Teachings as strategy

Adyashanti sometimes talks about teachings as strategy. They are meant as pointers, as invitation for own exploration, to correct a fixed viewpoint, and in general to possibly have a certain effect in the listener. It’s not about any absolute or final “truth”.

All language is like that. It has a practical function. It helps us orient and navigate in the world. It’s a tool. It’s a strategy.

When teachings are taken as true, we mistake a strategy for truth. It seems silly to do, but most of us may at times do it. It’s good to notice.

Teachers who make it special, or polarized

I know this may seem an insignificant topic, but it may also be important for a couple of reasons.

Some western spiritual teachers use a “spiritual” tone of voice (Gangaji comes to mind). (Or they dress in a “spiritual” way, or take on a “spiritual” name.)

I realize that this may make the teacher a better – or at least different – projection object, which may be a part of the path for some. At the same time, it can be a bit misleading. It may seem that “spirituality” is something special, or hushed, or that it’s all about (superficial) peace & love, or that it’s different from ordinary everyday life.

Some tend to polarize their discussion about certain topics. They make it seem more black-and-white than it perhaps really is.

Again, this may be helpful for some. Some say it may “shock” the student out of their habitual views. (I see that it may happen, but am not sure if it’s the most effective strategy.) This approach can also be misleading, and even confusing. Our experience is rarely either/or, or black and white. Things blend into each other. And they do so because it’s all here right now as part of a seamless whole. Only thought separate out aspects and states. We are rarely completely on auto-pilot, or all wounded, or all healed, or always aware of being awareness, or completely unconscious, or whatever it is.

I am happy to see that many contemporary teachers take another approach. They appear completely ordinary, because they are, and because spirituality is – for a large part – about the completely ordinary. They nuance their language, because things rarely are black and white.

There are a couple of reasons why this apparently insignificant topic can have some significance. One is from a practical teaching-strategy view, as mentioned above. The other is that if I am bothered by this, as I sometimes am, I can take a look at it. I can identify and question beliefs. I can explore the velcro around it.

Getting our priorities straight when it comes to health

Some friends of mine are having a microwave discussion on facebook. Will it kill you? Is it harmless?

My approach is simple: Focus on the simple things we know have a big impact on health. It may be less exiting than conspiracy theories, but works better.

Eat your fruits and vegetables. Exercise. Nurture nurturing relationships. Enjoy life.

If I want to take the next step, it is to organize my life to reduce time spent driving, and walk, bike, or take public transportation instead. It is more enjoyable, gives me effortless exercise, and removes me from an activity that is far more risky than almost anything else we do. (I have already done this, and rarely need to use a car.)

It is easy to get distracted by minor concerns, or scares unsupported by science or common sense (microwaved food and vaccines come to mind as examples). So it is good to get our priorities straight: focus your limited energy on the simple things that we know have a big effect.

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Granny goggles


They found it difficult to understand why, when soldiers were already provided with adequate protection goggles, there were still a high number of eye-related injuries. It turned out the problem was obvious: the goggles made them look – in their words – “like grannies”.  Soldiers were issued with some new, cooler goggles created by designer Wiley X. Now they wear them all the time – even when they don’t need to. As a result, there has been a tremendous drop in the numbers of soldiers blinded in battle.

Another simple example of making it easy and attractive to do what is right, from BBCs article Dr Atul Gawande’s checklist for saving lives.

This can be applied to any area of life. How can we organize ourselves as a society and individuals in ways that makes it easy and attractive to do what supports life at all levels and over generations?

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Motivations, and growing & waking up


  • I can clarify what I seek, and then funnel these motivations into either growing up or waking up.
  • I find that this sorting has to do with the effects of growing up and waking up, and also the effects of aiming at either.
  • The effects of growing up: Healing and maturing in my human life. Finding the wholeness and richness of my human self. A sense of self-reliance. Less caught up in blind projections. A relatively stable sense of quiet joy in life, no matter how it shows up.
  • The effects of waking up: What I am notices itself, already free from an I with an Other. This releases identification with whatever patterns were created from taking this human self as a separate I, and these patterns also wear off over time.
  • The effects of aiming at growing up: Gradual healing and maturing. Typically see good results. Relatively easy to find guidance and support from the culture.
  • The effects of aiming at waking up: May not happen at all, or only in glimpses. Can be discouraging, especially if the only goal is to wake up.
  • Split strategy: Clarify and funnel motivations into either growing and waking up, and use different strategies for each. If someone can only find interest in one or the other, this one works fine. But if they find both, it can be slightly inefficient.
  • All eggs in one basket strategy: Telling people that their motivation for getting something/anything will be satisfied by aiming at waking up. It may work well if people use tools and strategies that invite in both growing and waking up, and they don’t get discouraged if awakening doesn’t happen. But it may not work so well if people get discouraged in spite of progress in growing up, or it they use strategies and tools only aimed at waking up and not growing up. This strategy is quite common in the different traditions, but can also be risky.
  • Consolidated strategy: Clarify and funnel motivations into growing or waking up, and use strategies and tools that invite in both. (This may also work for those who can only find motivations for one or the other.)

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