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This interview is an archived recording from our Conversations with Masters program. During this multi-year teleseries, we invited our members to participate in live conversations with a broad range of thought leaders, spiritual teachers, and academics. This series exposed our community to inspiring insights and timeless wisdom.


Dr. Bert Parlee: Greetings, Stagen leading learners. It’s my delight to be with you today, and especially to be able to introduce Adyashanti, who I want to say just a few words about before I get him on the call for our interview. Some of you may and some of you may not be familiar with who he is, his life history.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Adya, his original name was Steven Gray. He was born in 1962 in Cupertino, California. That’s out in the Bay Area. At a young age, before 20, he found a book and found the principle and term “enlightenment” in it, and was very inspired by that, which really began his own hero’s learning journey. The practice of meditation he got into, just himself, he was so inspired, in his parents’ backyard.

Dr. Bert Parlee: At that time, he was very passionate about racing bicycles. He was actually pretty much the next tier down from being an Olympian. Adya’s very much a sports and fitness enthusiast, but he was very taken by this approach to enlightenment and realization.

Dr. Bert Parlee: He got involved with a spiritual teacher in the Bay Area, a woman named Arvis Justi from the Zen Buddhist tradition, who he studied with for several years. He also studied with other teachers, Maezumi Roshi of the LA Zen Center and Jakusho Kwong in the Sonoma Mountains Zen Center.

Dr. Bert Parlee: The result of his sitting and other spiritual practices was him having an awakening experience where he felt he was able to penetrate through to a full realization. This then launched him, with the blessing of his teacher, to become a teacher himself. While he associates with the Zen tradition, he doesn’t singularly focus his work on that.

Dr. Bert Parlee: I first heard about Adya when I was in the same part of the Bay Area. When I lived in San Francisco, one of the places I was teaching was at the Transpersonal Institute in Palo Alto. Some of my students would come back and tell me about their sitting experiences with Adya. That led me to go over and have that experience myself. I was very impressed by Adya’s simple, clear, heartfelt, engagingly present way that he would be with himself and his group.

Dr. Bert Parlee: I’d had a lot of previous experiences with different teachers and was very taken by Adya’s clarity and precision, but in a very warm and inviting way. It’s been my good fortune to get to know Adya as a teacher, as a friend, over the years. That quality of a gracious, warm, kind of a curious and almost childlike spirit in the midst of profundity has been just a delight to experience. I hope you’ll have some of those experiences today with Adya.

Dr. Bert Parlee: So, Adya, that is saying hello to you and inviting you onto the call. Welcome.

Adyashanti: Thank you, Bert. That was a wonderful introduction.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Thank you, Adya. Yeah, it’s been such a delight to get to know you in all the ways that we have. I’ve just really appreciated your openness to the kind of friendship we have. It’s been very wonderful for me.

Dr. Bert Parlee: We have Stagen learners on the call, and I wanted to come in and certainly try to relate to a lot of their own life experiences out there. One of the things that you have done that’s been compelling over the last year is you’ve written a book in relationship to Jesus Christ. A lot of our learners are of the Christian tradition, and they’ve also been interested in things Buddhist and transpersonal, contemplative, and all the rest.

Dr. Bert Parlee: I was wondering if you have had any way, or if you could address how you might speak to people who when they get … if they’re in a tradition of their family, of their social circles, that is primarily Christian, but they’re becoming interested in other things. How do you talk with people about taking back some of their own learnings about other traditions to maybe people who aren’t as open as they’re learning to be about that? Are there any ways that you suggest they might try to talk to put people at ease about some of their explorations?

Adyashanti: Yeah, Bert. That’s a great question. It’s a question I get quite often. Now that more and more people are just sort of branching out and letting their sort of spiritual curiosity lead them into areas that may be somewhat beyond what they grew up with. And yet, then we want to come back and be able to speak to people. Often, we have to speak to them in a language that they’re comfortable with, that they know. That may be a religious language, a spiritual language, whatever.

Adyashanti: It’s one of the great joys that I found in writing that book on Jesus is because it had allowed me to switch languages from what I kind of came up with through the Zen Buddhist tradition, and then when I started to read through the Jesus story, and I started to find certain parallels, but put in very different language. I find that’s one of the real fascinating challenges, to be able to take whatever our experience is, and then bring it back.

Adyashanti: A lot of these, our sort of foundational religions, are based on certain kind of stories. A lot of times when we come back to those stories and look at them through the lens of our current experience, or our current state of consciousness, we see those stories in different ways. But you can also see language within those traditions, within those stories, that it’s almost like translating into a different language sometimes.

