This book is a clue left behind, a means of remembrance, and a guide
to waking up from your imagined
status as a person to what you really are.
The teachings contained
within this book are a condensed version of my core teachings. In
order for the teaching to have any effect, you must apply it with
Be forewarned, applying these teachings may be
damaging to your beliefs, disorienting to your mind, and distressing
to your ego. From the perspective of waking up to reality these are
good things to be cultivated.
From the perspective of ego they are
to be avoided at all costs.
The choice is entirely yours.
The Way of Liberation is a stripped-down, practical guide to
spiritual liberation, sometimes called awakening, enlightenment,
self-realization, or simply seeing what is absolutely True.
impossible to know what words like liberation or enlightenment mean
until you realize them for yourself. This being so, it is of no use
to speculate about what enlightenment is; in fact, doing so is a
major hindrance to its unfolding. As a guiding principle, to
progressively realize what is not absolutely True is of infinitely
more value than speculating about what is.
Many people think that it is the function of a spiritual teaching to
provide answers to lifeís biggest questions, but actually the
opposite is true.
The primary task of any good spiritual teaching is
not to answer your questions, but to question your answers. For it
is your conscious and unconscious assumptions and beliefs that
distort your perception and cause you to see separation and division
where there is actually only unity and completeness.
The Reality that these teachings are pointing toward is not hidden,
or secret, or far away. You cannot earn it, deserve it, or figure it
out. At this very moment, Reality and completeness are in plain
sight. In fact, the only thing there is to see, hear, smell, taste,
touch, or feel, is Reality, or God if you like. Absolute
completeness surrounds you wherever you go.
So there is really no
reason to bother yourself about it, except for the fact that we
humans have long ago deceived ourselves into such a confined tangle
of confusion and disarray that we scarcely even consider, much less
experience for ourselves, the divinity within and all around us.
The Way of Liberation is a call to action; it is something you do.
It is a doing that will undo you absolutely. If you do not do the
teaching, if you do not study and apply it fearlessly, it cannot
effect any transformation.
The Way of Liberation is not a belief
system; it is something to be put into practice. In this sense it is
To read this book as a spectator would be to miss the point. Being a
spectator is easy and safe; being an active participant in your own
awakening to Truth is neither easy nor safe. The way forward is
unpredictable, the commitment absolute, the results not guaranteed.
Did you really think that it could be any other way?
If you compare The Way of Liberation to other teachings, or
interpret it through the lens of other teachings, you will
inevitably misinterpret The Way to be something that it is not. In
the modern age, with its instant access to all the worldís spiritual
teachings, this is an especially pervasive problem. People often
misinterpret what I say because they are filtering it through the
lens of other spiritual teachings that may use a similar vocabulary.
Therefore, I suggest that you approach these teachings on their own
merit without filtering them through the mindís previous
No spiritual teaching is a direct path to enlightenment. In fact,
there is no such thing as a path to enlightenment, simply because
enlightenment is ever present in all places and at all times. What
you can do is to remove any and all illusions, especially the ones
you value most and find the most security in, that cloud your
perception of Reality. Let go of clinging to your illusions and
resisting what is, and Reality will suddenly come into view.
The Way of Liberation is medicine used to cure various states of
spiritual dis-ease. Just as medicine is not itself good health but a
means to good health, these teachings are not Truth but a means of
The Indian sage Ramana Maharshi likened spiritual
teachings to thorns used to remove other thorns, and I rather like
To study The Way of Liberation teachings is to study yourself. To
study yourself does not mean to add more knowledge to your cluttered
brainís ideas about yourself, but to remove all of the customary
defining characteristics you usually associate self with: name,
race, gender, occupation, social status, past, as well as all of the
psychological judgments you make about yourself.
When the self is
stripped down to its essential core, all that can be said about it
"I am; I exist."
What then is the I that exists?
This is not a book about spiritual betterment, self-improvement, or
altered states of consciousness. It is about spiritual awakening,
going from the dream state of ego to the awakened state beyond ego
as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The journey isnít what
anyone anticipates, and enlightenment isnít what it is frequently
sold as. I wonít be telling you how to achieve bliss or unending
happiness, find your soul mate, or the ten easy steps to making a
quick million bucks. I donít believe in deceptive advertising or
luring in spiritual seekers with false promises.
seekers already live on a steady diet of spiritual junk food, those
nice-sounding platitudes that have little or no transforming effect
other than to dull the dissatisfaction inherent in the dream state.
If you like that sort of thing, this isnít the book for you.
I have left clues to realizing Reality throughout this entire book,
from the first page to the last. Do not assume that the most
important elements of this teaching are easy to spot or clearly
emphasized. They are woven into this book as threads are woven into
fabric, easy to miss if you do not have the eyes to see or the
sincerity to understand.
This is not because I want to be obscure - I
do everything I can to not be obscure - but because Truth is not
something that can be truly and deeply understood by having it
spoon-fed to you. Such truth is like fast food, easy to access but
hardly satisfying in the long run.
In our modern society we expect to have everything given to us in
easy-to-consume bite-size portions, preferably very quickly so that
we can get on with our hurried lives. But Truth will not conform
itself to our frantic avoidance of Reality or our desire to have the
whole of something for the very least investment of time and energy.
You will get out of The Way of Liberation teachings exactly what you
put into them. These teachings need to be studied, contemplated, and
put into practice, not simply read as entertainment.
As a wise
person once said,
"The proof of a desire is found in
the habit of response."
It should also be understood that The Way of Liberation is neither a
form of psychotherapy nor a cure-all for all the challenges that
human beings face in their daily lives.
While such therapeutic
applications may be necessary and useful for some people, they are
not the focus of this teaching.
Awakening is neither a magic cure for all that ails you, nor an
escape from the difficulties of life. Such magical thinking runs
contrary to the unfolding of Reality and is a great impediment to
its mature expression. The aim of this teaching is to wake up to the
absolute nature of Reality, then embody and live it to the fullest
Such awakening does eventually bring a sense of
deep peace, love, and well-being, but these are the byproducts of
the awakened state, not the goal.
It is not the pursuit of greater and greater states of happiness and
bliss that leads to enlightenment, but the yearning for Reality and
the rabid dissatisfaction with living anything less than a fully
Wake Up or
The worldís problems are, by and large, human problems - the
unavoidable consequence of egoic sleepwalking.
If we care to look,
all the signs are present to suggest that we are not only
sleepwalking, but at times borderline insane as well. In a manner of
speaking, we have lost (or at the very least forgotten) our souls,
and we try very, very hard not to notice, because we donít want to
see how asleep we are, how desolate our condition really is.
blindly carry on, driven by forces we do not recognize or
understand, or even acknowledge.
We are no doubt at a very critical point in time. Our world hangs in
the balance, and a precarious balance it is. Awakening to Reality is
no longer a possibility; it is an imperative. We have sailed the
ship of delusion about as far as she can carry us.
We have run her
ashore and now find ourselves shipwrecked on an increasingly
desolate land. Our options have imploded. "Wake up or perish" is the
spiritual call of our times. Did we ever need more motivation than
And yet all is eternally well, and more well than can be imagined.
The Five Foundations
The Five Foundations are the bedrock on which the teaching rests.
They should not be ignored, skimmed
over, or taken lightly. In a very real sense the Five Foundations
are absolutely essential components of the teaching that apply after
awakening as much as, if not more than, before it. Donít be deceived
into thinking that the Five Foundations are insignificant or
rudimentary simply because they appear to be attuned more to the
human, or relative, aspect of Reality.
