Category: Mindfulness

Resurrecting Jesus: Adyashanti on the True Meaning of ...

Until this spring, the last time I’d read the New Testament was a quarter-century ago, when I was in college studying comparative religion and literature.  Back then, I spent all my time reading the mystics—not just the Christian mystics, but Sufis and kabbalists too. Though I loved the desert fathers and Meister Eckhart and St. John of the Cross, I eventually read less and less of the Christian mystics.

I didn’t grow up in a church-going family, so I didn’t have a lot of baggage around my personal experience of Christianity.  Still, I had a problem with Jesus—or rather, all the things that the church had done in Jesus’ name.  I couldn’t separate my feelings about the centuries of crusades and witch hunts, about the church’s institutionalized drive for worldly power, about the repression and small-mindedness of the Christian right, from my feeling about Christianity’s ‘founder’.

Christian theology got in my way, too; as someone with a mystical bent, I couldn’t accept that my own relationship with the divine required an intermediary, and the whole doctrine of the Trinity seemed needlessly complicated.  Finally, on those few occasions when I did go to church, I found the Jesus portrayed in the pulpit to be simplistic, even insipid.

Yet, in spite of all these blocks to the predominant religion of my culture, I also sensed an immense transmission of love right at the core of Jesus’ teachings, prior to any of the trappings of doctrine and theology. I  sensed it, but I couldn’t access it.

Then, a few years ago, I stumbled upon one of Adyashanti’s Christmas satsangs, and a whole new view of Jesus opened up for me.  The Jesus he portrayed was a spiritual revolutionary, one whose life could be read as a map of the awakening journey.  This view of Jesus didn’t so much resolve my earlier issues with “church Jesus” as render them pointless.  After all, if there’s only one truth and it’s only found now, all historical perspectives are moot.

The more I listened, the deeper Adya’s message on Jesus resonated for me.  When it came time to brainstorm new projects with Adya, I suggested that we ask if he’d be willing to teach on Jesus.  As it turned out, he was already preparing for a weeklong retreat on that very topic, and was happy to take on these new projects. That was the genesis of Adya’s current online course—and upcoming book and audio program—Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic.

This spring, I traveled with Tami Simon and Hayden Peltier (one of our audio engineers) to record Adya at a studio in the mountains above Santa Cruz. I was excited to be part of the recording, but didn’t realize just what a profound impact listening to Adya talk about the Jesus story for four days would have on me.   As those who have attended satsangs or intensives with Adyashanti already know, his presence is a teaching, and his talks carry a powerful transmission.

At the end of the recording, I found myself energized and excited to work on editing the video, audio and book projects that we’d captured.  In the months since, I’ve read the gospels over and over—especially the Gospel of Mark, which is the primary text Adya refers to in Resurrecting Jesus.  I see clearly now how the Jesus story maps out the journey of awakening.  But for me, the most exciting aspect of the project has been discovering what a fantastic story Mark tells in his gospel.  The Jesus who comes through in Mark—now that I’ve heard Adya’s take on the gospel’s deeper meanings—is engaged, compelling, and totally unexpected.

I know how many people have grown disillusioned with the Christian tradition, even as they seek deeper spiritual insight through other practices and traditions.  My hope is that Resurrecting Jesus will invite others to reconnect—or connect for the first time—with the deep wisdom of the Jesus story.


Your original face

There is a famous Zen koan that asks, “What is your original face, the face you had before you were born?”

Whenever I have heard this koan, my first response is, “I have no idea how to answer that.” And of course, that is the purpose of a Zen koan, to confound the thinking mind and in so doing, wake us up to a deeper form of knowing.

One thing I have noticed is that the more I am able to sit in that not knowing state, to rest in a sense of “just being”, the more I can relax and feel what, if anything, is needed next. It is not a conceptual process; it is more like a listening. And from that listening, originality emerges (“original” meaning “from the origin” or “from the source”).

Waking up is not about copying anyone or anything. It can’t be. Because as soon as we are mimicking something, we are recycling someone else’s experience. We are one step removed from the source; we are no longer rooted in our own moment-to-moment revelatory experience.

