Adyashanti: “Taking the One Seat”

a77870a1-f2d4-4909-bd57-a1391fba71a0Adyashanti continues to astound me with the depth and clarity of his realization and his ability to give a voice to the most profound dimensions of our historical moment. My far less articulate teaching flows from the same source, so it is always exciting for me to see his latest insights. This quote comes from an introduction to an on-line course he is offering in November and I have included information on this below. If you click on the link that follows, you will also find a ten minute introductory talk. The bold typeface comes from Adya. The word for seat in Sanskrit is ‘asana’, so ‘Taking the One Seat’, to me, describes the ultimate expression of asana; not just doing postures, but fully inhabiting this incarnation, at every level and layer of reality.

“Deep spiritual experience is characterized by an apparent, and at times baffling, paradox. While realization reveals the unity and non-separation of all existence, we simultaneously experience ourselves as individuals leading particular human lives. Ultimately the experience of reality lies at the dynamic confluence of the universal One and the human one, the experience of no separate self and what I call spiritual autonomy.

Spiritual autonomy, or what might be described as the soul (if understood more as a function than as a thing), is not a given. The spiritual autonomy that the soul affords is generally hard won and comes at the expense of many deeply ingrained ideas and beliefs about what life is and how it works. It must be nurtured and developed in the grist of daily living, which is to say that it must be lived, not simply realized. Spiritual autonomy is an invitation to step up to our incarnation, to say yes to it, and to realize our own potential, both for ourselves and for the sake of all beings.

But before the soul can be realized and lived, it must be brought to the surface of consciousness, nurtured, and chosen to be one’s own. Only then does it begin to reveal a deeper sense of meaning and direction in one’s life. While the ground of being may be completely beyond both meaning and purpose, the individual expression of that ground is given direction and oriented to the world through the prism of meaning. By bringing to light how the ground of being functions through the individual, we discover a degree of spiritual autonomy that allows and challenges us to what in Zen is called “Take the one seat.” Taking the one seat is to fully occupy this very life — our individual life and all of life — as the ultimate ground of being. To do so is the expression of enlightenment itself.”

Taking the One Seat
Spiritual Autonomy and the Soul’s Discovery of Meaning
Early Bird Price (Sep 20 – Oct 10) $150 USD
Regular Price (Oct 11 – Nov 5) $175 USD

4-Week Online Course

November 8-29, 2017,

Wednesday Evening Live Video Broadcasts
6-8pm Pacific Time

Register at

Continuing to Grow

The awakening process is fascinating, to say the least. Never what we might have imagined. Way too complex for that, and the infinite is beyond even imagination. But if there is a constant lesson, it is that awakening requires continuous growth, on as many levels as possible. These include emotionally, spiritually and in the field of expertise used by your soul to contribute to the evolution of the the planet. Another word for growth is integration where new skills and insights continue to feed a deepening complexity in our abilities to sense and respond to our world, as individuals, as communities, and as the human species discovering its place in the great stream of life.

Emotional Awakening

It would be easy argument to say that emotional growth is the most important of them all, as it is the realm of emotional confusion and dysfunction that creates all of the damage and destruction we witness daily here on Mother Earth. And it is easy to do a spiritual bypass where you throw your self so completely into your spiritual practice that you avoid or deny the shadow side of your unconscious. These emotionally traumatized parts of yourself that desperately need to be healed, but are so painful that denial seems a better option, contribute to create suffering for self and others. Communities as well as individuals can suffer from the spiritual by-pass syndrome. All the asana or meditation in the world is not going to help grow the emotional body the way therapy and a relational-field-based inter-personal spiritual exploration will.

Thomas_Huebl2_356“The internalization of our spiritual practice and the embodiment of a higher consciousness is not expressed in the experimental bubble of retreat centers, but in challenging life situations, in the marketplace, when deployed in areas of crisis, and in the confrontation with poverty, illness and conflicts.” ~ Thomas Hübl


Thomas Hübl is a contemporary spiritual teacher who deeply engages the emotional-relational aspect of ourselves while grounding this in the “Infinite Absolute” of spirit. He brings a mystical fire to his teachings that stems from his own continuous growth and practice in developing a collective planetary and cosmic consciousness. Thomas lives at the ‘field’ level of consciousness, where in his teachings, he connects his students to the ‘relational fields’ and the ‘collective field of information’ ever available to us if we can learn how to access it. He also uses sound in the form of solo or group ‘toning’ to generate sonic fields of coherence and healing. If you want to travel in the fast lane of growth and awakening, hitch your wagon to Thomas.

Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual awakening is the ‘realization’ that my fundamental essence, the ‘I am’, is ‘Infinite-Absolute-Stillness’, the ‘drashtuh svarupe’ of Yoga Sutra I-3. Spiritual growth is learning to rest in, and gradually stabilizing your presence here, (avasthanam), independent of whatever may be happening at any of the levels of the world of form. In the previous post the term ‘turiya’ was introduced by my dream guru, The_mandukya_upanishad_smallRobert Moss, to describe this universal presence. His quote was taken from the Spanda Karikas, a sacred text of Kashmiri Shavism and here I would like to present the root source of ‘turiya’, the Mandukya Upanishad. This is the shortest of the Upanishads, the Vedic texts that, along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras, constitute the basis of Vedanta philosophy. In the twelve verses of the Mandukya Upanishad, unique in the Upanishads for having no imagery, dialogue, rituals or tangible forms of worship, the individual and universal expressions of ‘Infinite-Absolute-Stillness’, Atman and Brahman are presented and equated. They are one in the same. Atman is turiya is Brahman, tat tvam asi.

The four states of consciousness, waking, dreaming, deep sleep and turiya (which is not a state, but the root source of the other three!), are related to OM, or AUM as it is spelled out in Sanskrit. A is the waking state, U the dreaming, M the deep sleep, and the silence as M dissolves is turiya. Thus the mantra OM designates both Atman and Brahman. Yoga Sutras I-27 – I-29 also discuss this.

Soul Awakening

What is ‘Soul? In a series of previous blogs beginning here I wrote about aspects of soulness. Here we will use soul to describe the unique history, creative gifts and challenges we bring to this incarnation. As such, awakening and growing the soul requires the ability to ask deep questions about our choices in life. Following someone else’s script or living someone else’s life does not nourish the soul. So the first question asked by the soul is this. “Have I given away my power to a leader, or group who claim authority?” It is easier, on a simple level, to let others have the responsibility, especially when there is a large group buying into the scene and enjoying the power. However, in the long run the soul suffers and the collective stagnates at best. A group that stifles individual creative expression cannot grow in any meaningful way. This is true in the corporate world, the artistic world and in spiritual and religious communities.

UnknownThe next question the soul asks is ” can I let go of what I know, and especially what I think I know, and rest in ‘not-knowing’? Suzuki Roshi’s classic, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” addresses this question head on. His opening line states:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
First, you cannot hold onto the ‘Truth’, but you can rest in it, if you let go, (see Yoga Sutras I-23 – I-29). Secondly, you will find that letting go of stuff doesn’t mean it goes away. It just floats there, and if you need it you can pick it up and use it, and if you realize it no longer serves you, than you leave it be. This is challenging for those with years of experience in a images-1subject. The history of science is filled with examples of major breakthroughs and insights that were ridiculed and rejected by ‘establishment scientists that were stuck on their own limited vision. Beginner’s mind was not included in their curriculum.

My own yoga practice has continuously been overhauled, sometimes painfully so, by insights previously un-imagined, and discovered outside the ‘yoga world’. That which is of value returns again and again, so it is not a matter of re-inventing the wheel, but of expanding our view, our horizon, the magnitude of our vision. The collective vision is extraordinarily rich, but we have to step outside of our comfort zone to see with new eyes. My own understanding of Iyengar’s practice and depth of knowledge of yoga, which is fundamentally my own soul path, has been greatly enhanced by the creative insights of explorers in other realms of somatics and spiritual practices.

Of course, the egoic structures of the mind do not like change, insecurity, not knowing, being a beginner, so stirring the soul is not always pleasant. This is why new resources of support can be very helpful. As we gain more ground in the shamanic realms and other levels of non local reality, we discover a support system used by shamans and dream travelers for millenia. As a collective, we humans are total beginners here, but our historical moment is primed for a rapid expansion of sensitivity, insight and integration, if we can summon up the patience and courage to plunge into this infinite mystery. The world we are creating begins here, and right now collective unconscious fears are driving the agendas of the political and economic powers. We can change this, now. To re-quote Thomas Hubl,

“The internalization of our spiritual practice and the embodiment of a higher consciousness is not expressed in the experimental bubble of retreat centers, but in challenging life situations, in the marketplace, when deployed in areas of crisis, and in the confrontation with poverty, illness and conflicts.”


