Real freedom is the freedom from the demand to feel good all the time.– Adyashanti
Enlightenment is when everything within us is in cooperation with the flow of life itself, with the inevitable.
When I post quotes, it’s usually because they reflect what I have discovered for myself. I can vouch for it from own experience. (Which doesn’t mean it isn’t more to discover or other equally valid ways to express it.)
This quote is different. I have not experienced this for myself.
Phases of awakening
This may be because the awakening process goes through phases.
The awakening process may start with an interest or intuition. Then, there may be glimpses. Then, a more stable noticing. Then a reorientation of the human parts of us to align with reality (oneness). And after that, people seem to report what Adya describes in the quote.
Awakening versus enlightenment
There is a difference between awakening and enlightenment. Awakening is really a process, and it includes glimpsing what we are, what we are noticing itself, stabilizing that noticing, and allowing the different parts of our psyche to align within this new conscious context of oneness.
Adya seems to reserve the word “enlightenment” for when that last process is relatively complete. I hardly ever use the word “enlightenment”, perhaps because my process is not there yet.
The alignment process
For most of us, our human self was formed within separation consciousness. It developed in a family and culture operating from separation consciousness, and it itself likely operated from separation consciousness.
This means we have a great deal of “bubbles” of separation consciousness in us, even if there is a general awakening. These take the form of old habits, unquestioned beliefs, emotional issues, and traumas.
So when there is a general awakening here, and these bubbles come to the surface, they come with an invitation for us to see, feel, and find love for them, to recognize these bubbles as the divine, and provide an opportunity for them to align with reality – with oneness.
That’s how healing happen. That’s how the awakening can be more stable through situations. And that’s how we can live from the awakening in more situations. (Embodiment.)
In a sense, we are the guru for these still suffering parts of us. They come to us as devotees seeking our assistance to liberate.
They seek to join in with the awakening, and through that heal.
Sometimes, life can be “impatient” and bring up a lot of these bubbles at once and for a while. This can be what I think of as a “dark night of trauma” where a lot of old – including partly ancestral and cultural – trauma comes up to join in with the awakening.
Worded too strongly?
When Adyashanti says “everything in us”, I can’t help wondering if it’s worded too strongly. How can I know that it’s everything? How can I know that something won’t be triggered that I didn’t know was there?
There are a couple of important distinctions here.
One is realignment of these parts of us versus how we relate to them when they come up. I suspect it may not be possible to allow all these human parts of us to realign fully with conscious oneness. There are just too many of them, and many of them are hidden from our view.
But we can get into the habit of relating to them more intentionally when they come up. We can recognize them for what they are, meet them, and invite them to realign with oneness. It can become our new habit, but even then, something may be triggered that catches us for a while.
Another distinction is transcending versus realigning. During the awakening process, there has been phases – both early on and later – where there is a strong oneness and no separation consciousness bubbles seem to come up. They are temporarily transcended. For whatever reason, they are not triggered. But they are still there, and they surface later on in another phase of the process and when triggered by something in life.
I assume that what Adya is talking about is when these bubbles have surfaced and – through how we relate to them – been allowed to realign with oneness (healed, awakened).
One does not need to seek out one’s demons in an endless pursuit of self-improvement. We simply need to face whatever arises with an honest, open, and inquiring mind and heart.– Adyashanti, from The Art of Meditation
Life brings up what needs to be healed in us. It brings up what wants to be seen, felt, loved, and recognized as the divine.
Sometimes, it’s perhaps not so much. Other times, it can be a lot.
And if we notice a compulsion to seek out our demons “in an endless pursuit of self-improvement”, it may be good to look at that demon. What’s the demon behind that compulsion?
To take full responsibility for your life (which is not judging yourself) is actually
a key to being free, because it means that no one, and no past experience, can control or determine your current state of being. The keys to your life, and your freedom, are in your hands.– Adyashanti, from Fierce Love
How can we do this?
A good start is to take responsibility for how I relate to this situation — to myself, others, what’s coming up in me, the situation I find myself in, life.
I cannot blame anything or anyone for how I relate to whatever is here.
I can ask myself: Do I take responsibility for how I relate to this situation? If not, how would it be to take responsibility for it?
And what in me urges me to blame someone or something else? What’s the belief? Identity? Emotional issue?
In this situation, what does it give me? What happens when I do it? How would it be to take responsibility for how I relate to it?
Going one step further, I can see that I am always my own final authority. Even if I tell myself I am not, I am still my own final authority. I cannot blame anyone or anything on my choices.
