hope these contemplations will be relevant, stimulating, and at times inspiring for individuals engaged in a spiritual practice. In particular, they may be of interest to those who are curious about how a more illuminated consciousness operates. Some of these contemplations come from observing trends in the spiritual climate of our times, or from considering trends and questions arising in the Ridhwan School or other spiritual institutions. Some are a response to reading a book, watching a movie or a teaching on YouTube, or listening to a teacher from another spiritual tradition.

My idea is not simply to share my contemplations, but to provide you, as the interested reader—whether from within the Ridhwan School or outside it—the opportunity to respond, giving your own insights and inspirations. Sometimes you may engage in a dialogue with what I wrote, respond to a question I pose, or correct what you believe may be a mistake on my part. You may also choose to present an alternative view, instead of simply continuing the contemplation or dialoguing with it. I want this page to be open for the involvement of the serious and truly interested reader that it may become a fertile ground for spiritual insight and illumination, and for learning and discovery—not simply a place where I share my perspectives.

First, I wanted to say I am quite heartened and happy with the ongoing discussions and conversations that this contemplation invited. I am so glad that many saw the value of such inquiry, that we do not have to protect our particular spiritual real estate, but be generous and open to dialogue with others who hold different points of view. I wanted to point to the preciousness of each teaching, but wanted to do it while honoring their uniqueness and particular contribution to mankind’s learning of the spiritual way of Being.

This contemplation has been informed, in part, by Godel’s famous proof, sometimes referred to as his two theorems. Kurt Godel was the greatest mathematician of the twentieth century, just as Einstein was the greatest physicist of the same century. They were close friends. Godel belonged to the Vienna circle that included many philosophers –like Wittgenstein- logicians, mathematicians and scientists. They were involved in discovering or outlining the philosophy of science as it was developing then. Godel proved, using mathematical logic, that any system that is self consistent cannot be complete. In other words, for the system to be self consistent it will have to exclude some truths. It cannot include all truths. It is true that he proved this for some mathematical or algebraic systems. But since I had learned about it, I saw its applicability to all systems whether mathematical, mechanical, intellectual, philosophical, scientific, or spiritual. It seems to me it expresses some mysterious truth inherent to reality. Of course, I have not proved it to be applicable so universally, and nobody has attempted that. Godel’s proof, even though it was about simple arithmetic systems, is still quite difficult to comprehend and only the rare mathematician fully understands it.

The important thing about Godel’s proof for our contemplation is that I have seen it to be applicable to all teachings, or traditional systems of spirituality. Any teaching is inherently a system, regardless of whether we believe it so or not. Even when we think it is nonconceptual direct experience the fact that it happened, it expresses itself as a system, even though of direct truths about reality. So we begin here to continue this contemplation, and to add my contribution to it.

We can each stick to our tradition, teaching or practice, and simply complete the path according to it. This is usually sufficient for liberation and completeness. And this is what people have done throughout the ages. There are also the situations when certain individuals have spontaneous awakening and experience liberation independent from any path. This is rare and the serious individuals must not rely on it, but it should be acknowledged anyway.

It has happened in human history, however, that several paths or traditions lived side by side and cross pollinated each other. An example is what happened in Spain at the time of the Moors, where Islamic, Christian and Jewish spiritualities coexisted and interacted. Many things have developed from that and it was a golden age for all three traditions. There are other instances in history when such situation occurred, as in the Alexandria of Hellenic times, but the important thing for our contemplation is that we are living in such a situation in our own time. Furthermore, it is not simply regional; all the spiritual traditions are now available around the whole globe, pretty much.

They are interacting, but in the sidelines, and indirectly. Some dialogues and conferences occur, but not to the extent possible. There are teachings arising by integrating various traditions, or impacted by the various traditions. One example of the second category is that of the Diamond Approach, the spiritual path I have spearheaded. It is a teaching that has emerged within the post modern context, in close contact with many of the spiritual currents of most traditions. It was bound to be impacted, at least informed, by exposure to these ancient and well-established teachings.

In the birthing of this path, many kinds of realizations emerged, as quantum leaps of awakening. The leaps punctuated a steady unfoldment and revelations of the secrets of reality. I recognized that each leap corresponded to the realization of one particular tradition or another. There was the realization and the living of all is love; there was the realization and living of all is consciousness, being and knowing; there was the realization and the living of all is awareness - an awareness characterized by emptiness of existence; and there was the realization and the living of emptiness as the groundless ground of all phenomena. At each leap there was the certainty that it was the ultimate and absolute ground of all of reality. But each one simply displaced the one before it, while containing it as a subset. The question became obvious: what is happening here; is any of these really ultimate, or will ultimates continue to arise?

Seeking had ceased at stages, each realization or awakening coming to a deeper and more complete ceasing of search or need. What became clear at some point in this path is that Reality does not posit itself as one ultimate that all will agree upon. It does reveal itself as one ultimate or another, each absolutely true and liberating, but it does not have to continue revealing itself as this ultimate. One can stabilize in one of these ultimates and that becomes one’s life attainment. One is free and happy, and can render a great service to others.