Adyashanti: I find it’s a really important way to talk to people, is to see where they are, what their language is, the way they’re comfortable conceptualizing deeper inner experience. It can actually be kind of a fun or enjoyable practice to switch over into other people’s language and to see that experience can translate to lots of different languages that we don’t have …

Adyashanti: In fact, I think it’s good for us to get familiar with other kinds of languages, whether they be religious or spiritual or philosophical languages, because it loosens our mind up. It loosens our hold on our own sort of native way of speaking about these things. It makes people more open to hearing them, as well.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Nice. What I’m going to do with some of your responses here is tie it into some of the Stagen learning principles, Adya. That one sounds very much like a “meeting people where they are.”

Dr. Bert Parlee: You and I talked with Ken before, Ken Wilber, about the way in the Stagen program, we have these different meaning-making systems related to colors, levels of unfolding awareness and consciousness development. It seems like everybody’s on their own individual hero’s journey, as they’re walking on their own path of learning and awakening and development.

Dr. Bert Parlee: That reminds me very much of that principle, of just being able to be aware of how people are making meaning. Yeah, you spoke very well to that. It’s even fun to meet people there as you listen closely to the metaphors and language that they use.

Dr. Bert Parlee: There’s also a practice that we have. It’s kind of an entry-level, but very simple, and we think very effective as our students report it to us, which we call recalibration. I’ll just explain this to you, and maybe you can reflect on it.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Recalibration, for us, as a mindfulness practice is three steps, very simple. The first one is just stop whatever it is we’re doing, clear your head, take a breath, focus on the breath. And then grounding, where you’re just invited to just be present in your body. Are your feet on the ground? What’s your posture? Kind of aligning that, breathing into the body. You’re noticing where tension is and trying to relax that.

Dr. Bert Parlee: And then the third part is centering. Kind of mentally stepping back, looking at what you’re doing, what you’re saying, what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, and then deciding what’s important, and what next step action do you take? Any reflections on that as a kind of simple mindfulness practice? Anything that you would suggest about adding or shifting at all?

Adyashanti: Well, the first thing is I love the place where you started, Bert. I mean, just that our breath is in many ways one of the biggest … It’s the most underutilized tool we have is not only our breath, but our body. I always find that, even when I’m, say, tuning into this group and to all of you. It’s the first thing I do, is kind of become aware of my breath, become aware of my body to kind of reground myself in something that’s very practical, that’s always there.

Adyashanti: It literally changes our nervous system. As soon as we start to pay attention to the body, it starts to change the nervous system, which also tends to then open the mind. When we’re centered and our nervous system feels calm and available, then our mind becomes more calm. It becomes more available. It also becomes sharper.

Adyashanti: The last thing, it goes back to one of the first principles of my teaching, is to know what you’re doing, to know what your whole, in a spiritual context, to know what your spiritual life is all about. If someone just came up and says, “What is your spiritual life about to you?” and you’d know how to communicate that quickly and succinctly because you’ve actually taken the time to really hone that in.

Adyashanti: But I find the same kind of principle applies into any moment of conversation. The biggest challenge, I think, for any of us is sort of that dual challenge of being present and available to hearing or listening. And also, on the other hand, being really clear, really succinct, to be really very much in touch with what our own priorities really are, what we actually really want to communicate. Because it’s so easy to kind of spin out into some auxiliary conversation that nobody ever intended to begin with because you forget what your intentions are.

Dr. Bert Parlee: And we run down rabbit holes pretty quickly, and we’re off like a rabbit …

Adyashanti: Yeah. Of course, what I found as a spiritual teacher, I mention this to people all the time. My observation is that one of the hardest things for any individual to do is to actually focus on one thing with any kind of consistency, you know?

Dr. Bert Parlee: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Adyashanti: To come back to a simple principle with some kind of consistency for human beings seems to actually be more difficult than to come back to something that’s quite complex. To come back to something really, really simple is not always … It has its challenge to come back to that, to really be centered within ourselves, to be centered within what we want to communicate, to be centered in the memory of the importance of listening, and all that.

Dr. Bert Parlee: I think a lot of people in this very sophisticated, complex world and culture that we live in where you’re almost expected to be multitasking and paying attention to many different things simultaneously, holding a lot of balls in the air. There’s much more of a cultural valence on the complexity as opposed to, I think, what you’d call the simplicity on the other side of that, and remembering how to come back to that.