When I blame someone or something else, I give away my power. I overlook what I have control over and what’s my responsibility. I miss out on the life I can have when I take responsibility for how I relate to what’s here, and for my own choices now and in the past.
You are going to lose your spiritual world if you take this far enough.– Adyashanti
Any ideas we have related to spirituality are ideas. Reality is different from and both less and more than these ideas. When we see through this, we lose our spiritual world. The spiritual ideas we have, and may have leaned on for a sense of guidance and safety, lose their sense of reality.
This also goes for the word spirituality. Spirituality is about noticing what we are, and when we do we notice that all our experiences happen within and as what we are. It includes all so although the word may still be useful in some situations, it also loses its meaning.
When we take it far enough, we lose our spiritual world. And we can support that process through inquiry into our ideas about spirituality and any ideas we find within spirituality.
Do I know for certain it’s true? What happens when I believe the thought? What’s the validity in the reversals of the initial thought? (The Work of Byron Katie.)
How does my mind create its experience of any particular spiritual concept? How does sensations and mental images and words combine to create this experience? What happens when I rest with the sensations on their own, and examine the thoughts? (Living Inquiries.)
When you wake up from your story, guess what you realize about everybody else? They are not their story. They are spirit, too. And that spirit is totally independent of their story and your story about them. So you not only lose your center, you lose their center, that box you would put them in. You see they are the same. This is why it is said that enlightenment is never a personal matter. You can’t realize you are enlightened and still believe that others aren’t. You can’t see your true nature without seeing the true nature of everything. It is literally impossible. This is a tremendous act of compassion, an act of love.– Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing
Yes, that’s true. And there is a slight nuance or wrinkle to it.
To us, it appears that everybody and everything has the same nature as us.
Everything happens within and as what we are, so naturally it appears that their true nature is the same as “my” true nature.
When we check with others, their reports seem to confirm that their true nature – to them – is the same as my true nature to me.
But is it true for everything? Yes, it appears that way. There may be hints, and sometimes a lot of hints, that the true nature of existence is the same as the true nature I find here. But if I am completely honest with myself, can I know for certain? For me, I find it helpful to have the flexibility to acknowledge the validity in both.
Is this important? Yes and no. It doesn’t really matter in a practical sense. But it’s good to be honest about these things. It helps us clarify and differentiate.
Suffering is a part of the perfection of life.—Adyashanti in Unity and Uniqueness
In what way is suffering part of the perfection of life?
It’s part of perfection in the way anything is. It happens within and as what I am. It’s an expression of the play of consciousness, or existence, or – if we want to use that label – the divine.
It’s also part of the perfection in the sense that it has a vital function in our life, or perhaps several vital functions.
Suffering invites us to examine our life and situation and make changes. This can lead us to be a better steward of our life, and it can lead us to shift our relationship to ourselves, our experiences, and the world in a way that creates less suffering. Finding a more kind relationship reduces suffering.
Suffering is also a sign that we believe a thought that’s not true. It’s an invitation to examine what we hold as true and find what’s more true for us. (No thought is true, and what’s more true is partly that the thought is not absolutely true, and that other stories about the same also have validity.) If we recognize it, suffering shows us the way to liberation.
Depending on how we relate to suffering, it can lead us to be a better steward of our life. It can help us shift our relationship to life from struggle to befriending. It can help us notice and examine our stressful beliefs. It can encourage us to find healing for emotional issues and trauma. It can humanize us and help us see we are all in it together – we are all in the same boat. It can help us mature. It can deepen our empathy with ourselves and others. It can motivate us to support life and be engaged in reducing the suffering in the world. It can be a motivation for exploring and finding what we are. (The deeper motivation is coming home, love and truth, and it’s ultimately a mystery.)
Even if we react to suffering in the reverse, in a way that deepens suffering and trauma for ourselves and others, that too is part of the perfection of life. It shows us what doesn’t work for us in the long term.
So, yes, suffering is part of the perfection of life – in more than one way.
Almost always, the most important element in overcoming a regressive life pattern is starting to focus more on the heart center than on the head. Allowing your heart to be vulnerable, open, and connected, even if it feels scary, is an unavoidable step. Start by opening to sensing the presence in your heart center. Hold whatever arises in the presence of the heart. And from the heart center, inquire into the underlying nature of patterns of resistance and avoidance. But do it from the sense of presence in the heart. That will make all the difference.– Adyashanti in A Revolution of Being: Embracing the Challenge of Awakened Living, 2018 Online Retreat
Far and away our greatest emphasis should be on our actual spiritual practice – committed time to abiding in the stillness and silence of our being. Nothing can take the place of this.– Adyashanti
Dedicated time for basic meditation is a kind of laboratory. We get to explore notice and allow, and finding ourselves as capacity for our experiences.
