Finding our essential motivations

Adyashanti recommends a simple and central inquiry.


What’s our essential motivation – for awakening? Or healing, or anything else?

What do I hope to get out of awakening? And what do I hope to get out of that? And that? What do I find when I trace my motivation back to the most essential?

What do I hope to get out of healing? Or anything else? Ice cream? Money? Relationships? Partner? House? Career? Status? Taking a nap? Watching a movie? Posting something on social media?


This inquiry is helpful in several ways.

It helps me find clarity on what I really want, and what I want to get out of any of my surface wants.

It helps me see that these motivations typically are simple, sincere, innocent, and universal.

It helps me see that the motivations behind just about anything I do are the same, or variations on the same basic and universal motivations.

It helps me differentiate between my most essential needs and the strategies I use to meet those needs. It can open my mind to seek out different strategies, and perhaps more pragmatic and effective ones.

At some point, it helps me notice that my essential motivations come from and point back to what I already am.


What I find is that different parts of me have different motivations, and the essence of these are variations on the same – love, connections, safety, clarity, relief, contentment, playfulness, adventure, and so on.

When I meet and get to know one of these parts of me, often in the form of a contraction, I can explore what it needs and wants, and what lack it comes from. And in seeing that, and resting with it, I find that this part of me can naturally receive what it needs. Usually, it needs love, a sense of safety, being seen, being supported, or something similar. And I can give that to this part of me here and now, and rest in and as that.

It’s wonderful to notice that I can give to these parts of me what they most deeply wish for and need.

When I identify with these parts of me, it’s as if “I” – as a global whole – become this part. And when I recognize it as a part, and give to it what it wants, I can relate to it more intentionally.


Like anything else, this too becomes a habit. When I first did this inquiry, I noticed I needed to go through several steps to find the essence. These days, the essence is on or closer to the surface. And I like to stay curious and keep exploring it.

Note: I don’t remember exactly how Adya talks about this, so I just went by my vague memory and mostly my own experience of doing this inquiry.

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