Dr. Bert Parlee: I liked what you were saying about both listening on the one hand and coming to clarity and simplicity on the other. It reminds me of in the nondual wisdom tradition, which you’re a part of, truth is seen often as paradoxal truth. It’s different than our usual knowledge that involves some idea of this is good, that’s bad, this is right, that’s wrong, and so forth.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Maybe you could say something about … You’ve often talked about how the nature of the principle of surrender is a core principle, and how everything in the spiritual path leads to that. I’d like to ask how you see surrender relating to kind of its complement, which might be striving, which is what business leaders are often in the business of doing, and in a variety of ways, to develop, and build, and transform businesses and possibilities with strategic thinking and planning. How would you kind of relate to that whole paradox of surrender and striving, Adya?

Adyashanti: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great question because I think they tie into two parts of human nature. They tie into two sort of necessary qualities to have developed. I imagine most everyone that’s listening to us have this conversation has some real honed facility in, you used the word “striving,” but it is how to conceptualize, how to boil something down into a task, how to make it happen, how to get things done, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Adyashanti: There’s a part of all of our lives where to have that facility, to have that capability of doing just that, getting things done in an efficient and constructive way is an important part of any of our lives.

Adyashanti: We also have simultaneously a whole other part of our lives that we often don’t communicate as much. It’s sort of the quiet part of our lives. The inner, more contemplative aspect of our being. This is where we actually come and start to connect with our own deeper nature. But also in a more simple way than just to say our own deeper nature, into those aspects that really give life its deeper sense of meaning, its deeper sense of purpose, and ultimately, its deepest sense of vitality.

Adyashanti: That whole part of our being, that whole dimension of our life, is accessed through a very different doorway than the striving and becoming and making things happen. The doorway towards our inner life comes through … It kind of goes back a little bit, Bert, to the principles you mentioned, which one of the ways to break down what surrender is is to stop first. It’s hard to surrender when you’re on the run.

Adyashanti: To just kind of stop, and you’re surrendering whatever the mental chatter of the moment might be, and coming back to something that’s more innate. In a certain sense, in these principles you mentioned, stopping and grounding and centering, this is actually a way of talking about surrender. To stop, to ground, to be present in your body instead of in the mind, the mind that makes things happen and gets things done, and to sort of center into a deeper state of quietness or quiet presence.

Adyashanti: One of the exercises that I give people because in spiritual circles, people do a lot of work on their inner life, but somehow they have a problem connecting it back to their outer life. I think that’s very common with anybody.

Adyashanti: I like to give people really simple practices. One of the ones that I like to give is I’ll say, “Many times throughout the day.”

Adyashanti: Many times can mean 5. It can mean 10. It can mean 20. But for many times throughout the day, just take literally 30 seconds. It can be as you walk down the hallway. It can be as you drive your car. It can be as you’re waiting for a meeting. But take 30 seconds, and just be quiet for a moment, and get the feel of your own awareness. Just the sense of it, to just sit in a state of quietness or presence. You just get the feel of what your own consciousness feels like.

Adyashanti: There’s no right feeling that you should be striving for. It’s more of an open question. Just get a feel of … In other words, even as we’re talking on the phone and everyone’s listening. What’s listening? Listening is sort of a form that consciousness or awareness is taking. It’s almost like you listen to your listening, right?

Dr. Bert Parlee: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Adyashanti: When you do that, immediately, it brings a state of kind of calmness, and awareness kind of opens up a little bit. It becomes a little more malleable, a little more permeable, a little more available.

Adyashanti: This is kind of a way of momentary surrendering. It’s not surrendering on a big level, but, really, the big level surrenderings tend to happen on their own. It’s the little moments of surrender that actually are at least as significant, maybe even more so.

Dr. Bert Parlee: I love the way you tie that nature of recalibrating and coming back and surrendering almost as a refueling process for the next cycle of striving that will want to come after that. They’re in sort of a dynamic relationship with one another.

Dr. Bert Parlee: As you say, very true to the spirit of your true meditation and how you invite people to approach that space, that place, that truth is not to burden it with concepts or anything. But it feels like there’s a deep trust in that whole principle of silence and stillness, that in awareness, something you feel people can trust that will come, that will allow them then to go back into their striving in a clearer way.

Dr. Bert Parlee: That reminds me of the way leadership in most domains in life calls for degrees of confidence, of boldness, of the ability to recruit attention and allegiance, either for others in the service of a particular vision or strategy and so forth.

