Jonathan Robinson: Mhmm. You know in a previous Awareness Explorers episode we talked about the three types of awakening.
That you talked about the retreat at Tahoe that I went to…you know, the head, the heart, the gut. And I’m wondering is there any different focus if you’re…I was a very mental person my whole life and now I seem to be going through some more of a heart opening experience. Is there anything for me to do differently or other people to do differently if they were off-balance and they want to kind of balance those types of awakenings?
ADYASHANTI: Well I think the first thing is just to give notice what you’ve just given voice to. Which is like, “I tend to be more cerebral orientated person,” right. And it’s not…if we don’t even think of these things as good or bad, or right and wrong, that’s just how one can be oriented. Oh, okay then something more heartful is often really, really useful…revelatory even. Right? So we can sense…let’s just take where we were a minute ago…we can sense awareness almost here, right, up and around the head. And up here awareness is like a very vast, and it’s sky-like, and it’s spacious, and it’s transparent. It has all these qualities if we sense it here.
If we kind of bring it down here, how is the same awareness experienced through this perceptual organ? Which I think the heart general area, that I’m calling the heart here, is. And all the sudden it’s like, hmm the sense of awareness now just becomes a little more intimate, there’s a sense of closeness. There might open to a sense of love and connectedness even but there’s a sense of warmth. It’s the same, but it’s also different.
And then now we drop down into the gut. Oh that…that feels different again. It’s the same awareness, but there’s this quality of…I call it a kind of solid emptiness you know. We’re here and emptiness is spacious and sky-like, and here, it’s almost like a mountain of stillness or a mountain of emptiness.
And so yeah, I think it’s useful to sometimes identify just where your native place, where you tend to hang out. Like your condition tendency tends to hang out in your head, or you know some people are just in their…lost in their emotions all the time, right. And so it goes. And so I think it’s good to see where you tend to hang out and to give attention, almost to…okay what would be the court, not so much the opposite, but something that would be intuitively more supportive of not just being lost in the intellect all the time. And of course I think in the West…I’ve been doing this now for two 22 1/2 years and one of the things that’s become clear over to me over time, is that in the West we tend to be so cerebrally oriented with all the technology we have and all of that. And often so disconnected.
And the heart is the place of connection. And so I think it’s for most Westerners, even if they’re emotionally based, because I think you and connect with the heart in a way that’s deeper than emotion right…than just the next emotion that comes down. Like I said there’s an intimate connection, connectedness…is part of what compels one’s whole spirituality is this sense of, oh if we need anything in our society I think we need to feel more connected. Connected with one another. And that’s a very heart-full thing and then the discovery of the heart it’s not just an emotional center…it is that but it’s also perceptual center. It’s like this is where we ultimately experience unity.
ADYASHANTI: That’s where it happens from. You could say. And so just giving attention to that, right, what does awareness in the heart feel like? And then you just let yourself feel it. And of course awareness is not limited to feeling, but it has a corresponding feeling in the body, yeah.
BRIAN: A lot of people think of awareness as “my awareness.” Do you have a sense that it’s actually everyone’s awareness like one awareness looking out through billions of sets of eyes?
ADYASHANTI: Yeah, do you? Sounds like you do too, Brian. Yes, yeah, yeah. I think of course there’s the fundamental confusion let’s say right. Is that awareness is something that I do, that I own, that I’ve produced, and that’s the fundamental illusion. That’s the interesting thing when we really start to look within and look for the somebody that owns, possesses, and produces awareness. And the more you look in, you strangely can’t find it. Which is weird because we’re so convinced that it’s there. We’re so convinced that I’m here somewhere and yet I can’t find myself anywhere. And it’s kind of a surprise isn’t it…when we… No awareness isn’t something I possess, it isn’t even something I do, it’s much more something I am. A dimension of…of my being and yeah, your awareness, and my awareness are the same awareness.
It’s the same awareness looking out through all the eyes as you said, or hearing through through the ears and all the rest. And right there I think there’s a kind of connectedness with that, right. Because if I look at you and I intuitively just through…intuitively sensing into you, if I sense that what is looking at me is the same that’s looking at you. That’s an intimate connection right there. So I’ve often given people this as a practice. Like when you meet, the next time you come up to somebody just see if you…without saying anything to them at al, just see if you can intuitively connect with the awareness or the presence of that…that they are, right.
Which is more fundamental than their personality. And what people find, often they find it relatively quickly, that they can kind of have a sort of initial connection. Like oh yeah, there is something about us that’s the same. And when we intuitively make that connection, like I said, without even saying anything to the person, it changes the quality of that engagement doesn’t it. In someway you can never predict, but… And in order to go off into our stories, or condemnations, or judgments, or whatever…we need at first to disconnect from that connectedness.
