Awakening: Realization and embodiment

If we do not live and manifest in our lives what we realize in our deepest moments of revelation, then we are living a split life.

– Adyashanti

Adyashanti is here talking about realization and embodiment.

This has several parts.

One is to notice our nature, what we are in our own first-person experience. This can be relatively simple and doesn’t need much time or preparation, especially with the support of guided inquiry like Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.

Another is to keep noticing in daily life and through more and more situations and independent of experiences and states. This takes some intention and effort. It’s an ongoing practice.

Then we have living from this noticing. How is it to live from this noticing, in this situation? How does it look?

How can I support living from this noticing? What in me – beliefs, identifications, hangups, wounds –  stops this from happening? What do I find when I explore unquestioned painful stories? How is it to find love from unloved parts of me? How can I invite healing for this human self? How can I prepare the ground for maturing of this human self?

By necessity, living from the noticing lags behind the noticing itself. It’s natural and inevitable, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. The question is, how can I reduce the gap between the two?

And all of it – the noticing and living from it and the healing and maturing – is an ongoing process. There is no finishing line.

In Ken Wilber’s terminology, this is about waking up, cleaning up, growing up, and showing up.

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Adyashanti: Recognizing our imperfection takes a lot of humility

Recognizing our imperfection takes a lot of humility. Spiritual people, for all their desire to be humble, are often not humble. They’re kind of horrified at their own imperfection.

– Adyashanti, Commitment to Truth and Love

This quote touches on many topics. 

SECRET IDEALS OF PERFECTION

These days, many who are into spirituality are a little more sophisticated than this. We know it’s better to embrace ourselves as we are. We know it’s better for us psychologically. We know that if our spirituality is about truth and love, then we need to be honest with ourselves and find love for ourselves as we are. 

We know that ideas of perfection are human-made and often used to control people. And in our modern culture, ideals of perfection are used to encourage us to be good consumers and buy products that will help us appear more perfect.

And yet, many of us are also caught up in some ideas and shoulds around perfection. Secretly, somewhere in us, we wish to live up to certain ideas of perfection. Often because ideas and shoulds are common in our culture and we have absorbed them almost without noticing from early childhood, and we are now applying these secret shoulds to our approach to spirituality.

What are these images? What are the images of perfection I wish to live up to? How does it influence how I see myself and how I present myself to others and the world? What happens when I try to live up to these images? What’s the cost? What am I trying to achieve? What am I afraid would happen if I don’t live up to these images of perfection? Do I assume others will judge me? That God will judge me? That I won’t get what I want? 

SPIRITUALITY AND PERFECTION

Why is spirituality sometimes associated with perfection?

Is it because God or the divine, almost by definition, is perfect, so if we aim to connect with the divine we too should be perfect? Or because we assume we need to be perfect to be saved, whatever saved is for us? Or is it as simple as wanting to be accepted by others? Or ourselves?

Or by an image of our parents from when we were little and needed and wanted their acceptance, love, and protection?

What form does this drive to perfection take for us? And for the spiritual tradition we are in? Or the culture we grew up in?

And more generally, what form does this tend to take in the different spiritual traditions? Are there traditions where we find less of this? Or do some here too try to live up to certain ideas of perfection even if they, on the surface, may appear not to?

EXPLORING IT FOR OURSELVES

As usual, this is a fertile ground for exploration.

What beliefs, assumptions, and identities do I have about this? What do I find when I investigate these? How would it be to find love for the parts of me scared of imperfection? How would it be to find peace with what I fear the most would happen if I am imperfect or seen to be imperfect? 

What are the genuine upsides of embracing my imperfection? The general answer for me is that it’s a relief to not have to try to live up to images of perfection. It helps me find and embrace more of my wholeness. It gives me a wider repertoire. It helps me more genuinely connect with others. It helps me recognize we are all in the same boat.

More importantly, when I look at specific situations and specific ways I try to live up to perfection, what genuine benefits do I find in embracing my imperfections?

Can I find safe spaces for exploring embracing my imperfections? Perhaps in a journal? With a good therapist? With accepting and relatively mature friends? Can I find ways to talk about it that make it easier for me to embrace it?

And maybe most directly, how is it to meet and get to know my fear of what may happen if I don’t try to live up to perfection? How is it to feel it in my body? Allow it? Notice it’s already allowed? See what it really wants (love? acceptance? safety? support?) and give that to it? Notice its nature? Notice how its nature is my nature? Rest in that noticing?

FINDING WHAT I AM

If I find what I am, my nature, does this change these dynamics? Does it create a different context for exploring all of this? 

I may find myself as capacity for the world as it appears to me. I may find myself as that which the world to me – this human self, the wider world, and any other content of consciousness – happens within and as. Here, there is a kind of perfection. Nothing is missing. It’s all there is. And yet, it also includes and embraces and IS all the apparent imperfections in me and the world. 

This can help me shift my relationship with imperfections in a few different ways. The perfection inherent in what I am makes it easier for me to embrace the many apparent imperfections as who I am. I can recognize my nature even in the imperfections, they too happen within and as what I am. Noticing my nature helps me explore my old beliefs and assumptions and find what’s more true for me. And finding myself as oneness and love helps me find love for these parts of me. 

THE MESSINESS OF ALL OF IT

When it’s written out like this, it can seem like a relatively simple and clean process. And that’s one of the ways we can try to live up to some ideal of perfection. We may try to live up to how someone else has described something.

In reality, the process is typically far from simple, clean, and perfect. When it’s lived, this process, as so much else, is flawed, messy, and imperfect. And It’s an ongoing process without a finishing line.

And that’s OK. That’s life. That’s how it is for all of us. 

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The more we try to make life fit our ideas, the more chaos we create

The more you try to make it fit, the more chaos you create. 

– Adyashanti, in Ale’s dream

Adya is, as usual, clear and spot-on, even when he appears in Ale’s dreams. 

The more we try to fit life into our ideas about how things should be, and the more we push and pull and struggle, the more chaos we create. 

When this happens, it’s a sign that we are perceiving and acting from unclear parts in us. From parts that are wounded, caught up in beliefs, unloved, and so on.

And this gives us an opportunity to explore what’s going on. 

What are the unexamined beliefs this part of me is operating on? What do I find when I examine the belief or beliefs? 

How does this part of me perceive the world? 

What does it need? (Safety, love, support, feeling seen?) 

What happens if I give this part of me what it deepest down wants and needs? 

What’s the nature of this part of me and these painful dynamics? Is it different from my own nature?

And so on.

Adyashanti: For the vast majority of people that awaken and sustain in it…. Truth is the most important thing in their life

For the vast majority of people that awaken and sustain in it, there is something similar among them. Number one is that Truth is the most important thing in their life. Truth and reality is number one on their agenda, and usually it’s been that way for a long time.

– Adyashanti, The Intention of Spirit

Yes, awakening requires us to be radically honest with ourselves. It requires us to prioritize what we honestly and genuinely find we are in our own immediate experience and what the world is to us in our immediate experience. And set anything else – anything we have been told and anything we tell ourselves – aside.

