These are my personal notes from a course I took with Adyashanti called The Way of Liberation. This is my own interpretation of what he was teaching and I wanted to share in case it can be of help to anyone who hasn’t come across it. Adyashanti, or “Adya” for short, is an American born spiritual teacher of what is sometimes informally referred to as “the direct path,” or nondual spirituality. He trained rigorously in Zen and was eventually asked to teach by his teacher. Now you could say he is “post-Zen” or maybe even say his style is “Elder Path” or “Wide Path” Zen meaning that it is a non-dogmatic and trans-denominational teaching that is open to all.
I have been to quite a few of his talks as well as a five day silent retreat and all were life changing for me. I have also been reading his work for quite awhile now. He is a great teacher and writer. I highly recommend him, and Mukti who teaches alongside him, to anyone who is ready to stop seeking and realize freedom from suffering directly.
Here is his non-profit website which has many free resources and lists his teaching events:
And here is the link to his book on this subject. You can download the pdf for free:
The Way of Liberation: http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=productdetail&iprod_id=650
~My Notes on The Way~
THE FIVE FOUNDATIONS
These are not necessary as awakening can happen all on its own but helpful pointers to close the gap between realization and action. This means realization translating into action, being in the world of space and time and living from your realization. There is no ultimate separation between the two and that is felt more and more over time. From the Absolute perspective everything is perfect because it is all movement of the divine. To realize the absolute is not yet enlightenment, it is profound and liberating but not in of itself enlightenment. It is not the whole view, not in of itself complete. To the mind the complete and absolute seems paradoxical but not to being. To being the relative and absolute are like the two sides of your hand. The world of absolute universal truth and the relative world of time and space are not two different things, not two different worlds. These are means through which spirit flows into humanity. These will be seen in different ways as awakeness continues, they are preliminary and “graduate level” foundational principles that provide a mirror so that you can see yourself more clearly.
1) Clarify Your Aspiration
This could also be said as “inspiration.” What are you inspired by? What do you live by? It is not ultimately intended to be something placed in time to be attained in the future. It is not just the act of aspiring to something at some other time. That is disempowering, it takes you out of yourself, out of here and now. On the contrary this relates to what you aspire to meaning what you value now in your life. It’s a powerful mirror. Let it be what you see in the mirror without judging it and contemplate it.
Don’t allow the judging mind to start to take hold of your life, just acknowledge it and you get enough space to see that pattern of self judgement. You also see where you are not aligned with what you really want to deeply value the most. It’s very powerful to have the clarity of what you really want and value and connecting with that completely. Don’t let someone else define it for you. Allow it to be what is truly inside of you and important to you and connect to that. It’s a way of very deep self reflection. What do you value right here and right now and are your actions reflections of that? Beginning to be more clear about your own inner conflict will really start to give clarity of mind both before and after awakening.
Normally this main value and how you act can be very unconscious but once it’s made conscious then there isn’t so much conflict. The awareness owns up to it within yourself and that starts to bring the various seemingly conflicted forces within you together and they become undivided. Not only is the non-division realized but it is felt within and embodied. It looks non-divided, not “perfect” and that is not to be held onto but embodied in this moment. In the middle of conflict ask the question, “what do I value most right here and right now in this situation?” Then the deeper truth starts to flow into your personal relative existence.
2) Unconditional Follow-Through
It is only when you really see the fist foundation that you can begin to really follow through with it. After the first foundation stops you from the old patterns you can then get away from the conditioning and start to make a different choice. You feel a unification inside of you when your actions start to line up with your actual deepest value in the moment. You start to see the conflicts. It is common that they become more visible and even more felt. Don’t be surprised or judgmental of the conflicts, instead contemplate what is really important. Engage in the teaching and let it be brought forth. As your consciousness deepens these foundations change. You begin to simply live with your realizations because they keep you honest and invoke the truth since they remain a mirror to you.
3) Never Abdicate Your Authority
Abdicating your authority in any way is not enlightenment at all, and is never a means to enlightenment. It takes a mature human being to not abdicate authority but also not attributing it to an ego authority. It means taking responsibility for yourself. A mature relationship between teacher/teaching or way and student, open to pointers and criticism/critique but not at all just handed over. Claiming a false authority or ego based authority over others is false and childish as is giving it away. There’s no cookie cutter way to enlightenment, it takes extraordinary honesty, sincerity, openness, responsibility for yourself and then it’s your integrity, your truthfulness that no one can take away from you. Coming into real authentic relationship with anything is becoming more transparent to unity and away from false isolation.
4) Practice Absolute Sincerity
We do this not in order to be some great person but rather to have complete honesty, sincerity, and integrity as a way of showing and embodying your unification. When you’re out of alignment with Reality you suffer, no exceptions. It’s inherently unsatisfactory. What does it mean to be really honest with yourself? Can you look inside and see the truth, see what’s there and be honest and sincere about what’s happening in any moment? You will see divisions and unifications. The ego doesn’t like a mirror being held up to itself and then it tends to judge itself. Just see it and resist the urge to judge it. Be totally authentic and sincere with yourself and with others around you and you will be in unification with Reality.
5) Be a Good Steward of Your Life
You are everything and nothing and even what is called God. But you are also the unique incarnation and expression of that oneness in a human life. Being a good steward means that you’re not ignoring any aspect of your life. You’re not imagining that just being enlightened will solve everything. Are you being a good steward of this moment? Are you being a good steward of this current incarnation you find yourself embodying? Or are you having “magical thinking” and wanting something to save you that is just around the corner? Your human life is not separate from the totality of life. The particular incarnation you are in deserves the same attention as the love for the totality, the love of Truth. Don’t tackle it all at once, that’s overwhelming, just be aware and be that good steward as different aspects of life come into the moment.
