Note: This post is epic. Sadly, not in that the content is superb, but rather in length. With close to 3000 words, the average read time is 15 minutes. You’ve been warned.
I’ve recently returned from my first silent retreat with Adyashanti. I’ll just refer to him as Adya from now on, as that’s what his friends call him… so I hear.
Although the majority of his retreats seem to take place in his home state of California, I was fortunate to catch him on an east coast stop at The Omega Institute. The Omega Institute is a lovely property close to the Hudson River in upstate New York. It’s a non-profit organization that has an almost unbelievable number of events (seemingly every week) with topics ranging from spirituality to holistic health to personal empowerment, to name just a few.
Let’s be clear, Omega is much more of a “retreat center” or maybe “retreat camp” than any type of resort. It bears little resemblance to a place like the Canyon Ranch Resorts.
It’s a more crunchy or hippie scene than those types of resorts. Let’s just say that there were a lot of “Birkenstocks and Socks”.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s actually my personal preference.
Adyashanti True Meditation is a nifty little book (under 90 pages) and an audio recording of two guided meditations.
Before I get into the details of the book, let me first throw out just a few of the reasons why I fucking love this guy:
Adyashanti is a white dude that grew up in the US suburbs.
Of course, this can be seen by many spiritual aspirants as a negative; after all, he didn’t come from the mystical mountain caves of Tibet or a reclusive ashram in India.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t gleamed many words of wisdom from Swamis and Gurus from the East. However, I’ve personally found that it helps to have a guide with a somewhat similar background to myself.
Correlation and causation aren’t the same thing, no matter how inviting it is to act otherwise. Our quick attempt to equate them is a fool’s game. Take it from a fool who’s played this game like a drum.
What the hell am I talking about and what does this correlation/causation distinction have to do your spiritual practice?
And more importantly, how does bullshit spirituality work its way into this messy mix?
Well I’m not talking about the bullshit fact that most tantric practitioners realize they’ve contracted crabs about 7-10 days after a practicing session on their “path”.
That’s bullshit spirituality for a different post (note to self).
I’ll never forget the first time I watched Fight Club.
It was Friday, October 29th, 1999, as a matter of fact.
I was in awe the entire time. My girlfriend reached over and closed my mouth, as the experience was literally jaw dropping. This fascination was certainly enhanced by the fact that I had been deep into the study of Zen Buddhism over the previous two years. I distinctly recall every single scene representing a teaching from the Zen tradition.
Within the trendy Buddhist communities or hipster movie crowds, the interplay between Fight Club and Buddhism is no secret. Director David Finch and both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have mentioned it in interviews. I have certainly spoken at length about it in the last 15 years to anyone kind (or high) enough to listen.
Now that BT and I created this WUH platform, I thought I’d throw it up here:
Almost 20 years ago now, I received a call from Hairy Yogurt Das. We hadn’t talked in a while and after some introductory chit chat, shit-giving and banter, HYD said, “From a dualistic perspective, I’ve got some bad news.”
“What’s that?” I replied.
“Michael’s dead.” he responded.
“Crashed his Harley.”
So, the most unusual thing about this interaction isn’t that Michael (one of HYD’s closest friends) was killed. It was that HYD clearly knew that in the bigger scope of things, there is no such thing as “bad” or “good” news. It’s just the manifestation unfolding.
However, if you want to get relative, something like this could be considered pretty fucking bad compared to Michael winning the lottery or even having a bad cup of coffee. With the intention not to insult me by assuming I wasn’t operating at a state where anything was other than what is was, he qualified that he had some bad news from a “dualistic” perspective. His parents raised him with proper manners, I’d say.
From time to time it makes sense to take inventory of our practice and if we are effectively “moving forward”. As a start, you may want to ask yourself some of these questions?
How would I describe myself spiritually?
Where am I on my current path?
How dedicated am I?
How long have I been practicing?
How do I feel about my progress?
Do I feel more centered, calm, and peaceful than a month or year ago?
How do I deal with those less conscious that I have to interact with in my life?
Should I be doing more or adding time or dimensions to my practice?
How knowledgeable am I on the foundation and writers in my given path?
Do I feel good about my dedication and consistently?
Maybe even add some more of your own if you are serious about this. I suggest you briefly write out your answers before moving on. Look at the answers and assess your opinions, perspectives, and beliefs about who you are as a spiritual seeker and where you are on your path and what goals you may have achieved or are striving to.
Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step and are now looking, right in the face, at a steaming pile of dog shit called your Spiritual Ego.
This is a nice extra piece of luggage we can add to our existing baggage of beliefs around who we are and why we are special or a victim. The beauty of this is that we actually feel good about all these perspectives because they are “spiritual”.
We now have another dimension we can add to our beliefs about who we are physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally, and financially. We have a spiritual dimension that makes us even more balanced, interesting, and pretty fucking deep.
As some of you are already aware, the totality of my drug experience (not to mention my psychedelic experience) throughout both high school AND college consisted of four beers. I suppose I should point out that the term “beer” is used lightly here, as they were really four bottles of Little Kings Cream Ale.
Seriously, I was that straight-edge (before that was a term) and vanilla, up until I was 24 years old.
Although slightly painful to admit, I was a Midwestern Country Bumpkin when I arrived in San Francisco, sight unseen, to study Religion and East West Psychology at The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).
Although I had obtained my BA in philosophy with additional foci on religion and psychology, I somehow missed the books and lectures on mystical experiences, induced both by various techniques and the use of drugs.
That all changed at CIIS, as there was a corner section of the library dedicated to the topic of the psychedelic experience for enlightenment. Mind you, that wasn’t the exact description header for those two bookshelves, but even I could figure it out.
It was like porn to me.
Like real, old school porn, before the Internet; when it wasn’t so easy to obtain, and that seemed to exponentially increase both the desire and appreciation for it. That’s what this new and tasty information was for me… Enlightenment Porn.