Faisal Muqaddam – Enlightenment Happens in the Heart
Interview by Iain McNay
Iain: Hello, and welcome again to Conscious TV. I’m Iain McNay, and my guest today is Faisal Muqaddam. Hi, Faisal.
Iain: Faisal started the Diamond Lotus Academy about 25 years ago, and we’re going to hear about his work, but also about his life, his process, his awakening, the integration of that awakening, and many more things about him and his life.
So Faisal, I’ve picked up some notes from interviews you’ve done on the internet and the first thing that intrigued me was that when you started to work on yourself, you were quite reluctant. You really didn’t want to do it, but you felt you had to do it. And you talked about much trouble from the sixties.
Faisal: Yes. In the sixties I was in Berkeley – Berkeley, California. Berkeley at that time was like a madhouse, you know. So much was happening, people were awakening, flower children were everywhere. And at that time I just came from Kuwait, which was a mud village, you know. So I just freaked out; people painting themselves, singing in the streets. And so at that time also, a couple of my friends from Kuwait too were there and we just did not know how to function in this anymore.
Iain: So what was the reason you moved from Kuwait to America?
Faisal: To study. I wanted to complete my education. After high school, I came to UC-Berkeley, and wanted to study science, you know.
Faisal: In the sixties, with all the trouble and all the lostness, I just did not know where to go, so started looking for something to fix me, to get me back on the ground.
Iain: To be happier basically and to fit in better?
Faisal: Yes, to finish my schooling, to go back home, complete whatever I was ambitious to do in Kuwait, which was to modify the education system. I was aiming to be the minister of education in Kuwait, because the whole education system was a mess in Kuwait, was old-fashioned. But I got sidetracked by all of what was happening. And some of it was due to just bombardment of the environment, the energetics of the environment, merging with the collective and I had no clue what was going on. So my friends and I decided to look for some therapy, to look for something that could ground us and would make us finish our education.
So we started bioenergetics, which took me a while. It was like life-saving, because, being a [type] 4 in the Enneagram, my main blockage was in the lungs and in the diaphragm, and I had no clue that was missing. So when I went to bioenergetics, and he said “Breathe” – my therapist – it was as if the doors of heaven opened up. I forgot I was not breathing. That was the beginning of feeling, “Oh, I am coming back to life again.” I was lost in mind and psychological domains. So I was very happy to come back to myself and made a commitment that if I can get out of the nightmare I was in – I was really lost – then I would dedicate my life to helping people come to this. If there is hope for me, there is hope for anybody. That’s how bad I felt. And of course, being a [type] 4, things always get exaggerated.
Iain: I’m just going to stop you there to explain to the people that don’t know what the Enneagram is, very briefly. Just give us an overview of the Enneagram. You’re a type 4 in the Enneagram system.
Faisal: Yeah, type 4 is a kind of personality that’s addicted to misery, to a sense of lack of value, a sense that the self they have is not a precious one… because it couldn’t solve their family problems and life problems, so they have a deep difficulty renouncing their light, their inner self. And when you push away that part, the result is deep depressions, lostness, no value, no orientation. So the [type] 4 has to do with that sense of drama and lostness and longing for the light of this existence. I did not know at that time that’s the quest.
Iain: Yes. And of course in the Enneagram there are nine different personality types and they all have their different characteristics.
Faisal: Yes. And each characteristic is a representation of part of our essential nature, part of this great Being that we are. And it has, let’s say, nine big departments in it and each one has fallen from one part of this department, or another. So it was a great map to discover what we lost.
Iain: So at that time, as you say, you kind of knew your symptoms, but didn’t understand how it fit into a bigger picture or potential.
Faisal: Yes. I was young, I had no knowledge. I wasn’t interested in spirituality all my life, because I thought that spirituality was associated with religion, and it’s either for the crazies like Sufis wandering in the Middle East lost forever, or for religious people who were exploiting humanity. And I felt that humanity needed a good solid education, and if they get that, there is hope for our future. So because of upbringing in Kuwait, religious family, religious background, I rebelled against spirituality. So when I got into bioenergetics, I wasn’t interested in any spirituality, I just wanted to feel normal again, function, get my life together. Then as a process unfolded through bioenergetics, I had experiences that were strange, like I began to have Shakti, kundalini, lights, colors, you know, all kinds of things.
Iain: When you say kundalini, how did that manifest practically?
Faisal: It’s a very powerful energy streams in the body; it has some effect of high-voltage electricity and current streaming in the body. It’s very good energy, but it’s powerful energy for somebody that hasn’t done much practice. So it opened though bioenergetic breathing and releasing, and that energy was so powerful I could not even control it. I wanted to control it, I wanted to calm down, I didn’t want to see flashes of lights and colours and chakras. I didn’t want any of that.
Iain: So you saw flashing lights and colours?