The Five Foundations are a
means of living and manifesting the ultimate nature of Reality in
daily life. If we do not live and manifest in our lives what we
realize in our deepest moments of revelation, then we are living a
Furthermore, the Five Foundations provide the context within which
the teachings unfold. If you remove the context from the teaching,
you are removing the anti-egoic safeguards that protect the teaching
from egocentric interpretation. Misinterpretation of a spiritual
teaching by the ego is always a significant danger, since the egoís
tendency is to justify whatever points of view it is attached to and
To add to this danger, any spiritual teaching rooted in the absolute
nature of Reality is by definition oriented toward Truth, not toward
the ethical and moral dimension of relative life. This does not mean
that such teachings are immoral, it means that they are trans-moral;
that is, rooted in a Reality beyond the relative moral and ethical
standards of the dualistic perspective.
This does not mean that all morality is rendered irrelevant in the
absolute view; this is a common misunderstanding.
It means that
morality is no longer rooted in the cultural and religious values
designed to rein in and control egoic impulses. Instead, selfless
love and compassion naturally flow out of the unified view of
Reality as spontaneous expressions of that unity. When nothing is
seen to be separate or other than you, the actions that flow through
you reflect that unified perspective.
It can get complicated because it is possible to have some
experience of the ultimate nature of Reality while at the same time
not being completely free of egoic delusion.
This makes for the
possible volatile mixture of Reality and illusion simultaneously
existing and expressing itself in an unconscious and distorted way.
While some of this is to be expected as we are maturing in spirit,
there are few things more distorted or dangerous than an ego that
thinks it is God.
Many years of working with thousands of people have shown me that if
these foundational aspects of the spiritual life are ignored, it
will almost always derail oneís spiritual unfolding to some degree.
A failure to explore and come to clarity about any one of these, as
well as to consistently apply them, will result in ongoing inner and
outer conflict and division at some level.
The Five Foundations are a means of gathering all of your inner
resources - body, mind, and spirit - and focusing them in a unified way
toward your highest aspiration.
I cannot overemphasize the
importance of having a clear unified focus, sincere heart, and an
unwavering desire not to knowingly delude yourself or others.
Clarify Your Aspiration
To clarify your aspiration means knowing exactly what it is that
your spiritual life aspires to, not as a future goal but in each
In other words, what do you value most in your life - not in
the sense of moral values, but in the sense of what is most
important to you. Contemplate this question. Do not assume that you
know what your highest aspiration is, or even what is most important
Dig deep within, contemplate, and meditate on what the
spiritual quest is about for you; donít let anyone else define your
aspiration for you. Look within until you find, with complete
clarity, what you aspire to.
The importance of this first Foundation cannot be over-emphasized, because life unfolds along the lines of what you value
most. Very few people have Truth or Reality as deep values. They may
think that they value Truth, but their actions do not bear this out.
Generally, most people have competing and conflicting values, which
manifest as both internal and external conflict. So just because you
think something is your deepest value does not mean that it actually
By deeply contemplating and clarifying what you value and aspire
to, you become more unified, clear, and certain of your direction.
As your realization and spiritual maturity deepen, you will find
that some aspects of your aspiration remain steadfast while others
evolve to reflect what is relevant to your current level of insight.
By reflecting on and clarifying the issues relevant to your current
level of understanding, you stay focused on the cutting edge of your
Making clear what you aspire to is the first step.
It has the effect
of gathering energy and attention together into a unified force and
directing it toward your aspiration. Once you have clarified your
aspiration, you now need to follow through on it. Following through
has to do with what you are willing to do or let go of doing.
Spirituality does not require that you work hard toward achieving a
result in the future as much as it requires you to be fully present,
sincere, and committed now, with absolute honesty and a willingness
to uncover and let go of any illusion that comes between you and the
realization of Reality. Therefore, spirituality does not have to do
with time or what can be achieved in time; it has to do only and
always with the eternal present.
Aspiration is not so much a matter of the mind as of the
heart, in that it is a reflection of what you cherish, love, and
value most. You do not need to be reminded of what you truly love,
only of what you do not love. And what you actually love is most
truly reflected in your actions, not in what you feel, think, or
When aspiration lines up with unconditional follow-through and love,
it becomes a very strong force in the universe.
Only then are we
unified and one-pointed enough for our aspiration to survive the
winds of folly, fate, and circumstance.
Never Abdicate Your Authority
The third Foundation is never abdicate your authority.
that you take full responsibility for your life and never forfeit it
over to someone else. There is no such thing as riding the coattails
of an enlightened being to enlightenment itself. A failure to
understand this can lead (as so many have been led) to cultish
fanaticism, fundamentalism, magical thinking, disappointment,
disillusionment, and/or spiritual infancy.
While it is understandable that many people project their unresolved
parental issues, relationship issues, authority issues, sexuality
issues, as well as God issues onto their spiritual teacher (and are
sometimes encouraged to do so by unscrupulous spiritual teachers),
it is essential to understand that a spiritual teacherís role is to
be a good and wise spiritual guide as well as an embodiment of the
Truth that he or she points toward.
While there may be deep respect,
love, and even devotion to oneís spiritual teacher, it is important
not to abdicate all of your authority over to your spiritual teacher
or project all divinity exclusively onto them. Your life belongs in
your hands, not someone elseís. Take responsibility for it.
There is a fine line between being truly open to the guidance of a
spiritual teacher and regressing into a childish relationship where
you abdicate your adulthood and project all wisdom and divinity onto
Each person needs to find a mature balance, being truly
and deeply open to their spiritual guide without abdicating all of
The same can be applied to a spiritual teaching. A spiritual
teaching is a finger pointing toward Reality; it is not Reality
itself. To be in a true and mature relationship with a spiritual
teaching requires you to apply it, not simply believe in it. Belief
leads to various forms of fundamentalism and shuts down the
curiosity and inquiry that are essential to open the way for
awakening and what lies beyond awakening.
A good spiritual teaching
is something that you work with and apply. In doing so, it works on
you (often in a hidden way) and helps reveal to you the Truth (and
falseness) that lies within you.
What is it to not abdicate your own authority and yet not claim a
false or self-centered authority that will lead you into delusion?
am afraid that I cannot tell you. You see, no one can tell you how
not to deceive yourself. If in the deepest place within you, you
want and desire Truth above all else, even though you go astray in a
thousand different ways, you will find yourself somehow, again and
again, being brought back to what is True.
And if you do not want and desire Truth above all else, well, you
already know what that leads to.
Practice Absolute Sincerity
To have genuine sincerity is absolutely necessary in the spiritual
Sincerity encompasses the qualities of honesty, genuineness,
and integrity. To be sincere does not mean to be perfect. In fact,
the very effort to be perfect is itself insincere, because it is a
way of avoiding seeing yourself as you are right now. To be able and
willing to see yourself as you are, with all of your imperfections
and illusions, requires genuine sincerity and courage.
If we are
constantly trying to hide from ourselves, we will never be able to
awaken from our illusion of self.
In order to be sincere you must let go of being judgmental toward
yourself. Being judgmental covers over your access to true sincerity
and at times even masquerades as sincerity. True sincerity reveals a
powerful form of clarity and discernment that is necessary in order
to perceive yourself honestly without flinching or being held
captive by your conditioned mindís judgments and defensiveness.
