Luminous Night's Journey: An Autobiographical Fragment [NOOK Book]

Overview

In
Luminous
Night's Journey,

Almaas shares excerpts from his personal journal, which describe a certain
thread in his own journey of realization and the processes ...

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Luminous Night's Journey: An Autobiographical Fragment

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Overview

In
Luminous
Night's Journey,

Almaas shares excerpts from his personal journal, which describe a certain
thread in his own journey of realization and the processes involved in
integrating that realization. This publication marks a fortunate development in
our knowledge of how Being is realized in and through the human soul: The
process of realization and integration of true nature described in the voice of
one who articulates precisely and vividly the psychological and epistemological
barriers which confront the individual consciousness as realization is
integrated in the context of personal life.

Almaas
describes how his participation in the unfolding manifestation of Being ushers
him into realms that expose and transform increasingly deep ego structures and
attachments.
Luminous
Night's Journey

clarifies how the unveiling of Being and the exposure of ego structures
constitute one process, leading to the soul's integrated realization of
absolute nature and the manifestation of the human being as a personal
embodiment of that nature.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834824799
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,099,630
  • File size: 612 KB

Meet the Author

A. H. Almaas is the pen name of Hameed Ali, the Kuwaiti-born originator of the Diamond Approach, who has been guiding individuals and groups in Colorado, California, and Europe since 1976. He is the author of Spacecrusier Inquiry, The Pearl Beyond Price, Facets of Unity, and other books.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter
6: The Real World

The
inner process accelerates, bringing forth deeper and subtler manifestations of
Being. The creative dynamism of Being unveils its various perfections in an
inherent pattern. This pattern discloses an order that satisfies my
explorations, at the same time transforming my experience of myself and the
world.

I
am not only an enchanted captive audience, not only a responsive recipient of
Being's transubstantiating grace, but also a happy participant. My love for the
truth quickens Being's dynamic creativity. This love, sometimes passionate and
consuming, sometimes serene and mature, expresses itself as appreciation,
openness and surrender to whatever form or formlessness in which Being
presences itself. This love deepens my natural curiosity, which manifests as
playful but serious exploration, in an inquiry which often takes the form of
fundamental questions about existence, but is at the same time passionately
personal.

The
potential of Being continues to be unveiled in the form of mysteries, disclosed
not only as the nature of being but also as dimensions of my nature. Through
the revelation of its secrets Being satisfies my heart-felt questions, and also
shows me how little I know. Every revelation leads to further questions, in a
living unfoldment of my soul. This dynamic process involves both feedback from
deeper levels of Being to my inquiry, and a "feedforward" process as
I continually ponder the significance of what is being revealed.

A
poet said it thus: "always a beautiful answer, that asks a more beautiful
question."

The
unfoldment of the soul is an adventure full of thrill and terror. It magnifies
various life conflicts, as it discloses the essential manifestations that
resolve them. This process exposes character deficiencies, ignorance, and wrong
beliefs and positions. It involves intense pain, rage, terror and uncertainty.
For one who truly pursues truth, however, these difficulties are not obstacles
but occasions for further revelations of truth. Inner conflicts and
difficulties always turn out to be caused by ignorance.

Being,
the ground and source of all that is, has by this time disclosed to me my
personal nature. In the realization of the universal witness, it has begun to
disclose the nature of the world. This realization has shown me that my
experience of the world had not been direct, but had been mediated by my
personal view. Understanding this led to intimations of what the real world is,
unobscured by mind. This involved answering some fundamental questions, which I
was able to formulate only in retrospect:

How
is the universal witness connected to the world?

What
is the real world?

How
is the individual soul related to the real world?

What connects
the individual soul to the silent witness?

Experience
has taken my identity to the silent unchanging witness, and shown that both the
world and the individual have their being in its vast emptiness. I see that my
individual self and the world this individual lives in exist in the silent
vastness, similar to how physical objects appear in physical space. The world
appears as a dream, a mental content, through a perception of duality of
manifestation and space.

I
felt ill at ease with this realization, knowing that it could not be the full
picture, since it did not fit with other knowledge. For example, I was aware of
the individual as the personal essence, a person of presence. This
manifestation of Being, living as a personal presence, undefined by and free
from mind, demonstrates that what exists in the vastness of the witness cannot
all be simply mental fabrication. As a person, I am a real presence. So even
though I perceive the manifest world as a dream, I wonder, can there be a real
world, a world of presence?

This
contemplation of the possibility of a real world arose only in occasional hints
and subtle intimations, not with any force or clarity. I was too fascinated
with the integration of the various qualities and dimensions of Essence, and
most recently by the realization of the universal witness, to fully entertain
these questions. Nevertheless, Being opened up with full force, disclosing its
boundless dimensions in a pattern that revealed the real world. The dynamism,
intensified by my passionate embrace of its revelations, had gathered such a
momentum that it divulged the beauty and harmony of the real world, even though
I had only a dim awareness of such possibilities. Being was responding to my
passion as a lover does when he ascertains that he has attained the heart of
his beloved: by giving himself totally and unreservedly.