Faisal: Colours. I thought I was freaking out. I was really losing it. So I wanted to stop that. My bioenergetic therapist did not know about that, so I started looking, “Is there somebody that could calm down the snake, this powerful energy?” And somebody recommended I see Claudio Naranjo.
Faisal: In the sixties, late sixties, he just came to Berkeley and he really opened the doorway in Berkeley to great unfoldment. He really initiated a beautiful process, and brought teachings of the Enneagram, brought teachings of Gestalt, new approaches of therapy, different teachers. It was really like a culture of activities. So I went to him to calm down, and instead he activated it even more, you know. It’s like, OK, it’s light, go in the light. I said there is no return now. It took over, this energy is opening up, and I’m in a school that’s spiritual. I have no interest in it, but if I’m going to go in it, then let me go all the way.
Iain: So it was like something was taking you there and you couldn’t really do much about it, apart from resist it and be in pain.
Faisal: Couldn’t. It’s like there was a force inside, like a genie in the bottle that wanted to come out. And all of my controlling mechanism of a [type] 4 – 4 is a controller – could not take the genie back in the bottle. And I started unfoldment. I thought I either make it to my realization, to my awakening, or I just die, or whatever.
Iain: Yeah, you actually said at one point in the notes I picked up, “Yeah, if I’m actually going to do the spiritual, I either go all the way... I either get enlightened, or I die.”
Iain: That’s a big decision to make, isn’t it?
Faisal: Yes, yes. Yes, yes. Knowing how much suffering there is and to be lost in those domains was so terrifying that I felt I had to really push the envelope, you know. There was no way to be in the middle ground because the middle ground was like life between lives.
Iain: So when you say it was terrifying, in what way was it terrifying?
Faisal: There are so many domains that one can get lost in, in mind, in inner spaces, you know. One can get lost in lostness itself. One can get lost in grief and sorrow, in energetic domains, essential domains, spiritual domains. All of that is like a bardo, what is between lives, that domain – the depth of the unconsciousness is a huge territory. I thought I could be lost there, I could never come out, I could never be functioning again. So I thought if I cannot function and know normality again, it was not worth living. And being a [type] 4, everything was extreme.
Iain: Drama everywhere.
Faisal: Intense drama! So it kept me on my toes.
Iain: And I think a lot of people have this situation. They start on a spiritual journey and it seems that something is taking them and getting out of control. And it can be very scary because it challenges the way you see reality, doesn’t it?
Faisal: Everything. The way you see reality, relationship, everything. Really terrifying. And there was no map and I was too young and so un-knowledgeable about the different domains. All you know is you entered the hall of mirrors and you can be lost in it. So I decided I have to ground, and if enlightenment is the end that will dissipate this, I won’t stop until I get there. So I took the path of impeccable warrior, the gentle impeccable warrior: to meditate constantly, to breathe every day, to ground myself, to process whatever psychological issues that come up, my relationship to my mother and father – the content of my subconscious that was ruling me. And it really was impeccable. I got into Don Juan and Carlos Castaneda dreaming. I wanted to follow that path to complete liberation. And with the help of Claudio and other very benevolent and loving teachers like E.J. Gold, Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, Dhiravamsa, a few others like that, I received so much love and guidance and care that sustained me to go through this journey.
Iain: Because Claudio had this group, SAT – Seekers After Truth.
Iain: And we’ve interviewed quite a few people on Conscious TV who actually were in the same group as you. There was Hameed Ali – A.H Almaas, there was Sandra Maitri, Jessica Britt, Karen Johnson. That’s a few that come to mind.
Iain: It was obviously a very special group, wasn’t it?
Faisal: At that time, it was. We were like pioneers jumping into new territory with great hopes and great expectations and a lot of naiveté. We didn’t know what was waiting. But we learned and the world is magnificent, the learning is great. I wouldn’t exchange it for anything else except for less drama. Otherwise it’s really been a magnificent journey.
Iain: And I think around this time you also started to get into doing meditation, a lot of mediation, like six to eight hours a day some days.
Faisal: Yes. By ’73 I went back home to Kuwait. I was in Berkeley, then I went back home to Kuwait and by then I learned some meditations from Claudio and Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche and Dhiravamsa, who offered Advaita meditation. So I went there, and being alone in Kuwait increased my necessity because it was an environment where I could not turn to anyone for support. In fact I had student friends come – they wanted to study, to know what I am doing, because they liked where I was. I was very energetic, full of love, full of peace and they were suffering a lot in Kuwait. So here I have in my hand a group of friends, very lovely people, who are coming to learn from me, right, and I was alone. I thought if I fell from where I am, nobody’s gonna pick up my hand and take me. So I had to increase my meditation, my practices. And that necessity helped me to become a more impeccable warrior. While nowadays for example I have students, some of them are joyously spoiled because they get a beautiful state of essence today in a session. Two weeks later they come there unhappy because, you know, it’s not good enough – they want another one. [laughter] Give me gold today, give me a pearl today. But at that time I remember if I had a glimpse of something, it was like a jewel that needed to be nurtured. So much treasure because it was scarce.