You are nothing and everything and someone in particular all at once and that can be undivided. To not be psychologically divided takes time to become embodied even after the realization of non-division. The point is not to be some image of perfection. Let go of the idea of how perfection should look. There’s undivided seeing and there’s undivided embodiment. Ideas and images of perfections are not what we’re talking about and is not non-division. Perfection is a damaging idea masquerading as non-division. As you mature these foundations will mature with you and mean different things. Realization will stop if clarity is not continually contemplated and embodied as these are mirrors, not means to judge yourself.
These are mirrors for clarification. Within each being is unification and non-division and Absolute Truth. It’s all already there. As you see yourself more clearly that truth becomes more clear and when you are stuck on barriers that can be seen too and continually surpassed. You will never be perfect because that is just an image and nothing else, perfection is an illusion and a false definition of truth, but you can and will realize total unification and real Truth.
On inner conflict
If you go to war with your mind you will be at war forever. You will get lost in thought and then you realize you were lost in thought and it’s no problem. Don’t try to fight the mind, that only makes it more lost. Just be aware of the mind as the underlying presence experiencing the mind.
On helping others
Your greatest gift to the awakening of all beings is your awakening because that awakening is a profound service to all beings. It becomes the ground of being from which you move. It’s not that you shouldn’t want to express yourself and help others but you already are by awakening because it is that profound since you are the one awaking to itself. An interest is going to be there and there’s no right or wrong in specific interests, they are just there and not contradictory to enlightenment.
On “wasting time”
Wasting time isn’t bad, don’t worry about wasting time. There’s a vitality source that when tapped into gives you energy. Then wasting time isn’t a problem or felt anymore. Life flows more easily. When you align yourself with that vitality source you are in the flow of unification. You can be taken into the current. It’s part of the human incarnation to feel resistant to that because the unknown and new vistas ahead can be uncomfortable. What deeply gives you vitality will always have connection to the world at large and the reason is that you are the world at large and that flow is having intimacy with that. The mirrors of the foundations can help align you in the moment to that vitality because you align with Truth and live from it. It’s not necessarily when you are doing a lot things but when you feel alive that you are connected to that source of vitality.
On what you are doing or not doing
It doesn’t matter in the slightest what you are doing, whether it is out there in the world in public and well known or hiding in your room. It is always the whole of Reality living through you no matter what so it doesn’t matter. You can hold onto the bigness of it all and not have it be about ego because you’re tapping into your true nature as the whole. Truth of being is expressed in different ways, it can be really out there in the world or not really out there and one isn’t more correct or better than the other. But it can have a big feel to it no matter what, not from ego but from realization of the whole and nothing is bigger.
More really isn’t better. More is just a perspective. Being tapped into the bigger dimension of being will move you into new ways that can be scary from the old-conditioning-perspective but will give you that vitality since it is aligned with unification. If what inspires you is your own awakening and seeing whatever happens from there then that is your vitality and that’s what you should be doing.
Live with these foundations and contemplate them. From engaging with them there will naturally be creativity unfolding. It’s about uncovering the entire truth of your being and seeing what manifest from there. Whatever does is an expression of the whole and is also what is natural for you to be engaged in as an undivided being who is bringing compassion into the world.
OVERVIEW OF THE WAY
The Two Main Parts of the Teaching
1. Stillness (silence, letting go, a meditative foundation)
2. Investigation (questioning, inquiry, contemplation, curiosity, courage)
Commentary on the two elements
When the two elements come together it’s very powerful. Inquiry is the bedrock of stillness. Relax into being along with the movement of the mind. Relax into it to open and surrender and let your whole system, body, mind and spirit go into the ease of being. Both elements are really important for balance. Each person has their own makeup so do what your energy relates to. If you favor one core practice over the other that’s fine but stay in some balance of the two main elements so it goes deep.
Emptiness as pure infinite potential is what you can awaken to. It is ongoing and continuous in the human world of time and space. It is not static but a transforming energy that “empties the system out,” allowing it to happen is purification. The infinite potential is what becomes more and more available as it breaks through and uproots the individual and collective consciousness of conditioning. It takes real courage to go with it wherever it’s going to go, to allow it to empty out beyond what was ever thought possible.
Each incarnation, each manifestation of being as a person is completely unique (not other or separate) but an absolute uniqueness on the one spectrum of infinite. Each one of the forms the infinite potential takes is unique and yet the same; an expression of the infinite. Spirit manifests through each form once there is an awakening and an emptying out and life expresses itself through that form in its uniqueness. We sense that there is an incarnate human being who isn’t just a product of the past and culture and conditioning. Because that’s been broken through something unique and new comes through as a flowering from that infinite potential. You can sense that there’s something there that’s coming from outside of time and space manifesting into it. It’s not a need to stand out as well known or one that needs to be satisfied. It’s when all of that is emptied out that something transcendent comes through. We are naturally drawn to that and so then life would be drawn to you and you to it from that infinite potential. Not as egoic or as success or materialistic gain but as natural being. You will get along with yourself, with life, and with others smoothly and effortlessly.
There is always being and always becoming. The absolute is always there and always was outside of time and space. Paradoxically there is simultaneously an “always becoming,” the infinite potentiality becoming itself. It seems contradictory but it is actually the truth of our being. We are always complete and whole and the truth of what we are has always been and always will be there. It is something within that is continually unfolding itself, not in an effort to get more but because to do so is its nature.
THE MAIN TAKEAWAY MESSAGE
The way of liberation is the way of you returning to your true nature, realizing you never left, and then continuing to unfold from it naturally.