The Diamond Approach: An Introduction to the Teachings of A. H. Almaas

The Diamond Approach: An Introduction to the Teachings of A. H. Almaas

by John Davis
     
 

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The
Diamond Approach has been developed and taught over the last twenty-five years
by Hameed Ali (known chiefly by his pen name, A. H. Almaas), who is widely
recognized as a leader in the integration of spirituality and psychology. This
is the first book to introduce the complete spectrum of his teachings to a
general audience.

 See more details below

Overview

The
Diamond Approach has been developed and taught over the last twenty-five years
by Hameed Ali (known chiefly by his pen name, A. H. Almaas), who is widely
recognized as a leader in the integration of spirituality and psychology. This
is the first book to introduce the complete spectrum of his teachings to a
general audience.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780834823822
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
01/22/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
302,139
File size:
360 KB

Read an Excerpt

From
Chapter 1:
The
Orientation of the Diamond Approach

The
aim of the Diamond Approach is

to
live fully and deeply. It offers the understanding and the practices to support
a life without unnecessary struggle and difficulty, a life characterized by
fulfillment and contentment. As with most spiritual systems, the Diamond
Approach invites us to live in a way that both reflects and develops wisdom,
love, joy, vitality, power, peace, authenticity, passion, curiosity,
appreciation, stillness, pleasure, trust, gratitude, and an unrelenting
engagement with what is. Furthermore, the Diamond Approach is grounded in the
knowledge that these qualities are characteristic of our true and fundamental
nature. They are our inherent and undying birthright.

If
we let ourselves be open to our feelings in this moment, we begin to recognize
a longing for such a way of being. For some of us, the longing feels like an
ache or a sadness just below the surface of our usual awareness and concerns, a
background so common that we fail to take notice. For others of us, it may feel
like a gripping desire to gain and hold on to these qualities, an intense drive
in which we set our sights on some distant spiritual paradise. Still others of
us may adopt a frustrated resignation in which we devalue these qualities as an
impossible or even undesirable fiction. Perhaps the most common response of all
is a kind of numbness in which we sleepwalk through our days, not even
considering our deeper thirst. We then delude ourselves into believing that
crude counterfeits of fulfillment, love, joy, and wisdom are the real thing.

When
we are cut off from our natural strength, our energy and passion are less
available. The sense of expansive vitality escapes us, and we feel weak. To
make up for this, we push too hard or strain to capture that passion. We try to
convince the world and ourselves that we are not as weak as we feel. Bitterness
or hostility flavors our activities and relationships. We then mistake this
fake strength for the real thing, and we are caught on a merry-go-round of
proving ourselves. The harder we try to prove our strength, the more we
reinforce our weakness.

Instead
of an openhearted compassion, curiosity, and willingness to engage suffering
without running away, we find a compulsive need to criticize, and then fix,
ourselves and others in order to take away their pain and protect ourselves. We
mistake false compassion for genuine compassion and wonder why we never feel
really healed and whole. And so it goes; we dream of relief and fulfillment but
settle for shallow and unsatisfying substitutes for real life.

When
we allow ourselves the gift of seeing our deeper nature as one having vitality,
aliveness, peace, and trust, we also become aware of the difficulties, blocks,
and obstacles to these qualities. Even when we do experience them, it is only
rarely and briefly.

For
example, you may feel a sense of unconditional compassion for all
existence—that is, until someone hurts your feelings. Then compassion is out
the window, replaced by your desire to hurt the other. Or you may experience
your intrinsic value as an inseparable part of the sacred mystery—that is, as
long as you feel seen and loved. Otherwise, your shame and guilt overwhelm you,
and you get busy proving yourself or hiding.

I
think we all have had strong and deep experiences of some aspects of our
spiritual nature, only to lose the experience. We fail to grasp what those
aspects mean and what our relationship to them really is. Although we long for
a rich, fulfilling life and believe (or at least hope) that this is possible,
it usually feels outside our reach. Our daily affairs are colored by mistrust
and difficulty, and the barriers to our potential seem so much more real than
that potential.

Rather
than suggesting we fight against these obstacles to find fulfillment and
contentment, the Diamond Approach invites us to understand them from a
radically different perspective. In this view, they are not merely barriers;
they are doorways, too. Hurt is not simply a block to genuine compassion, it is
also the access to compassion. Anger or the desire to inflict hurt is not just
a shallow and frustrating substitute for authentic strength. Experienced and
understood deeply, it is the key to unlocking the treasure of expansion,
capacity, and vitality that is our birthright. Our misunderstandings,
reactions, and wounds open the doors to a life that is real. The Diamond
Approach shows us the precise relationship between these counterfeit qualities,
their attendant difficulties, and the more real aspects of our nature and our
potential.