Iain: And also you were telling me before we started the interview that you went to Iran and you learned about the lataif in Iran. Just tell us a little bit about lataif and how you learned it.
Faisal: Yes. When I was in Kuwait from ’73 to ’75, I was full of love and joy and sharing and giving, but the society, the collective, was in so much pain, so much suffering, because they have fallen from the spiritual domain which our parents and grandparents were in – Kuwait was a mud village full of spirituality, turned to a material highly competitive, throat-cutting competition about money and prestige and power. So it was generating a field of disconnect and lostness and pain. So I was suffering a lot from merging with that.
Then I needed some help, and Iran had many Sufis. Friend of mine said, “Why don’t we go there and receive some baraka, some blessings from Sufis?” So I went there and met different teachers – Sufis – and each one graced us with some love, with some guidance. And one of them transmitted this knowledge about what we call the subtle body – the energy of the subtle body, in Arabic called lataif. Lataif means subtlety, subtle energy. And when that body opens up in the system, the person begins to feel more refined, more exquisite, more in touch with reality rather than with mind and issues and all of that. So he transmitted the four lataif at that time and he transmitted it as four deaths. It wasn’t a carrot, it wasn’t a temptation like get this beautiful energy, or that beautiful energy… it was like, this is the journey. First you’re gonna go through the Red Death. We were scared, we were like 25, 26 years old and here is this mighty Sufi who looked like Don Juan – really scary, a powerful man of knowledge. And he said the Red Death is fear of humanity. Without explaining, he says Black Death is going against oneself. The White Death is surrendering to God’s will. The Yellow Death is leaving behind the loved ones. And it stuck to my mind, “What is he talking about?” I wasn’t interested so much in colors and light, I wanted also just basic sanity; so when I received this, my soul was like thirsty, longing to get in touch with its own resources. To have room in my life to emerge, manifest, and live my life. And that led to more inquiry, more experimenting. I was a seer, an inner seer – I could generate inner states. I started experimenting with those energies, and that was the beginning of the Diamond Approach. It started: the first quality was about the lataif, but we discovered there were nine lataif, not just four, so we added to it more. And there are different energetic centers. They are deeper than the shakti, they are deeper than the meridians, like there’s shakti kundalini, surface energy of colors and light, and electricity; and there are meridians, which are streaming of energy and more subtle. Then deeper than that, there is misty energy, and that’s the lataif. And deeper than that, there are essential states, which are liquids and solids, and then deeper than that is Source.
Iain: We’ll come at it in a little more detail later on that because I want to go into that. But first of all, something happened to you, didn’t it? You had an awakening. You were with… you spent some time… you met Claudio Naranjo, you met a teacher called Tarthang Tulku.
Faisal: Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, yes.
Iain: Yes, and something really happened to you. Just talk us through what happened.
Faisal: Yes, in ’76 I went to visit the States, and I stopped by. He was my teacher, and I was granted to have private time with him. And I was shy and I just blurted it out, “Rinpoche, do I have a chance to be enlightened in this lifetime?” like it was asking for the impossible. And he started laughing – he’s a very joyous man, very happy heartful man – he saidm “Everybody’s enlightened already, they don’t know it. Enlightenment is not something you reach, it’s something you breathe, you’re in.” Like a fish asking about the ocean, where is the ocean? It is in the ocean. And that calmed down my deep anxiety about reaching it or not, that somehow I am in it, but maybe I’m not awake to it.
Through merging with his presence – I am a merger, I can merge, I can connect with the field of the other person and to enter that experience, which is a bliss and a nightmare for people who are mergers. It’s a bliss because you can merge with the higher aspects, and if you meet higher beings, you merge with them because you get to experience higher states of being. But when you are among people who are not on the path, be careful because you also merge with negative stuff, you end up with nightmares that might not be yours. So through his presence, through his field which was very beautiful, very enlightened field, I was able to disengage from a certain domain I was living in spiritually, which was light. I loved the dimensions of light – living daylight, colorful light, if you want to find Faisal you find him in the Café de Light. And he said, “No, just leave the light, let if fall.” It was like a whole domain of light started to subside. And behind it there was this infinite silence, infinite deep, infinite void. In the beginning my senses were not transparent, I couldn’t perceive it in its purity, and the more I stayed with him, tuned in and him assuring me to just relax, to be with the experience, not to fear anything, the darkness became richer, more palpable, more deep, more nourishing, and soothing. Then, as if the stars had opened in the head, in the mind it calmed down the mind, pacified the mind.
Then it started descending. He is a heart-oriented person, so his consciousness was not in his head. His consciousness was in his heart. So when I merged with him, it was [as] if my consciousness descended from being in my head to in my heart. And that’s when the whole field started to illuminate, to shine, the field of rigpa, the field of enlightenment. So the first stage was the stage of awakening – the mind gets stopped and awakened to its nature – and the heart showed enlightened nature of this nature.