At
the beginning of a year of breathtaking revelations, Being disclosed the
underlying nature of the world as love. Love was revealed as the authentic body
of the universe. The manifestation of Being went further, unveiling its body as
pure and undifferentiated presence, in which the particulars of the world are
seen to be simply differentiations of this supreme presence, unfolding in
beautiful patterns. It divulged the nature of these differentiations as
concepts within its spaciousness. At the same time it became clear this
presence is both fullness and emptiness.

The
revelations continued, with increasing subtlety. What was revealed next was the
nature of the world as beyond the mind. Being unveiled nonconceptual clarity as
the truth of the world, in which the world is nothing but the nonmental
concepts as and through which Being manifests. The particulars of how the world
appears turn out to be nonmental forms, luminous designs inseparable from the
total freshness and clarity of Being. To the ordinary state of mind these forms
veil the nature of Being, because we experience them as objects. In this
realization the forms become infinite beautiful windows revealing the clear
luminous nature of Being.

Here
it is sufficient to describe one representative experience, to indicate the
quality of this unfoldment. We only need a glimpse of this segment of the
unfoldment—the clear day's journey—for us to appreciate its characteristic
flavor.

It
has been about a year since the realization of the universal witness. A new
impression has occasionally been arising, a perception of the world that leaves
me feeling I am confronting a profound mystery. There is a sense of wonder, of
awe and of a profound ignorance.

I
feel that in some basic way I do not know anything. I see, I hear, I sense, but
I do not know what I behold. Everything familiar in my life, everything in the
world that I have known, all seems so unfamiliar, so unknown, so new, so
unfathomable. Nothing has changed externally; the world is the same. But
everything seems new and unknown—the houses, the streets, the cars, the
people, the sky, the earth, the birds, my family and friends. Even though they
have not changed, and I can name them and interact with them as usual, I
perceive that I have not truly known any of these phenomena, not fundamentally.

I
am struck by how deeply I have been asleep, in a kind of hypnosis, believing
that I know what I perceive. But what I know is not what I perceive. I look
around me, at the walls, the furniture, the rugs, and I behold a mystery
peering at me through everything. I realize I do not know the wall, I do not
know the carpet. What I know about them are only bits and pieces, surface
qualities: colors, shapes, textures, functions. But does this mean I know them,
know intimately and directly what they are?

I
realize that I usually assume that when I perceive something, a chair for
example, I know it. But now it is as if at assumption is a kind of veil. I look
at a chair at the corner of the room. Do I know it? How do I know it? What do I
know about it?

What
I know is merely a description, is nothing but words and concepts put together
by mind.

What
do I know about this chair when I say it is big? Do I really then know this
chair, or is it that I am aware of some comparison, which takes place only in
my mind? When I know it is an iron chair, what am I really knowing? This is
merely knowing a word, iron. This word puts together in my mind various
characteristics, like hardness, texture, coldness perhaps. But do I know what
iron is? I know it is a metal, of a certain atomic weight. I know it is made
out of atoms, protons and electrons, and so on. Does this make me know it any
more truly? I know concepts in my mind, and that is it. I have never
experienced protons or neutrons, and I am not experiencing the iron now. I see
only the painted shape, and think that there is iron underneath the paint. I am
not even touching the iron of the chair, but I usually assume that I know it.

It
is clear that there are different types of knowledge of the chair. There is the
knowledge that comes from hearing and reading. There is the knowledge resulting
from previous experiences with this chair and other chairs. There is the
knowledge of seeing the chair. And there is the knowledge of actually sitting
on the chair and examining it. Nevertheless, even this last kind of knowledge,
what we call experiential knowledge, is composed mostly of concepts, associated
memories and ideas connected with a few physical impressions in the moment.
These impressions do not, taken alone, constitute what we think of as knowledge
of the chair. It is clear to me that when I feel I know it I know only a word,
at most the concept
chair.
Free
from such words and concepts, free from memories and information, a chair is a
mystery, profound and unfathomable. When I confront the chair directly, without
the mediation of my concepts, I realize that I do not know it. This is true
about everything in the world, everything that surrounds me.

Words
create,

Words
annihilate,

But
where do they stand?

There
is a sense that all my apparent knowledge of the world, primarily ideas and
stories in the mind, is peeling away, leaving something unknown underneath.
There is mystery all around me. I feel a profound sense of ignorance. I wonder
about life and death, about the life of the body, about everything that I have
thought naively and arrogantly that I know. I realize that all life, and all
objects and processes in life, are full of mystery. I do not really know
anything.

