A. H. Almaas on Emptiness and The Void

Steve Goodheart Essay

In the “Diamond Approach” of A. H. Almaas, there are many similarities, yet profound and important differences between this path and Buddhism, perhaps particularly Theravadan Buddhism.  Almaas envisions, and speaks from his experience, of “something” beyond “the void” or “emptiness” of traditional Buddhism—that which he calls “Essence” or “Being.”

When Almaas speaks of “Essence” or “Being” his meaning of these terms, though uniquely his (and one should investigate for oneself as to what Almaas means), are to my mind very much more like the Mahayanan view of ultimate reality, as when the Tibetans speak of the dharmakaya, or “truth body” or “reality body” —the unmanifested or “inconceivable” aspect of a  Buddha. Perhaps what Almaas is pointing to with “Essence” is also similar to the concept of a “Buddha nature.”  Again, investigate Almaas for yourself, and see what you think.

What Almaas is trying to describe is also similar to some Vedantan philosophic views of Being, though with many important distinctions and differences. Again, don’t assume that if you know what Vedanta means by “Being” or “Essence” you know what Almaas means. For example, there is much in Almaas that also reflects Sufism and its views of the ultimate, and Sufism is not Vedanta.

Bottom line: go and see for yourself in Almaas writings. All descriptions of reality are just that—no one knows that better than Almaas, but I have found what Almaas has seen and discovered extraordinarily helpful and skillful, especially in his integration of spirituality and psychological healing.

Below are some relevant quotations of Almaas on the “void” and “emptiness” from the beautifully designed and highly useful online Almaas glossary, the The Almaasary.

The quotations are from these books:

The Void: Inner Spaciousness and Ego Structure

Essence: The Diamond Approach to Inner Realization

I hope these short excerpts pique your curiosity to look into the Diamond Approach of Almaas for yourself.  Like many others, I have found the teachings to be deep and extraordinarily skillful. Steve Goodheart


The Void

The experience of the void is an important juncture. It is necessary for the transition from the realm of personality to the realm of Essence or Being. But by no means is it the final end of personality. And the void itself is not Essence yet.”
A. H. Almaas (Essence, pg 48)

So we see that the void is the emptiness resulting from the dissolution of personality needed for the emergence of Essence. In other words the basic ground of our experience is empty space, the void.
A. H. Almaas (Essence, pg 52)

Empty Space and the Void

“The void is the experience of oneself, one’s Essence, as empty space. It is an experience of expansion, spaciousness, openness, and boundlessness. The mind is not bound by the rigid boundaries of the personality’s self-image. Its effect on perception is to see things as they are, without distortion… The void is really nothing but the absence of the personality and its various distortions. The mind is empty then, completely empty of the personality. It is as if the inner space is cleaned out, emptied, of the personality and its patterns, mental or physical. The person feels free, fresh, light, and unhampered. The mind is seen as it is, an immaculate emptiness.
A. H. Almaas (Essence, pg 141)

“Even the annihilation space is experienced, and hence there is a boundary. In other words, it is an individual experience. The annihilation is still related to oneself. The sense of individual experience remains, in a very subtle sense, as the annihilation of self. The experience is still self-centered, self-related. The annihilation happens to somebody, to oneself. The dissolution of this subtle boundary of individual experience leads to yet deeper and more open space, an utterly empty space.

This space is complete and total emptiness. It is the emptiness which eliminates separating boundaries. There is no more a sense of individual experience. There is nobody there experiencing the emptiness. At this level, there is no difference between awareness and emptiness. Again, this space cannot be conceived by the mind. The mind cannot conceive of experience which is not an individual experience.”
A. H. Almaas (The Void, pg 149)


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza


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