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.
I am with Adyashanti and a small group of people. At some point, he sits down and asks me if I have a question. I explain my situation with the long-lasting illness (chronic fatigue) to
him,and ask what the divine asks from me. He starts speaking gibberish.
The night before, I prayed for my situation with the chronic fatigue to transform me deeply, and for the divine as me locally support this process. I remember having the question of whether the divine (as the fullness of existence) asks something specific from me or if I (as the local divine) can decide, or if there
In the dream, as Adya starts answering my question, I am aware it’s a dream and that I – my mind – need to put words in his mouth. I am also aware that I don’t know the answer. That is perhaps why he starts sputtering and speaking gibberish as a faltering Westworld robot. If I think the divine has a specific request or plan for me, I don’t know and cannot know what it is. I cannot provide the answer.
The answer is more that it’s a dialogue between the divine as the wholeness of existence and the divine locally as me. We together find the answer. It’s a process. An ongoing discovery happening within the One.
At first, the dream seemed a little disappointing. After all, instead of answering my question, Adya sputtered nonsensical sounds. And now, I see that’s the perfect answer. In my dream, I have to provide his answer, and I cannot. If I think the divine “out there” asks something specific of me, I cannot know for certain what that is. The answer is more that it’s a process, a dialogue between the divine as all there is and the divine locally as me.
This is not new to me. But I see that when I recently prayed for my situation with the fatigue to profoundly transform me, I had in mind that the divine asks it of me and has something specific in mind for me. Almost as if it’s a test, and when I more fully allow the transformation, my health may eventually return. These were not very conscious assumptions, which is perhaps why my mind (the divine locally) produced this dream, allowing me to see more clearly these assumptions and that they are not so helpful.
It’s more helpful to see it as a dialogue and an ongoing process, and as happening within the One.
I never try to sell anyone on the state of no-self because it cannot be sold. Nor should it be. When it is our time we will simply be inclined towards it, whether we want it or not. We will finally let go withoutAdyashanti, “Experiencing No-Self” Online Course
reservation, and for no self-serving reasons, into the Infinite Void. It will be a death more real than physical death, and resurrection into a new life, True Life. And when it is all said and done, we will wonder why we ever avoided it. We will not have attained anything, nor achieved a better status on earth or in Heaven. But we will know the only thing worth knowing, and see from the eyes that created God.
Rampant thinking is your mind looking for peace—as if, if you could just think enough and understand enough, your mind could be at peace. But the mind never thinks its way to a lasting peace. In fact, in the mind’s rush to find peace and security, it overlooks the peace that is already present within the presence of awareness
Adyashanti, The Way of Liberating Insight
Socontemplate what your mind is trying to run away from, and what it is looking for. And begin to show your mind that peace is available in the present. Literally bring your mind’s attention to the greater peace of awareness. And give your mind something to do in the form of following your breath. Just follow the breath whenever you can during the day, because it will calm your nervous system and give your mind something to do other than to obsessively think. Of course, thoughts may come, but anchor them in the breath. Be patient and kind to yourself. Very patient and very kind.
If there is an egoic self, it exists within who you are. That’s different than thinking it’s who you are. – AdyashantiThis is a very good pointer. There may be an “egoic self” here – identifications with certain stories at conscious or more visceral levels – and, as any experience, it happens within and as what we are. And we can notice that. That gives the mind some distance to it. It softens the identification a bit. And that’s big. That’s a new way of being. That opens the mind up to something very different. We can also say that who we are happens within and as what we are, and independent of whatever form who we are takes we can notice it happens within and as what we are. Who we are may just be this human self operating on its own. It can be identification as this human self. Or it may even be who we are at more subtle energy levels, for instance as a soul. In either case, we can notice that who we are happens within and as what we are. And over time, this can be an ongoing noticing. A note on terminology: This human self operating on its own can be called the psychological ego. This is the human operating system and it’s something we want to be as healthy as possible. Identification with a self – whether it’s human or soul or something else – is what’s sometimes called ego in a spiritual context. And that tends to lessen as we keep noticing that it happens within and as what we are. Read More
Imagine that your existence is in no way a mistake. Imagine that you are here in your life, in your incarnation, as an act of love. Because only by being completely willing to be here as an act of love can you redeem all the hidden and painful places within your being.