Dr. Bert Parlee: What do you see people contending with, Adya, in terms of being on the spiritual path on the one hand, but challenges in their efforts to be confident and bold, degrees of self inflation and kind of ego confusion? [Trungpa Ka 00:31:45] talked about cutting through spiritual materialism and so forth. What’s the interface between being confident and getting inflated?

Adyashanti: Yeah, that’s a great question, too. It’s a very tricky thing, actually. It’s a very tricky thing, I think. Because to go back to your idea of surrender, Bert, to surrender is to open and become available. I think of it as sort of one of the ultimate acts of faith. Faith usually being tied to faith and an idea of the faith and a belief system, but this would be faith which opens your capacity to really be quiet for a moment.

Adyashanti: It takes some faith. It takes some trust that, maybe if I am just quiet, maybe something will actually come to me, right? Maybe a deeper wisdom, or a deeper capacity to love, or a deeper level of spiritual realization will come simply by opening and being quiet. That often, unless you’re really used to it, it takes a kind of faith. It takes a kind of trust, or it simply takes the ability to experiment and find out how it works for you.

Adyashanti: The more dynamic sort of quality of, in the context you were talking about it, which is a kind of confidence. It takes a kind of confidence to move through the world in a dynamic way. You mentioned Jesus. Someone like Jesus seemed to be a very confident person. I imagine the Buddha seemed to be a pretty confident person. Both of them were both confident and pretty dynamic people in the world.

Adyashanti: But then you find yourself on kind of a razor’s edge between an authentic confidence, which, at least to me, is not so much limited to a kind of personal confidence. But it’s a confidence, certainly a kind of spiritual confidence is a confidence where you feel really connected to the greater world around you, that you have a connection to something bigger than your human self.

Adyashanti: There’s a kind of confidence that comes from that, but it’s not a confidence that’s solely derived from your personal self. It’s like when your personal self feels like it’s grounded in a greater reality, whatever we want to call that greater reality, whether we call it God or Buddha-nature or just presence. I think that leads to its own kind of confidence.

Adyashanti: If we always remember that that kind of confidence comes by being grounded in a reality that’s bigger than our human self, it kind of has a way of protecting us from ego inflation, which is certainly a danger in the spiritual life. I think it’s a danger in any part of life, as well.

Adyashanti: I think a lot of it comes from just not losing contact with our dynamic quality as human beings often rests upon a kind of ability to be connected to something bigger than our own human lives, our own human self. That’s kind of a humble confidence. Going back, you mentioned nonduality. It’s kind of a paradox. We don’t think of humility and great confidence occupying the same space, but they actually can.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Well, that reminds me, in terms of paradox and how to be with those energies, the nature of when you mentioned Christ, and the various things that would come up in terms of being bold and confident in a moment. I’m curious what you experience in terms of frustrations in life, to kind of humanize this a little bit.

Dr. Bert Parlee: We think of what even happened for somebody like Christ, with the buyers and the sellers and the temple getting pretty upset, where Martin Luther King talked about, when asked, what place does anger play in the emotional of somebody who is into peaceful non-violence? And he said, “Anger is the right response to injustice.”

Dr. Bert Parlee: How can you bring in the nature of what you might even experience with frustrations? If you’re like most of us, you get frustrated with technology and lots of crazy things like that.

Adyashanti: That’s my number one frustration, usually, is technology. About that time, I call my wife’s name for help.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Please, please.

Adyashanti: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It actually is. A lot of it is centered around technology, actually.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Have you actually experienced … What’s that like for you? I think people would be interested to hear how you actually experience that. How does that work?

Adyashanti: Yeah. Well, I think, actually, my experience of being frustrated isn’t like most anybody else’s experience of being frustrated. It’s a universal kind of experience, like fear is universal or happiness is universal. That these experiences actually connect us when we start to realize that my frustration, the subject matter may be different than someone else’s, but the actual frustration itself is a pretty human experience.

Adyashanti: We all rock around in this very sort of complex world and life that seems to be happening in a more and more rapid pace all the time. That can be a challenge to any of us. There can be moments of real challenge for anybody. The question, I think, comes in, well, what do I do when I feel that challenge? What do I do when I do feel frustrated? Have I actually even thought about it, what I do when I’m frustrated, or am I just reacting to it?

Adyashanti: I think, for me, it’s become sort of so ingrained that it’s sort of just automatic at this point. Oftentimes, when I do feel a level of frustration … I mean, it’s amazing when you talked about this recalibration because this is the kind of stuff that I do without almost even knowing that I’m doing it. I suppose because it’s been so ingrained over so many years, is I’ll usually just take a step back.