The main way to do this is to radically prioritize truth and to prioritize truth in all areas of our life. It creates a habit and an atmosphere where we more easily can be honest with ourselves about what we find and notice in our own first-person experience.

Two of us – perceiving ourselves as observer and observed

You can talk about ‘myself’ as if there’s two of you: one that is doing or has done something, and the other one who’s watched it and is talking about it. Strange, isn’t it?

– Adyashanti, Silent Retreat Vol. 80, Q&A Sessions, Day 4

In daily life, we tend to take this for granted. We talk about ourselves as something we observe. And we talk about ourselves as someone who observes. And we may not give it a second thought.

It seems a given, and most of us may not even point this out or question it. And if we do, it may just seem like an interesting curiosity.

TAKING A CLOSER LOOK

When we take a closer look, we may find something else.

And it helps to do this exploration with guidance from more structured inquiry, for instance, sense field explorations (traditional Buddist inquiry, Living Inquiries), the Big Mind process, and even The Work of Byron Katie. We can explore it through the Headless experiments. We can explore it through basic meditation, through noticing and allowing any content of experience, and noticing it’s already noticed and allowed before the mind comes in and does something about it. And many other approaches.

Each of these gives us a slightly different view of what’s happening.

What do we find through these forms of explorations?

We may find that any sense of observer and observed happens within the content of our experience. They come and go. Our nature is capacity for both. And they happen within and as what we are.

And when we take another look, we may find that both are mental representations. We have an image of ourselves as observed, as an object in the world. And we have an image of ourselves as observer, as an I. The mind associates each one with a lot of other mental representations, and it also tends to associate each one with certain sensations in the body. These sensations lend a sense of solidity and reality to the mental representations, and the mental representations lend a sense of meaning to the sensations. And it’s all happening within and as what we are, which a thought may (unsuccessfully) label consciousness.

THE CREATIVITY OF THE MIND

This shows the creativity of the mind.

To ourselves, we are capacity for all our experiences. And we are oneness. We are the oneness our experiences of anything – this human self, the wider world, anything else – happen within and as.

And that goes for any sense of observer and observed as well.

Our nature temporarily forms itself into a sense of observer and observed.

WHY DOES ADYA POINT THIS OUT?

Why does Adya point our this apparent oddity?

Because it shows that we often take something for granted – in this case perceiving ourselves as both observer and observed – and on investigation, it may reveal itself as something we didn’t expect.

If we look more closely, we may discover something about our nature. We may discover what we are, in our own first-person experience.

THE MAGIC HAPPENS IN THE EXPLORATION

We can read about this and understand it, to some extent, within the realm of stories. That may be a good initial step, but it doesn’t lead to any real transformation.

The real transformation comes when we engage in an exploration of our own immediate experience and see what we find for ourselves, and when we keep noticing and exploring this.

Image: John William Waterhouse’s Echo and Narcissus 1903

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Adyashanti: In the end, we’re all held accountable to our own depth

In the end, we’re all held accountable to our own depth.

– Adyashanti, Facets of Unity

What does Adya mean by this?

I don’t know but here is how it matches what I have found.

HELD ACCOUNTABLE TO OUR DEPTH

This becomes more clear through inquiry and also in an awakening process.

We can never really trick ourselves. Somewhere in us, we know.

Even when we pretend to hold certain thoughts and assumptions as true, we also know what’s happening.

Something in us knows when we get caught up in beliefs and fears. And something in us knows when we are more honest, authentic, and sincere.

We are all being held accountable to our depth.

HOW CAN WE EXPLORE THIS FOR OURSELVES?

The most simple and accessible way I have found is The Work of Byron Katie. We start with a stressful thought that most often seem true to us. We examine it. We find what’s more true for us. And we may find that this was already more true for us. We already had that wisdom in us. We just needed a little help from structured inquiry and perhaps an experienced facilitator who knows the right questions to ask.

OVER-I VS THE DEPTH

I cannot help noticing the parallels with this and Freud’s super-ego or over-I.

Freud’s over-I comes from culture. We internalize the common values and shoulds from our culture during our upbringing. This helps us fit in, be accepted, and function in society. And it also comes with costs depending on how strongly we identify with these shoulds.

Adya’s Depth is different. This is the part of us that inherently knows what’s going on. It knows what we are – capacity for our world and what our world happens within and as. It knows when we are more aligned with this through honesty, sincerity, and receptivity. And it knows when we are more out of alignment with it by getting caught up in beliefs and reactivity.

Neither one is an object or thing. In the first case, it’s internalized values, norms, and shoulds. In the second case, it’s a simple knowing inherent in what we are.

WHY DID ADYA POINT THIS OUT?

I assume for a few different reasons.

Many already have an intuition and sense about this, and he is encouraging them to trust it.

If we realize we are being held accountable to our depth, it’s a bit easier to align ourselves consciously with that depth. It’s a little easier to shift towards honesty, sincerity, and receptivity.

We may realize this through our own noticing and experience. Or it may just be hearing what Adya said about it and it resonated and sounded right.

In either case, his words encourages us to hold ourselves a bit more accountable.

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Awakening and altered states

To perceive everything as one is not an altered state of consciousness. It’s an unaltered state of consciousness. It’s the natural state of consciousness.

– Adyashanti

Enlightenment is not an altered state of consciousness. It’s coming out of an altered state of consciousness.

– Adyashanti

It’s interesting to look at the relationship(s) between awakening and altered states.

MEDICINE FOR A CONDITION

Why is Adya pointing this out?

Likely because some assume that awakening is a kind of altered state. The pointer is medicine for the condition of assuming it’s about altered states.

If we assume it’s a state, we’ll chase states – something that’s “out there” in others or in our future or even past. We’ll miss it right here. So by pointing this out, Adya is inviting us to look at what’s here and now independent of the presence or absence of any particular states.

Awakening is about noticing our more fundamental nature and living from this noticing. And this nature is here no matter what our content of experience is, and no matter what state is here.

THE MORE FUNDAMENTAL ALTERED STATE

Altered states is conventionally defined as the altered states we can experience through drugs, insanity, or something similar. These are not what Adya talks about.

When he says awakening is coming out of an altered state, he probably refers to the altered state created by holding stories as true. The mind believes certain assumptions and stories about ourselves, others, life, and the divine, and – to some extent – perceives and lives as if these stories are true. Most of these assumptions and stories are not very conscious. It will also interpret whatever is happening from within the stories it more explicitly holds as true.

Since thoughts are questions about the world, have a pragmatic function only, and cannot – by their nature – hold any final, full, or absolute truth, holding stories as true brings us out of alignment with reality. It’s a kind of insanity. And it’s responsible for nearly all of the insanity we see in our own life and the world.

THE UPSIDE OF ALTERED STATES

There is one benefit to altered states. If we experience some of them over time, we’ll eventually notice that their nature is to come and go. They are visitors. They are not what this is about.