Even
with a precise understanding of the connection between psychological issues and
the qualities of our intrinsic nature, the work of self-realization takes
commitment, courage, and love for the truth. Our beliefs about ourselves and
the world constrict our experience and become solidified into fixed (and
fixated) patterns of feelings and reactions. These patterns give our lives a
defensive or compulsive texture. Even our understanding of self-realization
becomes a projection of these images, beliefs, and patterns. Our usual attempts
to free ourselves, based on these patterns, only bind us tighter. Given our
identification with the obstacles and difficulties, we can scarcely imagine
what real wisdom, joy, and contentment might be. The Diamond Approach shows us
not only how but why the work of fully experiencing our lives is so difficult.

The
Diamond Approach brings about a transformation beyond these images, beliefs,
and fixated patterns toward our deeper nature. It means penetrating the false
images and patterns and grounding our lives in an unrelenting love for our
lives as they are: painful, ecstatic, or fulfilled. Spiritual realization is
not merely a linear projection of a life based from the past to the future. It
requires a new foundation that is grounded in the present. The Diamond Approach
provides not only an understanding of this foundation but ways to move toward
it that are appropriate and powerful.

Encountering
our lives in this moment, as they are, we begin to respond from the perspective
of truth, openness, and trust. We relax into difficulties and unavoidable
struggles, with an experiential knowledge that we can live our lives fully. We
discover we do not need to avoid or fall asleep to our situations. We become
present and awake.

Each
moment that we are able to experience our lives more fully and with less
censorship, we become more open, spontaneous, natural, fluid, and responsive.
Our distress unfolds into a confidence and an appreciation that is without
judgment or hesitation. There is a joyful curiosity and a generous, unassuming
calm at our center. We discover our capacities to be strong as well as still,
tender as well as clear, accepting as well as persevering, relaxed as well as
fully awake to this moment and its movement. And through it all, we come to
abide in a basic trust in the compassionate intelligence of the unfoldment of
our lives.

Everyday
life becomes the arena for this work. The defensive, constricting patterns are
both the locks and the keys to the qualities of our true nature. The present
moment is revealed as both the path and the fulfillment. The orientation of the
Diamond Approach, then, is toward presence and the expression of fundamental
truths in the present moment. This presence offers remarkably complete and
effective answers to the fundamental human questions. The questions are, what
is the fullest realization of our true nature, and how can we go about
realizing it? The answer is presence.

The
Diamond Approach as a Spiritual Path

The
Diamond Approach offers a psychologically sophisticated spiritual system. This
system includes an understanding and a path for full realization that draws on
ancient spiritual wisdom and modern psychological insights. It is both a
description of the full potential of human experience and a method for the
realization of that potential. Its insights are fundamentally consistent with
other approaches to spiritual truth, although it does not attempt to explain
other approaches or reduce them to its own terms.

In
this view, psychological growth is an aspect of spiritual growth, inseparable
from it. Whereas other spiritual paths might focus primarily on physical
disciplines (such as yoga or martial arts), devotional practices, prayer, or
contemplation, the primary method in the Diamond Approach is exploring and
understanding immediate experience. If this exploration is deep enough and
sincere enough, it will lead to spiritual awakening, development, and
eventually, liberation.

Along
the way, we come to a greater understanding, and we work through the blocks to
our true nature or Essence. We develop and refine higher capacities. When we
experience a block deeply, it leads to that which the block was covering. This
brings a painful experience of deficient emptiness, followed by a sense of
presence and the direct experience of Essence. These psychological issues
stimulate our growth in a way similar to the grain of sand that serves as the
seed for a pearl.

Psychological
issues are present throughout the spiritual search. We move through our initial
fears, frustrations, and even hopes about what a spiritual search will mean, to
the subtle attachments and resistances present in the most sublime spiritual
states. These issues, fears, and hopes have long been recognized as contrary to
our deeper nature and as obstacles to deeper self-realization. However, these
issues are not only barriers; they also guide us toward the truths underlying
them. The Diamond Approach provides us with a precise means of understanding
and resolving such issues, revealing them as both obstacles and doorways to
self-realization.

The
goal of the Diamond Approach is the full development and realization of Being
expressing itself in and through an individual human life. It posits no
particular end state or experience. Its goal is not necessarily love, wisdom,
power, will, action, bliss, peace, or emptiness. All of these are intrinsic to
human potential and do arise as part of the path of the Diamond Approach.
However, none is a specific aim of the Diamond Approach, so we do not stop
there. The journey of understanding and truth continues without preconceptions
or prejudice. The result is the free unfoldment of a living reality without
constrictions or distortions.

Meet the Author

John Davis is a senior student of A. H. Almaas and a teacher of the Diamond Approach. He is also a professor of psychology at the Metropolitan State College of Denver and a senior adjunct faculty member at the Naropa Institute.

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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