We may notice how attention sometimes gets absorbed into thoughts with a charge on them, making them seem true and important. We may notice that any sense of an I or me or observer or doer happens within and as what we are, as any other experience.
We may notice that our experiences are already noticed by awakeness and what we are, even if our attention is somewhere else. We may notice that our experience is already allowed, even if our attention is caught in thoughts struggling with it.
And this noticing and laboratory work makes it easier to bring this noticing into daily life and daily life activities. It can become a noticing through our activities.
Sometimes, it will go more in the background, especially if our activities requires our attention. Sometimes, it may go more into the foreground. Sometimes, it may even be “forgotten” if our attention gets caught into the drama of our issues.
Through it all is the inherent noticing and allowing as what we are. And our laboratory work allows us to notice that consciously more often.
Any other forms of spiritual explorations are a support for this, whether it’s inquiry, heart-centered practices, body-inclusive practices, or anything else.
As Adyashanti suggests, the most important thing is to notice what we are and keep clarifying this and bringing the noticing into our daily life.
Whatever is happening is simply what’s happening. It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s not good, it’s not bad. All those are value judgments that we place on it, and then we pretend that our value judgment is what’s true. But our value judgment is just a value judgment, and all of our value judgments are conditioned.– Adyashanti, Caring for the World
Every story, in relation to pain, is a painful story.
~ Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 57 ~ Q&A
I don’t know the context of this quote, but I have found the same.
Any story – when it’s held as true – is a painful story.
Why is it painful? Because holding it as true means to identify with it and the viewpoint created by the story, and it’s just one of many viewpoints all with some validity and none with any absolute truth. Holding onto a story – any story – creates discomfort and pain because it’s out of alignment with reality. Somewhere in us, we know that. And life will remind us.
Life will create situations that rub up against the story so we feel we need to defend it (it seems like defending ourselves since we identify with it) and that, in itself, is stressful. Life will also remind us that the story is just one of many that are valid about the same topic and none hold any absolute or final truth, and we may not want to see it since holding onto the story can feel safe.
When we hold any story as true – no matter how innocent or apparently helpful and beautiful – we create stress for ourselves. We create struggle within ourselves. And that’s the inherent mechanism in that dynamic that invites and motivate us to examine what’s going on.
It invites us to examine the particular stressful story we have, see what happens when we hold it as true, find the validity in the other stories about the same topic, and hold it a little lighter. And it invites us to recognize this dynamic in all stories, no matter what they are about.
This doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to hold stories as true. We all do, to different extent, and often without even knowing it. It’s often first when life rubs up against one that we notice it. It’s natural and innocent, although it also creates stress and pain for us, and may lead us to act in ways that creates more stress and pain.
It also doesn’t mean that we need to somehow drop all beliefs in all stories at once. We can’t even if we wanted.
It’s more a process of examining the currently stressful story and find what’s more true for us, and then examine the next. It’s a gradual process, it goes over time, and it’s ongoing. There is no particular endpoint – at least not in this life – and doesn’t have to be.
I remember reading Nisargadatta talking about two types of karma. Someone was asking, is it true that all the karma of a sage is burnt up? Nisargardatta said “There are two kinds of karma. There is the karma that’s dispelled with spiritual insight, and is dispelled by awakening and spiritual maturity. There is the other kind of karma that’s not dispelled and you have to live it out and reap the benefits or detriments thereof.”
That was the end of the conversation. That sounds clean until it comes to your life. Living through pieces of your karma is not as clean as it may sound. Often, people will have it at some point after their shift, especially when it seems that life is pretty easy, when there is not a whole lot of inner disturbance.
About that time, strangely enough, is often when a huge chunk of subterranean conditioning breaks off and raises into your conscious level. It’s almost like, “OK, now you have enough light, now you have enough stability, now you have enough presence, now you can deal with this. We hid this from you because it would have completely put you under water before, but now you are ready for it.” But “ready for it” doesn’t mean it’s purified and transformed and let go.
“Ready” means you are ready to come as close to the insane asylum as you will ever come as this piece of darkness comes through your system. You can now be tormented in a way that you never imagined you could withstand.– Adyashanti
I am not sure what Nisargaradatta referred to when he spoke about the two types of karma. At first, it sounds like the first is the karma of conditioning, and the second is the – to us – more mysterious karma of events.