And there is the same benefit to noticing that we are always experiencing altered states. The content of our experience is always changing. It’s always altered. Noticing that, and really getting it in our bones, helps us notice that we cannot – most fundamentally – be any content of our experience. It all comes and goes. Even anything related to this human self comes and goes and is always changing. So what it is that’s more fundamental? What’s not changing?

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Adyashanti: There is only watching and/or observing

In truth there is no self, watcher, or observer. There is only watching and/or observing. There is awareness but no owner of awareness, no someone who is aware.

– Adyashanti, Experiencing No-Self online course

This is something we can explore for ourselves, both at a story level and in our immediate noticing.

AT A STORY LEVEL

If we explore it with sincerity at a story level, what are we to ourselves? Independent of our general worldview, we find that to ourselves, in our own first-person experience, we have to be consciousness. To us, any and all experience happen within and as this consciousness. And our more fundamental nature is consciousness.

This consciousness forms itself into all our experiences, including this human self and a sense of being this human self. It also forms itself into a more essential idea of a self, watcher, and observer, and a sense of being any or all of these.

Mind may tell itself it is a self, watcher, observer, and so on and that works well in daily life. At the same time, it does come with some inherent and inevitable stress, discomfort, and a sense that something is off. And that may invite us to take a closer look and explore it a bit further and with sincerity.

We may discover that, to ourselves, we are consciousness. We are what allows any and all experience – of this human self, the wider world, and anything else. And we are what transforms itself into all of these experiences.

In a sense, there is no real self, watcher, or observer. There is only watching and observing.

Whatever is here, whether it’s a sense of self or a noticing of this sense of self as created by the mind, happens within and as what we are.

Finding this at a story level doesn’t itself bring much if any transformation. Our center of gravity will still be the same, which typically is in a sense of being a separate self. And yet, it can be an excellent start for exploring what we are in our immediate noticing, and this can be profoundly transforming.

IN OUR IMMEDIATE NOTICING

What do we find if we explore this in our immediate noticing?

We may discover something we can put into more or less the same words as above, and yet the immediate noticing is primary and profoundly transforming for our perception and and life in the world. It can be profoundly transforming for our psyche as it invites the different parts of our psyche to align more deeply with this noticing.

We may find our nature is capacity for the world as it appears to us. Our nature is capacity for all our experiences, whatever they are.

We may find we are what all our experiences – of the world, this human self, and anything else – happen within and as. What we are transforms itself into all of these experiences. What we are is what experiences and what’s experienced and that distinction is only created when we put it into words.

There is the appearance of self, watcher, and observer, created by our mental field. And more fundamentally, we are what all our experiences – including the idea of self, watcher, and observer, and of watching and observing – happen within and as.

POINTERS

Adya’s words are pointers. They are for us to explore for ourselves, see what we find, and allow it to work on us and transform us.

They are medicine for a certain condition.

In this case, they show us the next stepping stone from taking ourselves to most fundamentally be a self, watcher, and observer.

From here, we may notice that in our own first-person experience, we more fundamentally are watching and observing.

And from here, we may notice that all of it – self, watcher, observer, watching, observing, and even mind and consciousness – happen within and as what we are. We are capacity for all of it. The appearance of all of it is created by our own mental field. And we are more fundamentally not any of it.

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Adyashanti: If we’re not trying to control so much, a lot of the meditative experience is actually naturally occurring

If we’re not trying to control so much, a lot of the meditative experience is actually naturally occurring.

– Adyashanti, The Boundless Awakened Heart

What does Adya mean by meditative experience? I am not sure, but I assume it may be basic meditation – to notice and allow what’s here and rest in that noticing and allowing.

In general, the more we try to control our experience, the more we are distracted by that attempt at control, and the less available our attention is to notice what’s here.

And the less we try to control our experience, the more free and available our attention is to notice what’s already here.

So what may we notice if we relax trying to control our experience?

BASIC MEDITATION

As mentioned above, basic meditation is about noticing and allowing what’s here.

If we intentionally try to notice and allow, we may find it’s not really possible. Our attention is too distracted. We get caught up in efforts to control our experience.

After struggling with that for a while, we may find that the noticing and allowing is already happening. We may find that basic meditation is more essentially about noticing the noticing and allowing that’s already here.

The experience that’s here is already noticed by consciousness, effortlessly and naturally, and before any thought comes in commenting on it.

And it’s already allowed. It’s already here so it’s already allowed – by existence, space, mind.

Basic meditation is essentially about noticing that our experience is already noticed and allowed, rest in that noticing, and allow it to work on us. To shape and transform us.

And all of this is easier the less we engage in trying to control our experience. Trying to control binds our attention. Relaxing that effort frees our attention to notice what’s already here.

INQUIRY

What I mentioned above is already a basic form of inquiry, and it can lead to further insights.

We may consciously try to notice and allow, and find we cannot really do it, or can only do it very imperfectly.

We may then notice that the noticing and allowing is already happening, and we can invite that noticing to work on and transform us.

We are built conscious and open for the world. We cannot escape it.

This is already a form of inquiry. We notice certain basic things about what’s here and how the mind works.

As mentioned above, when we try to control our experience, our attention tends to be caught up in that effort. And the less we try to control, the more attention is available to notice what’s already here.

What are some of the things we may notice?

We may notice that trying to control our experience is ultimately futile. The content of our experience – thoughts, emotions, sensations, reactivity, and so on – lives its own life. It’s already here before we even consciously notice and can relate to it or make up a story about it.

We may notice the overlay of mental images and words that our mind puts on the world. The constant commentary. And how this commentary brings us into certain states. That it’s really just innocent questions about the world. That it’s not ultimately true. It’s different in nature from what it comments on. And even within the realm of stories, it’s not any final or complete story.

We may notice the changing nature of our experience. All content of our experience is always changing. Nothing stays the same. If all of this is always changing, including any experience of being this human self or an I or me, is that what I more fundamentally am?

We may find we more fundamentally are capacity for the world as it appears to us, including this changing experience of this human self and the world. We may find we more fundamentally are what all of this happens within and as. And that any attempt to give it a label or to pin it down is ultimately futile and misleading.

We may explore what happens when we keep noticing our more essential nature. Does it allow our human self to reorganize and transform within that noticing? We may find that this is an ongoing process with no finishing line.

All of this is a natural and essential form of inquiry, and it’s something built into us. We are naturally curious about these things, and we naturally notice if we allow that noticing to take place.

SUMMARY

By not trying to control so much, attention is more available to notice what’s already here. And what’s already here is the essence of basic meditation. It’s more a question of noticing that it’s already here and resting in and as that noticing.

Within this is a natural and simple inquiry. We may notice some of the dynamics of the mind. We may notice the noticing and allowing that’s already here. We may notice it’s built into the mind and what we are. We may notice the changing nature of all content of experience, including anything within the content of experience we may take ourselves to be. We may notice what we more fundamentally are, in our own first-person experience. We may explore what happens when we rest in that noticing and allow it to work on us. And so on.