ADYASHANTI: We need to disconnect, so we can kind of get lost in whatever our narrative. For us if we stay connected, it’s a different engagement. And the last thing I’ll just mention upon this is…and I would think anybody can do this. So like we’re talking, if we’re connected with our sense of being or just connected, period. You know almost from the neck down. If you were or I were to say a single word much less a sentence…let’s just say a word that wasn’t really true for us, we would…you can feel it. You can feel it in your body, it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel good.
And the more aware you get, and the more awake you get, actually those moments when we speak an untruth thought, affect the body even more and more and more until… I remember years ago when I was really living with this as an exploration that I would be having a conversation like we’re having, let’s say…with somebody. Could even be somebody in the grocery store line. If I said a word that wasn’t…I don’t mean that I was lying, so it wasn’t about lying, it was just that wasn’t quite really truth. I would feel like as if somebody poured rat poisoning into my bloodstream for a moment. And it really taught me something. Like I don’t have to always try to intellectually figure out what’s real, at least from your perspective or what’s true. You just have to listen, to feel your body, it will tell you, right. When we go into a place that’s not really true or disconnected, we’ll feel a contraction, we won’t feel good.
And that’s a cool thing to know, because it takes all the abstraction out of it, right. It’s like, no your body is very hooked up to feel in flow, and open, and spacious, when you’re connected, and honest, and sincere. And when you’re not, it doesn’t tend to feel good and you can feel it. And that’s a really great thing because it’s like I said, you got this, I call it like a truth…and embodied truth teller. And it’s our body that feels good when we’re in flow, and truth, and sincerity, and honesty…and contracted, and protected, and defensive when we’re not.
JONATHAN: I have a question about bodies that way. I know that you’ve gone through a lot of physical pain and just like any human being, loss and things like that. How has awakening affected how you experience those things differently about bodies that way. I know that you’ve gone through a lot of physical pain and just like any human being, loss and things like that. How has awakening affected how you experience those things differently?
ADYASHANTI: Yeah, it’s a good question. It all has to do with degrees.
ADYASHANTI: In general it helps a tremendous amount, because I think one of the things that when you, if you have a lot of pain… fortunately I haven’t had a lot of pain for a couple years but I certainly went through 11 or 12 years with a very, very intense amounts of pains of time. One other thing you realize is that boy, you don’t touch a thought about it, right. Because thought goes into the future, and the future never looks good when you’re in that state.
And the nice thing about having a more awake state of being is, you know that that commentary, that whatever narrative might be created, is not a place to put any attention. It’s just your minds way of trying to deal with pain. So to be more oriented towards what’s actually really occurring is..it can be life changing, just that.
JONATHAN: There’s pain, but less suffering.
ADYASHANTI: Much less, yeah.
ADYASHANTI: Yeah, yeah. You can be in pain. Awakening doesn’t keep us from pain. If you hit some awake person over the head with a brick it’s going to hurt them, just as much as it’s going to hurt somebody who’s never even heard of awakening. But how they relate to that pain, that’s what’s going to be different. It’s not going to be taken personally…in a personal way, right. It’s still pain but boy when you take it in a personal way, we transform pain and we add in the element of suffering. You know, and I think for a lot of people kind of revolutionary that you can be in pain without being in suffering. So that one I had a lot of practice with.
And I think we all well. I mean who’s going to get out of here without some sort of illness, tragedy, death of somebody you love, you know. There’s a tragic component to life. I think this is what the Buddha was touching into when he talked about suffering as an intimate aspect of existence. Which I think of it as, there is a tragic from the relative point of view at least. There’s a tragic element to life, right? Everyone that you love you will say goodbye to, or they say goodbye to you, even if at the end of the life.
You know most people get sick, most people will lose jobs and there’s all sorts of things that happen that we can call a tragic aspect of life. And I think awakening isn’t about thinking that we’re going to get a furlough from all that. Like the awake people don’t…they’re protected from the tragedies of life. They’re no more protected than anybody else is, but the way that it’s encountered and experienced can be, and is, quite, quite different.
ADYASHANTI: And that’s I think, again discrimination comes in and starts to notice in one’s experience what’s the difference between pain and suffering. And that’s a really interesting inquiry to notice. Or say so you lose a loved one, what’s the experience of deep grief and suffering? I mean those, they’re very close, right, suffering and grief. And you could say grief is a kind of suffering…okay sure it’s a kind of suffering. But there’s a way that we can experience something like grief that is not debilitating like it often is. You know when were in resistance to it.