Adya seems to understand this in a slightly different way.
I wonder if what he means is that some conditioning and issues are seen through and resolve relatively easily as part of the awakening process. They fall away almost without us noticing.
With other conditioning, it’s not so easily. This is the one we, to some extent, have to live out. This may be deeper emotional issues, trauma, and conditioning that needs to come to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, recognized as the divine, and so on. It be a far more tumultuous, confusing, overwhelming, and painful process.
I see them more as parts of the same spectrum than two different things.
In our healing and awakening journey, things in us needs to come up to be met, seen, felt, loved, and recognized as who and what we are. Sometimes, this is relatively easy and even enjoyable. Other times, it can be extreme and beyond anything we thought we would ever experience.
And as Adya suggests, the more extreme version of this seems to often follow a deepening in the awakening. A more open heart and mind means it’s also more open to all the things in us that has been exiled. It’s open to what it previously was closed to.
When that surfaces, it can feel overwhelming and terrifying and it can seem as if it will never end and there is no light on the other side of the tunnel.
This is one of the dark nights we can go through on a healing and awakening journey. I have come to think of it as a dark night of trauma, a period of processing deep individual, ancestral, cultural, and universal trauma.
It’s a necessary part of the healing and awakening process. It clears out parts of us still operating from separation consciousness so they can operate more from reality and oneness.
And it’s a part of the process I have been intimately familiar with over the last several years. It’s been far more challenging than anything I thought I would ever experience. It’s deeply humbling, in a good – and often painful – way. It’s a deeply human process. Since the parts of us surfacing live within separation consciousness and are, in a sense, insane, it can feel like we are going insane.
And, in the bigger picture, it’s an amazing blessing.
Each human is a point of orientation through which the Universe experiences itself.– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 57, Garrison 2017
Yes, we are the universe experiencing itself. We are a point in this universe, located a specific place. And we have a unique orientation – a unique way of experiencing, perceiving, and acting.
As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe through which the universe experiences itself.
This is the intersection of science and spirituality, of the universe story & the epic of evolution and Big Mind, of who we are – as this human self and local expression of the universe, and what we are – as capacity for the universe as it appears to us.
Through and as innumerable beings as part of this planet and perhaps throughout the universe, the universe – existence – experiences itself in innumerable unique ways. Each location is different. Each being is different. Each filter of perception – made out of matter and psyche – is different. Each experience is different.
In a bigger picture, we can say that this is not only the universe exploring, experiencing, and expressing itself, it’s existence and even Spirit and the divine exploring, experiencing, and expressing itself – in always new ways. It’s the dance of life or existence. It’s what the old Hindus called Lila.
And we – as humans and humanity and Earth – are part of this dance.
Any mythology or cosmology reflects us here and now. So how does the idea of Lila mirror what’s here and now in immediacy? What I find is that all my experiences happen within and as consciousness. They are, in a sense, this consciousness exploring, experiencing, and expressing itself. Lila is here and now. And to me – as this consciousness – it appears that the whole of existence explores, experiences, and expresses itself in the same way.
This is an instance where we can say that both are equally accurate. We can put a story on existence saying through and as this universe – as us as part of it – it is exploring, experiencing, and expressing itself. And we can say that we, as this consciousness, are exploring, experiencing, and expresing ourselves through all our experiences.
Why is this important? In a way, it isn’t. This view or insight or realization is just one of the many ways consciousness or existence is experiencing itself. In another sense, it makes a difference to us – and through this point of existence that is us.
It helps us be aware of something essential in who – as this human self, and what – as consciousness, we are. It helps us loosen the grip on any (other) ideas we have about how life should or needs to be. It helps us find some appreciation and even gratitude for life as it is here and now. It helps us appreciate the dance of existence as it appears as and to us here and now.
Profound freedom is a profound intimacy with life.– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 57, Garrison 2017
What is freedom?
At an ordinary and universal human level, it’s the freedom of movement, freedom of access to education, freedom of access to healthcare, freedom of worship and speech, and so on.
At a more psychological level, it’s the freedom from being caught in beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, and trauma. When we are caught in these, they run us. We are caught in their separation consciousness and perceive and act as if the stressful thoughts behind them are true. When we are more free from being caught in these – because our relationship to them has changed and/or they themselves have healed – we have more freedom in how we respond to situations. (It still comes from conditioning but there is room for more flexibility, kindness, and acting from a larger view.)