Iain: So when we had dinner last night, you were saying – and I never thought of it this way before – that awakening happens in the mind, and enlightenment happens in the heart.
Faisal: Yes, yes. And they say even Buddha Shakyamuni, after he awakened, he attained to the heart of enlightenment. And the heart of enlightenment is a little bit different from the awakened mind. The awakened mind recognizing the nature of the mind, but somehow the heart can either enhance that presence, or tune in to a higher and subtler octave in it. And that’s where luminosity shines, luminosity and the deep connect.
Iain: So you were aware of a process when you were sitting with him that your mind was relaxing and becoming clear and expanding. I don’t know what terms you would use.
Faisal: Yes, expanded, open, subsided activity, calmed down.
Iain: And then you felt from your heart, you felt merged with him.
Faisal: Yes, and also with mind. His mind was like serene, peaceful, but his heart was shining with golden luminosity – had so much goldenness to it. I remember at that time I was sitting next to him, and the room started to glow with ambaric [like amber] richness, as if the air itself, like butter, you can cut it. So dense, so sweet, so loving, as if it’s God’s heart embracing all of existence with the preciousness, with love. And I remember there was even a can of 7Up. I said, “What’s this can there doing in the room, the holy room?” It was as if the space around it was making it glow as a most precious object, without any of my projections about this. So that I felt, Oh that’s the enlightened nature, and it is made of two elements, the non-dual is made of two elements. It’s made of the deep, which is the feminine aspect of being, and the radiance, which is the masculine aspect of being, and the union of the two is what the Daoists make as the yin and yang. So the Absolute is dual, made of the two combined in Holy Communion, but can be differentiated. And that changed the whole approach to psychology, to processing, to finding the way of how the feminine can journey and the masculine can journey and the integration of the two.
Iain: And you were also telling me earlier that you went away to Kuwait again, six months later, and you thought you lost it.
Faisal: Yes. [Laughing]
Iain: And you felt desperate because you lost it.
Faisal: Yes, that was one of the most shocking experiences. I thought once you get ‘enlightened’, this is it, you don’t lose it, you’re enlightened forever. Enlightenment is forever, but we are not forever with it. Because we go into it and we fall back. We go back till the inner muscles, the inner feathers, strengthen; then we can anchor in the field.
Iain: It’s an integration.
Faisal: An integration and empowerment within. Our inner sensors are not now so refined to detect, or to be able to sustain being in that high frequency all the time. Issues come up, mind patterns, psychological, all of those, and they color the field. So being in the field for six months, in joy and love and illumination and bliss showered by petals of flowers, and being kissed by the Absolute with love, that was so glorious that six months later I couldn’t reach it. I mean, you could imagine that you failed enlightenment. And you can be a failure to a certain level, but failing enlightenment is hopeless. So I suffer from it, I inquire into what’s it about, and discover that my inner child at that time didn’t go; even being enlightened. Still there are residues there that need to be sensed.
Iain: So the subconscious, unconscious, I guess in the cells in the body, there’s still all this information and programs which are somehow affecting your human side at that point.
Faisal: Yes, there is a part of me that says, “OK I am now in the field, it is empty, it’s luminous – but what’s the use of that?” And that part was like the soul longing to belong to humanity, and that manifested as beyond human. This is Absolute, you know. Even though I felt it as my nature, there was a part of me that was not so sure this is human. And humanness meant something that I can go and show my mother; I can go and tell her I got enlightened, “Now do you see me special?” [laughter] So I discovered this voice. It was a great relief that my inner child, or my soul, longed to be human and wanted to utilize this knowledge to connect to humanness.
Iain: Yes. So this is an important point because certainly people I’ve interviewed, and certainly people that I’ve read about, see enlightenment as beyond humanness. But for you, what you’re saying is it’s actually bringing that into the humanness.
Faisal: Yes. And in fact, not only that, now and without much doubt about it, enlightenment is the human nature. There is nothing now in my knowing and understanding that goes beyond the human. We are the alpha and we are the omega. There is nothing beyond the human. So enlightenment is Buddha nature. It’s not anybody else, it’s his nature, it’s your nature, it’s my nature, it’s our humanness. But in the spirituality they split it off, they made it something beyond the human; they made it impersonal. There was so much missing in the spiritual journey about humanizing spirituality and now it got integrated: this is my nature, like the ocean is the nature of the fish. I can dissolve in it, create from it, evolve in it, it’s my nature. It’s not something I go and I finish; there is no such thing. It’s a field that I grow and mature and evolve, and if I awaken to its nature, I navigate better. If I don’t know the nature of my mind, I am playing with a dangerous bull.
Iain: In a way it’s the potential of the human condition.
Faisal: Exactly. That is the potential of the human. And if the soul awakens, and the mind awakens from the ego trip, you see that we have a great potential. Lovely, sacred, beautiful and we can co-create from it. Infinite magnificent potentiality. If not, we’re still creating from it every day, but we recreate our conditioning every day without knowing. We just repeat the story and the field activates it, and here we are: mom, dad and me, the holy trinity, again and again.
