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November 2019 / More

Convictions & Concerns

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Notes from a Dialectic of Enlightenment
One-day intensive with Adyashanti at the Spirit Rock meditation center - Sept. 2019

Description: The spiritual life involves a dialectical interaction between our relative selves and our true nature. The embodied human ego seeks its home ground and its liberating release, while our true nature seeks its conscious embodiment in the world of time and space. These two spiritual instincts are the enlightenment impulse experienced from the relative and absolute dimensions of our being, which move in cyclic relationship to one another within the human psyche. In this day together, we will explore the nature of the enlightenment impulse, which seeks to consciously embody both the transcendent and immanent impulses of our true nature.

[Began with 25-minute meditation, 10 minutes guided.]

Focus on belly breathing, then feeling the spaciousness around. Don't try to exclude thoughts. Find the balance point between following the thoughts and fighting them off. [Noticed the energy in the room is peripherality.]

Plunge the attention inside to get to the ground of being.

When you touch the ground of being you get transformed. "You don't just go 'meh.'"

It's human to want to live the insight.

The meditation bell rings and you come back to the external world.

Ultimately there is no inner/outer but it's a useful concept for now.

"Did you ever wonder who your mind is talking to?"

"If the only goal is to go within then the world is a problem."

"Form is emptiness and emptiness is form—that's the dialectic of enlightenment."

Look at a single thought deeply—that's a wonderful way to get your mind to quiet. Don't look at 1,000 thoughts slightly.

Any form of therapy is to get us to stop running away from our experiences.

"The key is to be experiencing what we're experiencing."

"You have to dance with, be with psychological healing in a certain way."

"This is the you who has no difficulty" [pointing to seated Buddha behind him]. "This is a physical representation of that":

Nepalese seated Buddha
Seated Buddha from Nepal.

"This is the transformed version of you," [pointing to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokitesvara, behind him]:

Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara from Sri Lanka
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara from Sri Lanka.

"Generally, people are attached to one of these two things." Something is pulling inside (seated Buddha) and also wanting to be embodied/lived (Bodhisattva of Compassion). The later is the ground of being seeking to be embodied.

"The tendency is to think all the reality is in the Absolute."

"Spirituality needs to be on a foundation of caring."

"To realize the Absolute is not yet enlightenment" [the line from a Zen chant that caught Adya's attention when in his 20s].

Nirvana and Samsara are pairs of opposites.

"The true spiritual impulse is something the ego receives."

"The sales pitch for enlightenment is created by the ego."

"When we start to open that instinct it's an odd thing."

"Why am I doing this?" [i.e., seeking enlightenment].

"I read about enlightenment in a book and it was like a bomb went off."

"It's a force within us that is invading us" [speaking of the desire for enlightenment].

Consciousness = self-awareness

"The ground of being is using our consciousness to become self-aware."

"The instinct is drawing you into what you're not conscious of."

If the surface level of consciousness is always noisy you need to attend to that.

The ground of being needs the ego and the ego needs the ground.

The silence has its own gravitational force.

"Enlightenment is the deepest experience of wholeness."

"Any dimension of realization has its own built-in illusions."

"Reality can present itself as real and unreal."

This is not conceptual, this is experiential.

"Is it ok or is it a disaster? It's seemingly both, and at the same time."

"The flame that burns me up but gives me no pain" quote from John of the Cross.

You can experience joy and grief at the same time.

Nonduality is a way of saying "paradox."

Meditation is a ritual expression of eternity.

"Maybe something in you isn't trying to dominate the meditation," when you consider meditation is a ritual expression.

Soto Zen is the ritual of meditation. They are not chasing an experience like in Rinzai.

Self-inquiry "Who am I?" Stop looking for answers and you stop entertaining the superficial level of consciousness. Be honest: do I know or not? I don't. This honesty plunges you into the unknown.

Don't try to parse my words because, ultimately, I will fail to express the Truth.

We're constantly assaulted by forces we don't understand because we're only conscious of 10% of our self.

"Not knowing" is what brings us into the other 90%. Yet giving up and saying "I don't know" is not enlightenment.

Attend to this inner/outer dialectic. The going inside and outside. Also notice you're existing in an environment all the time. We never appear apart from it. But we don't experience our self as the environment, yet it's one continuous whole.

"Either/or thinking never gets at it."

This dialectic is happening all the time.

Q&A Session:

[Adya says he doesn't give private sessions anymore.]

"There's not one coherent ego. There's many."

In response to being asked to give shaktipat: "I wouldn't dare give you anything because then you think it belongs to me."

"What transforms another person's energy into yours?" [Question posed to a person who says they take on other people's energy.]

"When your presence is bright enough nothing will stick to you."

"A good spiritual practice is an absolute necessity."

We do get internal feedback about what is necessary.

Suffering is what moves most everyone.

Spirituality is the art of listening, then attuning to what we hear.

Find the parts of ourselves that the vulnerable parts can trust.

Ego is a verb.

There's "freedom from" and "freedom to." The latter is the Bodhisattva of compassion.

Our deepest sense of meaning comes from our deepest sense of responsibility.

There's a perfect consciousness of me disappearing into emptiness.

When the noticing itself collapses, where does it collapse into?

Emptiness is the failure to maintain separateness.

"If we go totally within, we end up without."

You use discrimination, which is a function of the ego, to go beyond the ego.

"Meditation is something we can only set the stage for. It arises."

The deepest experience of being is what the spiritual impulse wants.

It doesn't feel good to be out of alignment.

The danger of contemplative practice is seeing the world as disrupting it.

"The inner teacher includes the whole totality of your life."

What's truth in human terms? Being honest.

"The world needs some reminder we actually care."


~ Thanks to Shawn Nevins, a former student of Richard Rose and long-time active TAT member. He described the above as:

Some notes from an Adyashanti day-long event I attended…. Perhaps interesting to others in the spirit of Rose's "looking under every rock." The quoted matter is at best a rough quote since I did not have a recording device, while the non-quoted matter is paraphrased. Material in brackets are my comments. Like any teaching, the words may sooth or disturb depending on how open one is to being honest. Perhaps my favorite line: "Self-inquiry 'Who am I?' Stop looking for answers and you stop entertaining the superficial level of consciousness. Be honest: do I know or not? I don't. This honesty plunges you into the unknown."

Shawn is the author of the recently published Subtraction: The Simple Math of Enlightenment. He also produces the SpiritualTeachers.org website featuring his podcasts of interviews with teachers.

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