The
not knowing is not threatening. I accept it with a sense of wonder and
bafflement. The center of the operation of the
nous,
at
the forehead, feels like an open window, transparent and clear. In this
openness the activity of the
nous
is
so intense that it feels like a continuous series of explosions. The
contemplation, which is bursting with insights, acts on the mind like dynamite,
shattering its long-held complacency about its knowledge of the world.

At
such moments it seems that the perception sets aside the knowledge of the mind
and apprehends things nakedly. The chair now looks like the usual chair I have
known, except that this is only the external appearance, which I am now acutely
aware of as merely appearance. Everything else, the walls and the doors, the
floor and the carpets, the lamps and books, all seem to be appearances,
surfaces of something much more fundamental, external facades of a more basic
reality. I perceive the chair and everything else around me becoming
transparent, as if the shapes and colors have become so luminous that they have
lost all opaqueness. And through this transparency, naked reality peers through.

It
is clear to my understanding that the ordinary knowledge of the world, the
knowledge put together by memory and thought, veils the luminosity of
appearances, and makes the various forms appear opaque. This opaqueness
obstructs the perception of the underlying reality of the forms, by eliminating
their inherent transparency. Thus the world is solidified into something inert
and dismembered.

And
when the opaqueness is dispersed, through understanding its sources, perception
beholds shapes and colors that reveal a reality so pure, so fresh, so new and
undefiled that consciousness is totally transported, as if seared from within
by a cool Arctic wind.

I
see through everything, through the surfaces of the various forms, and behold
what underlies everything, what fundamentally constitutes all. I penetrate to
the center of the universe, to the real nature of existence. What I behold
baffles the mind, shatters it and enchants it beyond all knowing: The universe
is one infinite perfect crystal, totally transparent, and absolutely clear. A
density and immensity beyond comprehension, a solidity infinitely more
fundamental than physical matter. The reality of the world is a solid
transparency a compact emptiness so clear it feels like the total absence of
any sensation. This sheer clarity, this solid void, is so empty of mind and
concept that it feels exhilaratingly fresh, so uncorrupted that it strikes me
as the very essence of innocence. It is the virgin reality, before mind arises,
before thought knows, before memory is born.

No
mind is a freshness,

A
sun of ice,

Radiating
brilliant clarity.

The
experience is not only visual or perceptual. It includes a feeling of delicious
transport, of delight and release, of openness and lightness. It is a freedom
beyond freedom, a place where no mind ever treads, where concepts are
incinerated instantly with the ice coolness of an arctic wind. This coolness,
that seems to pervade all of consciousness, is identical to the feeling of
freshness, of newness, of virginity, of purity, of innocence. It is the total
ecstasy of clarity.

Innocence
stings.

It
is like a bare bottom

On
ice.

I
see that this infinite colorless crystalline presence appears carved everywhere
into intricate shapes and designs, luminously colorful and enchantingly
beautiful. I perceive this carving to be the forms that constitute the
universe, many forms but one appearance. Everything that I can see, everything
I have known, is nothing but the external topology of the totally void
crystalline presence. The world is not a veil, it is only the appearance of
reality. Being, which reveals itself now as simultaneously both absence and
clarity manifests itself through the world, and as the world.

The
body has also become a transparent form, part of the luminous surface I have
known for years as the world. Inside the body, as well as outside it, shines
the virgin reality, the nonconceptual truth. Even as I get up, go to the
kitchen and begin to cook, I realize it is the immensity and clarity of the
crystal presence which is cooking. The wall, the stove and the pots, all seem
to be transparent forms, all outside me, and I am their inner core, a sheer
clarity, translucent to the point of nothingness. I am delight itself, moving
and cooking. I am ecstatic freshness, cutting the vegetables, and tasting the
sauce.

The
understanding is undeniable: to content myself with the familiar knowledge of
the mind is to be asleep. The knowledge of memory, of word and concept, is
obscuration. To unquestioningly accept the familiar world is to kill the real
world.



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Table of Contents

Introduction
and Acknowledgments
ix

Chapter
One: Intimacy
1
Chapter
Two: The Personal Trap
9
Chapter
Three: The Impersonal
21
Chapter
Four: Objective Sorrow
33
Chapter
Five: End of the World
43
Chapter
Six: The Real World
49
Chapter
Seven: The Absolute
59
Chapter
Eight: Mystical Poverty
67
Chapter
Nine: The Beloved
77
Chapter
Ten: Ripening of the Soul
87
Chapter
Eleven: The Mystical Marriage
97
Chapter
Twelve: Coemergence
107
Chapter
Thirteen: Absolute Action
117
Chapter
Fourteen: Life and the Deathless
125



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