Another way to say this is that we are here as an act of love. Existence is an act of love. That anything exists at all is an act of love. And when we align with that, and our fighting against it falls away, a more profound healing is allowed to happen.
Sometimes your deepest shadow comes up after your deepest awakening.
– Adyashanti, The Way of Liberating Insight
Why does it come up? We can say that an awakening is an opening to reality, and that reality includes our shadow. Or we can say that bringing the shadow into awareness is required for us to live the awakening in more situations and areas of life.
In any case, long before this happened to me, I thought this and other forms of a dark night sounded noble and a bit heroic. I thought I would be able to continue keeping what surfaced at a safe arm’s length’s distance and remain firmly centered in clarity and presence.
When it happened, it was more experienced as a complete disaster. And for me, that was part of the shadow that surfaced. I was unable to remain clear, centered, and keep it at some distance. And I had to finally admit to myself I was completely and utterly human.
Note: Healing unhealed parts of us is part of the embodiment process. As long as they remain unhealed, they will be triggered by life situations and we tend to live from reactivity to these unhealed parts. To the extent they are allowed and healed, there is space there to instead live from responsiveness, clarity, kindness, and wisdom. The shadow surfacing in the way Adyashanti talks about it is an important part of the embodiment process. It’s not comfortable. It may not be what we think we want. But it’s what’s needed for us to live more fully from the awakening.
The irony is that most human beings spend their lives avoiding painful situations. Not that we are successful, but we are always trying to avoid pain. We have an unconscious belief that our greatest growth in consciousness and awareness comes through beautiful moments. We may, indeed, make great leaps in consciousness through beautiful moments, but I’d say that most people make their greatest leaps in consciousness in the difficult times.
– Adyashanti, The End of Your World
Trying to get out of the illusion is the greatest illusion of all.
As any pointer, it’s meant as a helpful nudge. It can help us shift out of a stuck view. It’s medicine for a particular condition.
What condition is this a remedy for? The condition of believing we are absolutely stuck in an illusion and what we seek is somewhere else – instead of already here and already what we are.
And as usual, there is some truth to this and to the reverse.
What’s the truth in the reverse? That, yes, it’s actually worth trying to get out of the illusion. We are indeed caught in an illusion if we believe our thoughts and perceive ourselves as (only or mainly) a separate human being. And although there is great value for life in that illusion (helps life experience itself as limited and separate), it’s locally uncomfortable. So it comes with a wish for a release from this discomfort and the temporary illusion.
The trick is to do this skillfully. At one extreme, we may think that our existence as it is now is a mistake and / or that what we seek is somewhere else and different from this. We may wish for a dramatic shift that solves all our apparent problems. At the other extreme, we may not consider that something else is possible – or we think change is impossible. Either one is, of course, perfectly fine. There is nothing inherently wrong with these views, and both are quite common.
But there is a middle ground. We can recognize that what we are is what all happens within and as, including any temporary illusions created from believing thoughts. And that noticing that is the release we are wishing for. It won’t solve our very human challenges, but it does provide a different context for our human life and experiences. It does offer a certain relief from blind suffering and discomfort.
And there are ways to invite in this shift. One is healing of our human self, which is a relief in itself (and, at one level, often what we really wish for). Another is various forms of inquiry that can give us a glimpse of what we already are (Big Mind process, Headless experiments), or a release of beliefs and identifications creating the temporary illusion (The Work, Living Inquiries). We can also engage in different forms of meditation, including noticing and allowing what’s here, or noticing that we are the still presence all our experience happens within and as. Or, since all of this has a consciousness and energy side, we can invite in or support these shifts from the energy side (Vortex Healing).
So, in a certain context, Adya’s pointer is just the right medicine. It can help us shift out of a stuck view and find curiosity for what may be more true for us. It can help us reorient. And that path of discovery is rich and deep and somewhat unique to each of us.
Don’t get mixed up with the “whys”, they won’t help you.
I agree that why questions are often not helpful if we look for answers that we take to be inherent in life or the divine. That’s futile.
On the other side, why questions can be helpful if I use them to find what I can make out of a situation. That’s why I personally find why questions very helpful.