Adyashanti: I’ll just take a step back. I’ll sort of ground. I will feel my own sort of presence as something that exists connected, but also independent of whatever the moment of challenge is, which allows my mind to sort of become clear again and to sort of refocus. It’s almost like a moment of rebooting a computer or something. I’ll relook at whatever I’m doing at that moment. I’ll try to relook at from a new point of view.

Adyashanti: Because my experience is a lot of times when we go into some of these what we think of more negative emotions, is when we go into those emotions, there’s this paradox that happens that we feel the emotions very much in our physical body. But often we go into difficult emotions like frustration or anger when we actually kind of leave a conscious connection to our body.

Adyashanti: When we leave it, when we go almost more into the mental realm where the story, the narrative, which is sort of a mental abstraction, whatever we’re talking to ourselves about, we’re kind of leaving the body in a certain sense. When do that and we get involved in our little narrative storytelling, which is usually what frustrates us, right?

Adyashanti: Your computer’s not working. You look at your computer, and you almost look at it as a human being. How dare it not work? Why isn’t it … You give it all these qualities that it doesn’t actually have. It’s just a machine, and you’re lost in the narrative. I often think it’s-

Dr. Bert Parlee: It’s personal.

Adyashanti: Yes, we make it all personal. Exactly. We make it all very, very, very personal.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Forget what we’re really doing and, yeah, get totally lost in that. I have a question about that, too, Adya. One of the things that we have our learners do at Stagen is really think about their purpose in life, which is generally defined as why are we here? What are we here for? What are we here to do? What is our contribution?

Dr. Bert Parlee: What would you have to say to people considering their purpose in light of awakening, spiritual experience, as they wrestle with that sometimes confounding question of, why am I here? What am I here to do?

Adyashanti: Yeah. Well, the first thing, Bert, I would say is we’re touching upon what I call the existential questions, which is really to me what, what, what? The questions that really inform our inner lives or our spiritual lives. The existential questions are, like you’re saying, what’s the purpose of my life? What’s the meaning of my life?

Adyashanti: On a more fundamental level, who am I, actually? Who am I as a being, as a person? Who am I really? What is life? What is God?

Adyashanti: These are the deeper, existential questions that run through anybody’s life, no matter where they grow up, what their religious or spiritual orientation is, what their life orientation is. They’re the questions that just follow us around through our entire lives.

Adyashanti: In the modern era in which we are often asked to quickly define our answers to these questions, what is your purpose? Okay, I’m supposed to come up with my purpose really quickly. I think a lot of times it becomes important to sort of pause and go, “Yeah, what really is my purpose? What really nourishes me? What does give my life meaning?”

Adyashanti: The first thing I think that really opens up new vistas is to approach any of these questions from the standpoint of, “I may not right now have the entire answer. I’m asking the question, but the mere fact that I’m asking the question is telling me that I may not have the entire answer right now.”

Adyashanti: To open into kind of that space that opens up when we know that we don’t know, when we know that we don’t have the final conclusive answer, is another way of sort of entering into stillness, which is entering into a much more quiet place within ourselves, which is where meaning and purpose arise. Because people can have their purpose in their business life, they can have their purpose in their life in relationships, they can have spiritual purpose. These purposes will really connect with each other, but they’re not usually all defined as exactly the same purpose.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Indeed, right. Thank you, yeah.

Adyashanti: Or exactly the same meaning.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Interrelated in the depths of stillness and a lot of discernment to come from that. We are getting a cue, Adya, that it’s time for us to move now to a place of inviting people, when Brett is going to break them into triads to have a question that they are going to speak with one another about. I just thought we would maybe make this up at the time based on some of what we’ve spoken about. Does anything come to you, or any musings you might have about what we might have people reflect on together in a [crosstalk 00:44:39]?

Adyashanti: Well, I don’t know if we’ll end up on this, Bert, but I just thought to start with is kind of where we just left off with, you know?

Dr. Bert Parlee: Right on. Yeah.

Adyashanti: Because I think that that purpose or meaning ties into everything we’ve talked about. Again, there’s kind of two kinds of ways that we usually go at purpose, which is kind of often, it’s almost defining our goals and what we hope to achieve. That’s one kind of purpose. That’s even one way of finding meaning. That’s a legitimate way, but it’s only one way.