But since in this path many realizations occurred, there was first an integration of all of them, which I had termed coemergent nonduality, in The Inner Journey Home. The path did not stop there, even though I had thought it had reached the end several times. The path continued beyond the nondual, for all these realizations are variations on nondual experience of reality. There was then what I had termed uni-local realization, sometimes referred to as radical nonlocality. This is the realization that reality is a unity but in a different way than in nondual realization. Reality is a singularity, where each form contains all forms and the ultimate that forms the nature of the forms. Such realization removed the way of seeing the ultimate as ground, recognizing that ground is a human concept after all. This kind of unity, which is absolute intimacy for there is no distance of time or space between any form and another, opened love to newer and surprising dimensions, revealing the power of love, for it expresses this unexpected and most sublime unity.

This quantum leap was different from the others, in the sense that it was not a matter of going deeper, higher or subtler. It is a matter of exiting the whole view of reality having an ultimate ground and looking at the relationship of one thing to another. So where nonduality viewed particular forms as equal forms expressing the same reality, this realization highlighted the unique particularity of each form, especially the indispensible necessity of the individual soul for any realization, for without it there is simply no experience or consciousness.

The path did not stop there, and it has not stopped. Realization continued. One example is the realization of seeing that duality and nonduality are the polar opposites of a conceptual dichotomy. They are both the expression of reality, but one with the concept of separateness and the other with the concept of unity. This ushered in the simple realization of reality where there is no separation and no unity. Reality is what it is, with no commentary. Reality is neither material nor spiritual, for both are conceptual categories. Reality is simple and can accommodate all the conceptual categories without it being patterned by them.

There are others, interesting and intriguing, but all pointing to the truth that Realty or Being, or God, is experienced differently by different teachings or individuals. In each it is complete and completely satisfying, but not ultimate in the sense that it is more fundamental than the others. From such streams of realizations there emerged a view that does not have to subscribe to the view of any of these ultimates, but able to express itself through any of them. I termed it the view of totality. I mean that it a realization that can accommodate any of the views or realizations, or several at the same time, without having to adhere to any as definitive. It is the view that accommodates all possible real views of reality, without judging them or assessing them in a hierarchical manner. It is not an intellectual view for the mind cannot have such openness. It is a realization that does not depend on the view of ultimate or even the view of completeness of the human being, but accommodates all of them as true and valid ways of experiencing reality.

The view of totality expresses a new kind of freedom. It is not the freedom from self, not the freedom of being pure consciousness or awareness, not the freedom of ripening and completeness, but the freedom from having to be anything. It is the realization of not being anything, where “anything” includes all possible forms and formlessness. Life becomes the freedom of Being to manifest whichever realization- ultimate or completeness- that addresses the moment most optimally. Life is a continual discovery of reality and its secrets. It is not a seeking and not a looking after anything. It is like the creative dynamism of being is liberated totally so Being is free to manifest its truths in endless ways. It is absolutely nonsectarian, and totally inclusive. It celebrates the differences between the traditions and teachings, for they all express it purely and genuinely.

It is my understanding that this is an interesting outcome of the meeting of traditions in our time. We do not have to adhere to an ultimate but we can. We do not need to take a view whether ultimates is a valid way of expressing reality or completeness is, for they both do and many others also do. Freedom becomes the value, and it is both defined and defies definition. But it expresses itself as the all rounded openness for ourselves as the very reality to express itself in whatever way its intelligence moves it. There is no end to realization, kinds and types of awakening, or enlightenment and completeness. There is no end for Reality - Being or God -is simply too infinite and indeterminate to be circumscribed by any experience, realization, insight, teaching or understanding. Remembering Godel’s proof, we see how for a teaching to be self consistent it cannot be complete. There is bound to be fundamental truths about reality and its nature not encompassed by it.

Because realization now can embody and express several ultimates simultaneously, we can deal with our changing world with its complexity more adequately. We can operate from dual, nondual, uni local and other realizations simultaneously without contradiction or discord, depending on what is needed for the moment. Life is both a celebration of the majesty of reality and a profundity of learning that has no end. It is also living comfortably with indeterminacy, which some might see as insecurity or uncertainty. Love and compassion continue to express the fullness of reality, and do so with intelligence and precise clarity. Our horizons are expanded for we see not simply spirit or spirituality, but the spiritual universe with all of its realms and potentialities.

This is what the path of the Diamond Approach contributes to the contemplation. As some might have noticed, I did not have to resort to the post modern views of the relativity of experience depending on culture, history and so on. Realization, if it is real, is independent of such relativity of time and space. Yet, there are differences to the unity of Being. And they can be understood without resorting to cultural or personal relativity.

There is no assertion that what is given here is the only possible solution, or that other’s solutions are not valid or less complete. To make such assertion is to contradict the view of totality. By offering what the Diamond Approach has found I am opening the discussion again, and hopefully for it to go deeper and be more inclusive and more open.

comments powered by Disqus