This week I’m reading The Way of Liberation: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Adyashanti. This is a great little book that packs a punch and doesn’t let you off the hook. If you want to wake up, or think you’re already on that path, this book will give you a stripped-down practical guide to liberation.
The Way of Liberation contains a condensed version of Adyashanti’s core teachings on waking up to the truth of who you really are. It’s written in a way that directly challenges your assumptions and beliefs, and asks you to look deeply into the way your mind actually works. It’s not enough to just read books about how to become enlightened, you have to put the teachings into practice and allow yourself to be shaken up and changed. You get out exactly what you put in, and it’s not an easy path to take.
“The Way of Liberation is a call to action; it is something you do. It is a doing that will undo you absolutely.”
The book is designed to cut through all your bullshit and ego games. It’s definitely not trying to make you feel better about yourself.
“Many spiritual seekers already live on a steady diet of spiritual junk food, those nice-sounding platitudes that have little or no transforming effect other than to dull the dissatisfaction inherent in the dream state. If you like that sort of thing, this isn’t the book for you.”
The teachings are structured around what he calls the Five Foundations, which apply just as much after awakening as before. These are:
- Clarify your aspiration – what do you value most in your life?
- Unconditional follow-through – put those values into action
- Never abdicate your authority – take full responsibility for your life
- Practice absolute sincerity – be honest with yourself
- Be a good steward of your life – embrace all of your life, good and bad
He then goes on to describe the Three Orienting Ideas which are the conceptual framework for the teachings and help to focus the Three Core Practices of Meditation, Inquiry, and Contemplation. The Orienting Ideas are:
- Being – the existential mystery at the heart of life
- The false self – the greatest barrier to realising the nature of being
- The dream state – the way you normally go through life and what you’re trying to wake up from
The Core Practices go into detail on how to meditate and include lots of questions and answers to clarify exactly how to practice and some of the experiences you might have and how to approach them on a practical level.
The point of these teachings is to wake you up to the true nature of Reality and help you to embody that truth as much as you can. It isn’t necessarily about being more peaceful or happy – these things do happen, but as a side-effect of waking up. Adyashanti issues a warning at the beginning that “applying these teachings may be damaging to your beliefs, disorienting to your mind, and distressing to your ego.” But that is as it should be.
He goes on to explain why awakening may be the most important thing you ever do:
“The world’s problems are, by and large, human problems – the unavoidable consequence of egoic sleepwalking. If we care to look, all the signs are present to suggest that we are not only sleepwalking, but at times borderline insane as well. In a manner of speaking, we have lost (or at the very least forgotten) our souls, and we try very, very hard not to notice, because we don’t want to see how asleep we are, how desolate our condition really is. So we blindly carry on, driven by forces we do not recognise or understand, or even acknowledge.
“We are no doubt at a very critical point in time. Our world hangs in the balance, and a precarious balance it is. Awakening to Reality is no longer a possibility; it is an imperative. We have sailed the ship of delusion about as far as she can carry us. We have run her ashore and now find ourselves shipwrecked on an increasingly desolate land. Our options have imploded. “Wake up or perish” is the spiritual call of our times. Did we ever need more motivation than this?
“And yet all is eternally well, and more well than can be imagined.”
The Way of Liberation is well worth buying, but you can download it for free on his website here.