Adyashanti: I would be interested in, though, with everyone probably having some connection, maybe in a very clear way, maybe in somewhat of a vague way, of what their purpose is or what the meaning of their own life is or what gives their life deepest meaning. If we could sort of put on a pause button, whatever people have defined as their purpose at the moment.

Adyashanti: I would be interested is if people just sort of entered, even momentarily, even for just literally a few seconds, or 10 or 15 seconds, or a half a minute, of what starts to come, what they connect with as far as what gives their life real deep meaning, meaning beyond how successful I am, or meaning beyond what I have achieved, but sort of more of a personal sense of meaning when they sort of start to attend to a quieter place inside.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Adyashanti: You know?

Dr. Bert Parlee: Right, yeah.

Adyashanti: It’s not so goal-oriented. It’s kind of like when I come back to this quieter sort of sense of presence, what seems to be meaningful there? What kind of purpose might arise out of that place? You may have a way of defining that that’s a little better than I’m doing, Brett. I don’t know.

Dr. Bert Parlee: Yeah. Well, what I’m thinking is … I think that’s great. It’s something that’s there. Sometimes people are wondering about the different levels and calibrations of purpose, which is reasonable enough. People feel they can’t almost exclude some things because we have many purposes, sometimes even cross-purposes.

Dr. Bert Parlee: But I think the one you’re really identifying is, if we could think of this for the breakout, is what is my deeper, more authentic purpose in life, in stillness, from which other things are going to emerge? Think of that, listeners out there, as you’re about to go into breakouts.

Dr. Bert Parlee: What do I notice about the depth of my purpose when I go into deep stillness, about the nature of who I am fundamentally beyond, perhaps, my identifications as a business leader, as a husband, as a father, as a mother, as whatever it might be? What seems to be my deeper purpose as I look most authentically within?

Rand: Matt Lillie, we’re going to go ahead and start with him. Matt, if you could, when I say brief, really brief, where are you calling in from, geographically, and what do you do, and then ask your question. You’re up.

Matt Lillie: Thank you, Rand. My name is Matt Lillie. I’m from Wichita, Kansas, and I’m in the senior living industry. Adya, it’s such an honor and a privilege to be able to talk to you today. I’ve read your book, The End of Your World, about four or five years ago. It really helped me understand, maybe, some of my own process and my own path, so thank you so much. I’ve heard your name several times. It’s really an honor.

Adyashanti: You’re welcome, Matt. Thanks for mentioning that.

Matt Lillie: Now then, my question is kind of what do you see, or do you see, as the shifts in the world over the next year, or six months, or just in general? What do you, I guess, feel or experience as kind of what’s shifting in human consciousness?

Adyashanti: Well, I think we’re at one of these real transition points. You often know if you’re at a transition point, whether it’s personally or collectively, when there starts to be a lot of discord. When the paradoxes of the polarities are sort of really bouncing back and forth against each other.

Adyashanti: I think we’re in this time right now when we’re in a sort of transition point. The interesting thing is like in all transition points, the end, or what the transition will be, is not guaranteed. But I think the opportunity of this kind of transition where we are confronted with lots of issues that are large, that are even global, and we each feel those individually.

Adyashanti: I think we’re in this place where there is a kind of much more open, much more, I guess I could say universal, but I think in a better way of saying, of a much more inclusive view on life, on living, on reality. To speak in a simplistic way, I think there’s that whole viewpoint, which is really coming into being. Especially when I interact with people 30 years old and younger, boy, is it really a big part of their view.

Adyashanti: I think it’s also simultaneously clashing with, again, whether it’s in us individually or collectively. It’s clashing with those structures that are entrenched. When they’re entrenched, they’re usually afraid, and when they’re afraid and entrenched, there’s some more dynamic quality. It can be a kind of violence. It can be the quality of fear. It can be different things.

Adyashanti: Like in all points of transition, I feel like there’s an incredible opportunity, but I think that opportunity also depends on you and I and all of us. The more people that kind of take responsibility individually for playing their part in a transition to something that’s more open and inclusive, which means literally kind of a change in our state of consciousness to some extent. When we realize that a lot of that change depends on each of us individually, because it’s individuals that make the collective, I think.

Adyashanti: That’s its own sort of awakener when we realize that we’re actually an integral part of what’s happening, that each person is really an integral part of this unfolding, which is just a way to say we’re actually responsible for it.

Matt Lillie: Thank you so much.

Rand: Beautiful. Thank you, Adya. Yeah, so we’re going to keep moving. Thanks, Matt. Great to bring in a more macro angle on that. We’re now going to move to Brock Coleman. Brock, we’re going to ask you to tell us where you are calling in from and what you do, and then the question is yours.