We may find that all of this is an ongoing process with no apparent finish line.

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Adyashanti: When we look for a thing called an ego, it is like grasping at straws, grasping at air, we don’t quite ever find it

When we look for a thing called an ego, it is like grasping at straws, grasping at air, we don’t quite ever find it.

– Adyashanti, The Mystery of Being

Ego, what are you?

EGO

I am not what you think I am. Nothing is.

I am the dynamics that happen when the mind tries to assume it’s a thing within its own experience.

As the quote said, I am ephemeral, ungraspable.

I am a kind of dream.

Some minds like to imagine me as a thing, just like they like to imagine themselves as a thing within their own experience.

Some minds like to see me as a problem or an enemy.

I am not. I am just the natural processes that happen when the mind imagines itself as something particular within it’s own content of experience – this human self, a name, a profession, a gender, an I, a me.

And that is completely fine.

It’s all part of the richness of the mind expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

Much of it is imagination, and this imagination is sometimes experienced as very real.

Adyashanti: Everybody is having a human experience – enlightened and unenlightened

Everybody is having a human experience – enlightened and unenlightened – and everything that goes along with that.

– Adyashanti

One of the misconceptions about awakening is that it will solve all our problems. It will put us in a permanently blissful and joyous state, or a state of permanent ease. It will magically make our human life in the world better. We’ll be blessed by the divine, in the way our habitual patterns dreams of. And so on.

All of this is the dreams of separation consciousness, the parts of us shaped from within the perception that we are most fundamentally a separate being.

In reality, when we notice what we are, and even when we live from it as best we can, we still have this human life. Our human self is still mostly the same. Many of our hangups, wounds, and traumas are still here. Our life in the world is still pretty much the same.

Awakening doesn’t solve our human problems in the way parts of us may wish.

What it does is change our relationship with it all. And that does make it a bit easier.

We may recognize that to us, our life and the world happen within and as what we are. We may recognize that at a human level, what we see in the world mirrors what’s here in us. We may realize that holding any thought or assumption as true is out of alignment with reality and creates suffering. And so on.

We may also realize that when we notice what we are, and life from it here and now, it allows for a transformation of our human self. More parts of our human self become more aligned with reality. Our human self and the different parts of our human self heal and realign within oneness and love.

And yet, we still have a human experience. Whether there is awakeness here or not, we still have a human experience. We still experience the life of this human self in the world, with all that entails.

Adyashanti: If you want to become more conscious, you’re becoming more conscious of the whole thing—your heaven and your hell

If you want to become more conscious, you’re becoming more conscious of the whole thing—your heaven and your hell.

– Adyashanti, The Way of Liberating Insight

If we engage in a process of bringing more of who and what we are into consciousness, it may at first seem that we have a choice of what we bring into consciousness. And, at some point, the rest tends to follow, whether we want or not. It’s all tied together.

For instance, we may engage in meditation to find more tranquility, equanimity, and stability in our life. For a while, that may be the effect. And then, at some point, other things that were excluded from our conscious awareness wants to join in, and this may not be just pleasant. We may think we invite in our heaven, and then our hell follows.

This is not bad or wrong. We have just supported a natural healing process. And when we do, eventually all of who and what we are wants to join.

This happens in any deeper healing process.

AWAKENING PROCESS

And it also happens in a real awakening process, and sometimes even more quickly and thoroughly.

The more we notice our nature and rest in that noticing, the more all of what we are tends to come to the surface. It all wants to join in with the noticing, and realign and find healing within the noticing.

And that includes our heaven and hell. It includes bliss and joy as well as buried trauma, wounds, fear, and terror.

If the latter comes up in one package, it can last for months or years and be experienced as a very difficult dark night. (In my case, it has lasted roughly a decade and it’s still ongoing although currently in a gentler form.)

It’s not always a pleasant process, but it is a process of allowing it all to be seen, felt, and realign within the noticing of what we are.

BUYER BEWARE

Ultimatly, we as an imagined separate individual don’t have much choice or say in the process. Not in the apparent start of it and not in how it all unfolds.

And yet, it is good to let people know what they may be getting into if they start any form of healing or awakening practice. It’s good to screen people for trauma and give these additional support. And it’s good to present a map of possibilities so people can be moderately prepared and know who to turn to for assistance if or when challenging material surfaces.

Ultimately, this is all part of an overall healing and awakening process. Nothing has gone wrong. It’s not bad. But for some, it can feel quite overwhelming, disorienting, and scary. And it’s good to have the support from someone who has gone through it themselves and can guide with some kindness, wisdom, and maturity.

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Adyashanti: Within all the changing states of consciousness, there is the consciousness that notices all those changes

Within all the changing states of consciousness, there is the consciousness that notices all those changes.

– Adyashanti, One Mind

It’s all the same consciousness, which is a label for what we are in our own first-person experience.

Consciousness, how do you see this?

CONSCIOUSNESS

I am what all experiences happen within and as. Anything anyone has ever known and experienced is me in different forms.

The consciousness that notices all those changes is no different. It’s still me.

I am all the changing content of experience. And I am what notices it all.

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Adyashanti: When you welcome all of experience into your awareness, a certain type of stillness starts to emerge organically

When you welcome all of experience into your awareness, a certain type of stillness starts to emerge organically.

– Adyashanti

All of my experiences already happen within and as what I am. So when I welcome it all more consciously, I am more aligned with what I already am.

That, in itself, brings in stillness. It’s the end of my struggle, at least for now.

And equally important, what I am is stillness. It’s the stillness all activity happens within and as. So when I am more aligned with this, I more easily notice the inherent stillness of what I am.

Adyashanti: The door to God is the insecurity of not knowing anything

The door to God is the insecurity of not knowing anything. Bear the grace of that insecurity, and all wisdom will be yours.

– Adyashanti

What does this feel like? To me, it feels like receptivity, gentle curiosity, and not “landing” anywhere in terms of assumptions about myself, others, and the world.

Adyashanti: Our minds may believe that we need subtle and complex spiritual teachings to guide us to Reality

Our minds may believe that we need subtle and complex spiritual teachings to guide us to Reality, but we do not. In fact, the more complex the teaching is, the easier it is for the mind to hide from itself amidst the complexity while imagining that it is advancing toward enlightenment. But it is often only advancing in creating more and more intricate circles to walk around and around in.

– Adyashanti, The Way of Liberation: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Adyashanti: Misery needs your conspiracy

Misery needs your conspiracy; it needs your help. Without your resistance misery cannot survive.

– Adyashanti

And resistance is…. An unexamined belief. An unloved fear. An unbefriended contraction.

Adyashanti: Simply rest in the felt sense of being

Simply rest in the felt sense of being. Don’t think about it. Do it. That is the key. Grasp at nothing, push nothing away. Simply rest in the felt sense of being. Practice it every day. By abiding in being you are taken beyond it to the absolute. It may sound simple but that is where its power lies, in its straightforward simplicity.

