I have no idea how many people are attending this retreat, but 51 countries are represented. He doesn’t have this kind of reach for no reason – his teachings are extraordinary, and what’s he’s offering in this retreat is truly revolutionary.
Admittedly, this will be difficult to communicate because it involves very subtle aspects of perception, but I’ll do the best that I can to pass on what I am learning. Please don’t just read this with just your intellectual mind – as Adya advises, "see what it evokes within you."
What I’m learning contains familiar components, but it’s completely shifting the way I view myself, especially as it relates to the concept of Ego. Ego can be defined or understood in different ways, but for the purpose of this email, "Ego is the traditional mental, emotional image of oneself,which includes all of our beliefs, perceptions, memories, etc."
It’s who we THINK we are for lack of a better explanation, but thoughts (good, bad, neutral) have nothing to do with the greater part of our identity. In reality, we are the Space/Awareness in which thoughts arise.
It takes great courage and vulnerability to recognize the extremely subtle ways in which we identify with the content (e.g. thoughts, emotions, roles, accomplishments, etc.) of our minds. In the traditional understanding of Ego, we like to take credit for everything, good or bad.
But, here’s what I’m learning that is very transformative – we are NOT responsible initial spontaneous arising of thought/emotion/perception etc.
Did you every notice how negative thoughts/reactions (anxiety, anger, etc.) just seem to HAPPEN to you – like you’re being attacked?
I certainly have for the majority of my life, and before this revolutionary understanding, I didn’t realize how often I’d take credit for the initial "attack" and than "beat myself up" as if it was my own fault. Here are a few examples.
"How could I think that?!"
"I shouldn’t be anxiousI?"
"What’s wrong with me?"
Sound familiar? :)
We are all responsible for how we respond to what arises, but we’re NOT actually creating the initial spontaneous arising of thought, emotion, etc.
This is so, so essential to understand because it’s difficult if not nearly impossible to modify our behavior when consumed by self-judgment.
So, how can start treating ourselves with kindness and compassion?
I’ll share what Adya recommended before he provided this teaching.
Simply start to notice the spontaneous arising of everything. Here are a few examples. As I sit here typing, sounds come sounds go. A breeze comes a breeze goes. I breathe in, I breathe out. I’m not making anything of these things happen, they are occurring all on their own.
Once I started this practice, I began to notice that thoughts and emotional reactions arise spontaneously in the exact same way – I’m not (initially) making myself think or react– it just HAPPENS.
Before this new understanding, I remained very prone to harsh judgment of the initial "hit," which would only (as we all know) make things worse while providing self-created reasons to be more upset and or treat myself unkindly.
Now that I’m seeing this more clearly, I am avoiding the almost instantaneous reaction (to the reactions) that would send me spiraling down the negative rabbit hole. Notice what may spontaneously arise within you (and how your mind may want to "run" with it) when I use the following analogy. This revolutionary understanding is helping me to "drain the swamp" of my negative mind. :)
Did you mind/belief system GET LOUD? I bet it did. Mine does too at the thought of anything to do with our political system.
By recognizing these patterns as just patterns, and nothing to do with who we are – we can stop feeding into them with greater ease.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.