The capacity and willingness to be honest with yourself is
your greatest guard against self-deception and deceit, and aligns
you with your genuine aspiration.
There is no greater challenge for
a human being than to be completely honest with oneself as well as
with others, and yet such honesty is absolutely necessary if we are
ever to awaken from our dream of separation and live a truly genuine
and undivided life.
Be A Good Steward Of Your Life
Being a good steward of your life means that you are not using
spirituality to avoid any aspect of yourself or your life.
observed that it is very common for people involved in spirituality
to unconsciously use it to avoid painful, troubling, dysfunctional,
or fearful aspects of themselves or their lives. There is often a
hope that if they just awaken to Reality, all of their challenges
While it is true that with the dawning of awakening
many of what we regard as problems simply disappear, it would be
wrong to assume that a taste of awakening automatically resolves
every challenging aspect of human life.
Using spirituality to avoid challenging aspects of yourself or your
day-to-day life can inhibit the dawning of spiritual enlightenment
to a great extent, and will certainly inhibit its depth and
stability. The Way of Liberation is a way of completely facing
yourself and your life without withdrawing into denial, judgment, or
It is a means of piercing through the veils of
illusion and awakening to Truth.
To be a good steward of your life requires you to embrace every
aspect of your life, inner and outer, pleasant and unpleasant. You
do not necessarily need to face them all at once, just whatever
arises in any given moment. Give each moment the attention,
sincerity, and commitment that it deserves. A failure to do so is
more costly than you can ever imagine.
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.
Three orienting ideas
It is very easy to waste a lot of time and energy when oneís
spiritual pursuits are derailed into cul-de-sacs
that have little or no relevance to spiritual awakening.
Orienting Ideas provide the conceptual framework on which the
teaching rests and orient the mind toward the key principles that
pertain to spiritual awakening.
These Orienting Ideas give focus and
direction to the Three Core Practices that are described later in
The Question of Being
Above the entrance to the Oracle of Delphi were written the words,
Jesus came along and added a sense of urgency and
consequence to the ancient idea when he said,
"If you bring forth
what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do
not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will
What Jesus is saying is that spirituality is serious business, with
Your life hangs precariously in the balance,
teetering between a state of unconscious sleepwalking and
eyes-wide-open spiritual enlightenment. The fact that most people do
not see life this way testifies to how deeply asleep and in denial
they truly are.
So what is it that we are to bring forth?
Within each of our forms lies the existential mystery of being.
Apart from oneís physical appearance, personality, gender, history,
occupation, hopes and dreams, comings and goings, there lies an
eerie silence, an abyss of stillness charged with an etheric
For all of our anxious business and obsession with
triviality, we cannot completely deny this phantasmal essence at our
core. And yet we do everything we can to avoid its stillness, its
silence, its utter emptiness and radiant intimacy.
Being is that which disturbs our insistence on remaining in the
life-numbing realm of our secret desperation. It is the itch that
cannot be scratched, the whisper that will not be denied. To be, to
truly be, is not a given.
Most of us live in a state where our being has long ago been exiled
to the shadow realm of our silent anguish. At times being will break
through the fabric of our unconsciousness to remind us that we are
not living the life we could be living, the life that truly matters.
At other times being will recede into the background silently
waiting for our devoted attention.
But make no mistake: being - your
being - is the central issue of life.
To remain unconscious of being is to be trapped within an ego-driven
wasteland of conflict, strife, and fear that only seems customary
because we have been brainwashed into a state of suspended disbelief
where a shocking amount of hate, dishonesty, ignorance, and greed
are viewed as normal and sane. But they are not sane, not even close
to being sane.
In fact, nothing could be less sane and unreal than
what we human beings call reality.
By clinging to what we know and believe, we are held captive by the
movement of our conditioned thinking and imagination, all the while
believing that we are perfectly rational and sane. We therefore
continue to justify the reality of what causes us, as well as
others, immeasurable amounts of pain and suffering.
Deep down we all suspect that something is very wrong with the way
we perceive life but we try very, very hard not to notice it. And
the way we remain blind to our frightful condition is through an
obsessive and pathological denial of being - as if some dreadful fate
would overcome us if we were to face the pure light of Truth and lay
bare our fearful clinging to illusion.
It is within the dimension of being that Truth reveals itself - not
the truth of mathematics or chemistry, philosophy or history, but a
Truth that begins to disclose itself in those quiet moments when the
ordinary routine of life suddenly becomes transparent to a sublime
sense of meaning and significance unknown in common hours.
vital and unexpected encounters with being indicate a Truth that
lies just beneath the fabric of our ordinary lives, reminding us
that the life we cling to may be more folly than we ever imagined,
and that there is a Reality that has the power to unlock the mystery
of our lives if we will just submit to its exacting command to leave
behind our fearful commitment to security and life as we have known
We are all born with being veiled in obscurity.
We may recognize the
transparency of being shining in the eyes of an infant, but such
being is not conscious of itself. It is veiled in an absence of
self-awareness. Infants live in a magical world of unconscious
being, while adults live in a world of egocentric separation and
denial of being. Rectifying and restoring being to its true dominion
and sovereignty is what spiritual awakening makes possible.
The question of being is everything. Nothing could be more important
or consequential - nothing where the stakes run so high. To remain
unconscious of being is to remain asleep to our own reality and
therefore asleep to Reality at large.
The choice is simple: awaken
to being or sleep an endless sleep.
The False Self
The false self grows out of unconscious being. It is a fragmented
amalgam of many selves tenuously bound together by a faÁade of
normalcy. It is a divided house built upon an imaginary foundation,
a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
The false self is the greatest barrier (all barriers are imagined,
of course) to the realization of our true identity of universal
The false self is essentially a psychological process
occurring in the mind that organizes, translates, and makes sense
(or in many cases nonsense) of all incoming data from the senses.
When this psychological process mixes together with the self-reflexive movement of consciousness, it produces a sense of
This sense of self then pervades consciousness as a sort of
perfume that causes the mind to mistake what is actually a
psychological process for being an actual separate entity called
oneís self. This mistaken conclusion, that you are a distinct
separate self, happens very early in life in a more or less
automatic and unconscious way.
By identifying with a particular name that belongs to a particular
body and mind, the self begins the process of creating a separate
identity. Add in a complex jumble of ideas, beliefs, and opinions,
along with some selective and often painful memories with which to
create a past to identify with, as well as the raw emotional energy
to hold it all together, and before you know it, youíve got a very
convincing - though divided - self.
This is not to say that in the development of a human being the
false self has no purpose or use; it is simply to say that it has no
existence whatsoever outside of the mind. The self develops in order
that you may gain a healthy sense of individuation and autonomy that
helps you navigate life in a way conducive to your survival and
The problem is that few people ever develop true
psychological autonomy, and even those who do are often so entranced
by the false self that they never imagine its illusory nature or
what lies beyond it.
But once true autonomy is developed, the self
is no longer needed, in the same way that infancy is no longer
needed when you grow into adulthood. It may, however, be more
accurate to say that it is the autonomy that is truly important, and
that the false self is essentially an imaginary by-product of the
self-reflexive mechanism of consciousness identifying itself with
the endless movement of conditioned thinking.
The problem is that the self that you became convinced was the real
you is a phantom that exists only as an abstraction in your
mind - animated by the conflicted emotional energy of separation. Itís
about as real as last nightís dream.
