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. It is 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 life’s 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 entirely practical.
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?
--Adyashanti, from the Introduction to The Way of Liberation
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you avoid reading the book as a spectator and be an active participant instead in your own awakening? Can you share a personal story where being an active participant has neither been easy nor safe, but has been the only way for you to awaken? What answers of yours have you questioned deeply?
That question of commitment is a tough nut to crack for someone as reluctant as I am to commit myself and yet haunted by the absolute necessity of a commitment. The tension between these two opposites has been present throughout my entire existence. Reading (or listening) 's merit is to point to the difficulties one will unavoidably encounter, help one identify the enemy. But by itself will not effect a deep change other than intellectual. However it may also help one realize what is really at stake. Commitment to truth is in no way abstract as I once experienced. It does demand that one exposes oneself to one's psychological fears and limitations if one is to grow out of them while having no certainty about the outcome..
I have found through hard work on my own mind, in talking with myself, that I have been able to see I am not in control of anything except how I react, feel, and accept the reality. In learning this, I have been able to let go of trying to control the reality nor have it control me. I am able to accept it. What is exciting about this is that I have no idea what is going to happen next and I do not look at that fact in dread. Whatever it is could be extremely positive or negative but I cannot control which, I can only control my acceptance. I continue to work on this daily as I slip back into my attempt to make everything work the way I think it should. By working on this, I have been there when my parents have died and felt that it was very much a part of their and my life. I am at peace with it in a way I never was before. While I continue to have fear and anxiety, I work to let them go when I become aware that they are in my reality and I am able to do so. I did not think I would ever become this peaceful inside. It reminds me of when I was a child and sat and looked at the sky and time and the beauty were everlasting and fed me life.[Hide Full Comment]
I agree with this call to action except I'd like to challenge the statement in the final paragraph."..being an active participant in your own awakening to Truth is neither easy nor safe". I would like to say that it may not be easy but it is safe. In fact, it is the only safe reliable anchor, your inner voice that you can rely on. Even though it may not seem to be easy in the moment, just trust the Truth and step forward to take the leap of faith for you will land safely eventually - in your own Truth and one with the Universal Truth. If you let fear get in the way, you will live a lie and live to regret it someday. It was painful for me to acknowledge that my marriage was dead, but staying in a dead marriage would have been to kill myself as the authentic person. It was very hard but it was the right thing to do to move away from the soul destroying experience. And it took a long time to find my bearings and new friends, but I am there now. I am safe for having walked away from the sham to discover my own place in the world.[Hide Full Comment]
Good piece. I like the statement that a good spiritual teaching is not to answer your questions but to question your answers. The way I avoid being a spectator and become an active participant in my awakening is by paying attention to what's happening to and within me as I read the book. That is, what the author is saying stirs and triggers reactions within me as I am reading, and I am an active participant by listening to and valuing the reactions within me which include my thoughts, feelings, associations, fantasies, and insights. My inner experience is at least as important as what the author is saying. What the author writes is his awakening, and what happens in me is my awakening. Being an active participant has not been easy or safe when I was in any so called teaching situation that told me what I should get and should learn from what I was reading, which got in the way of my noticing what was awakening in me. I don't think it is the only way, but an important way for me to awaken is to pay attention to my experience, my truth. I have questioned answers I got from organized religion. Someone said religion has come to be accepting someone else's experience or truth, and spirituality is finding and accepting my own experience or truth. Finding and accepting my experience or truth is actively participating in my awakening.[Hide Full Comment]
The answer I have questioned somewhat deeply is: "I am me." I have come to notice that I am what I think; and all that exists arises with my thoughts, and that with my thoughts I make the world. When I have no thoughts I am nothing. When I am nothing I am not me but rather I am everyone and everything. As Gandhi said: "My life is my message. The purity of the means determines the purity of the end. A "no" merely uttered from the deepest conviction is better and greater than YES merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble. You must be the change you want to see in the world." I still have a long way to go to achieve what I have said above I am moving in that direction. I have come to realize that nothing is absolutely true or absolutely false. I have also come to know that I do not know. These are words. Words are often preached. As Gandhi said: an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching. I have come to believe that when I am kind I am liberated, Warm and kind regards to everyone.[Hide Full Comment]