And, of course, why questions can be used in an ordinary and practical way. Why, in an ordinary and conventional sense, did something happen.
For instance, I got CFS a few years ago.
Why did it happen, in a practical sense? I have had it earlier, and had it at a low grade for a long time before this happened. It was initially triggered by mononucleosis and this time by severe pneumonia. Life stress may have set the stage for the CFS return. The house I lived in had mold problems. And so on. It’s helpful to explore these since they may give clues for treatment and prevention.
Why did it happen, in the bigger picture? It came with several invitations for me. An invitation to learn to relax. To change my life situation. To be aware of and find freedom from previously strong identities (as productive, active, smart, energetic, on top of everything etc.). To have time for exploring and deepening in healing and awakening.
And if I had a different worldview, I could torment myself with why questions aimed at finding a final or absolute answer inherent in life or the divine itself. Some of these answers may be obviously and inherently stressful (God wanted to punish me). Some may appear helpful but are inherently stressful because I know I cannot know for certain. And I may also torment myself by spinning and trying to find the correct answer while – somewhere in me – knowing I cannot know for certain.
I agree that some why questions can be unhelpful, as Adya says. Although personally I find why questions very helpful. I find the practical why questions helpful. And I find the why questions that help me look for invitations in a situation helpful.
Q: My ability to stay personally responsible on a material level is affected greatly by my continuing to let go of ego and self. I’m finding it challenging to pursue this path while also pursuing more complex earthbound goals. Am I limited to becoming a spiritual teacher by pursuing this path, or is it possible to successfully ‘surrender into life,’ as you said recently, and to use this no-self flow to live simply and thoughtfully through the material, everyday world? How am I grasping here?
Adya: Thank you for your question. The trajectory that moves toward the falling away of self can be very disorienting at times. It can lead one to wonder whether the state beyond self is made for this world at all. But I can assure you that no-self ‘eventually’ becomes a very functional state and functions quite well in life in its mature expression. If one retreats too much from life it can actually impede the no-self state from coming into mature expression and functioning. When it is all said and done (in retrospect), all other states of consciousness seem quite altered and strange when compared to the no-self state. No-self is in no way an altered state of consciousness; it is completely and absolutely unaltered. It is simply the One, seen from the One’s point of view. It is a single drop of rain, a cloud passing, the fall of your own breath.
– Adyashanti in “Experiencing No-Self” Online Course
Some say that awakening is not a state. I see how that’s accurate since it’s independent of any change in content of experience, and we can call the changing content of experience states. It’s also possible to call awakening a state. It’s the state of the One (as Adya calls it) recognizing itself as all there is.
One of the most beautiful things about spiritual maturity is that you see the divine in all its guises and you stop arguing about which ones are right.
– Adyashanti, 2017 Mount Madonna Retreat
In a narrow sense, we can take this as Spirit revealing itself to itself as love, wisdom, any and all content of experience, the void everything happens within and as, and so on.
In a slightly wider sense, we see that those expressing awakening realize, notice, and emphasize different aspects of the divine, and use whatever language is available to them through their culture and traditions.
And in an even wider sense, this stopping to arguing which one is right applies to any aspect of life, and is a feature of both spiritual maturity and the ordinary garden variety human maturity.
We get to see that it’s all life playing itself out.
Here are some examples:
Spirit may awaken to itself through some remaining filters of duality, so spirit seems different from (most) content of experience, and the world in general. This is a stepping stone, and with some maturity, we recognize that this is a stepping stone.
Any realization, revelation, and insight is a stepping stone. Awakening continues to open up, clarify, deepen, and find new ways to be expressed through this human life.
Genuine awakenings and revelations may be expressed through a variety of traditions, terminology, and images. Of course, it tends to get mixed up in fantasies and imaginations, and that’s OK too. That’s part of the play.
Any experience is Spirit itself, including those our human self does not like. For me, what I sometimes call the “dark night of the soul” has shown me where I still don’t get this in a more embodied and visceral way.
In short, nothing is wrong. It’s all life living itself out. It’s the play of Spirit. As we continue to realize this, our argument with reality lessens. And life continues to find ways to help us see where we still argue. It’s an ongoing process.
