John_DavisIn my mid-twenties, I was trying out many different systems of personal and spiritual growth and enjoying it immensely. The search was enlivening to me, and I appreciated the growth and expansion I was experiencing. I heard from an acquaintance about Hameed Ali, founder of the Diamond Approach, and a 3-month “emotional housecleaning” process he was offering, and it sounded like it might be useful. I felt some healing and opening from it, and although I expected to move on to the next thing, I found something in his presence that got my attention in a new way. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but now I realize he felt real to me, clean somehow in his presence, settled in himself, and authentic. He was just forming a group of people who had done that 3-month process, and out of curiosity about what he was about and what he knew, I joined that group. I guess I wanted some of “what he was having.” That was 40 years ago.

When you first started, what was your greatest challenge?

It’s a little embarrassing, but staying awake was a huge challenge to me. Yes, literally staying awake. I was forever falling asleep in the group sessions. Sure, we were meeting on summertime evenings, and it was hot in the room, but that was hardly the reason. It was primarily a way of avoiding my inner experience. To this day, I am grateful Hameed was patient with me and did not kick me out then and there.

What has kept you engaged with the Diamond Approach teachings?

Although this has changed in many ways, the throughline for my work has been my curiosity about what’s next. Many times I felt a sense of getting the full scope of the Diamond Approach, only to find that there was more. Doors into new realms of understanding and new realms of heart keep opening. I continue to be curious about what’s next for our path.

What aspect of the teaching is most alive in you right now?

While there are many, I can name two. The topic of life transitions is close to my heart and, I feel, essential for all of us for our growth, development, and transformation. While there is much useful understanding about the shape and nature of life transitions, I feel that the Diamond Approach brings unusually profound depth and wisdom to this important topic, wisdom that can be useful in very practical ways as we go through transitions. I recently completed video recordings for a Diamond Approach Online course on life transitions. I also feel that the course can serve as an introduction to the Diamond Approach through the lens of a universal human phenomenon, our life changes. If you are interested, I invite you to check it out at:

Another aspect of the teaching which is alive for me is the contribution the Diamond Approach can make to our relationships with the Earth and especially with wild nature. Many of my most direct experiences of inner depth or essence have been in nature, and I feel the Diamond Approach’s understanding has contributed greatly to those experiences and, more importantly, to my integration of those experiences. This is material I have taught in university programs and on wilderness retreats, and I continue to explore it.

What advice/encouragement would you offer to someone ‘on the fence’ about attending an intro event?

Try not to fall asleep. Beyond that, I would say stay in touch with your experience as much as possible—your sensations, your feelings, and your thoughts and attitudes. And stay curious about what is arising for you, where those experiences are coming from, and what sorts of portals into your depth they might hold. This way, you’ll have a better understanding about whether this path is for you.

If you could have one wish for humankind, what would it be?

Freedom—inner and outer. The freedom to feel, move, question, understand, and love.

John Davis
is an ordained teacher of the Diamond Approach, an adjunct professor at Naropa University, and a staff member for the School of Lost Borders. John is the author of The Diamond Approach: An Introduction to the Teachings of A.H. Almaas (Shambhala Publications), entries on Transpersonal Psychology and Wilderness Rites of Passage in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, and the chapter on the Diamond Approach in The Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology, among other writings. His primary interest is full human development with a special focus on the intersection of spirit, psyche, and nature. John leads Diamond Approach groups in Colorado, Vancouver, Seattle, and Connecticut, guides wilderness retreats, and directs a training program for Diamond Approach teachers.