And when you stop thinking it
into existence, it has no existence at all. Thatís why it is
false - which begs the question, who or what is the real you?
At the core of the false self is a void of deficiency derived from
an essential turning away from oneís own divinity, either out of
natural development, despair, or simply by succumbing to the trance
of the world with all its masks of deception and harsh obligation to
conform to its insanity. The false self orbits around this vacuous
abyss at its core, in silent terror of its nameless, faceless threat
The false self is both an obstacle and a doorway through which you
must pass on your way to awakening to the dimension of being. As you
pass through the void of self, the identification with self dies,
either temporarily or permanently, and you are revealed (reborn) to
be a presence.
Presence is not a self in any conventional sense. It
has no shape or form, no age or gender. It is an expression of
universal being, the formless substance of existence. Presence is
not subject to birth or death; it is not of the world of "things."
It is the light and radiance of consciousness in which entire worlds
arise and pass away.
Just as presence is an expression of being, so too is being an
expression of the Infinite. The Infinite is ultimate Reality, and is
beyond all conceptualizations and experiences. It is the ultimate
ground of all being, all existence, all dimensions, and all
perceptions. It is transcendent of all categories, all descriptions,
It is beyond ego, self, presence, being (and
nonbeing), and oneness, but it is not other than these either.
Neither conceivable nor experience-able, the Infinite knows itself
through a simple intuitive regard it has for itself in every aspect
Thus the only thing that realizes the Infinite is the
Infinite. And only such realization brings an end to the mindís
restless search for God, Truth, and meaning.
The Dream State
It is the nature of all dreams that the characters therein are so
busy being... well, characters, that what lies outside the dream
state eludes them.
In fact, the very idea that there is an outside
of their dream state, or that what they take to be real and
meaningful is a dream state, is something that they would rarely
even consider - at least, not until their dream becomes a very bad
nightmare. And even then, very few will allow in the only thing that
can save themselves from endless sleep.
So many are tied and bound to themselves that they cannot stop
running from here to there and back again. Always on the lookout for
something more, different, or better, they cannot see that they are
getting nowhere at all. And they are getting absolutely nowhere
faster and faster and with more and more ingenuity all the time.
Who are they? I am afraid that they are us.
The greatest dream that we can have is to forget that we are
dreaming. Lost in our mindís imagined world of judgments, beliefs,
and opinions, we are literally caught in a waking dream. For some it
is a nightmare, for others a temporary reprieve in some imagined
heaven. For most it is something in between.
But no matter what the current status of your dream may be, it will
all come to an end someday when you least expect it. Suddenly the
plot of your life will change or end altogether, and you will find
yourself disoriented and wondering what happened and where it all
Such abrupt changes in the direction and texture of our lives
is one of the few certainties we have in life, and yet we keep
believing that what we think about life has anything whatsoever to
do with what life actually is.
We are so busy and obsessed with our restless thinking about
everything and everyone that we have mistaken our thinking about
everything and everyone for everything and everyone. This tendency
to take our thoughts to be real is what keeps the dream state intact
and keeps us trapped within its domain of unconsciousness and
To many people the very idea that what is is more real than all of
their beliefs and opinions about what is is hard to believe. But
thatís how it is when you are caught up in a dream. To you your
dream is real because all of your thoughts confirm that it is real.
But what is is more real than a thousand thoughts about how things
should be. Life will conform neither to the story you tell yourself
about it nor your interpretation of it. Believe a single thought
that runs contrary to the way things are or have been and you suffer
because of it. No exceptions!
This does not mean that you should not have any thoughts outside of
what is. It only means that what is is the reality of now. If you
think that people should be nice to one another, then by all means
be nice. But when you project that belief onto the people and the
world around you as if it were an objective reality, or worse still,
as if it were their job to be nice to you, you put yourself at odds
with what is, and suffering will surely follow.
Now imagine a world of billions of people. Each one of them has
innumerable ideas, beliefs, and opinions that they believe to be
true. And each one of those billions of people has different ideas,
beliefs, and opinions that they absolutely believe in. They are all
walking around seeing the same outside world, but inwardly they each
live in a different world, in a different waking dream.
Is it any wonder we have trouble getting along?
To add complexity to this volatile mixture is the fact that there
are also collective dream states where people of similar personal
dreams gather together to form collective dream states.
even harder spells to break out of, because collective dream states
exist within a consensus (or agreed-upon) reality. In other words,
it must be true because we all believe it to be true.
Thus is the state of humanity.
And the reality of universal being, your being, all being, remains
exiled to the oblivion of unconsciousness.
The Core Practices
Truth is not over there, wherever over there is. Truth is neither
housed in religious rituals nor secret doctrines,
nor in a guruís touch or beatific smile, nor in exotic locations or
ancient temples. Truth is quite literally the only thing that does
exist. It is not hidden but in plain view, not lacking but
Absolute Truth is not a belief, not a religion, not a philosophy,
not a momentary experience, and not a transient spiritual experience
either. It is neither static nor in motion, neither good nor bad. It
is other than all of that, more other than you can ever imagine.
Truth cannot be touched by thought or imagined by the mind. It can
only be found in the heart of universal being.
To know thy self is
the key. To bring forth your being is The Way.
In The Way of Liberation teachings there are three Core Practices
that work in conjunction with the Five Foundations to assist in
bringing forth and realizing timeless Truth. While these Core
Practices may seem simple, do not be deceived - when combined and
applied wholeheartedly they can be extremely powerful.
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.
The indispensable element of any spiritual teaching does not lie in
the teaching but rather in the sincerity and fearlessness of the
person who applies it. Even though at times you may feel quite lost
in your own foolishness, as William Blake said, "A fool who persists
in his folly will become wise."
Think of spiritual practice as a sort of "applied folly."
The Core Practices are something that you need to get the feel of,
somewhat like getting the feel of balance when learning to ride a
bicycle. They need to become a part of you to truly work.
attitude with which you apply them is as important as the practice
itself - which is a way of saying that you need to find a way of
applying the Core Practices that suits your temperament and personal
No one can tell you exactly how to do this. You simply
discover it by trial and error. And the way that you utilize the
Core Practices will evolve as your level of realization evolves.
You should not apply the Core Practices too willfully or with a
great amount of struggle. They should be applied prayerfully; that
is, with great sincerity and openness of mind and heart. While you
may at times find yourself being very challenged by what these
teachings reveal and at other times struggling with your own
confusion and doubt, just remember that the element of grace is
all-important and ever present.
And it is often darkest just before
All of our greatest breakthroughs seem to come by surprise, when we
least expect them. Suddenly we are gifted, the clouds of confusion
part, and we see with an uncommon clarity and freedom. Such grace is
never held in abeyance, never earned or deserved. It is not given to
some and not to others. Grace is ever present; it is only our
openness to it that comes and goes.
In one sense, The Way of
Liberation is a means of opening up to grace.
The three Core Practices are meditation, inquiry, and contemplation.
In the various forms of esoteric spirituality, meditation is often
either overemphasized or underemphasized.
When meditation is
overemphasized as the sole means to enlightenment, there is often
too much focus placed on trying to attain a specific meditative
state. Ultimate Reality is not a certain state of consciousness, no
matter how wonderful or blissful. Reality is the ground of all
being, unborn and undying eternity. It is as present in one
experience or state of consciousness as in any other. Reality, or
Truth, is that which is ultimately true in all states, at all times,
in all locations.