Having a profound awakening can be like taking the lid off of a jar. All the karma that has been repressed, all the karma at the bottom of our misery that we aren’t conscious of, comes flying out because there is finally space in which it can emerge.
When it hits you in the face, you wonder where your freedom went and what went wrong. But understand that this is a consequence of the freedom; it is not a mistake.
Everything wants to come up into and be transformed by the freedom. If you let it come up into this aware space, which is love, it will reharmonize. This space that you are is unconditional love.
Unconditional means just that: everything is welcome, nothing is cast away or set apart from it.
– Adyashanti from The Impact of Awakening
This is what happened to me after a six months non-dual transcendence/opening some years ago. I have written about it before so won’t go into much detail here. But I do want to say that this process seems to have a few different sides.
Ride it out. One is that it lives its own life, and we have to ride it out. We have to learn to live with it as it is because it often seems we cannot do much about it. I have written about practical ways to learn to ride it out, and these may include spending time in nature, finding support from others who have gone through it, having the right diet for us, rest, bringing attention to the sensations, and more.
Relate to it consciously. Another is that we can – and are invited to – relate to what’s surfacing consciously. To heal our relationship to it, and invite the unprocessed material itself to heal. To learn to meet the pain and fear with kindness. To recognize what’s surfacing as an expression of caring and love at a human level (fear, pain, anger, discomfort etc. are all here to help the human self and is an expression of caring and love), and as Spirit itself. To heal the material itself through any way that works for us.
We are invited to examine the unexamined thoughts and beliefs creating the suffering. To love the unloved. To experience the unexperienced. And it seems that we don’t really have much choice. Anything else is too painful. Although we can certainly drag our feet and prolong the struggle. And that too is perfectly understandable. That too is, in a certain way, an expression of caring and love, although slightly unenlightened and misguided.
Very human process. It’s a very human process. It’s very human material that surfaces to be loved, examined, and experienced. It’s very humbling. It’s very humanizing, especially if we let it be. Through befriending the wounds and traumas surfacing, we become more fully human.
Prerequisite for embodiment. This process, however it happens, is also a prerequisite for embodiment. What we are awakens to itself, and then needs to clear out our human self so it can be more clearly and fully expressed through this life. Our human self needs to realign to this “new” reality, and that involves a great deal of deep healing. We need to heal the wounds of, it seems, lifetimes. We are invited to mature within this process. And we are invited to embody whatever awakening is here.
In my case, which I think is similar for many, many people, the greatest solvent for ego is found within our lives, the fabric of our existence, the grit of what’s actually happening in our everyday experience. I find that this is often overlooked within the context of spirituality. Many of us are using our spirituality as a way to avoid life, to avoid seeing things we really need to see, to avoid being confronted with our own misunderstandings and illusions. It is very important to know that life itself is often our greatest teacher. Life is full of grace, sometimes it’s wonderful grace, beautiful grace, moments of bliss and happiness and joy, and sometimes it’s fierce grace, like illness, losing a job, losing someone we love, or a divorce. Some people make the greatest leaps in their consciousness when addiction has them on their knees, for example, and they find themselves reaching out for a different way of being. Life itself has a tremendous capacity to show us truth, to wake us up. And yet, many of us avoid this thing called life, even as it is attempting to wake us up. The divine itself is life in motion. The divine is using the situations of our lives to accomplish its own awakening, and many times it takes the difficult situations to wake us up.
– Adyashanti, The End of Your World
Ego here means identifications, holding stories as true, finding ourselves as what a story tells us we are, and taking it as the final or absolute truth. More intimately, it’s fear that’s met with lack of love and that’s unexamined, and the mind reacts to that fear by holding onto stories and viewpoints as true and solid. It takes refuge in these stories, and tries to find safety that way. It’s innocent and natural, and creates suffering as well.
The remedy is often, as Adyashanti says, life. Life rubbing up against these viewpoints and identities the mind holds onto to find safety, and which instead creates suffering. Often combined with the most simple and natural approaches, such as resting with the discomfort and any other experience that’s triggered, meeting it with gentleness and kindness, asking or praying for support (guidance, resolution, peace), giving it over the the divine.
You are a vehicle for what wants to happen, not for what you want to happen.– Adyashanti