ADYASHANTI: I think that’s with the more conscious we are, the less we are in resistance to what’s happening. You know in a very awake person is in little if any conflict with what their experience is. It’s the resistance and the pushing against uncomfortability or the tragic aspect, that’s what creates probably 95% of our suffering. That’s a lot.
JONATHAN: That is a lot!
ADYASHANTI: And that’s the part that’s optional right, it’s not like that it’s set in stone. It’s like no, that’s actually optional and it depends on what state of being we are I suppose.
BRIAN: That added on story that somehow this shouldn’t be right.
ADYASHANTI: Right, right. This shouldn’t be happening. Which is colliding with with what is happening.
BRIAN: Right, right, yeah.
ADYASHANTI: And that’s a weird thing is, from our ego minds, is often protect…trying to protect us from what is happening. Which you can never do right, it just adds misery to what’s happening. But that’s part of one of its confusions is that we need to be protected from difficulty. What if we just have difficulty? All of the sudden it’s like oh, that’s not over whelming anymore.
Maybe even the first time I experience this we’re talking about grief a minute ago. I had lost in my 20s, mid 20s, my favorite dog. And those of you who are pet lovers and some of you know there’s specific pets that can get inside of you, and their loss can be experienced like the loss of a lover, or a parent, or something very profound. And I’ve had a lot of people tell me that their loss of their pets were harder for them then loss of loved ones, which is often confusing to people. But I had one of those kind of losses as you know, and I was just devastated by the loss of this dog. I won’t go into the whole story but at one point, actually when I was sort of reading through a eulogy I’d written for the burial when we were doing that…this wave of grief just sort of came to me. And something inside just said, okay I’m just gonna stop resisting this and I’m going to just let myself be like a wave, like I’ll just let it crash over me. And so there I’m reading this thing and you know I have…you know when you’re crying it’s almost like a solid line of tears coming off your chin in a continuous stream, it was kind of like that when you completely lose control and you’re just a mess.
And something about totally letting that happen, this thing, going back to where it where we’re in the heart. Remember in the…when I was a kid like in the 70s, 80s, they had those little yellow buttons, they were yellow with a smiley figure on top, just a smile? One of those just started to appear right in my heart, it was really small. But over about a three minute period of time, it just expanded and it was like it encompassed the whole universe. Here was the weird thing, not only was it really weird that I was experiencing this unimaginable sense of love and well-being, but I was experiencing it and simultaneously experiencing the grief. Didn’t replace the grief you see, they were coexisting. It was like I discovered the flipside of grief, like the flipside of a coin. And you know this is before I had any awakening or anything but I was very spiritually engaged in my spiritual practice. But it was the first time that I really realized that the idea here might not be to try to protect ourselves from certain emotions. But actually open to them fully and then we get…I call it the emotion convert itself. It shows itself it’s other side.
ADYASHANTI: Because everything has the other side just like anger, let’s say. If we could experience, which is different than acting on it, but totally like experience a moment of anger, even rage. If you can just really open to it, opening to it is different than being kind of possessed by it, but just open to it. Often there’s this extreme kind of clarity that we don’t usually associate with anger at all, we just usually associate it with a fractured mind or fractured feelings. But their can be this incredible clarity and this incredible sense of caring, because of course the only reason you’re getting upset is because you care about something. Maybe just care about yourself centered opinion or idea, but nonetheless you care. And when you connect with anger and caring, all the sudden, now you’ve got this very rich paradoxical experience. And you’re not as prone to get possessed by the anger because you’re experiencing that you’re angry and you deeply care. You wouldn’t be angry if you didn’t care about something. I often say find out what you care about when you’re angry, acknowledge that and then feel that. And then see what happens with that experience. So you know, even emotional experience of being has so many discoveries to be made.
JONATHAN: I appreciate how much you’ve explored. I’m wondering if you could maybe do a little guided meditation. I know that your retreat I got so much out of them, and I think I listeners would really benefit from a little bit of guiding us to where you would like us to go.
ADYASHANTI: Okay, maybe four or five minutes?
JONATHAN: Yeah, that’d be great!
ADYASHANTI: Okay. We’re gonna do that. So maybe if we could just kind of…everybody just kind of close their eyes, if you can. When you’re listening to this, if you’re driving don’t do that! But just kind of close your eyes. Just for a moment, don’t do anything, don’t even try to meditate for a moment. We’re not going to focus our attention for a moment. And there’s just the immediate experience of being. It’s not right, it’s not wrong. If you have thoughts, you have thoughts. If you don’t, you don’t. And so in meditation, in one sense we’re allowing our entire experience of being, whatever it is in that moment…simply to be exact…just the way it is. No interference, no control…no trying to run to a different experience.