On the other extreme are those teachings that underemphasize the
value of meditation. The thinking is that since Reality is ever
present in all situations at all times, there is nothing to attain
In fact, this thinking asserts, meditation will only
emphasize the belief that one is separate from Reality and needs to
do something to attain it. While there is logic in this viewpoint,
it can lead to a type of fatalism and purely intellectual
understanding that is counterproductive to true awakening.
there is no path or practice that leads directly to awakening, it is
also true that what you do is vitally important in determining the
course of your spiritual life. Balance is the key, effortless effort
is the Way.
Meditation is neither a means to an end nor something to perfect.
Meditation done correctly is an expression of Reality, not a path to
it. Meditation done incorrectly is a perfect mirror of how you are
resisting the present moment, judging it, or attaching to it.
Meditation acts as a perfect mirror, which reflects your
relationship with yourself, life, and the present moment.
becoming intimately aware of how you are resisting or attaching to
the content of the present moment, and how futile it is to continue
to do so, you may discover what it means to truly drop all of your
resistance to the present moment.
In The Way of Liberation, meditation has a very specific definition,
purpose, and application. Meditation is the art of allowing
everything to simply be in the deepest possible way. In order to let
everything be, we must let go of the effort to control and
manipulate our experience - which means letting go of personal will.
This cuts right to the heart of the egoic make-up, which seeks
happiness through control, seeking, striving, and manipulation.
forms of meditation are based on learning to control oneís
experience as a means of attaining peace. Such methods often lead to
a dead end, where one only attains peace of mind as long as the ego
is being constrained by meditative technique.
The silence and stillness of meditation is the bedrock upon which
this teaching rests. It fosters an inward stability, objectivity,
nonattachment, and depth of understanding unknown to the conceptual
mind. Formal meditation is done best while sitting (or lying down if
absolutely necessary) in a location where you will not be
interrupted. The attitude conducive to meditation is one of
surrender, effortlessness, and openness.
Meditation is more a form of silent prayer than a technique to
master. When new to meditation, you may want to start with ten to
fifteen minutes dedicated to being silent. When this amount of time
feels comfortable, you may want to extend your meditation periods in
five-minute increments until you can sit comfortably for thirty or
forty minutes at a time. But even sitting in silence for fifteen to
twenty minutes a day will begin to form an inner composure of
stillness and stability within you.
It is important to understand that when doing meditation, you are
making a commitment to something other than your restless mind.
Meditation is not the time to be figuring things out or analyzing
your experience. Neither should you be fighting your mind or trying
to make it quiet. Just watch thoughts as you would watch clouds
passing by in the sky. There is nothing personal about your
They are just phenomena passing through awareness.
Meditation is not a technique to master; it is the highest form of
prayer, a naked act of love and effortless surrender into the silent
abyss beyond all knowing.
Meditation is not something restricted to times of formal seated
meditation; it is most fundamentally an attitude of being - a resting
in and as being. Once you get the feel of it, you will be able to
tune into it more and more often during your daily life. Eventually,
in the state of liberation, meditation will simply become your
Below is a description of what I call True Meditation. Read it and
let it reveal to you its true meaning by putting it into practice.
Over time you will get a deeper and deeper understanding of what
True Meditation is.
You may want to read "True Meditation" each time
just before you sit down to meditate until you feel that you have
internalized the instructions.
True Meditation has no direction or goal. It is pure wordless
surrender, pure silent prayer.
All methods aiming at achieving a
certain state of mind are limited, impermanent, and conditioned.
Fascination with states leads only to bondage and dependency. True
Meditation is effortless stillness, abidance as primordial being.
True Meditation appears in consciousness spontaneously when
awareness is not being manipulated or controlled. When you first
start to meditate, you notice that attention is often being held
captive by focusing on some object: on thoughts, bodily sensations,
emotions, memories, sounds, etc. This is because the mind is
conditioned to focus and contract upon objects.
Then the mind
compulsively interprets and tries to control what it is aware of
(the object) in a mechanical and distorted way. It begins to draw
conclusions and make assumptions according to past conditioning.
In True Meditation all objects (thoughts, feelings, emotions,
memories, etc.) are left to their natural functioning. This means
that no effort should be made to focus on, manipulate, control, or
suppress any object of awareness. In True Meditation the emphasis is
on being awareness - not on being aware of objects, but on resting as
conscious being itself. In meditation you are not trying to change
your experience; you are changing your relationship to your
As you gently relax into awareness, the mindís compulsive
contraction around objects will fade. Silence of being will come
more clearly into consciousness as a welcoming to rest and abide. An
attitude of open receptivity, free of any goal or anticipation, will
facilitate the presence of silence and stillness to be revealed as
your natural condition.
As you effortlessly rest into stillness more profoundly, awareness
becomes free of the mindís compulsive habit of control, contraction,
Awareness returns to its natural condition of
conscious being, absolute unmanifest potential - the silent abyss
beyond all knowing.
Some Common Questions about Meditation
Q. It seems that the central
instruction in True Meditation is simply to abide as silent,
still awareness. However, I often find that I am caught in my
mind. Is it OK to use a more directed meditation like following
my breath so that I have something to focus on which will help
me to not get lost in my mind?
A. It is perfectly OK to use a more directed technique such as
following your breath, or using a simple mantra or centering
prayer, if you find that it helps you to not get lost in
thought. But always be inclined toward less and less technique.
Make time during each meditation period to simply rest as
silent, still awareness. True Meditation is progressively
letting go of the meditator without getting lost in the mind.
Q. What should I do if an old painful memory arises during
A. Old memories, hurts, fears, angers, resentments, etc., can
arise in meditation. Simply allow them to arise without
resisting, analyzing, judging, or denying them. Just watch them
without getting involved. See that they do not define who you
are. They are pockets of unconsciousness arising to be purified
in the light of awareness and released from your system. Allow
the light of being to set suffering free.
Q. When I meditate I sometimes experience a lot of fear.
Sometimes it overwhelms me and I donít know what to do.
A. It is useful when experiencing fear in meditation to anchor
your attention in something very grounding such as your breath
or even the bottoms of your feet. But donít fight against the
fear, because this will only increase it. Imagine that you are
the Buddha under the Bodhi tree, or Christ in the desert,
remaining perfectly still and unmoved by the body-mindís
nightmare. It may feel very real, but it is really nothing more
than a convincing illusion. In absolute effortless stillness,
fear will pass away of its own accord.
Q. What should I do when I get an insight or sudden
understanding of a situation during meditation?
A. Simply receive what is given with gratitude, without holding
onto anything. Trust that it will still be there when you need
Q. I find that my mind is spontaneously forming images, almost
like a waking dream. Some of them I like, while others are just
random and annoying. What should I do?
A. Focus attention on your breathing down in your belly. This
will help you to not get lost in the images of the mind. Hold
the simple intention to rest in the imageless, silent source
prior to all images, thoughts, and ideas.
Q. I am experiencing a lot of energy surging through my body
when I meditate, and even when I am not meditating. Sometimes it
is very pleasant but at other times it makes me feel agitated
and keeps me awake at night. What is it?
A. It is not uncommon that at some point in your spiritual life
you will experience various forms of intense energy. Do not
become fascinated by the energy and do not try to suppress or
control it, because doing so will only tend to intensify it.
