I went to a half-day satsang with Adyashanti yesterday, in Portland, and it was wonderful. As a friend of mine said, he is a breath of fresh air.
Awakening and flowering of Spirit
One of the things he talked about is the distinction between awakening and the flowering of Spirit, or Enlightenment and Self-Realization as Ken Wilber calls it in Integral Spirituality.
One is the awakening of Big Mind to its own nature. It is realized selflessness. The other is the continuing maturing and development of this human self, or as Adya said it: the flowering of Spirit through this human life.
Flowering of Spirit in always fresh ways
As he pointed out, Spirit never repeats itself. It is always manifesting as fresh, new, different. Uniquely, whether it is as a snow flake, a mountain, or through and as a human life.
So this flowering inevitably involves the breaking of boundaries, of the conventions of society and our tradition, of the expectations of ourselves and others, of our old limited identity, any ideas of what this human self can and should do. The flowering, if full and encouraged, will naturally break and go beyond any and maybe all of these imaginary boundaries.
Adyashanti himself is one of the most clear examples of this. He goes beyond any imaginary boundary, whether from culture, tradition (Zen, in his case), expectations, identity. I suspect he continually surprises even himself.
It is possible to restrict and narrowly channel this flowering of Spirit, if there is a clinging to norms, tradition, expectation and old identities. And this probably happens quite a lot.
And it is possible to encourage this flowering of Spirit, going beyond boundaries existing only as ephemeral ideas.
Genpo Roshi does this, having gone beyond the Zen tradition and developed the Big Mind process. Byron Katie certainly does this, although she has learned to talk and communicate in a way that is a little easier for people to take in.Adyashanti does this, in his wonderfully clear and fresh teachings. Douglas Harding does this, daring – in a quite traditional British culture, to suggest that we are really headless in our own immediate experience.
Most of the figures recorded by history also seem to fall into this category, although that does not mean that they were necessarily more important the many who were more anonymous or less obviously adventurous. Jesus was certainly an iconoclast, as were BuddhaShakyamuni, Bodhidharma, Dogen, Milarepa, Meister Eckhart, Hafiz, Rumi, Hildegaard, and many others.
It requires Great Courage (or Great Foolishness!) to invite this flowering of Spirit in our human life. This flood which will break all dams and levees. And the reward is a possibly fuller and richer manifestation of Spirit in our human life, and a continual surprising of even ourselves.
How this human self is put together
I suspect that this too depends somewhat on how our particular human self is put together.
If it is already somewhat reckless, a sucker for freshness and newness, relentlessly curious by nature, or dedicated to truth and authenticity, then this flowering is more likely to be one that goes beyond any and all boundaries.
If more traditional and conventional by nature, the flowering may fall more neatly within the expectations of culture and tradition, and maybe even our old identity.
Again, there is nothing wrong in either of these, and there is certainly room for both. If we were all reckless iconoclasts, little would be left of tradition and the accumulated experience and wisdom embodied there. If we were all traditionalists, there would be little freshness, innovation and adaption to new and changing settings and circumstances.
Equally important, some human selves – such as this one, has an affiliation to and resonate with the innovators. Others, with the traditionalists. And we all find our interest drawn to one or the other at various times, and maybe even both.
(As I write this, I see that I started out closer to what I heard Adyashanti briefly say, and then go into further differentiation on my own. It shifts as I write, which is why I do it – to explore and clarify it on my own.)
When I look at it for myself, it seems that the flowering of Spirit can certainly be full and rich in either case. One is not necessarily more full or rich, or more important, than the other. They complement each other. They are both equally needed. They can both be a flowering of Spirit in a fresh way, whether within the general boundaries of tradition and culture or not.
The one boundary which the flowering do need to break out of is that of our old identity. This is the one that can restrict it. Sometimes, it is possible to break out of our own identity and still function within the general boundaries of tradition and culture. Other times, it may lead us to go beyond and break free from these boundaries. And this can happen in more or less obvious and dramatic ways.
So there is awakening, realized selflessness, which is independent of the particulars of the content, including this human self. And there is Self-Realization and the flowering of Spirit, which is all about content – about the life and maturing of this human self.
And this flowering of Spirit relates to the imaginary boundaries of tradition, culture, identity and expectations in two ways.
First, there is the realization of freedom from any boundaries of tradition, culture, identity and expectations, and the flowering of Spirit beyond and independent of these.
Then, there is the expression of this, how it is lived in the world. Here, it can be aligned with and mostly within the boundaries of tradition and culture, and may even appear to be mostly within the boundaries of the old identity (although most likely not). Or it can obviously and clearly be expressed free from and independent of any and all of these boundaries.
In the realization of freedom from boundaries, there is also the freedom to express it within or free from these boundaries. And that depends on how this human self is put together, the situation, what seems most helpful to others, and so on. It will change with changing circumstances.