Brock Coleman: Good morning. Brock Coleman. I’m calling in from Austin, Texas, today. I have a company called Commercial Kitchen Parts & Service. When you were talking about stillness and about simplicity on the other side of complexity, and then you were talking about not complaining, and that there is no good, and there is no bad, and there’s no right, and there’s no wrong. When you were talking about that part, my mind left.

Brock Coleman: My life’s recently wrapped up in a teen suicide because of bullying, and this was a week ago. I feel like I’ve been drug out of the present. I’m just wondering, how do you pull yourself out and get to that more admiral place of consciousness when your mind can go easily to, “Oh, this is really bad, this is horrible, this is wrong,” and just start labeling things and flagging things all around you?

Adyashanti: Yeah, I understand, Brock. My wife, Mukti, just a couple weeks ago went up to a very good friend of hers that lost a 16-year-old to suicide as well. I really have a certain understanding of what that feels like to know somebody, or to lose somebody like that.

Adyashanti: The first thing I would say is whenever we go through those kind of experiences, they’re big, big experiences. I think the first thing we have to be willing to do is to be willing to have the experience, willing to be hit by the shock of it, or the horror of it, or whatever it is, to just allow that experience in without getting lost in what our mind could be telling us about the experience or about what happened.

Adyashanti: That’s the narrative. The narrative is a secondary state of suffering that we add on top of the primary state. The primary state is just to feel the incredible significance of loss. It’s not that you need to jump past that and try to grab onto a good feeling, but just to see what the difference is between opening to that, the actual experience for you of what that loss is and what that loss means, and make a distinction between that direct experience and the experience of the narrative of how you could talk to yourself about that loss because that adds a whole secondary layer of suffering on top of it.

Adyashanti: It’s the secondary layer of suffering that tends to sustain the suffering. It just kind of keeps it going. It keeps healing from happening. Healing happens when we can attend to almost the original experience that we have when difficulty hits us. If we can really attend to that in the body, in our being, those experience do have a self-healing quality over time. They do heal themselves. We’re very adept at healing ourselves in every way if we can kind of not get too lost in the narrative.

Brock Coleman: Sure. Yup. Thank you very much. That makes a lot of sense.

Adyashanti: Yeah. I don’t mean it’s always easy, Brock. I don’t mean to suggest it’s-

Brock Coleman: No.

Adyashanti: … as simplistic as I’m sounding it, but it is a kind of practice. It’s a kind of inquire. What is the difference between what I’m just being impacted with right now in the moment, and what I could add to my experience through whatever narrative my mind would make?

Adyashanti: Once you can start to see the difference between those two experiences, then you know that you can start to pay attention to the first one, and endeavor not to get lost in the narrative when it comes up, or simply to see it for what it is.

Brock Coleman: And therefore you can drop the bag of the burden that you’re carrying so much sooner.

Adyashanti: Yeah, because the narrative is what keeps refilling the bag.

Brock Coleman: Right.

Adyashanti: It just refills it, and refills it, and refills it.

Brock Coleman: Thanks a lot. Yeah. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Adyashanti: You’re welcome. Bless you. Bless your heart.

Brock Coleman: Thank you.

Rand: Yeah. Thank you, Brock. Okay, transitioning to Mark Schultis. Location, role, and what your company does, and over to Adya.

Mark Schultis: Yeah, great. Thanks, Rand. Hey, it’s Mark Schultis. I’m calling from Dallas. I work at a company called Markit. We’re basically a fintech company. We had an interesting concept. Actually, it really kind of goes back to some of the original questions of getting away from, or the quiet, or finding the way to make room for that, or think about things that in many ways we think about are happening to us versus our choice.

Mark Schultis: Somebody brought it up on the call and thought it was really just insightful, that are we willing to be quiet, and what is the process to go through that? If you’re looking towards a purpose in clearing the path, how do you make more of that move for it to be more consistent and being willing to be quiet versus kind of sliding it in when you have a chance?

Adyashanti: Yeah, that’s a great question, Mark. I mean, it kind of goes back to the willingness to be engaged in some form of contemplative practice. I think it’s just one of those things that we just put into our life of priorities.

Adyashanti: Most people spend more time brushing their teeth than they do giving any attention to contemplative practice. I think if you just make it a part … People often think they need to make it this huge part, but start with something small. Start with just giving 10 minutes a day to just being quiet. Something like that.