– Adyashanti in Experiencing No-Self online course

Adyashanti: In a world where speaking ill of others is a sort of accepted sport, we can fail to see the great cost of this violation

In a world where speaking ill of others is a sort of accepted sport, we can fail to see the great cost of this violation.

– Adyashanti, Fierce Love self-guided course

There is a lot to explore here.

Speaking ill of others harms our relationship with them, even if we do it behind their back and even if they are not people we interact with directly.

Speaking ill of others harms society. It harms our connections and the possibility of collectively finding good solutions.

Other people mirror sides of myself, so when I speak ill of others it reflects how I relate to these sides of myself. It makes it more difficult for me to befriend and get to know these sides of myself and have a more healthy relationship with them.

Also, in my first-person experience, the world happens within and as this consciousness and what I am. Speaking ill of others fuels the game of separation, and makes it more difficult for me to notice that the world – and anyone and everyone – happens within and as what I more fundamentally am.

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Finding our essential motivations

Adyashanti recommends a simple and central inquiry.

FINDING THE ESSENTIAL MOTIVATION

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?

POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF THIS INQUIRY

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.

GIVING IT TO OURSELVES

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.

BECOMES A HABIT

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.

The fabric of all we know

The substance of everything is the divine. This is not something you believe, it is something you realize.

– Adyashanti

We are used to thinking of the world as being made up of different things: Rocks, minerals, wood, plants, cells, molecules and atoms, and so on.

That’s not wrong. And in our first-person experience, something else may be more fundamental.

EXPLORED LOGICALLY

We can explore this logically and within the realm of stories.

Consciousness is required for any experience.

And to me, what I experience happens within and as consciousness.

It cannot be any other way. I can only experience what happens within consciousness. What happens within consciousness is consciousness taking the form of that particular experience. And to me, there is nothing else.

Even any ideas about who and what I am happen within and as consciousness. What I am to myself, and what the world is to me, is all happening within and as consciousness. It’s consciousness taking all these forms to and within itself.

The fabric of all I am and what the world is to me is consciousness.

Adya uses the big interpretation of awakening here and calls it the divine. And yet, to us, it’s simpler. It’s what we are and what everything, to us, is.

It’s what a thought can call consciousness, and that word and any associations we have about it also happen within and as what we are.

WHAT’S ALIVE HERE AND NOW

We can also explore this through what’s alive here and now, in immediate noticing.

Again, it’s not wrong that I am a human self in the world.

And in my first-person experience, I find something else is more true.

Here, I find that my experiences – of the wider world, of this human self, and anything else – all happen within my sense fields. It happens within sight, sound, taste, smell, sensations, thoughts, and so on. Any “outside” or “inside” are labels put on this sense field. In itself, it’s a seamless whole.

The sense fields happen within and as what I am.

When I look closely, I see that my experience of matter is created within these sense fields. Specifically, any sense of solidity is created by certain sensations (contractions) in my body combining with certain mental representations. The sensations lend a sense of solidity and reality to the thoughts, and the thoughts give the sensations a sense of meaning.

I find I am capacity for all of it, and what it all happens within and as.

A thought may label this awake space, consciousness, or even the divine. And those thoughts and what they point to happen within and as what I am.

The fabric of it all – of all of existence as it appears to me – is what a thought may label awake space, consciousness, or the divine.

BIG AND SMALL INTERPRETATIONS OF AWAKENING

This is where the big and small interpretations of awakening comes in.

When I explore this for myself, I find that – to me – existence has this nature. It’s inevitable since, to me, it appears within and as what I am. Acknowleding that, and that I cannot say anything for certain about all of existence, is the small interpretation of awakening.

The big interpretation of awakening takes the next step and assumes that the nature of all of existence is the same as this nature I find here. There are many hints that this is accurate.

Adya uses the big interpretation of awakening when he says the fabric of everything is the divine.

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Adyashanti: The biggest mystery in the universe is you

The biggest mystery in the universe is you.

– Adyashanti

What a thought tells us we are is not what we are. Reality is always more than and different from any thought.

Even within direct noticing, there is always more to discover.

Since to us, the world happens within and as what we are, any mystery is the mystery of ourselves.

Adya is using this as a medicine for our tendency to think we know, whether we assume we know based on what a thought tells us or our more immediate noticing.

That anything is at all, is perhaps the greatest mystery of all.

Enlightenment is a destructive process

Make no mistake about it—enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the façade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.

– Adyashanti

NOTICING WHAT WE ARE

Noticing what we are doesn’t necessarily require that much of us. We can be guided to it, and notice it within a few minutes without much preparation. It can be so quick and unremarkable that some will dismiss at as not the real thing, or they don’t quite get the significance of it.

LIVING FROM THIS NOTICING – AS BEST WE CAN

In a sense, living from it here and now doesn’t require so much. It just requires noticing what we are, and living from this oneness as best as we can in the moment. It requires some intention and sincerity, and that’s about it.

We’ll do it imperfectly, for a few different reasons. It may be relatively unfamiliar to us, especially at first. Our human self will still be partially caught up in old habits formed from separation consciousness. And we’ll have parts of us still operating from separation consciousness, and this will color our perception and life, and when triggered, we may get caught up in the separation views of these parts of us.

LIVING FROM NOTICING WHAT WE ARE – THE TRANSFORMATION

And that brings us to what I suspect Adya talks about.

Living from noticing what we are requires a profound transformation of our human self, and that costs us everything. The many parts of us operating from separation consciousness come to the surface, one way or another and at one time or another, to join in with the awakening.

This requires us to experience how they experience the world, which is not always pretty or comfortable.

It requires us to heal how we relate to these parts of us, from seeing them as an enemy to befriending them.

It requires us to help these parts of us heal and join in with the awakening.

Although this can sound relatively simple and straightforward, for many of us, it’s anything but that. It’s a process that will bring us to our knees. It’s a destructive process, as Adya says. And as Evelyn Underhill wrote about the dark night of the soul, it’s a deeply human process.

MORE ABOUT THE TRANSFORMATION

There is a lot more to say about this transformation process.

It’s often called embodiment. We bring the awakening into our life, and that requires this transformation of our human self.

We are along for the ride. At some point, it becomes clear that we are not in control of this process. We just relate to it and deal with as best we can.

It can involve one or more dark nights, and different types of dark nights.

It’s an ongoing process. There is no place to arrive, although we can get through the most intense phases and have periods of more calm.

It doesn’t always look pretty. It can involve a great deal of struggle, confusion, overwhelm, despair, and so on.

We will likely see things about ourselves we rather would not see. It will demolish our pretty picture of ourselves.

It requires us to lose every cherished belief, ideal, and image of ourselves. It requires us to lose any idea of gaining anything from this process.

We experience it as a deeply human process because it is. It’s a transformation of our human self and life.

It requires us to meet any trauma, emotional issue, identification, wound, and so on in our human system, and there may be a lot more than than we thought or expected.

It requires us to notice any experience as the flavor of the divine, and as having the same true nature as ourselves.