Root your attention in that state which is prior to all forms of
energy. Rest in silence, stillness, and emptiness, prior to the
energies of body and mind. Root your attention in the lower
This will help ground and integrate the energy.
It may also be useful to do some very grounding activities.
Take quiet walks in nature, exercise, massage the bottoms of
your feet, etc. Anything that feels grounding and energetically
calming will help. It will take some time for your body and
nervous system to adapt to a greater volume of energy flowing
through you. Be patient. It often takes months or years for the
nervous system to adapt to the new influx of energy.
Q. Sometimes I feel a depth of silence where all intention falls
away and even the instruction to allow everything to be or to
rest as awareness feels unnecessary. Is it OK to let all
intention and technique fall away?
A. At times, even the most subtle intention or technique will
naturally drop away on its own when your meditation reaches a
certain depth of stillness and simplicity. When you can let go
of all intention and technique and not get lost in the mind or
fall into a foggy or dull state of awareness, True Meditation is
spontaneously happening. The ultimate form of meditation is when
the meditator falls completely away.
The sacred dimension is not something that you can know through
words and ideas any more than you can learn what an apple pie tastes
like by eating the recipe.
The modern age has forgotten that facts
and information, for all their usefulness, are not the same as truth
or wisdom, and certainly not the same as
direct experience. We have lost touch with the intuitive wisdom born
of silence and stillness.
To hold a question inwardly in silent and
patient waiting is an art rarely mastered these days. Inquiry is a
bridge between the ego and the soul, and beyond to the Infinite. (I
am using the term soul here to mean the essence, presence, or beingness that you are.)
Inquiry is not in any sense anti-intellectual or anti-rational; it
is trans-rational. That is, it has the power to take you beyond both
the conceptual mind as well as conditioned egocentric thinking.
Although rooted in stillness, inquiry is the dynamic counterpoint to
True Meditation. Meditation is soft, allowing surrender, while
inquiry demands bold and fearless questioning.
Inquiry is a way of addressing the deepest existential issues
confronting every human being:
Who or what am I? What is life? What
happens after death? What is God? What is the absolute Truth of
existence? Or simply, Do I know with absolute certainty that this
current thought, belief, opinion, interpretation, or judgment is
The common element to inquiry is Truth.
What is Truth?
The Truth question does not arise from, or pertain to, the various
agendas of the ego. It is of the utmost importance that inquiry not
become subject to the egoís various drives and motivations. The
underlying drives of the ego are to feel better and to survive. But
inquiry belongs entirely to the realm of the soul, that dimension of
being born of stillness and light that seeks Truth for its own sake.
The first focus of inquiry centers on being. Being is the key that
unlocks the kingdom. Who or what am I? Apart from body, mind,
belief, occupation, gender, role, memory, or history, what am I?
Exactly what is "I"?
Remove all that the I is not. Strip the I of all the masks it wears.
Whatís left? Something? Nothing? Whatís aware of that?
In your direct experience, is some-thing aware, or is no-thing
aware? Is someone aware or is no one aware?
Trace the thread of inquiry silently and patiently back through all
of your identifications, all of your beliefs about yourself, all of
your hidden judgments and assumptions about who and what you are.
Take your time. Look deeply into each of these questions.
questions remove all that you are not. Let them undo all that you
ever imagined yourself to be, all that you thought you should be,
all that anyone ever told you to be. Trace the thread of inquiry
back through all of your imagined identities. Follow the thread back
through all that is imagined, clung to, or run from.
Then be still.
Rest in the contemplative silence and let the unknown workings of
grace run their course.
The realization of Truth and Reality can never be created by the
mind; it always comes as a gift of grace. Inquiry clears away
misperceptions and illusions, making one available to the movements
The question of being opens the doorway to Reality and
Truth, but is by no means the only question for inquiry. Question
everything! Leave no stone unturned, no assumption unexamined, no
form of denial left intact.
Investigate each question slowly and deliberately. Place each
question into the stillness of your being. Do not grasp for quick
answers. Donít jump to conclusions. Instead, let each question
reveal your hidden beliefs and opinions. Let it reveal whatever you
are holding on to and believing that is at odds with what is.
for all the ways that attaching to your mind causes you and others
to suffer. Bring each question the mind poses into the ground of
stillness. Meditate on it, ponder it; take your time. Donít answer
it with your mind. Be still with only the question. Be very, very
Filled with the love of Truth, donít be surprised if inquiry begins
to consume all of your hidden assumptions, all of your beliefs, all
of your opinions, all of your judgments, all that you have learned
secondhand from others. And donít be surprised if most of your
spiritual ideas are consumed as well, for it is our spiritual ideas
that most effectively protect us from the truly spiritual
Your greatest aid is your sincerity and desire for Truth above all
else. You may be shocked over and over again by the depth of
illusion that you find and uncover within yourself, but never fixate
on it or judge yourself.
Accept, forgive, and move on, for your true
being is infinite and absolute. It exists as much now as it ever did
or ever will. Stand still in the sacred conflagration of inquiry and
let it open you to the seat of all wisdom born of Spirit. Only Truth
will survive; all else will perish.
It is a sad thing that so few give the full measure of their lives
to Truth. Most only go so far, and then settle for less than a total
surrender of all separation. In the end we all get what we value
most, and if we donít like what we have gotten, we had better take
an honest look at what we are valuing.
But never for a moment is Truth lacking. Never is there more or less
Truth present, or more or less availability. Truth is in abundant
supply at all times, in all situations. It is simply awaiting
recognition. And it has all of time on its side.
Question your thoughts. Question your stories. Question your
assumptions. Question your opinions. Question your conclusions.
Question them all into utter emptiness, stillness, and joy.
to freedom are in your hands.
Some Common Questions about Inquiry
Q. Inquiry often feels very intellectual to me and I just tend to
get lost in my mind. Is there a way to inquire without it becoming
so lost in the mind?
A. Yes. There are two aspects of inquiry, and itís very important to
understand both of them. The first aspect of inquiry is what I call
"taking the backward step." The purpose of the first aspect of
inquiry is to remove or step back from prior conditioned thinking.
You are not looking for answers as much as you are revealing and
removing prior conditioned thoughts, ideas, and beliefs to make way
for a deeper realization. For example, through such observation you
can come to see that you are not the thoughts in your mind. By
removing the false belief that any thought can tell you what you
are, you make space for a deeper understanding to reveal itself.
Having revealed and cleared out the false ideas of mind, you are now
ready to rest in the stillness of being.
In the second aspect
of inquiry, you are endeavoring to access the intuitive clarity and wisdom that is housed in stillness at
the root of consciousness. I call it the realm of grace because the
wisdom that flows out of it is always received as a gift, as an
"aha" of pure understanding.
Having revealed and cleared out the
false ideas of mind, you are now ready to rest in the stillness of
being, without imposing thought or seeking in thought.
Q. Sometimes inquiry feels very alive and vital to me, but at other
times it feels more mechanical because my heart isnít into it. Is
inquiry something I need to be engaged in all the time?
A. In order for inquiry to be authentic, you need to feel like it is
of vital interest to you. So no, you do not need to be inquiring
all the time. It is a tool that is there whenever a vital question
arises for you. But inquiry is also much more than a technique; it
is an attitude.
Inquiry is an attitude of curiosity that lives within you, and it is
a reflection of your desire to know Truth and the nature of Reality.