Adyashanti: Think it almost like a kind of spiritual hygiene. It’s like brushing your teeth, but it’s almost like brushing your soul. You see it in the same importance. It’s just something that you incorporate into your everyday life in just the way you incorporate … If you look at your life, there’s probably 15 or 20 things, maybe more, that you just do every single day as a natural course of life.

Adyashanti: If it becomes one of those, then it becomes simpler. I think it helps to acknowledge that like anything that we do on a daily basis, there will be days that you’re really excited about doing it, that you really want to do it, or you really feel called to do it, and there will be days that you may not feel called to do it.

Adyashanti: I can tell you, just through a lot of experience over the years, it’s the days where you don’t feel called to take some time and silence that are often the most important ones, and end up to be the most beneficial, are the days that you really don’t feel called. Because there is a kind of, in most people, there’s a certain built-in resistance for a while towards the inner life, towards stillness.

Adyashanti: Start small, and just make it a part of your everyday life. Where can I get those 10 minutes? Where can I get those 15 minutes? My teacher did her whole spiritual life seeking while raising five kids. This is what she used to talk about all the time. With all these moments during even a really, really busy day, she used to say, “Well, by walking down the hallway, or waiting at a stoplight, or standing in line.”

Adyashanti: There was a hundred moments where she could just stop and ground and center, rather than just being lost in a sort of unimportant narrative of the mind.

Rand: Adya, this is Rand. I just want to build on as we sort of get close to wrapping, the opportunity to have 10 minutes dedicated is obviously an option. But what I appreciate about what you’re saying that there could be 30 seconds here, 15 seconds there, a minute there, which may add up in a course of a day to 10 minutes.

Rand: Everyone on the call in their first workshop of the Integral Leadership Program was exposed to a simple mindfulness exercise of eating a single raisin, which instead of doing that in milliseconds, just taking a minute, minute and half to just taste the raisin, and notice the raisin.

Rand: And then the practice we give is to consider engaging a child, a spouse, a partner, a friend, a coworker with that level of awareness and focus, even if for five seconds or 10 seconds. The feedback that we get on that simple practice is very positive. One of the reasons we do these calls is to keep people connected to the very practices that they’ve already experienced.

Rand: They went to the gym, they experienced the benefits of doing certain exercises, and then these calls remind them that these exercises are obviously available to them all the time.

Rand: I loved what you said at the beginning of the call, just going back to the tools, because we give tools in the form of stop, ground, center is a tool, or active listening is a tool. One of the tools that you reminded us that we have is we have the breath and we have the body.

Rand: What I found myself appreciating is that you said that these are always with us all the time. Anything you want to sort of say to ground that so they can be very actionable and practical as people leave hopefully with a little bit of broader awareness on what’s possible?

Adyashanti: Sure, yeah. I’m glad you mentioned that, Rand, because even if people give a lot of time to a contemplative practice. If they don’t carry it through their life, they just create a kind of split between the moments when they’re in contemplation, and when they’re in their active life. The two seem very different, or very apart from each other.

Adyashanti: I think it’s really, really important to have something that you can just apply many times through the day, almost apply on the run, but do it in a way that’s really authentic. Like I said, our breath is probably the best thing you have. If you want to go into your parasympathetic nervous system, just attend to the breath down in the belly.

Adyashanti: As soon as you do that, you’re literally changing your physiology within seconds of just attending to the breath down into the body. When you do that, you’ll feel almost immediately there will be a little bit heightened sense of awareness. There will be a deeper sense of calm, a deeper sense of being present in the moment.

Adyashanti: It’s a way of sort of staying connected. Touching in on those many points during the day. That is just as important as having some time set aside for a more sort of dedicated slot of time for contemplation. I think it’s really important.

Adyashanti: And then, as you said, Rand, also bringing that into action also of what is the quality of my next conversation when I’m speaking from a deeper place, when I’m speaking from a more grounded place? What changes in the way I interact with people or interact with a situation?

Adyashanti: You just kind of take these as little moments of practice. They really start to transform, as it sounds like a lot of you have already seen. They really start to transform almost everything you do in every way you go about it because we can change our state of being much more quickly than we often imagine we do when we’ve got the kind of simple tools to do it with.


Adyashanti (whose name means “primordial peace”) is an American-born spiritual teacher who has been teaching for more than 20 years. His teachings include evening meetings, weekend intensives, silent retreats, live internet broadcasts, and online courses. He has taught throughout the US and also in Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. More than 30,000 people in 120 countries stay connected to his website through a free email subscription. He is the author of eight books.


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