Iain: So just to clarify, you found again with your teacher, he reconnected you with the enlightened state, and then you understood more about the integration of it. And the sort of endless nature of that, in one way.
Faisal: Yeah, endless. In ’76 was the first awakening. The second, ’77. I went to my teacher and I told him, “I lost it.” And he started laughing. He knew I was anxious, like a young kid. He said, “Relax, sit down, relax.” And in no time, one minute or two, I am back to the luminous field. Then I realized, yeah, this is eternal. I come and go. I go into a little dream, or another; a little thought or another. I am always in this ocean. That gave me courage and assurance that I can venture in any domain, know that the end of that tunnel is this field, waiting. And that was the beginning of the unfoldment of the essential domain.
Iain: Let’s talk about this. Then you met up again with your old friend you went to school with, Hameed Ali, and – you told me again last night – you encouraged him to play football when you were ten years old. [laughter] And you formed together the Diamond Approach.
Iain: And you… you talk me through it, rather than me summarizing what you’re going to say.
Faisal: I remember how it started, for me. In 1977, after the second awakening, there was an inner inspiration, inner guidance – a verse, a holy verse, that I keep to myself. But maybe, if we have time, I will recite it later. That was the backbone. That was the essential structure that led to the whole unfoldment of the Diamond Logos and the Diamond Approach – then evolved into the Diamond Logos that I am now into. That verse was the GPS of the soul journey, the guidance that kept correcting the perspective, aligning it. It was a chapter, a verse, in the Quran, that’s called “The Verse of Light”, for people interested in reading it.
Iain: The Verse of Light.
Faisal: Of Light. And The Verse of Light has a summary of the totality of the journey in any lineage you take: Buddhism, Sufism, Christianity. They all talk about the same thing, summarized in that verse. It took me over thirty years to know what it meant. And each time I step one way, it gives more guidance. So that was the beginning for me of the journey. ’78, I went back to California, got back with Hameed and we started inquiry. At that time, he would ask me, “I hear about essence, what is essence?” I don’t use terminologies. I am more like a heart intuiter. Names are not that important. I see, I feel, I know. Right? That, to me, is more about cultivating the knowledge and the issues and all of that. At that time, he was crippled and I always wanted to help him walk.
Iain: He had polio.
Faisal: He had polio, when he was a little boy. So I was in the field, in the Absolute and the Absolute provides transparency. So I could see what was there. And essential states were flowing as forms of blessings.
Iain: That’s right, because you used to call them blessings, you were telling me.
Faisal: Yes. At that time, I was using Sufi terminology. So I called them baraka. Baraka means blessings. So for this person in need – they are going through certain suffering – a certain baraka comes, a certain blessing, which was an emanation of Being. It could be a golden state, it could be light, it could be water essence that arrived. So I was enjoying them but not counting the blessings. But I felt some drive because I wanted Hameed to walk. I really wanted him to walk. So I thought, maybe through this light and energy, I can strengthen the muscles, the nerves, the fascias and the tissues. And he really got into it. So, every day, we’d look and do some healing to the leg, and through that healing – being open to Being – made the Being a sensor. The Absolute is a sensor. It can detect what is there and it can provide what is needed. So I would sense one layer in the leg, then I’d feel like this silver substance coming and flowing through my hand to that layer, and going maybe to the fascias. And Hameed said, “Oh, I feel silver, I taste silver.” And I said, “I see silver.” Then comes “If I stand on my legs, I’m always afraid father will attack me”. And I said, “Amazing. What does that have to do, silver, with father?” So then, little by little, the guidance began to bring in the synapses between silver – which is the quality of essence, that gives ease, relaxation, solidity, groundedness – and fear of father, castration issues.
So little by little, we began to awaken that. Every quality that came through Grace, through receiving directly from Being, to do the healing, also had some constellation of issues in the unconscious. So the Diamond guidance began to connect qualities of essence, issues, and locations in the body, and the affect and the ‘holes’ that it would bring. And that was the beginning of awakening to the Diamond Approach. It came through, first, Grace, then through psychic reading of the issues, and then through beginning to read books that relate to that. And Hameed did a magnificent task that way. He’s a reader, and I am a player in the field of life. Essence motivates me to do something different from reading. I like to act in life. I like to engage with life. And he likes to contemplate. And the differences add richness to the experience.
Iain: So you were finding more and more essential states as you went along.
Faisal: Yes. Yes, yes. And at that time, I was also very frustrated because Almaas wanted to take every state and study it and I wanted to go to the Absolute. I kept telling him that these are just products, these are the halva of the princess. You don’t get engaged to eating the halva of the princess; find the princess. And the princess to me was the Absolute. But he couldn’t reach it at that time. He was in the overwhelming process of unfoldment and downloading the psychological issues related to that essential state. Then I found also the value of that. We were meeting from two different ends of the road.