Inquiry also takes a type of courage that is willing to ask big
questions that may shake up the very foundations of your life and
put you face-to-face with issues you might rather avoid.
So while you wonít always be using the technique of inquiry, it is
vitally important to live with the attitude of curiosity and courage
that is at the heart of inquiry.
Inquiry is the art of questioning all of oneís assumptions, beliefs,
and interpretations as a means of opening up space in the mind for
intuitive wisdom to arise. Once space is opened up, simply rest the
question in the stillness of conscious being.
Watch. Keep faithful vigil with the unknown. The vital moments of breakthrough come when you least expect them.
We have long ago forgotten what it means to contemplate something.
With the click of a computer mouse we can get the answer, or what
promises to be the answer, to almost any question we can imagine.
All of the worldís most ancient spiritual teachings are but a click
or download away, and yet we remain so lost to ourselves, so cut off
from what nourishes the soul, that we are collectively suffocating
under the weight of our ignorance and alienation from the sacred
dimension of Life.
The modern age has forgotten that facts and information, for all
their usefulness, are not the same as wisdom - and certainly
not the same as the direct experience of Reality.
We have lost touch
with the intuitive wisdom born of silence and stillness, and we are
left stranded in a sea of information that cannot deliver on its
promise of ever-increasing happiness and fulfillment.
Contemplation is the art of holding a word or a phrase patiently in
the silence and stillness of awareness until it begins to disclose
deeper and deeper meanings and understandings. Contemplation has the
power to transcend beyond (not regress back from) the limits of
analytical thought and logic, and open consciousness up to an order
of wisdom and Truth that can only be described as revelation.
I have included some useful short phrases in this section, but any
part of this book can be used as an object for contemplation. Take a
short phrase as your object of contemplation and simply hold it in
your awareness for some time. Do not analyze or philosophize about
it. And do not get lost in your imagination either. Just hold the
phrase in awareness. Then be still.
Let its meaning germinate within
you. Then bring the word or phrase back into awareness again. Hold
it there for some time, and then let it go and be still again. With
a little practice you will get the hang of it and find your own
While contemplation may seem quite simple, it can be very powerful.
In the Zen tradition, phrases, questions, or short teaching stories
called koans are used as objects of contemplation and meditation to
great and powerful effect in sparking awakening, revelation, and
enlightenment. In fact, most esoteric systems of spirituality have
used various forms of contemplation to elicit moments of revelation.
Below are some phrases to use as objects of contemplation.
begin with phrases designed to spark certain psychological insights
and progress to phrases designed to bring about deeper
and deeper realizations and revelations of a more fundamental or
The final series of phrases pertains to the
absolute nature of Reality, the Infinite.
Thought and Freedom from Suffering
There is no such thing as an absolutely True thought.
This doesnít mean that some thoughts are not truer than others,
that no thought is absolutely True.
What is is whatís happening
before you have a thought about it.
Notice the difference between what your mind thinks about this moment,
and this moment as it is before you have any thought about it.
Suffering occurs when you believe in a thought that is at odds with
what is, what was, or what may be.
Experience this moment free of your mindís interpretations of it.
You are not your story.
They are not your story about them.
The world is not your story about the world.
Suffering is how Life tells you
that you are resisting or
what is real and true.
It is the way Life suggests
that you are not in harmony with what
Deeper understanding and insight
flow forth from a quiet mind.
To be happy is to live as the unknown.
All true knowing arises out of the unknown
and is an expression of
The Nature of Being
To look within and not find yourself as a self
is the beginning of finding yourself as a presence (being).
Being (or Spirit) is universal and exists prior to all conditions,
all points of view, all objects of consciousness, and all subjects
Being is the true nature of everything.
Being the nature of everything,
there is nothing outside of being.
Being is self-cognizant and aware.
Being doesnít explain everything;
being is the true nature of everything.
The only thing that realizes being is being itself.
There is only being living itself through you,
as you, and as all
Being is unborn and uncreated,
the source and substance of all.
Being is our original condition,
prior to all egoic antics, prior to all thought, prior to all
prior to past, present, and future.
That beingness which is
prior to the world of space and time is here, now, and always.
It is a single drop of rain, a leaf falling from a tree, a single
It is the world-less world, the substance of emptiness.
I AM is pure being.
It is the ultimate confession of Reality echoing throughout
Beyond ego is universal being; beyond being is the Infinite.
The Infinite is pure formless potential,
prior to being and
non-being, life and death, form and formlessness.
The Infinite is neither one nor many,
neither dualistic nor nondualistic, neither worldly nor spiritual,
neither self nor other.
The Infinite knows itself
through a simple intuitive regard it has for itself in every aspect
Thus it knows itself as utterly unknowable and absolutely present.
To realize the Infinite is to lose your inner world.
To lose your inner world is eternal silence.
It is to become the shining.
All is well,
and more well than can be imagined.
The enlightenment I speak of is not simply a realization, not simply
the discovery of oneís true nature.
This is just the beginning - the point of entry into an inner
Realization does not guarantee this revolution; it
simply makes it possible.
An Inner Revolution
What is this inner revolution?
To begin with, revolution is not
static; it is alive, ongoing, and continuous. It cannot be grasped
or made to fit into any conceptual model. Nor is there any path to
this inner revolution, for it is neither predictable nor controllable
and has a life all its own. This revolution is a breaking away from
the old, repetitive, dead structures of thought and perception that
humanity finds itself trapped in.
Realization of the ultimate
Reality is a direct and sudden existential awakening to oneís true
nature that opens the door to the possibility of an inner
revolution. Such a revolution requires an ongoing emptying out of
the old structures of consciousness and the birth of a living and
fluid intelligence. This intelligence restructures your entire
being, body, mind, and perception.
This intelligence cuts
the mind free of its old structures that are rooted within the
totality of human consciousness. If one cannot become free of the
old conditioned structures of human consciousness, then one is still
in a prison.
Having an awakening to oneís true nature does not necessarily mean
that there will be an ongoing revolution in the way one perceives,
acts, and responds to life.
The moment of awakening shows us what is
ultimately True and real as well as revealing a deeper possibility
in the way that life can be lived from an undivided and
unconditioned state of being. But the moment of awakening does not
guarantee this deeper possibility, as many who have experienced
spiritual awakening can attest to. Awakening opens a door inside to
a deep inner revolution, but in no way guarantees that it will take
Whether it takes place or not depends on many factors, but
none more important and vital than an earnest and unambiguous
intention for Truth above and beyond all else. This earnest
intention toward Truth is what all spiritual growth ultimately
depends upon, especially when it transcends all personal
preferences, agendas, and goals.
This inner revolution is the awakening of an intelligence not born
of the mind but of an inner silence of mind, which alone has the
ability to uproot all of the old structures of oneís consciousness.
Unless these structures are uprooted, there will be no creative
thought, action, or response. Unless there is an inner revolution,
nothing new and fresh can flower.
Only the old, the repetitious, the
conditioned, will flower in the absence of this revolution. But our
potential lies beyond the known, beyond the structures of the past,
beyond anything that humanity has established.
Our potential is
something that can flower only when we are no longer caught within
the influence and limitations of the known. Beyond the realm of the
mind, beyond the
limitations of humanityís conditioned consciousness, lies that which
can be called the sacred. And it is from the sacred that a new and
fluid consciousness is born that wipes away the old and brings to
life the flowering of a living and undivided expression of being.