Adyashanti talks about the freedom to experience our experiences as they are, without being caught in having to change them, avoid them, or transform them.
And there is the freedom that comes from noticing what we are, and from what we are noticing itself as all there is. When we find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and as that which all our experiences happen within and as, it’s all revealed as a seamless whole. And in this oneness, there is freedom. It’s freedom since there is no “other” that can impede freedom. All is movements within the one.
How do these freedoms give an intimacy with life?
The first freedom gives us a richer life and a life where we are more free to follow what’s right for us and our heart and inner guidance. The second allows us to respond more intentionally to situations and work with them instead of reacting to them and work against them. The third allows us to be with and find ourselves as whatever our experience is and gives us an intimacy with our experience as it is here and now. And the last one gives us intimacy with the world as it appears to us since it is what we are.
All of these freedoms – and probably many more – are important and valid. They contribute to the richness of life and function at different levels and areas of who and what we are.
There is more truth and sacredness in a blade of grass than in all the shrines, scriptures and stories created to honor an idea of God. […] All of these are labels. All of them are fine. There is nothing wrong with any one of them, until you actually believe they’re true– Adyashanti
Not every thought is true in an everyday sense of the word, and no thought has any final or absolute truth in it. But everything is truth.
Everything is, as it is, an expression of reality and is reality.
On the one hand, it’s all an expression of and is existence, this unfolding universe, life. It, in itself, is reality and truth. And our thoughts about it are pointers, helpful in a pragmatic sense, and contain no final or absolute truth.
On the other hand, everything – to us – happens within and as what we are. They happen within and as what we may label awakeness, consciousness, or even the divine.
When we humans – or existence or the divine in this local expression as a human – look for Truth, or God, or Home, or our True Nature, we often look out there in what others say or are or in thoughts and ideas. Those can all point us in the right direction. But what we are looking for is what everything – to us – already are. We are looking for what we already are and what everything already is.
How can we discover this? How can we shift out of the trance we have created for ourselves through identifying with and believing some of our thoughts? This is what most spiritual practices are about, although the shortest path to what we already are is often inquiry. (Big Mind process, Headless experiments, Living Inquiries, or something else that brings our attention to what we already are.)
The irony is that since we already are this, it can be difficult to notice. What we are is already very familiar to us. Even when we notice it more consciously, for instance through inquiry, it can seem too ordinary. Thoughts may tell us that this is too simple and ordinary, it can’t be it. What we think we are looking for should come with bells and whistles and fireworks. (Sometimes it does, but usually not when we notice it through inquiry.)
And yet, since it’s what we already are, we can notice it in our ordinary experience. We don’t need any special states to notice it. It’s available here and now, in all it’s extraordinary ordinariness. It’s available through any number of changing experiences and states, including all the apparently ordinary and familiar ones.
There’s this whole other side of awakening which isn’t just waking up from form, waking up from the body, waking up from the identifications of the mind, but it’s getting that awakening down in through all of that, and that’s like a clearinghouse. That’s the difference between someone who’s had an awakening and ultimately someone who has discovered their divine individuality.– Adyashanti in The Divine Individual
When your ‘yes’ becomes unlimited, there’s profound silence.– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol.62, Asilomar Dec 2017, Q&A
What does it mean that our YES is unlimited?
It means there is a yes in us to whatever is here, whatever our experience happens to be. There is always this yes, we are always this yes since our nature allows whatever experience is here. The yes Adya talks about is a yes that comes from this recognition.
Where does the silence come from?
When there is a no in us to our experience, there is struggle, and struggle feels noisy. So when the struggle rests, there is silence.
Also, when the struggle rests, it reveals the profound silence we already are and the profound silence all our experiences – including the apparently busy and noisy ones – happens within and as.
And how can our YES become unlimited?
One is to notice the yes already inherent in life and us. The nature of life, existence, consciousness, and what we are is to allow whatever experience is here. There is already a yes to it all. When we notice it, we can align with this yes more consciously.
The other is to reorient to our experiences through heart-centered practices, and also investigate any no in us and where it’s coming from – and invite in healing and resolution for it.
These two go hand-in-hand and mutually support each other.
The funny thing about emptiness is that it’s not about an inner experience of being nothing, but it’s the bottom of separateness falling out. When you investigate one thing, you find everything else.— Adyashanti
This is a very beautiful way to express it, and it clearly comes from lived experience.