Iain: Yes, yes.
Faisal: He was on the ascending journey to the Absolute. I was on the descending journey, from the Absolute to the relative. So we meet. I am the Absolute, I come to the quality of essence. He was in the personality, he comes to the quality of essence. And through the differences, we began to appreciate the gift of each other. Through struggling with the issues, he was able to formulate much understanding. And through me being in the Grace, in Being and able to manifest it, it brought the passage of Grace, too. It is not all work. We are all gonna work on our issues. It’s a drug. It never ends. Grace has to come. Blessings.
Iain: Yes. There’s so much we could talk about, but time is finite, anyway, in this interview. And then you went your own way, and you started the Diamond Logos Academy.
Iain: And you worked in your own way with those essential aspects. And there’s also the Theory of Holes, which is so important to your work – and also the work of Hameed Ali, A.H. Almaas, in the Ridhwan School. So, just explain what the Theory of Holes is.
Faisal: From the beginning, when we were doing our issues, we found out that each time we sorted out an issue, inquired into its composition, its location, as the issue begins to unwind, begins to open up, we see that the ego activity is driven to do something, to achieve something, to heal something, its activity barely touches on what it’s looking for. So, as we calm down the ego activity, there happens a hole inside, like an energetic emptiness inside. And when the person can’t tolerate this energetic emptiness… like some people try to produce so much heart by emotions, they’re all the time generating their emotional body to produce heartful feelings. But it is only the surface of heart. If they calm down this drivenness – emotionality, for example – the heart opens up to an emptiness, which is unbearable. There is a hole in the heart. In fact, there is no heart. There is just a squeezing of the heart. So, if they calm down, feel the heart, or the emptiness of no heart, then from within this emptiness, the heart begins to awaken to its nature, which is essential state.
The same thing with mind. Some people think so much, trying to figure out what’s going on and if they calm down this mechanism, there’ll be a big hole in the head. There’s nothing in the head. They can’t think. They can’t figure it out. And if they tolerate this emptiness in the head, then the mind begins to awaken to a deeper aspect of it, which is intelligence, objectivity, clarity, precision.
So we find out that the ego is always busy, trying to fill in an energetic hole in the body, mind and psyche. And when it stops, the person feels a loss, perceives an inner emptiness, an inner vacuity. If they tolerate it, the essence has a chance to emerge.
Iain: Well, one of the things that I realized fairly early on, when I was in – I’m still in – the Ridhwan School, in the first couple of years, was that the personality - actually, in previous spiritual schools I was in - sometimes the ego was talked about like an enemy. But what I learnt was that the ego, the personality, is really kind of formed on top of the essential states – and actually, personality is the biggest clue to finding our essential states.
Iain: So you don’t want to try and get rid of it. It’s about understanding it.
Faisal: Exactly. Exactly. And especially the ego, you know, you hear it so much [the phrase]: if you meet the Buddha, kill him – which means an image of the Buddha, or something; kill him. Why not hug him? Give him a big hug. You might be enlightened. [laughter] You know, the bliss of the Buddha. So the ego is the fallen angel. It is part of our soul. Our soul as children was struggling with the environment – mother, father… this and, this… by the time it formulated a strategy to deal with this unbearable situation, the result of that is the development of the ego. But between seven and nine, the ego mechanism – it’s like you start a process…
Iain: Seven and nine years old.
Faisal: Seven and nine years old. The ego mechanism begins to run by its own self – a momentum we start – and runs by itself until it crystallizes. And that crystallization is the ego preserving its own identity. It’s like the ego working very hard to take a picture of the real self and holding [on] to the picture for dear life. So in the unfoldment, the ego will not go. It can survive enlightenment. Mine did. It can survive enlightenment. It would not go. Because there is an illusion that the ego is not in the Absolute, is not in the enlightened space. The personality is, the mind is, but the ego is the holder of the lineage of the real self inside. So the ego – I call it the madden lover – it’s part of our soul that is madly in love with its Source. It is a part of our soul that is separated from our higher self and the programming in it is to go back to that higher self. So, in the journey I started offering this ego, to heal it in every kind of way. It enjoys this quality, that quality, but then leaves it. It’s just like a child: you try to give it this mother, or that mother… it doesn’t want them. It wants its own mother. So even with the Absolute, the ego survived the Absolute. It was there, hiding and next day, I’ll tell you, it shows up, “But how ‘bout me?” And you say, “I have no time, you’re still here – let’s kill the ego.” So then I realized no, you cannot kill the ego. The ego’s afraid for me, a lover, seeking its beloved. And when I had this realization, this guidance, the ego began to ease. The ego began to reveal what it’s longing for, but forgot. Then I realized it’s really longing for the individuated higher self, not the cosmic self. The cosmic self, the Absolute, yes, we need to all go back home, feel that we’re in the ocean, but each fish longs for its own uniqueness. And that’s when the teaching about the point of light, about the higher self, started opening. That’s when I shifted from being Absolutist, to being Pointist.