Such an expression is neither personal nor impersonal, neither
spiritual nor worldly, but rather the flow and flowering of
existence beyond all notions of self.
So let us understand that Reality transcends all of our notions about Reality.
Reality is neither Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Advaita Vedanta, nor Buddhist. It is neither dualistic nor
non-dualistic, neither spiritual nor non-spiritual. We should come to
know that there is more Reality and sacredness in a blade of grass
than in all of our thoughts and ideas about Reality.
perceive from an undivided consciousness, we will find the sacred in
every expression of life. We will find it in our teacup, in the fall
breeze, in the brushing of our teeth, in each and every moment of
living and dying.
Therefore we must leave the entire collection of
conditioned thought behind and let ourselves be led by the inner
thread of silence and intuitive awareness, beyond where all paths
end, to that place of sacredness where we go innocently or not at
all, not once but continually.
One must be willing to stand alone - in the unknown, with no reference
to the known or the past or any of oneís conditioning. One must
stand where no one has stood before in complete nakedness,
innocence, and humility.
One must stand in that dark light, in that
groundless embrace, unwavering and true to the Reality beyond all
self, not just for a moment but forever without end; for then that
which is sacred, undivided, and whole is born within consciousness
and begins to express itself.
That expression is the salvation of
It is the activity of an inward revolution brought down
into time and space.
Imagine that one morning you wake up, and as you open your eyes, you
suddenly realize that everything
is not as it used to be. And I mean everything!
Not that anything
looks different to the eye, but rather that what is doing the
looking has somehow changed or mutated in some strange and
unpredictable way. And there you are, just stepping out of bed,
wondering if you are actually still fast asleep under the covers
dreaming this strange dream.
But you are not dreaming, and you know it. You know that you are not
dreaming with a certainty unlike you have ever felt before. In fact,
you realize that every moment of every day of your life up to just a
few moments ago was spent in a state of unconscious sleepwalking
that felt so real and so true that you had never even thought to
question its validity.
The consensus opinion is that once you are
out of bed and walking around, you are very awake. But it simply
How did you not notice something so obvious?
But thatís not all, not by a long shot. Imagine that as you are
noticing this strange change taking place within yourself, that
something even more unsettling occurs to you: that there is
no inside of you; in fact, there is no self to be inside of. So you
start looking for yourself.
How on earth did you lose yourself?
After all, youíre not like a pair of slippers that you can just misplace.
You are you, and you must be around here somewhere. Mustnít you?
But no matter where you look inside, you cannot find yourself as
anyone, or anywhere in particular. All the old thoughts and all the
old memories no longer pertain to you yourself. They are empty - empty
of self, that is. Even that face in the mirror that seems so
familiar is without a self. It never had one, except the one you
made up in your mind. And even the one you made up never really had
a self to begin with.
You look out the window and... there is no out there.
you look is somehow in here, wherever here is. So you look through
the window and everything out there, or over there, is inside of
you - and not just inside of you, but is you. The ground and trees and
fence over there, as well as the sky overhead and the white puffy
clouds, everything is you. It doesnít make sense but itís about as
obvious as breathing. Whatís a self thatís the same as everything
This is strange indeed.
Imagine that youíre now walking down the sidewalk listening to the
neighbors talking to each other, when it occurs to you that they are
making it all up.
All the stories, all the little judgments, all the
firmly held opinions, all the "he should haves," and "she should
haves," and "what I think is..." are all made up, but taken to be
real. Itís like theyíre playing make-believe but forgetting that
itís all imagination, or getting lost in last nightís dream.
How could they be taking what theyíre saying so seriously, as if any
of it mattered or had any basis in Reality? How could they not see?
But they donít see. To them itís their reality, the only one that
they know, or probably ever will know. How very strange.
Now imagine that you stop to sit on a bench in the park. As you sit
there everything stops, absolutely stops. Your mind is so still and
quiet that you can hear dust particles floating in the air. Suddenly
you are falling, and falling, and falling. There is no ground below
or sky overhead, just a crushing thunderous silence, racing faster
You suddenly realize that itís going to kill you, rip
you limb from limb and explode your lungs into dust. Thereís no way
out, no possible means of survival. And so you do the only thing
there is to do.
All goes blank and empty, more empty than limitless space. Prior to
life and death, you blink out of (or is it into?) existence.
Timelessness is all there is, all there ever was, or could be.
Eternity reigns supreme, and is radiantly present in every
particle of being.
Something unborn and undying stirs to life and opens its eyes - your
eyes. You or It is still sitting on the park bench. It is smiling,
radiant, and content. A little girl on roller skates passes by. The
sun glitters through the aspen leaves as an old man smokes his pipe
on a footbridge crossing over a stream that feeds into a pond filled
Everywhere you look is emptiness. Each "thing" is a veil, a shroud,
cloaking Infinity. Nothing is as it seems, and everything is exactly
as it is.
Somehow perfect in all its apparent chaos, Infinity
prevails. You know with exact precision that there is nothing
else - nothing could be other than this vast and absolute void, this
pure and Infinite Potential, this unborn and unformed Infinity.
You reflect back over your life and realize that everything that
ever happened or ever could happen, from birth to all of the ups and
downs of this ephemeral life, to the strange realizations of
spiritual awakening, to this exact moment outside of time, was
and is the momentary display - a blip, really - of Infinityís limitless
potential coming into, and going out of, existence.
An old friend finds you sitting on the bench in the park. She sits
down beside you and asks,
"What are you up to?"
You love her as
friends do, but what can you say?
Youíre already speechless, and as
quiet inside as the dead. She doesnít know it, but youíre in two
different worlds, strangely intersecting here on this park bench.
How do you reach across infinity to communicate with her?
For a moment you strain inside for the words with which to respond.
There is a silent pause - is she onto you? Does she suspect something
is different? A cool breeze caresses your face and the universe
smiles inside you.
"Oh, nothing really," you say. "Absolutely
Summary of the Teaching
Question every thought.
Contemplate the source of Reality.
And keep your eyes open.
You never know when something that seems
your whole world wide open
into eternal delight.
big thank-you to Jerilyn Munyon - your tireless encouragement,
support, and clear feedback are a
gift beyond measure.
A big thanks to Maja Apolonia Rodť - your
creative and loving gifts touch every aspect of this book from
editing, to layout and design, and beyond. Your enthusiastic support
of this project was a true blessing.
A deep bow of gratitude to
Julie Donovan, for all of your dedication to the editing and fine
details of bringing this book to life. I also give a deep bow of
gratitude to Susan Kurtz, for your wonderful work on the design of
this book and for all of your quiet and creative talents.
bottom of my heart, thank you all.
About the author
Adyashanti, author of Falling into Grace, True Meditation, The End of
Your World, Emptiness Dancing,
and My Secret Is Silence, is an American-born spiritual teacher
devoted to serving the awakening of all beings.
His teachings are an
open invitation to stop, inquire, and recognize what is true and
liberating at the core of all existence.
Asked to teach in 1996 by
his Zen teacher of 14 years, Adyashanti offers teachings that are
free of any tradition or ideology.
"The Truth I point to is not
confined within any religious point of view, belief system, or
doctrine, but is open to all and found within all."
Based in California, where he lives with his wife, Mukti,
Adyashanti teaches throughout North America, Europe, and Australia.
For more information, please visit
The Reality that these teachings are
is not hidden or secret or far away...
At this very moment,
Reality and completeness are in plain sight.