It may require us to shed whatever in our life is not aligned with truth, whatever is not authentic and real and aligned with our heart. This may fall away on its own whether we want it to or not. And sometimes, we’ll have to make the hard choices. (In my experience, if I don’t life will do it for me and often in ways that don’t look pretty.)

In many cases, early phases of the awakening process involves a temporary transcendence of the human. We pull out of the human a bit so we can get more familiar with what we are. This is the opposite, it’s a process of descending and going deeply into the human messiness so it can join in with the awakening.

It is something many spiritual teachers don’t talk about in public. Perhaps because it happens after we notice what we are, and they like to do this one-on-one with these students. And perhaps because it can scare people from even starting on a spiritual path. (As if we have a choice.)

Many of the basic spiritual practices serve us well in this process. Heart-centered practices help us meet ourselves and these parts of us with more kindness, compassion, and love. Inquiry helps us investigate stressful thoughts coming up, and also identifications and anything with a charge in our system. Body-centered practices help us stay more grounded and kind with ourselves. Service can broaden our view beyond our own limited life and struggles. Ethical guidelines may help us avoid acting on some of the pain in destructive ways.

Ordinary forms of therapy and emotional healing can be very helpful in this process, especially if we find someone who understands what’s going on and have gone through it themselves.

For me, this has been a far more destructive process than I could have imagined.

Adyashanti: You don’t have to be someone to have infinite worth

You don’t have to be someone to have infinite worth. To be bestows infinite worth upon you.

– Adyashanti

How can we find this?

The simplest may be to notice that any sense of worth comes from our ideas about it. We adopt these ideas from our culture and people around us, don’t question it too much, and we then feel that they are true. We perceive, think, feel, and live as if it’s true. Even if we cannot find worth outside of our ideas.

That’s a good start, and to the extent we examine this in detail, it can be transformative. We can examine any stressful thought we have about our own worth, see where it comes from, see what happens when we believe it, find the validity in the reversals, and find what’s genuinely more true for us.

We can also find what we are and explore how this looks from there. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as. Here, we see that our human self is not what we ultimately are in our own experience. This softens identification with it. We also find that, to us, anything has the same true nature as ourselves. This and more helps us recognize the infinite value in whatever is here, including who and what we are.

Heart-centered practices help us find genuine love for ourselves, others, and whatever we experience. And here, we may find that we viscerally experience the infinite worth of ourselves, others, and anything.

Body-centered practices tend to help us shift how we relate to our body and ourselves. We find a more intimate, gentle, kind, and loving way to relate to our body, ourselves, and our experiences. We find our infinite worth.

To the extent this is lived and visceral, it tends to color how we perceive others and life in general. We find our own infinite worth and the same in others and life as it is.

Adyashanti: Suffering is not wrong

Suffering is not wrong; it is suffering. The judgment is a purely human fabrication that we project onto life. Drop the judgment about suffering and there is Love. Love knows how to respond to every situation without going into division.

– Adyashanti, Sacred Inquiry

Suffering lives its own life. It comes and goes, as anything else.

It’s nature. It’s an expression of life, this universe, and existence.

It’s not wrong and it cannot be wrong. As Adya says, the idea of right and wrong and any judgment comes from our imagination. It’s imagined and placed on top of what’s happening. It’s a human-made fantasy we have collectively agreed on, and cannot be found outside of our images and ideas.

Without this, there is love. Without it, we respond to suffering as an animal. We notice it and allow the experience. There is a gentle acceptance and love here. And we can more easily access our inherent wisdom in how to practically respond to the suffering. There may be something we can do about what trigger or creates it, and we are more easily able to find it with this gentle love.

When we are caught up in the struggle, we get blinded by the struggle. We go into division where there is none.

And when we see what’s actually going on, and recognize our judgments as an expression of the creativity of our mind, there is this gentle love and acceptance, which opens for our inherent practical wisdom for how to respond to it.

There is no magic here, just a simple recognition of what’s going on and an opening to a little more allowing, kindness, and wisdom.

Another side to this is to find a yes to the no in us. We can find an embrace of the part of us that desperately wants it to be different. This part is very natural and childlike and it comes from a wish to protect us. It comes from love. Even the suffering is here to protect us and comes from love. They are both expressions of love. And that makes it easier for us to meet them both with gentle love.

Adyashanti: Your life, all of your life, is your path to awakening

Your life, all of your life, is your path to awakening. By resisting or not dealing with its challenges, you stay asleep to Reality. Pay attention to what life is trying to reveal to you. Say yes to its fierce, ruthless, and loving grace.

– Adyashanti

Adyashanti: All ideas of what should or shouldn’t have happened are just dreams

All ideas of what should or shouldn’t have happened are just dreams

– Adyshanti

That’s literally true, and we can find it for ourselves through examining our ideas about what should or shouldn’t have happened.

SHOULDS

I cannot find any should outside of my own mental images and words.

They don’t seem to be inherent in reality. In fact, reality is what allows what happens to happen. Reality is what happens.

I can trace my shoulds – to my parents, upbringing, friends, culture, society. The essence of my shoulds are universally human and likely go back to the beginning of civilization and before.

When my mind holds a should as true, it creates suffering for me. It’s at odds with reality. It makes me a victim.

THE SHOULD-DREAMS

Shoulds are like dreams in a few different ways.

Dreams are an expression of the creativity of the mind, and shoulds are an expression of the same creativity.

Dreams and shoulds happen within and as consciousness. They are not found in any other place.

If our mind holds dreams and shoulds as true, they feel true. We perceive and feel as if they are true. And we may even act as if a should is true.

We can recognize the true nature of dreams and shoulds, and recognize they have the same nature.

Dreams and shoulds happen within and as what we are. When we recognize this, our mind’s identification with them tends to soften.

EXPLORING SHOULDS

How do we explore our shoulds, and especially the ones that feel true?

The most effective way may be through structured inquiry like The Work of Byron Katie and the Living Inquiries, especially when guided by someone familiar with them and skilled in guiding others.

We can dialog with the should part of us. How does it see the world? What are its fears? How does it see us? How do we relate to it? Do we listen? Dismiss it? How is it to find that it is there to protect us? How is it to thank it for protecting us? How is it to listen to the wisdom within it?

They point to emotional issues, and we can work on these in whatever ways work for us. (The other approaches do this as well.)

After a while of exploring shoulds, we may find we generally have a different relationship with them. We may recognize them and see through them more naturally. And if we have some especially strong shoulds coming up, we can take the opportunity to explore them in even more depth.

OUR MENTAL ACTIVITY AS A DREAM

When we look, we may find that all our mental activity is a kind of dream.

We put mental representations on top of what’s in our sense fields – sights, sounds, sensations, smells, taste – to make sense of them. We label and have stories about what’s here. Similarly, we have mental representations of what isn’t here – the wider world, the past and future, and so on.

All of this is a kind of dreaming activity of the mind, and it plays itself out while awake and also in our sleeping dreams.

That’s why our waking dreaming activity is not that different from our sleeping dreams.

Both are an expression of the creativity of our mind.