So that’s the first part of at least this meditation is. What do you experience, what happens inside of you when you allow the entirety of your experience, even if your experience includes things you don’t like. What happens when you allow your experience to be just the way it is. Does it change the way you feel, in any way? [silence]
And you’re just noticing it, right. And so the next thing then is…without trying to understand anything, just notice that your entire experience whatever that is at this moment, is already happening within a field of awareness. In other words, you’re aware of this moment before you even try to be aware of it. So we’re just acknowledging, oh awareness is already here, it’s already present, it’s already functioning. Hmmm.[silence]
And you just let yourself sit for a moment in that recognition. Awareness isn’t something you have to make happen or enhance. But just by giving it acknowledgment, intuitive felt sense acknowledgment, it becomes a bit more obvious. [silence]
So we’re not defining awareness, we’re not trying to understand it, or just noticing that it’s a part of every experience. [silence]
And lastly, this is just a short little meditation, but I often like to suggest in the last four or five minutes at any meditation, this will be the last minute of it. That whatever your intuitive or felt sense of being, the meditator is, that could be someone who is tracking what I’m saying, or trying to do it, or whatever your sense of being to someone who’s meditating is. Just a set intuitive sense of that. Just invite it to relax. Maybe the meditator can just be acknowledged, and we just let go of it. Maybe for a moment you touch upon meditating happening, without a meditator. Without the sense that somebody’s doing it or even needs to do it. That perhaps will be call meditation is something that’s actually continuously happening at the core of our being. It’s a description of something deep inside us, what it’s already doing. And again, we just take five seconds just to sense, feel into the acknowledgment, oh meditation happens even when I’m not trying to do it.When the meditator just relaxes even right out of the body, because it’s the meditator is an overall tension throughout the body-mind. And as soon as you notice it, just like you exhale a breath, you can just sort of let that tension fall out of you. [silence]
And what’s left, is meditation in its truest sense. [silence]
And then just as a way of including this quick meditation, you just kind of come back, just noticed your breath for a moment in the belly. It’s very light right, we don’t have to bring a big sense of the doer it back in, just kind of reconnect with the body. Your feet on the floor. [silence]
And then when you open your eyes in just a moment, just see if you can open your eyes without immediately leaving this deeper dimension of being. So we can just open our eyes. And you notice that deeper dimension even though the sights come in…hey can come into that deeper, more fundamental dimension of being. So how’s the meditation?
JONATHAN: Exquisitely delicious and perfect!
ADYASHANTI: Thank you.
JONATHAN: I know you have to go. We’ve been honored by your presence. I’m so grateful from my heart, thank you so much though.
ADYASHANTI: Yes, so welcome, both of you!
BRIAN: On behalf of all our listeners too, and me. I’m so grateful you could share your time, and wisdom, and thoughts with us, and it was fun talking to you!
ADYASHANTI: It was joyous to me. It seemed like about two minutes long. So that always tells me I enjoyed both of you Brian, Jonathan, tremendously. Yeah.
JONATHAN: We like to tell all our listeners at the end to keep exploring!
BRIAN: Keep exploring!
ADYASHANTI: Second that!
JONATHAN: I know you have a lot to do.
ADYASHANTI: It’s a day of endless meetings for me. But this is really fun! I’m glad I really got a chance to meet both of you. I like the feel of both of you guys, there’s something very familiar and has a nice energy to it. So I’m glad we could connect in this way!
BRIAN: Excellent, good to hear!
JONATHAN: Thank you!
Jonathan Robinson is a psychotherapist, best-selling author of 12 books, and a professional speaker from Northern California. Mr. Robinson has made numerous appearances on the Oprah show, as well as many other national TV talk shows, and articles about him have appeared in USA Today, Newsweek and The Los Angeles Times. For the past 30 years he has spoken to dozens of Fortune 500 companies including Google, Microsoft, Dell Computer, Coca-Cola, and Fed-Ex.
Jonathan has written several bestseller books including, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Awakening Your Spirituality;” “The Experience of God,” “The Little Book of Big Questions;” and “Communication Miracles for Couples.” His latest book is called, “More Love, Less Conflict.” Jonathan also co-hosts the podcast “Awareness Explorers” with author Brian Tom O’Connor. This podcast focuses on revealing the easiest and most powerful practices for directly awakening to one’s true nature.
Through TV, live lectures and radio, Mr. Robinson has reached over 100 million people around the world. He is known for providing his audiences with immediately useful information presented in a fun and entertaining manner.
Brian Tom O’Connor is the author of Awareness Games: Playing with Your Mind to Create Joy, and is a formerly depressed guy who found the source of happiness through knowing himself as awareness. playawarenessgames.com
Read and Watch Part I Here: Awareness Explorers interviews Adyashanti Pt 1 – Live In A State Of Discovery