Author gives advice on spirituality

For people struggling toward spiritual enlightenment, noted author and meditation teacher Adyashanti reassured about 800 people in Ashland that it's a natural process that winds through a thicket of ego games and fears — but arrives with a "diminishing of personal will" and a "very beautiful realization of our own emptiness and the oneness of all things."

One of the top-selling spiritual writers in America, Adyashanti, didn't offer a rose garden to any of the 400 seekers who attended his Monday and Tuesday evening satsang, followed by question-and-answers at Temple Emek Shalom.

As people grow spiritually, he said, "the personal will really starts diminishing startlingly (but) the driving force of the ego is very powerful and gets you to do a lot of things and achievements "¦ and when (enlightenment) starts happening you realize ego has run almost all of one's life, one way or the other."

A long-time practitioner of Zen in early years, Adyashanti (formerly Steven Gray), praised meditation and living in the present and noted that the diminishing of personal will can lead some to feel joyfully awakened and others to feel "concerned they're out of control and that can cause the mind to re-engage and hold on."

He added, "The ego doesn't let go of this thing called 'my life' very easily, unless it's on the ego's terms," but the seeker will notice a lessening of earlier desires such as wanting to make the first million dollars as a key to happiness.

"The spiritual life is about surrender and letting go," said Adyashanti, noting that many people employ personal will in the "seeker phase — trying to storm the gates of heaven, but that won't get you very far."

Some others posture as the victim, saying "I'll never awaken or God doesn't like me," but this too is a form of ego and personal will, one that he himself acted out, said Adyashanti.

He also counseled against prayers that the universe be other than it is.

"Why aren't my prayers answered? Because they're not worth listening to! We want to assert ourselves against life and we only do that when we see ourselves as separate from life. It's saying: Life is threatening and I've carved out my little niche in life and I'm safe."

Calling on Christian themes, Adyashanti said, "It's really 'thy will be done.' You open your eyes and you realize it (thy will be done) was the only thing that was ever happening. But to the ego, that's very unsatisfying. Here we are thinking of God as a much bigger version of ourselves. It's an infantile way of living, like believing in Santa Claus."

"Stop your trying," he advised. "Disengage personal will. Wherever you're going, it's not going to get you there. All that the universe is waiting for is that instant when personal will is disengaged."

Awakening, he noted, is disorienting because it's "an influx of new energy. It's an emptying out process" resembling the Christian idea of "not I but the Christ in me," he said. "It's a very beautiful, very simple, easy flow. You come in harmony with life, not separate."

Adyashanti is author of five self-help books, including "True Meditation," "My Secret is Silence" and "The End of Your World." His teachings are likened to early Zen masters of China and the Vedanta tradition of India, according to his Web site,

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