As with some other words, I hardly ever use the word “emptiness” unless I am talking about specifically that words.
There are a few things in awakening that the word emptiness can be used to refer to.
One is capacity. We are capacity for the world as it appears to us. For this human self, the wider world, and any content of experience. Said another way, we are emptiness full of the world as it appears to us.
It’s not abstract or a metaphor. It does seem like capacity, or void, or “emptiness” that’s full of all content of experience. All experience happens within and as this capacity or void.
Another is empty of substance. When all is recognized as this awakeness or capacity, it all seems empty of substance. Since the world as it appears to us happens within and as consciousness, it doesn’t have more substance than consciousness. Even the most physical is substanceless although it still behaves as matter the way we conventionally see it. If I stub my toe, it still hurts, even if the toe, what I stubbed it against, and the pain all happens within and as consciousness.
And yet another is empty of separateness. This is what Adya refers to. All content of experience happens within and as what we are. It happens as a seamless whole that’s empty of separateness and any final I anywhere.
There may be the appearance of things and beings having an I but that’s a provisional I and is created from a mental field overlay. It’s all happening within and as what we are. It’s all happening within and as capacity for it all. It’s all empty of separateness and any real I.Read More
I don’t want to imply that the totality of what we are is awareness. Don’t stop at the doorway.– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat vol. 59 Q&A
As someone said, first there is the journey to God and then the journey within God. The journey within God is as rich and full of discoveries as the journey to God, if not even more.
When we discover ourselves as capacity for the world as it appear to us, that’s the beginning of a new phase of discovery. There are always new facets of Spirit to discover. Healing of our human self. Exploring how to live from within this new – to us – context. And so on. It’s an ongoing process of clarification, healing, embodiment and much more.
You don’t have to be someone to be of infinite worth. To be bestows infinite worth upon you.– Adyashanti, The Inherent Meaning in Being
This can sound like a well-meaning platitude, but it’s far more than that.
One the one hand, the idea of value comes from culture and what’s seen as having value varies between culture and over time. Assigning value to something has a function, and it can be helpful to examine how we assign value and if there is another way of doing it that makes more sense.
At an ordinary human level, we all agree that babies have infinite worth. Growing up, many of us are taught that our value comes through our actions and that erodes our sense of having infinite value just by being. This is a means of control and it creates a lot of suffering and judgment of ourselves and others.
So why not recover the sense of infinite value of each human being? This can easily co-exist with accountability, responsibility for our own life and so on. Seeing the infinite value in each of us, independent of personal characteristics and roles, provides a sense of basic worth that allows for a more healthy life and a more healthy society.
In our western culture, we see nature as a commodity and having value from the value it has to us – and this is often limited to short-term commercial value. This leads to destruction of ecosystems, eradication of whole species, and systematic abuse of non-human beings. Not valuing all life threatens all life, including our own.
Why wouldn’t all life have infinite value? Why not see all life as having infinite value? This would lead to a more careful approach in how we relate to and make use of nature and non-human beings. We would be far more concerned about their welfare. It doesn’t mean we can’t eat or live or grow food but we would do it with more concern for the lives we are impacting and we would look for ways to make up for it and support a more thriving Earth.
When we take a big picture and deep time view, we see that the universe has unfolded from energy to matter to suns to solar systems to this living planet and all that’s currently part of this living planet. We are all expressions of the universe exploring itself and bringing itself into consciousness. We are all expressions of this living planet and ways for it to bring itself into consciousness. As this, we and all life has infinite worth just by being as we are.
In a more immediate sense, independent of assigning value to anything, we are capacity for the world as it appears to us. This human self, all other beings, and everything happens within and as what I am. In this oneness, ideas of value is not needed in order to live with reverence for life.
How can we explore this in our own life? How can we deepen into this and live more from it? In a sense, this whole website is about just this. We can identify and examine beliefs. We can explore how our minds creates its experience of value and lack of it, and see through it. We can engage in Practices to Reconnect. We can use heart-centered practices to find a more loving relationship with ourselves, others, and all life. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us. We can discover that this human self, others, and the world happen within and as what we are. And we can explore how to live from that in our life.
You are the recipient, not the creator, of experiences– Adyashanti
Everything happens on its own. And then there may be a thought saying “I did that”.
This is an ongoing exploration and noticing for me.
Within stories, I see that everything – including feelings, thoughts, actions, identification and so on – has innumerable causes. I take one thing, find a cause, and can find one more, and one more. Everything that happens is a local expression of movements within the whole. Everything that happens has causes stretching back to the beginning of the universe (if there is one) and to the greatest extent of the universe.