Both create a world for us. Sleeping dreams happen in the absence of sensory inputs. And these waking dreams happen partly as an overlay over sensory inputs (what we see, hear, feel, smell, taste etc.) and partly in the absence of these sensory inputs (imaginations of a wider world, past, future, and so on).

Both can seem real if we take them that way, and we can learn to see through both. We can recognize a sleeping dream as a dream while we dream (lucid dreaming) and we can recognize our waking dreams as they happen (through inquiry). It takes time, but recognizing dreams as they happen can become a new habit.

What we are is capacity for both types of dreams, they both happen within and as what we are. When we notice this, identification with them tends to soften. It’s easier to recognize them as dreams.

Our sleeping dreams are one expression of the general dreaming activity of the mind.

Recognizing this general dreaming activity of the mind can help us take it a little less seriously. It is immensely valuable in helping us navigate the world. And it doesn’t hold any final or absolute truth.

Adyashanti: Experiencing many dimensions of being allows you to be more fluid

Experiencing many dimensions of being allows you to be more fluid and not be stuck in unity, fullness, emptiness, or the eternal.

– Adyashanti in The Fluidity of Consciousness

Yes, we cannot really prevent this fluidity anyway. And it’s far more interesting to allow it.

THE FLUIDITY OF WHO I AM

As who I am, as this human being in the world, I have innumerable parts and sides to me. Here too, it’s easier and more real and interesting to allow the richness of who I am and have some fluidity in what I access and even live from. Different situations call for different sides of me.

As a human being, the world is my mirror. Whatever stories I have about someone or something in the world, I can turn these stories around to myself and find examples of where they are true. This allows me to consciously recognize and embrace more sides of myself and find some fluidity in how I relate to them.

THE FLUIDITY OF WHAT I AM

As what I am, I also have several aspects. I can find myself as capacity for it all, which helps soften identification as anything in particular within the content of my field of experience.

I can find myself as what my field of experience happens within and as. Here, I find that my field of experience is one, and any distinctions come from an overlay of thought. This human self and the wider world happens within the same seamless field of experience. It’s one. And I find myself as oneness. This helps me shift out of my familiar identity as a human self with a wider world as other.

I can explore different facets or expressions of what I am. As oneness, I am also love – not a felt love but the love of the left hand removing a splinter of the right. I can find myself as the void allowing it all. I can find myself as wisdom – at least the wisdom of noticing what I am. I can find myself as the wisdom that comes when I examine when the mind gets caught up in a thought, and what’s more true for me. I can find myself as fierceness in cutting through my own delusion when it comes up. And so on.

THE FLUIDITY OF WHO AND WHAT I AM TOGETHER

Even when we find ourselves as what we are, we are still also this human self in the world. It’s just not our most fundamental identity. A big part of this is exploring noticing what we are while we live our human life in the world. How is it to live from that noticing in this situation? How is it to invite this part of me still operating from separation consciousness to realign within this noticing?

In daily life, noticing what I am is something more intentional and in the foreground, and sometimes it’s more in the background, especially if I focus on daily life tasks that require more attention. And as a human being in the world, different parts of me come up in different situations, either because the situation calls for it or because something unhealed in me got triggered.

There is a natural and inevitable fluidity here.

WHERE WE ACTUALLY GET STUCK

We don’t really get stuck in unity, fullness, or anything else. It’s not possible.

In reality, we get stuck in the viewpoint of a thought. We identify as it, and we seek temporary refuge in the viewpoint of a thought.

Why? Mainly because it helps us not face a particular fear – the unmet feeling of the fear, and the unexamined fearful thoughts behind it.

Even if we hold onto an idea of what we are, and perceive and live as if it’s true, we cannot make it true. We are still the wholeness of what and who we are, and there is an inherent fluidity in this that cannot be stopped. We only pretend we can.

EXAMPLES OF GETTING STUCK

Adya mentioned a few examples of where we may appear to get stuck.

Most people get “stuck” in their identification as a human being, and taking themselves to most fundamentally be this human being. Even here, there is some fluidity. What we are is still here, and we are familiar with it even if we don’t recognize what it is. We still find ourselves as it in some situations, for instance in flow states.

As a human self, we can get a bit stuck in certain identities – gender, age, nationality, political orientation, positions on all sorts of things, abilities, skills, better or worse than others, and so on.

When we get interested in what we are, we can get stuck in ideas about this too.

We can take ourselves as capacity for the world, and downplay oneness or our human life in the world. We can focus on oneness, and downplay capacity or the importance of distinctions. We can emphasize love and overlook the importance of being a good steward of our human life and set clear – and loving – boundaries.

When we get stuck in these ideas about who and what we are, it’s innocent. It’s understandable and natural. We are flailing a bit. We scare ourselves, and tell ourselves it’s safer this way.

EXPLORING FLUIDITY AND STUCKNESS

One way to explore the natural and inevitable fluidity in all of this is to notice the fluidity that’s already here.

As a human being, I am already far more fluid than any of my identities. I inevitably perceive and live from far more sides of me than I am consciously aware of.

As what I am, all the different aspects mentioned above – and innumerable other – are already here. I can notice and explore this too.

We can also explore this in a more structured way, for instance through the Big Mind process which is explicitly designed to help us discover and explore all these facets of who and what we are, how we relate to each one, what advice they have for us, how it is to perceive and live from and as each one, and so on.

And finding this fluidity is also a function of identifying and exploring any belief or identity we notice we have, for instance through The Work of Byron Katie or the Living Inquiries.

IS IT A PROBLEM TO BE STUCK?

Not really. It’s natural, understandable, and innocent.

It’s part of being human, and it’s part of the awakening process and exploring how to live from it.

As mentioned above, we cannot prevent the inherent fluidity in who and what we are. But we can pretend we are just or mainly something a thought tells us we are. And this is inevitably smaller and more one-dimensional than the immense richness and variety of who and what we are. We perceive and live as if we are less than we are, and that’s inherently uncomfortable.

Adyashanti: When we use the word consciousness, it gives the impression that we are talking about something other than us

When we use the word consciousness, it gives the impression that we are talking about something other than us. It’s not the ‘me’ talking about consciousness, it’s being it. It’s something more like talking from Consciousness than talking about consciousness.

– Adyashanti in The Fluidity of Consciousness

This is one of the reasons I rarely use the word consciousness, although I do in some specific situations to get a point across.

DOWNSIDES OF THE WORD CONSCIOUSNESS

There are at least three ways the word consciousness can be heard and misunderstood.

As Adya suggest, we are used to thinking about consciousness as other. We are this human being, and we have consciousness. Consciousness is somehow seen as an appendix.

When we use the word consciousness, it can seem as something within content of experience, and it’s not.

And it can give us the impression that we know what it is. We tell ourselves we know. This knowing is a story and we may not know in the sense of direct noticing.

WHAT CONSCIOUSNESS REFERS TO

What consciousness actually refer to is what we are.

To ourselves, we are what all our experiences happen within and as. We are this awakeness all our experiences happen within and as.