My basic point here is that the more we discover our own Original Face, the face we had before we were born, the more confident we become in expressing ourselves in unique ways. In a sense, great spiritual teachers feel to me like great “artists of the spirit.” And like an inspired musician, poet, or painter, a spiritual artist knows that he or she must spend time in the space of not knowing and then trust the melodies, visions, words, and guidance that come through.

Sometimes people say to me that they are afraid of spiritual awakening because they are afraid of being erased, afraid that they will turn into a paste of nothingness. What I have found is that the more we drop the sense of being separate and disconnected, the more we tune to the underlying, unifying “hum” of being, the more we become plugged in to a current that begins to animate our life. And sometimes, the life force expresses through us in pretty outrageous ways. We take chances. We speak from our heart. We become a mystery to ourselves and a creative force in the world.

To take this even further, what if the more we discover our Original Face, the more our one-and-only physical face starts to express the love and beauty of the cosmos in unusual and distinctive ways? Abraham Lincoln is attributed with saying “Every man over 40 is responsible for his face.” I take this to mean that each one of us has a responsibility for the love and kindness and warmth and openness that our face communicates. What if the quality in our eyes, the shape of our mouth, the openness of our forehead, and even the character of our nose, is a direct expression of our capacity to know and rest in being?

At Sounds True, we often refer to the Wake Up Festival as a celebration of the “many faces of awakening.” And I love that phrase. I look forward to seeing each and every person’s one and only original face this August in the Rocky Mountains.


The Self-Acceptance Project… a free online video...

Access the Self-Acceptance Project free of charge

Self-aggression, self-acceptance, self-love, and issues of self-worth can be challenging for contemporary spiritual practitioners, even for those who have meditated or engaged in psychotherapy for years. There are many ways we can be unkind to ourselves, often subtle and unconscious, which can affect the way we perceive and engage in our lives, especially in interpersonal and intimate relationship.

In this free, 12-week video event series, I invited 23 psychologists, psychotherapists, neuroscientists, and spiritual teachers to speak with my friend and longtime colleague, Tami Simon, to explore these areas and how we might move toward the creation of a certain kind of holding environment in which we can grow, heal, and transform together.

All episodes of the Self-Acceptance Project are now posted and can be accessed as video or audio downloads, or can be streamed at no cost from the comfort of your own home. We invite you to join us for this pioneering series and look forward to sharing our discoveries with you – and hearing what you have learned. It is our intention that you benefit deeply from this work and that it guide you along your own journey of love and awakening.

Episodes include

  • Developing Shame Resilience with Dr. Brené Brown
  • Waking Up from the Trance of Unworthiness with Dr. Tara Brach
  • Turning Towards Our Pain with Dr. Robert Augustus Masters
  • Begin Exactly Where You Are with Jeff Foster
  • Taking in the Good with Dr. Rick Hanson
  • The Human Capacity to Take Perspectives with Dr. Steven Hayes
  • What if There is Nothing Wrong with Raphael Cushnir
  • No Strangers in the Heart with Mark Nepo
  • Transforming Self-Criticism into Self-Compassion with Dr. Kelly McGonigal
  • Faith in Our Fundamental Worthiness with Sharon Salzberg
  • Developing a Wise Mind with Dr. Erin Olivo
  • Embodied Vulnerability and Non-Division with Bruce Tift
  • Perfect in Our Imperfection with Colin Tipping
  • Staying Loyal to One’s Self with Dr. Judith Blackstone
  • Compassion for the Self-Critic with Dr. Kristin Neff
  • Curiosity is the Key with Dr. Harville Hendrix
  • Kindness is the Means and End with Geneen Roth
  • Healing at the Level of the Subconscious Mind with Dr. Friedemann Schaub
  • Embracing all of Our Parts with Dr. Jay Earley
  • Understanding Empathy and Shame with Karla McLaren
  • Integrating the Shadow with Dr. Parker PalmerLetting Life Be in Charge with Cheri Huber


If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ...

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is “thank you,” that would suffice. -Meister Eckhart

We are quite sure that tomorrow will come, that the most sacred in-breath and out-breath will be there, that grace will take shape as the sun falling into the ocean, that the love that animates this body will continue to take form in such a rare way. But some part of us knows that it is really so fragile here, so precarious, so extraordinary, that this life is not what we think, and that it will be returned to love very soon. It is too much, though, to let this in all the way, as we know that do so would change everything.

