Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Why Inquire?
we think about
what do we experience? What do we see? What are our lives like? Most of us live
in a continual struggle of seeking pleasure and pushing away pain. For long
stretches of time, we persistently feel that our lives aren't
"enough"—full enough, rich enough, complete enough.
in a while, we find ourselves experiencing contentment; everything seems just
right. But usually we feel this contentment only briefly. We then try to
"improve" something, or worry about the future, or in some other way
fail to simply be with the contentment.
it is a beautiful day at the beach. Perhaps you are sitting on your blanket,
sipping iced tea and basking in the sun. Everything is fine, but after a while
you start getting a little bored. You take a book out of your beach bag and
begin to read, but you find yourself feeling irritable. Then you realize that
the main character in the story reminds you of your father, who never let you
have any privacy. Even though you are by yourself, you suddenly get the feeling
that someone is standing over you, judging you for relaxing on the beach and
getting a tan rather than cleaning out the garage. You decide that it's
probably not a very good book and put it away. What you really want, you feel
now, is something to eat. Halfway through eating your sandwich and chips,
though, you realize you weren't really hungry. Maybe a nap would make you feel
better. You close your eyes, but now you are completely restless. The
contentment of an hour ago is gone, and you don't know how you lost it.
is how we live—trying to manipulate the outer world so that our inner world
can be at peace. But this struggle is a hopeless task; it is not what will
bring us to a state of contentment. This example of our internal process points
to a basic fact of our ongoing experience:
don't know how to leave ourselves alone. Every internal action involves some
kind of rejection of our present state, our actual reality. And there is a
deeper consequence to this attitude of rejection: By rejecting what is so for
us in the present moment, we are rejecting ourselves. We are out of touch with
our Being. Aiming toward the future, we sacrifice the present. By looking
outside ourselves for what is missing, we subject ourselves, our souls, to the
pain of abandonment.
the fact is: Nothing is missing! Our true nature is actually always there. Our
true nature is Being. And everything is made of this true nature: rocks,
people, clouds, peach trees—all the things in our life. However, these things
do not exist independently, the way we think they do. What we are really seeing
are the various forms of Being. To understand Being itself, the nature of what
we truly are, we must penetrate the inner, fundamental nature of existence. To
be open to this fundamental nature, we must question what we think we are: Am I
really a white male, of a certain height and weight and age and address, who is
defined by my personal history? And if that's not me, what is?
are like the river that doesn't know it is fundamentally composed of water. It
is afraid of expanding because it believes that it might not be a river
anymore. But once you know you are water, what difference does it make whether
you are a river or a lake?
Being is what is constantly manifesting as you. It thinks by using your brain.
It walks by using your legs. But in your daily experience, you think you are a
bundle of arms and legs and thoughts, and do not experience the unity that
underlies all of your experience.
we are not in touch with Being, we experience a kind of hollowness. We lack a
sense of wholeness, or value, or capacity, or meaning. We might search
endlessly for pleasure or contentment, but without an appreciation of our true
nature, we are missing most of the pleasure that is possible in our lives.
nature, our Being, is the most precious thing there is, yet most of us lose
touch with it as we dream, wish, hope, scheme, and struggle to have what we
think is a good life. We want the right diploma, the best job, the ideal mate.
But without some appreciation of our true nature, we end up on the outer
fringes of life, always tasting a bland imitation of the nectar of existence.
manifests itself to itself through us, as human beings. In us, Being beholds
its beauty and celebrates its majesty. Our experience of ourselves in our
totality and our tangibility is what in the Diamond Approach we mean by the
term soul. The soul is what experiences, and it is the lived experience itself.
It is the inner, psychic organism, the individual consciousness that is the
site of all experience. The human soul is pure potentiality, the potentiality
of Being. It is also the way that Being, in all its magnificence, opens up and
manifests its richness.
experience the richness of our Being, the potential of our soul, we must allow
our experience to become more and more open, and increasingly question what we
assume we are. Usually we identify with a very limited part of our potential,
what we call the ego or personality. Some call it the small self. But this
identity is actually a distortion of what we really are, which is a completely
open flow out of the mystery of Being.
human being is a universe of experience, multifaceted and multidimensional.
Each of us is a soul, a dynamic consciousness, a magical organ of experience
and action. And each of us is in a constant state of transformation—of one
experience opening up to another, one action leading to another, one perception
multiplying into many others; of perception growing into knowledge, knowledge
leading to action, and action creating more experience. This unfolding is
constant, dynamic, and full of energy. This is the very nature of what we call
Dual Dynamics of Experience
beauty of life is that it can be a continuous opening to the full range of
experience and richness possible for the human being—the dynamic unfolding of
the human potential. This life can be a celebration of the mystery of our
Being. We can live a life of love, taking joy in ourselves, in other human
beings, and in the richness of our home planet. Our life can be full of
appreciation, sensitivity, and wonder in all that surrounds us. Such a life can
be a thrilling and exciting adventure of learning, maturing, and expanding.
it can also be a life of strife, struggle, misery, and depression, which
frequently becomes filled with suffering, frustration, envy, and aggression. We
can easily find ourselves leading a life of selfishness, antagonism, and
exploitation. When this happens, life soon becomes dull, boring,
superficial—while the undertone can feel sadistic and brutal.
these times, life never loses its dynamic and transformative character, but the
unfoldment of Being reveals mostly the dark and destructive possibilities of
our potential, the negative and depressive side of human experience. The
freshness and creativity of the human spirit is eclipsed, the joyous spark
dulled and muted, and the sharpness of our clarity blunted and mutilated. We
tend to live in ignorance, driven by primitive needs and desires. The sense of
humanness leaves us: Even when we know we are human beings, we forget the value
and exquisiteness of our gentleness, kindness, and vulnerability.
lives are rarely the pure manifestation of only one side of our
potential—whether it is the freedom or the darkness. Most of us live a mixture
of both in constantly varying proportions. Naturally we all work very hard to
maximize the freedom and joy, but we know from bitter experience how hard that
is to do. We try this and that, listen to this teacher or that authority, lose
heart and renew our resolve, but rarely do we feel certain about what will
bring us to the states we desire. Rarely do we experience the positive human
possibilities we yearn to embody. Yet even when they do manifest in our
experience, we frequently fight them or become afraid of them. We yearn to
expand and complete our humanity, and make great efforts to do so, but so often
end up thwarted and frustrated. Our successes are meager, and never seem to last.
the dynamism of our Being unfolds our experience in its dark and negative
possibilities, we find ourselves trapped in repeating patterns and closed
loops. Although these closed loops of perception and action are dynamic, they
are also compulsive and repetitive, robbing our experience of its freshness,
our dynamism of its creativity, and our life of its expansion and adventure.
The vast universe of human possibilities becomes restricted to a very limited
region of habitual experience. Freshness, newness, development, and the thrill
of discovery are all stifled.
situation is not hopeless, however, and we all know this someplace in our
hearts. We know—perhaps vaguely, perhaps incompletely—that the human spirit
possesses the possibility of enlarging its experience, of opening up its
richness. We have many strengths to draw on: sensitivity, intelligence,
discrimination, the potential for investigation and insight. We have, most of
all, the capacity to learn.