A word for this is consciousness, and it’s not necessarily a very good word for the reasons mentioned above.

EXPLORING IT IN TWO WAYS

We can examine this logically.

We may think of ourselves as a human being that somehow has consciousness as an appendix. It’s what our culture tells us. And yet, this clearly doesn’t hold up to any closer examination.

We experience through consciousness. To us, all our experiences happen within and as consciousness. Waking life is just like a dream in that sense. And that means that logically, to ourselves we have to be consciousness. To ourselves, we are consciousness that has a body and a human self.

To ourselves we are consciousness that has a body, a human self, a human life in the world, a wider world, and even a whole universe. It’s all happening within and as what we are.

We can also find this through direct noticing.

Through guided noticing, we can find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as.

We can call this consciousness, but it seems many – including me – prefer to not use that label for the reasons above.

WHEN WE FIND WHAT WE ARE

So we can see through the false idea that we primarily are a human being that happens to have consciousness as a kind of appendix. We can see through it logically. And we can find it through direct noticing.

Seeing through it logically can put us on the right track. And direct noticing is profoundly transforming for how we perceive ourselves and the world, and if we keep noticing and exploring how to live from it, it can be profoundly transforming for our human self and life in the world.

Adyashanti: The truth of your being can do fine without a name

The truth of your being can do fine without a name.

– Adyashanti

This is why I usually don’t give it a name, and if I do I tend to give it many names.

Names and ideas point to something. They are like road signs.

And it’s very easy for the mind to mistake a name or concept for what it refers to, and for us to think we get something while what we are getting is the concept. Especially when what it points to is not tangible in a physical sense.

I assume that’s the reason behind this Adya quote. It’s a way to help people recognize names as pointers only and what they refer to as inherently free of any names.

Adyashanti: Anything you avoid in life will come back, over and over again, until you’re willing to face it – to look deeply into its true nature

Anything you avoid in life will come back, over and over again, until you’re willing to face it – to look deeply into its true nature.

– Adyashanti, The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment

Why would it come back?

What we want to avoid tend to visit us again for a few different reasons.

Life is rich and diverse and the same type of situations, thoughts, emotions, and experiences tend to visit again.

Anything we want to avoid or hold onto has a charge for us. Or, rather, the idea of it has a charge for us. The thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions we have about it, and the identities we associate with it. Anything that has a charge is something the mind’s attention is automatically drawn to.

Our system seems to have a natural tendency to bring what’s unhealed to the surface so it can be seen, felt, befriended, and healed. For that reason too, the parts of us we want to avoid tend to come up again. It’s an invitation for healing our relationship with it, and for it in itself to find healing.

We cannot escape it, so we may as well face it and get to know what it really is.

How can we find its true nature?

The easiest is to first find our own true nature. If I find myself as capacity for my world, as what my experiences happen within and as, then I can notice that any of my experiences has this same true nature.

An emotion comes up. I notice the physical sensations of it, and I can notice it’s true nature is the same as my true nature. And the same with thoughts, sights, sounds, and so on.

I can also ask it what’s your true nature? And notice. (The answer is in noticing, not what a thought says.)

Our true nature vs the true nature of our experiences

If we notice our own true nature, wouldn’t we also notice the true nature of all our experiences? After all, it’s the same thing. Our experiences happens within and as what we are.

Yes, in a very general sense. But many parts of our psyche likely still operate from separation consciousness, and when these come to the surface, we tend to see what’s triggered – and often what triggered it – from separation consciousness. We revert to a separation consciousness way of perceiving it and relating to it.

That’s why Adya’s second pointer in the quote – to look into its true nature – is important.

Getting to know it

Adya goes straight to the heart of the matter, to seeing the true nature of what we – our conditioning and habits – want to avoid.

There are other ways to know it, which can support this process and give us some insights.

We can inquire into the beliefs telling us to avoid it, saying something terrible will happen if we don’t, and any other belief related to the situation.

We can inquire into how our mind creates its experience of the situation – how certain thoughts and sensations combine to create the charge, associations, and our earliest memory of this wish to avoid it.

We can do a mental imaginary dialog with the part of us that want to avoid it and get to know it, its experience of the world, what it fears, what it wants to protect us from, and seeing that it comes from a wish to protect us and from love for us.

The importance of guidance

We need guidance and experience to do all of this, otherwise we can just create additional unfruitful discomfort for ourselves.

We may need to try out different guides and approaches and see what works for us.

For me, Headless experiments and the Big Mind process seem the simplest and most effective supports for helping us notice our own true nature, which then helps us notice the true nature of our experiences – including the ones our personality wants to avoid or hold onto.

What we want to avoid

What do we want to avoid? We may want to avoid certain situations as much as we can if we wish to be a good steward of our life, and that’s a very good thing. It makes sense to avoid being hit by a train, or getting sick if we can avoid it, or going hungry for too long.

What Adya talks about is wanting to avoid certain experiences – emotional pain, physical pain, distress, discomfort, and so on. One purpose of basic meditation – notice & allow – is for these to surface, for us to see how we habitually relate to them, and for us to shift how we relate to them (befriending them) and notice and get familiar with their true nature.

May still visit

If we see its true nature, does it mean it won’t come back?

No, it may still visit again and likely will. It’s just that seeing its true nature helps us relate to it differently.

It tends to undercut the struggle we habitually have had with it, and that’s where most or nearly all of the discomfort and unpleasantness is.

This noticing happens here and now. Having noticed in the past can help as a reminder and pointer, but the noticing happens here in immediacy.

Adyashanti: Because of an innocent misunderstanding, you think that you are a human being in the relative world seeking the experience of oneness

Because of an innocent misunderstanding, you think that you are a human being in the relative world seeking the experience of oneness, but actually, you are the One expressing itself as the experience of being a human being.

– Adyashanti

This can sound mysterious but it’s not really.

To ourselves, what we are is capacity for our world. All our experiences happen within and as what we are. And we can notice this through inquiry.

Here, we find that what we are is capacity for the world. It may take itself to be something within the content of its experience, which for us is this human self. It does so through taking thoughts – of being this human self with roles and so on – as true. When that happens, it seems that we are this human self seeking oneness (or not!). It can also seem that this human self is having glimpses of oneness and so on. While, in reality, it’s all always happening within and as what we are. It’s the dance of the mind or life. It’s lila.

Words can only point to this and we can explore it for ourselves through inquiry and basic mediation. When we find it for ourselves, its very simple. It can seem very obvious and it seems almost inconceivable that we didn’t notice it before.

At the same time, putting it into words is not easy since this is about oneness and the function of words is to split the world in our imagination. And when we put it into words, it’s obvious to those who notice and may seem complicated and mysterious if we haven’t noticed yet.

I have here chosen to write from the small interpretation of awakening, the true nature of what we are to ourselves. It may make it more relatable, less mysterious, and something we may be able to notice for ourselves. Of course, our own true nature – as capacity for the world – may well be the true nature of existence as a whole. (The details about this is another discussion.)