In immediacy, I notice a thought happen, an emotion happen, an action happen. They happen within and as awakeness. (The normal awakeness everyone experiences.) They happen on their own.
I may also notice a thought saying “I did it” and a sensation that seems connected with it. And that happens on its own too.
I can pay attention to one sense field at a time – physical sensations, sounds, sight, smell, taste, thought – and notice how things appear in each one. They appear and vanish without a trace. (Apart from perhaps reflected in thought.)
With Living Inquiries (based on traditional Buddhist inquiry), I explore identities – the thinker, the doer, the observer, and so on.
With The Work of Byron Katie, I can explore thoughts – I did that, I am the one creating this feeling, I am the one creating this thought, I am the one who created this action.
I can also explore the thought that “everything happens on its own” and see what I find. Is there something in me that want to hold onto the thought? Rehearse it? That get more attached to the thought than noticing what it refers to? Does that thought too happen on its own?
Our minds aren’t conditioned to recognize the clearly obvious.– Adyashanti
What are some of the obvious things Adya may refer to?
One is what we are. We are that which our experience happens within and as. It’s obvious. It can’t be any other way. It’s part of our daily experience. And yet, for most of us, our mind doesn’t recognize it. Or if it does, it dismisses it as not important – as something weird, outside of how society tells us it is, and perhaps not practical. (It may be a bit weird and outside of how others tells us it is, but recognizing it and taking it seriously can profoundly transform our perception, life, and how we relate to ourselves and the world.)
Another obvious thing is that our thoughts don’t tell us the truth. They are questions about the world. They may be practically useful as a guide. And yet, they do not hold any final or absolute or complete truth. Reality is always different from and more than our thoughts about it. And that goes for our “big” thoughts about who we are and how the world is (“I am ultimately a human being in the world”), and the “smaller” thoughts in daily life (“she doesn’t like me”, “he shouldn’t have cut me off in traffic”).
As soon as you move out of truth, you feel it, kinesthetically; you feel it in your body when you’ve disconnected.– Adyashanti, Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic, chapter 6
One of my current favorite ways of exploring this is the “I can if I want” test.
I can […] if I want, and I want. I can […[ if I want, and I don’t want.
Say each one to yourself and see how your body responds. Does it tense? Does it relax? (Tension is a “no”, relaxation and relief is a “yes”.)
In the last few days, I have had a slight dilemma on whether to use antibiotics or not. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but I have had an infection over several days that didn’t get better. So I said to myself I can take antibiotics if I want, and I want and noticed how my body responded, and then checked I can take antibiotics if I want, and I don’t want. The first one felt like a relief in my body, and the second tension and stress. So I went with my body, got the antibiotics, took it and it felt like a relief. (Of course, my doctor’s advice is primary in this case, but he had left it open for me to decide so I did.)
This is obviously a much bigger topic. It’s not just about everyday or life decisions. It’s also – and perhaps mainly – about the stories we tell ourselves and how we take them. Whenever we tell ourselves an untrue story – a stressful or painful story – our body tenses up. And when we find what’s truer for us, our body relaxes and it’s a relief.
And yes, I know that can sound a bit naive. Most of us would say that some true stories are stressful. And yet, this is what I have found over and over through – for instance – inquiry. The more true stories and interpretations feel like a relief. Something falls into place. My body can relax.
I have written a lot about this in other articles so I won’t go into it much here. But I’ll say that one relief-giving insight is that no story reflects an absolute or final truth. I can hold all of them lightly, as a question. And there is always some validity in the reversals of any story, and seeing that is also a relief. And we have to discover this for ourselves, by examining one specific stressful story at a time.
Why does the body respond in this way? My take on it is that somewhere, we always know when we tell ourselves something not (entirely) true, and when we take it as more true and final than it is, and that is reflected in the body. Our mind tenses up, and so does the body.
We know what we tell ourselves is not true in the way we tell it to ourselves, the seamless whole of our mind-body tenses up, and that’s a sign we are telling an untruth to ourselves and an invitation to find what’s genuinely more true for us.
Your life is an expression of what you value and cherish.– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol.61, Mount Madonna 2017
It can be very sobering to take that in, and it’s also a valuable pointer in what to look for and work on.