The Role of the Soul

As our unfolding continues on through the mystery, clues keep arriving to help orient to wholeness and facilitate the emergence of the next levels of consciousness necessary to help navigate our historical moment. Through a very typical Ojai convergence, I have just come across the work of Bill Plotkin, author of ‘Soul Craft” , “Nature and the Soul”, and his most recent book, “Wild Mind”.  As a fellow soul traveler with strong links to Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, Bill’s unique perspective strongly resonates with me and I hope you can find great inspiration from his vision as well

As a psychotherapist, Bill has a deep curiosity about mind, conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious, and has a great vocabulary to help map and flesh out the psychic and hopimedicinewheelpsychological terrain we are all exploring. He is familiar with Internal Family Systems and Voice Dialogue, and has developed his own model and language for the mature and immature parts, based in part on the Native American ‘medicine wheel’ and the four cardinal directions, north, east, south and west, as seen here. Bill also adds in Greek mythology, Jungian psychology, archetypal imagery, and more, but also allows you to find metaphors and language that speak to your own unique self.

From the four cardinal directions, which we can imagine as a horizontal plane, we add three more directions: above, or towards the heavens and celestial realms, which we call Unknown‘Spirit’; below, down into the earth and the heart of mother nature which we call ‘Soul’; and finally into the center of all, which I call the ‘Ego’. We all begin at the center and maturing brings an integration of all seven directions, which I call the ‘Self’. Integration does not imply that every aspect and possibility has matured and completed its unfolding. Just that all seven directions are included in our basic ‘self sense’, and some maturity has begun to deepen the way in which the seven nurture and support each other in their emergence and deepening maturity. Wholeness is our natural state, but we forget, and the ego begins to act from the parts and sub-personalities that are cut off from the others. In “Wild Mind”, Bill goes into great depth about the seven directions and I highly recommend this to you.

***(an important note on language; words are, as the Buddhists say, are fingers pointing at something, but definitely not the object or experience they are pointing to. Spirit and Soul are words pointing to the same experience as the Sanskrit terms Purusha (timelessness, unboundedness, stillness: the masculine expression of divinity) and Prakriti (creation, mother Nature, impermanence, the feminine expression of Divinity. Bill and I agree in this, whereas Adyashanti reverses the words, using Spirit for the feminine and Soul for the masculine. But then Bill Plotkin uses Ego and Self opposite to the way I do. He uses the expression 3-D Ego to describe what I call the Self. He has a more Western based perspective, myself more Eastern. But the principles are exactly the same.)

Bill’s other passion is wilderness and uses wilderness expeditions for vision quests, soul IMG_0405searching, and other means to break out of the shell of a ‘civilized’ ego. Our self sense has become so limited, stunted and deformed by modern society that we have developed a major cultural psycho-pathology that is destroying the planet. Wilderness experience, going one on one, alone with nature, with some guidance, allows a major shift that can open repressed skills and means of knowing that are essential to our growth and survival, as individuals, and as a species.

As somanauts, our encounter with nature can also be an inner voyage to the cells, organs, meridians, nadis, energy channels and fields that comprise our bio-spiritually embodied selves. This is level one soul work. The role of the soul is to help us fully embody our divinity, inwardly and outwardly. In yoga, we explore the seven directions spatially, through movement, imagination and perception, in postures, to shift consciousness from the everyday routine to a communion state with the soul. We become one with earth, water, fire and air, we feel their gifts, their presence, their power, so when we are out in nature, we already are deeply connected through the elements. The deeper dimensions of the soul can then begin to reveal themselves as we meet the birds, bees, flowers and trees, oceans, waves, winds and rain as dimensions of our own deep soul. We no longer observe nature from a distance, but dissolve into the mystery of the unfolding moment. The soul is not about control, but surrender into Creation at the most primary level.

Grad student homework: (This may take a while, or it may come quickly!)

Find your own chakra totem, one animal/plant being for each chakra, one through seven. Find the gift/feel/flow of each of these and how they relate to the other six. You may find only one to begin, but this can be a very rich exploration in and of itself. This is a soul meditation. These are some possible starting points. You may find others as well. Good DSC09300luck!

Who is my root support?
Who awakens my feeling of flow?
Who empowers me?Who offers my heart roots and wings?
Who liberates my voice?
Who helps me see all?
Who is my primary celestial guide?

Take what arises onto the mat, and out into Nature and the world around you. Be open to surprise.