Iain: [laughing] Absolutist to Pointist.
Faisal: [laughing] To Pointist. It’s about individuated soul, its uniqueness in existence, the soul journey – [that’s] what’s it about – and how to discover the soul, how to support it to know itself, awaken to itself, awaken to the holding environment we live in and then to walk our walk. That’s the shift of paradigm. In my teaching now, the human being, the human entity, the human soul, is the center of the mandala of existence, while the Absolute is our nature, is Buddhahood, is belovedness of who we are. But we are the beloved. You and I are the beloveds and [expanding arms to indicate the whole world] this is our ‘belovedness’ of our beloved nature. This shifted the paradigm and brought sanity, brought everything home, here, to everyday life – to deal with my children, living my life, to navigating a better life for now, and for the future.
Iain: You were saying – again, when we were talking last night – you were saying that, with your children, you realized that being in the Absolute wasn’t helping them to grow and mature.
Faisal: Yes, because I was always in the non-attached; attached to non-attachment, you know.
Iain: You were attached to non-attachment.
Faisal: Many of the Absolutists now are attached to that. They don’t want to put themselves on the firing line. They think this is only ego. It is not, it is the soul itself baking in the oven of existence, maturing, evolving, learning. My children didn’t need an enlightened parent sitting there. My children, I was engaged with them not too detached, but I needed to really be with them and help them trim the dead wood, help them know, navigate, mature. But I was taking the view of distancing, witnessing, allowing. And they missed – not too much, I exaggerate – but they missed the personalness because I kept looking at the personal as if it is not the highest. And now, to me, there isn’t anything higher, or lower. Everything is the same: one holistic reality. My illusions about it are as real as the Absolute. Everything is real, even my illusion because it can give me headaches. It’s real. So the paradigm of thinking spiritually, the old traditional way, fell off my dictionary. This is a magnificent kingdom, we are its inhabitants. We evolve, and evolve it in a field of pure potentialities. And that shifted, as if the lights came on. I am in the center of the mandala of existence, I create my own universe. You create yours and we co-create this magnificent kingdom.
Iain: And something you also talked about, which really interested me, was [the idea] that humanity needs to become more spiritual, and the spiritual needs to become more human. You kind of touched on this. But, again, I hadn’t thought of it from those two different points of view.
Faisal: Yes, yes. If you look at spirituality, which is magnificent teachings, and guidance, it has also become a special club in existence. And it’s for certain elitists and this is higher than thou, and this guru sits on the throne. Now, when I see a garbage collector, could that be a bodhisattva? Could that be higher than somebody still on the throne? My mind was questioning, was toppling down so many idols and paradigms. And the last idol to break for me was the spiritual idol. I realize how narcissistic we are. And if you really know - I think you know - the most narcissistic people in life are the spiritualists. Seekers are so narcissistic. [laughter] It’s always about I and me and myself, the holy trinity, again and again and again ... [laughter] … which is a beautiful way of evolution and growth, but it became an elitist club. And spirituality became so difficult to reach. When we were developing the Diamond Approach, you have to know so much psychology, and so much philosophy, and so much that I remember sometimes reflecting: does Hameed’s mother, does my mother, ever have a chance to get to where we want to go? They don’t have PhDs in psychology. They’re just very simple people. How are they ever gonna get object relations theory, ego psychology development, and all of that? It was, like, absurd. And I felt we are using now the teachings to serve our grandiosity by thinking we are spiritualists. There was a distortion in the picture. And we used to blame students if they don’t get it; they have to study sometimes even math and logic and psychology and all of this, in order to get it. His mom and mine were far more advanced than we were at that time. They were very heartful, very sweet, very good-natured, in connection with Being, in prayers, in love. We had to work through barricades of issues. They didn’t. They didn’t even have egos. They were just simple people.
And that gave me inspiration – that spirituality is so much needed for people to awaken to. This is our reservoir. But also the teaching needs to be humanized. We need to make it understandable. We need to make it simple because so much complicating of the teachings is a form of narcissism. I am feeding my narcissistic mind, to make the highest self possible – while maybe the real self is simple, is a human, is relational. So then, that was toppling the idol of spirituality without throwing the baby [out] with the bathwater, modifying spiritual teaching, making it understandable and making it reachable for as many as possible to know what the difficulties are, but that the treasure is us – how to reach us, and walk our walk. Otherwise, it becomes Buddhism versus Sufism versus the Diamond Approach versus Diamond Logos; these are just tools.
Iain: And they’re all different ways. Again – we were discussing last night – there’s the mountain to climb and there’re so many paths up the mountain. We all find the path which we feel is right for us at that time.