Truth and love are the two most powerful embodiment tools you will ever have. They are the two tools you have to lead a benevolent, beautiful, and enlightened life.– Adyashanti, Commitment to Truth and Love
There’s this whole other side of awakening which isn’t just waking up from form, waking up from the body, waking up from the identifications of the mind, but it’s getting that awakening down in through all of that, and that’s like a clearinghouse. That’s the difference between someone who’s had an awakening and ultimately someone who has discovered their divine individuality.
– Adyshanti in The Divine Individual
Spirituality is simply a way of indicating that we’re plunging beyond the personal consciousness. The depth of our being is just astonishing.– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 70
There are many definitions of spirituality, and the most basic one is perhaps Adya’s definition above. Spirituality suggests that we are going, or intend to go, beyond the personal human being and into something wider. Whether that is our human community, our Earth community (nature and Earth as a whole), the Universe as a whole, or Existence as a whole. And whether it is to connect with this larger whole, take it into account, live as if it matters, expand our sense of “us” to include all there is, or – ultimately – find ourselves as that, and this human being as an expression of it.
Everything you define yourself as is an image. Behind that is not a better version of yourself.– Adyashanti
I couldn’t help laughing out loud when I read this. As so often, it’s funny because it’s true.
Everything I define myself as is an image. Everything I define anyone or anything as is an image.
And behind that image isn’t a better version of me or any version of me. Behind it is the silent awake mystery that everything – all my experience of myself, others, the world – happens within and as.
There is always a lot more to say about this.
My mind creates an overlay of images and words on my sensory experiences to make sense of it all. These images and words sort the world into me (this human self) and the wider world, and then continues sorting and creating labels and identifications on just about everything. This is essential for us to be able to orient and function in the world. We wouldn’t be here as individuals or a species unless the mind did this.
And yet, these images and words are questions about the world. Suggestions. If we take them as anything more, we misguide and mislead ourselves and create stress and suffering for ourselves and others (we serve as triggers for this in others). They are not complete since what they refer to are different from, more (far more qualities, characteristics, and fluidity), and less (silent mystery) than our words and images.
We can know this to some extent and understand it intellectually. And any time something in us is triggered – any time there is a charged reaction to something – it shows us that something in us doesn’t quite get it yet. That’s OK. It’s natural. It’s the human condition. And it’s good to be aware of.
And if we are so inclined, we can explore what’s happening through inquiry, parts work, energy healing, or any other approach we have access to and find helpful. For me, Living Inquiries (based on Buddhist inquiry), parts work (Voice Dialog, Big Mind process) and Vortex Healing, are the approaches I use most right now.Read More
The biggest barrier to awakening is the belief that it is something rare. When this barrier is dropped, or at least you start to tell yourself, “I really don’t know if my belief that awakening is difficult is true or not,” then everything becomes instantly available to you. Since this is all that exists, it can’t be rare and difficult unless we insist it is. The basis of all this is not theoretical, it is experiential. No one taught it to me, and no one can teach it to you.Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing
People suffer terribly when they lack a self-transcending orientation– Adyashanti
Yes, and that can be several forms of self-transcending.
It can be
It can be a sense of belonging to a larger whole – whether it’s a family, group of friends, a larger society, the Earth, or even the Universe or existence as a whole.
It can be a sense of oneness with the larger whole or all of existence, or a realization that all of existence – as it appears to us – happens within and as what we are.
What are some of the benefits of a self-transcending orientation?
Most of us have a self-transcending orientation, at least sometimes and in some areas of life. It’s more a matter of what we give our attention to. I notice that when I give my attention to the larger whole in one of these ways, there is a sense of belonging, care, and gratitude. I know who I am in an important sense.
Also, a self-transcendent orientation tends to reward us back. We serve ourselves and the larger whole, and the larger whole responds.
ltimately, a self-transcendent orientation is aligned with reality and who and what we are. We are the universe locally bringing itself into awareness. We are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. And as what we are (aka consciousness), we are that which existence – as it appears to us – happens within and as.
And that also gives the answer to why a lack of a self-transcending orientation creates suffering. It’s out of alignment with who and what we are. It’s out of alignment with who we are as human beings, completely interdependent with all of life and as a local expression of society, Earth, and the universe. It’s out of alignment with what we are, as that which everything – ourselves and the whole world as it appears to us – happens within and as. And pragmatically, it’s very unwise and tends to create a miserable life.
In a sense, life rewards a grounded, sane, mature self-transcending orientation. And it discourages the opposite. Life can’t help it, because a self-transcending orientation is aligned with who and what we are, and a lack of a self-transcending orientation is out of alignment with who and what we are.