Lataif is an Arabic word that refers to subtle organs of perception in Sufi spiritual psychology. In the Diamond Approach, each latifa is a quality of our spiritual nature, an expression of the divine, an indestructible aspect of who and what we really are.
The spiritual qualities represented by the lataif are those that are most easily accessible by human beings and the most necessary both for the ongoing living of our lives and the pursuit of our spiritual realization. They are the interface between our everyday human experience and the nondual dimension of reality in which everything is a oneness that transcends our ego and sense of separateness. They bring nondual reality into practical application in our day-to-day lives and help us to dispel the belief that we are individuals who are somehow separate from our spirit.
Experiencing the lataif and knowing they exist makes it easier to understand the nature of reality, free ourselves from the turmoil of our personal history, and live our life from a grounded depth of understanding that is unaffected by the tumult in our world. The lataif are also essential for following any spiritual path, which requires their support to sustain our practices and stay focused on our inner journey.
Through the exploration of each latifa, we come to understand that they are deeper modes of perceiving and experiencing what we really are, of understanding our inner nature, each with a particular wisdom that supports our being. We will see that by accessing them, we find that we’ve always known them, but simply lost contact through our personal history and conditioning.
Lightness of Being is both an excellent introduction to the Diamond Approach – as well as an opportunity for seasoned spiritual seekers to experience the transformative power of this path.
In this introduction, we familiarize ourselves with the lataif, talk about how they can support us in living a harmonious life, and discuss how it is more important than ever to connect with these qualities in polarized, conflictual times. Through the exploration of each latifa, we come to understand that they are deeper modes of perceiving and experiencing what we really are, of understanding our inner nature, and in accessing them, we find that we’ve always known them, but simply lost contact through our personal history and conditioning.
The biggest blocks to our joy are our “shoulds”: Ideas about what is and is not an appropriate emotion, what we should or shouldn’t know, what we think are the “correct” spiritual feelings to have. The yellow latifa helps us work with this past conditioning, move beyond our judgments, and reconnect with our innate joy and curiosity so we can drop fully and enthusiastically into the naturally occurring phenomenon of happiness.
How many of us felt small and insignificant as children when we were told, “Don’t get too big for your britches” or “Who do you think you are?” Conversely, how pleasantly surprised were you when you responded to a situation with strength and confidence and marveled, “I can’t believe I just said that!” This last reaction is the essence of the red latifa shining through, a quality needed on the inward journey in order to examine our conditioning around being big, vibrant, and alive. By working with the red latifa, we feel courageous and daring, and come truly and resplendently into our own.
What most of us think of as our free will is actually a way of trying to control what is going to happen. It is what society thinks of as “willpower,” believing only we as separate human selves have the power to effect change and progress. Working with the white latifa, however, helps us see that our need to control is based on our early reactions to helplessness. Through challenging these old assumptions, we can align with true universal will and trust in reality that opens us to infinite possibilities for real freedom, agency, and right action in the world.
The hearts of many are weighed down with unease and agitation these days. A global pandemic, natural disasters, the inhumanity of armed conflicts, the divisiveness of politics, the toxic legacy of racism. How do we find a quiet clearing in the woods in the midst of all this? The black latifa is the bridge to that eternally still and peaceful place that is available within each of us. It’s not just the absence of fear, self-doubt, animosity, turmoil, and the cacophony of human civilization. It is a living presence of silence that is the birthright of our spiritual nature.
Our everyday experiences of tenderness, empathy, and warmth in the face of our own or other people’s suffering actually points toward a profound capacity of our being; an infinite pool of responsiveness that extends far beyond the emotional realm and connects us to what it means to be a human being and to have a heart. This is the embodiment of the green latifa, a quality that not only unlocks our compassion by helping us be with our pain in new ways, but also reveals the deepest secrets of the universe.
A.H. Almaas (pen name for Hameed Ali) is the founder of the Diamond Approach, a contemporary teaching that developed within the context of both ancient spiritual teachings and modern depth psychology theories. He has authored twenty books about spiritual realization, including the Diamond Heart series, Facets of Unity, Keys to the Enneagram, and The Alchemy of Freedom. He is the founder of the Ridhwan School for Spiritual Development, an inner work school devoted to the realization of True Nature. The orientation of the school is directed toward guiding students to realize their true nature to the fullest realization and further still, to endless enlightenment.
Karen Johnson is the co-developer of the Diamond Approach as it is taught in the Ridhwan School today, having worked alongside Hameed Ali for the last 40 years. After attending California College of Arts and Crafts, she befriended Hameed, and with him began a new trajectory into the secrets of the universe of Being, which became the Diamond Approach. Karen was trained in art and dance and received an MA in psychology at JFK University. She is the author of two books, The Jeweled Path: The Biography of the Diamond Approach to Inner Realization and The Power of Divine Eros: The Illuminating Force of Love in Everyday Life. She continues to venture into new explorations of the endless realms of our miraculous Nature.
Christof Bosch grew up in Germany, but his father was connected to Ananda Mayee Ma, a spiritual teacher in Northern India. Christof met her in his teens and found himself on an inner journey that led him to the Diamond Approach 20 years later. In between, Christof’s search brought him to ecology and philosophy. After studying forestry, he worked as a consultant for soil ecology and for many years he ran an organic farm in Bavaria, where he still lives. He has been a teacher of the Diamond Approach since 2006.
Zarina Maiwandi has been a student of the Diamond Approach since 1999 and a teacher since 2015, working with groups in the United States, Asia, and Europe. Trained as an academic studying Western philosophy and literature, she also edits books, including several written by A. H. Almaas.
“Ridhwan” is a Sufi word. It means “satisfied and satisfying.” Our school, home to more than 4,000 students across the globe, has the potential to both help you to be fulfilled and to help others be fulfilled. Students learn to ground, sensitize, recognize, and trust the inherent guidance of Being.
The Diamond Approach is the core teaching of the Ridhwan School, a spiritual path that approaches our ordinary experiences, emotions, and sensations in a friendly way of understanding. This radical acceptance of our situation allows something to come through that puts us in touch with our spirituality.
In the Diamond Approach, everything we experience is utilized as a doorway to our spiritual nature. Rather than negating or seeking to transcend parts of our humanness that are considered barriers to realization, we learn to approach each aspect of our physical, emotional, and mental experience with acceptance and open curiosity to discover its truth. We do meditation and other exercises, but the main method is Diamond Inquiry™: non-judgment of what we’re experiencing, which brings crisp clarity into one’s own truth.
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