We really are on borrowed time, a loan of grace directly from the cells of the heart of the beloved. Yet we know that she will be asking for this unbearably precious gift to be returned soon, so that she may recycle the uniqueness that you are and swirl it out through this and all universes. She will paint the stars in the sky with the essence of what you are, with the signature of your unique soul, and with each and every light strand of your DNA. She will take every word of sweetness that you have ever uttered, every act of kindness you have ever performed, every moment of humility and longing in your heart, and use it to touch sentient life everywhere. And what you are will then pour through every shooting star that will ever fall through the sky again, into eternity; the dust of the stars and the dust of your heart weaved back into one substance.

So let us take just a moment and say thank you, and to get real clear about what it is we are ready to give, what is really and truly most important, and what is falling away.


Multiple bottom lines

Throughout the years, we at Sounds True have developed a guiding philosophy that we call “multiple bottom lines.” Our dedication to this principle is embodied in our Mission Statement:

The mission of Sounds True is to find teachers and artists who serve as a gateway to spiritual awakening and to produce, publish, and distribute their work with beauty, intelligence, and integrity. We treat our authors, vendors, and partners in the same way we would want to be treated. We work flexibly and efficiently together to create a cooperative, loving environment that honors respectful authenticity and individual growth. We maintain a healthy level of profitability so that we are an independent and sustainable employee-owned organization.values

The three essential bottom lines for Sounds True are the integrity of our purpose, the well-being of our people, and the maintaining of healthy profits. All three of these priorities are important in the decisions we make as a company. It is our conviction that each of these bottom lines must be healthy for the company to prosper as a whole.

In this short video, Sounds True’s founder, Tami Simon, explains our commitment to “multiple bottom lines”:


Burning brightly

Is it necessary to make a commitment to study and practice within one tradition? When I first started meditating, I was introduced by Burmese meditation master S.N. Goenka to the old adage, “If you want to find water, don’t dig many holes. Dig deep in one place.”

And recently in a discussion with philosopher Ken Wilber, when asked this question in the context of a discussion about the future of spirituality, Ken responded by quoting a Japanese saying, “Try to chase two rabbits at the same time, catch none.”

But is this universally true? In our contemporary context, is it necessary to commit to studying and practicing within a singular spiritual tradition if one wants to radically grow and transform? Although I see the value in this perspective and the depth of realization it can bring, I am not convinced.

As an interviewer, I have now met some highly accomplished and wise teachers whose life experience tells a different story. I have spoken with spiritual teachers who have not followed any formal path at all and whose hearts seem wildly open and whose lives seem truly devoted to serving other people. I’ve also interviewed teachers who have simultaneously studied in several different lineages and who actually recommend such an approach as an opportunity for checks and balances (so to speak) as one matures on the path.

Having now met people who come from such a wide range of different spiritual backgrounds and paths of practice, my current view is that it is not the path that matters as much as it is the heart fire of the individual. What I mean by heart fire is the commitment and intensity of love and devotion that lives at the center of our being. When our hearts are lit up to the max—lit up with a dedication to opening fully and offering our life energy for the well-being of other people—there is a torch within us that begins to blaze with warmth and generosity. The real question becomes not are we on the right path but are we fully sincere in offering ourselves to the world? Are we whole-hearted (a word I learned from meditation teacher Reggie Ray) in letting go of personal territory? Are we whole-hearted in our desire to burn brightly and serve, regardless of the outer form our lives might take?

What I like about turning the question around like this is that now our finger is not pointing outward at some consideration of path or tradition or what other people say or have done or are doing. Now our finger is pointing directly to the center of our own chest. We can ask ourselves questions like: Am I hiding or holding back for some reason? What am I holding back and why? What would it mean to risk more so that the fire of life could shine more brightly through me? How could I live in such a way, right now, so that my heart is 100 percent available to love and serve?

My experience is that when we start investigating our own whole-heartedness in this kind of way, we don’t have the same need to judge and evaluate other people and their paths. There are a multitude of options, valid and viable. What becomes important is the purity and strength of the fire that is blazing within us.