Faisal: Exactly. Exactly. And to me, that was the promise when the Diamond guidance came, the promise that the Diamond guidance does not reside in the Ridhwan School, or the Diamond Logos Academy. The Diamond Logos – I send this message from my heart to all seekers. There is an inner guide made of pure diamonds and guidance and preciousness. Call it… [inaudible] call it Avalokitshvara, every person, every soul, has its own guidance. It doesn’t belong to Ridhwan, it doesn’t belong to Diamond Logos, it doesn’t belong to Tibet. Every one of us has our own guidance. And the work, to me… I rest in my heart and soul when a student reaches their diamond body, their diamond guidance. Then they are in good hands. I am not their teacher, I am a stepping stone. A jeweled stepping stone, but I’m a stepping stone to their own guidance.
Iain: It’s ultimately about finding our own way.
Faisal: Our own way and feeling the courage and the support to walk that walk.
Iain: Yes. You talked – again, last night – you talked about how divine love comes from Grace. We’ve got about three minutes left. I thought it was very beautiful when you said that, “Divine love comes from Grace.” Let’s talk about that briefly.
Faisal: We mentioned there are two lineages on Earth: the path of liberation and the path of salvation. The path of liberation is so much encouraged by Buddhism, which is to ignore the nature of mind, to disengage from its cobwebs, its matrix, and know its nature – and then you’re free. You are not trapped any more in those pigeonholes and when they open up, you can disengage from them. And you can even transform those pigeonholes into essential states. This is the path of liberation.
The path of salvation is about, “OK, now that I am free, how am I to navigate? What is the walk? How can I walk my walk?” I remember there was a little TV show, a documentary [where] they put three monkeys in a cage, in a big yard. And then after three months, they opened the cage and you should see how the monkeys were. One scratching his head too overwhelmed to get out. One sitting, and one has run away. After a week, the monkeys started getting their hands out, they’re feeling the space – it’s disorienting. Then they walked out. Then they knew how to walk the walk.
Liberation is like those monkeys opening the mind… and the soul is out. But without Grace, without guidance, the soul can make mistakes and fall again. And how to walk the walk? Like the Indians say, “When an eagle flies it leaves no trace behind.” So there is a path that we overlooked, which is the path of salvation. The lineage of The Prophet was in charge of this path of salvation. Islam, Christianity… so many religions are about how to walk the walk: thou shalt not kill – the Ten Commandments – this, this and this… [gesturing to make a list] It’s all there, as if there is God telling his children: “Behave, don’t do this, don’t do that!” It’s not about reaching enlightenment, it’s about walking a walk. If you walk it, the soul will evolve into virtuousness, into Grace, into richness, into maturation. We’ll land in the Absolute and we’ll know how to utilize and engage with the Absolute.
So, through great suffering, I was able to feel that the Absolute didn’t answer me. And I wasn’t gonna blame myself. I am a fallen angel, I am an ego, and that’s what I am. [laughter] So I let go of the Absolute. I let go of essence. That was in ’86. I separated from Almaas because I thought he wasn’t able. He was so much in the Absolute and it’s a lesson. He’s just now in the prejudice of enlightenment, the intoxication of the Absolute. I let him be there, but I already had ten years of journeying in it and it didn’t answer. So I went back to this part of me – call it ego, call it self – and I was in the dark night of the soul for one year. I can go to the Absolute and the essential domain. I can go to nirvana, but it was a temptation. I can run away and go into my personality and fears, but I’d had enough Halloween parties. I’ve seen it. So I stayed in the dark night, darkness upon darkness.
And after one year, something exploded in me. I don’t want to do everything. Is there something that will work on me? Because each time I do something, I generate me. I could not engage with me. Even the enlightened me is a product of me generating me. And in that depth of soul, crying, longing, for God, which was a foreign word to me, there was a touch of Grace and that touch felt… I was touched by a love that I always longed to… always longed for this kind of love. I had millions of states of love, but I wanted this love. And I managed to avoid it in every possible way, because it brought my deepest breakage, my deepest humiliation, my deepest narcissism and I did not want to face that. I couldn’t face it. It was the core of the core of narcissism. And, with that divine love, I felt I am loved by God – though I wanted to be the only begotten son of God. I wanted that from my mother - I wanted that from God, but I didn’t even know I wanted it from God - to be the most special. And, when I got that love, I felt the most special. No wonder everybody wants to be the most special. Deep inside, we all want this love, we all want to feel loved as the most special. And that’s Grace. That love is a grace.
Iain: Faisal, I’m afraid the clock is against us.
Faisal: [laughing] OK.
Iain: We could go on a long time. I really want to thank you for coming along. It’s been very interesting. It really has and you have a different take from most people, which I appreciate very much.
Faisal: Yes. And thank you so much, Iain, for this opportunity. It touched my heart deeply. What you are doing – you and Renate and…
Iain: Eleonora, yes.
Faisal: Eleonora. You’re really creating a holding field that’s so beautiful and may the blessing continue to you.
Iain: Thank you.
Faisal: And to all your loved ones.
Iain: And thank you, everyone out there, for watching conscious.tv and I hope we see you again soon. Goodbye.
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