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Do you know what you want? … with Adyashanti



One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves on the spiritual journey, according to Adyashanti, is: What is it that I really want? Spending some time sitting quietly and contemplating this question – allowing it to take us into the depths of being – is a practice that each of us can do to learn more about what it is that is really inspiring and driving us at the deepest levels. Many of the world’s great wisdom traditions suggest a similar inquiry, and consider this question the foundation of any authentic spiritual life.

So, friends, what is it that you really want? When all is said and done, what is your heart calling out for, where are you being pulled, what is pushing you, what will this life sweetest, most precious, rare human life be organized around?

We shot this video with our dear friend Adya at The Wake Up Festival last year, where Adya opened our gathering in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. We’re really happy that Adya will be joining us again this year, and hope to see many of you there.

Buzz on, buzz off

While visiting a friend in Denver last summer, I was amazed to see in her front garden hundreds of honey bees dancing in the perfect dusk light. Luckily, I had my awesome new high-tech pro digital SLR camera with me.

“Ha!” I thought, “Finally a chance to use this baby’s rapid-fire, super auto-focus, image-optimizing, mega-sensor, anti-shake, bla-bla BADass-ness!”

Among photographers, the sure sign of an amateur is a behavior called “chimping”—bobbing your head obsessively from viewfinder to LCD screen to see if you got the shot. Well, I was chimpin’ like a National Geographic fanboy (oh wait, I AM a NatGeo fanboy). Anyway, half an hour and about 200 shots later, I did not have the perfect apiary masterwork. I had a camera full of blurry and out-of-frame bugs.

When I visited my friend again the next week, all the bees were gone, except for a few late summer stragglers. And it was gloomy overcast. And all I had in my bag this time was an old film camera—the kind that you have to focus and crank by hand and then apply “percussive maintenance” (i.e., smack hard) just to get the light meter working.

And there were exactly three shots left on the roll.

“Forget it,” I thought, “nature photography is for wussies.”

But the next thing I knew, the ancient Nikon was in my hand.

clickity click click!

Cut to one month later. I’m standing at the drugstore photo counter, and in ye olde-school stack of 4-by-6’s (remember “prints?”), this appeared:

Andrew Young Photography

If you’re not impressed, okay fine. But I was. Not by any proof of my artistic prowess, but by what I learned.

Am I about to wax scholastic about master street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment?” Or reflect on the Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s love for miksang, photography as dharma art? Nope, though both luminaries came to mind. What did in fact leave an impression were these thoughts:

1. When I realize that each frame in my camera—or day in my life—is precious, I get MUCH more out of each one.

2. All those restless hours of meditation practice and shoeboxfuls of crappy contact sheets may have led to a mastery that shows up, when it matters, as effortless flow.

3. Between the two poles that I call “intense concentration” and “effortless awareness” lies the vast majority of my life’s geography, and that I might want to enjoy the scenery regardless of the mode I’m in.

4. I am SO done with insect photography. No, really. Bugs are disgusting.

Okay, your turn. Was there a time when your years of practice paid off, effortlessly and unexpectedly? If so, do post a comment, I’d love to hear about it.

May love be resurrected in your heart today…

May love be resurrected in your heart today, and may it wash through each and every cell of your most sacred body, dripping out through your words, your presence, the way you listen, your willingness to care and get gooey messy and sticky in love, and through the way you touch and hold another. May love make use of your eyes to see, your ears to hear, your words to speak sweetness, your body to hold and touch; and may that love that keeps the stars from falling out of the sky guide you and show you the way home.

May it be revealed to you that this love is not something that you will find one day, something that will come to you, or something that you will finally reach as part of your quest. Love is not and never was separate from what you are, but is what this precious body is made of. It is the substance of every cell of your heart, every synapse in your outrageously miraculous brain, every strand of every light particle of your miracle-DNA, and of every petal of every flower in this and all universes.

Wishing all of my sisters and brothers the most precious Easter, and may each one of you – whether gay, straight, transgendered, or utterly undefineable as we all truly are – allow love to have you, finally, once and for all, as we are told Christ did… to take this body, this entire sensory organism, and to make use of it to scatter its secret essence in the four directions.


Here in this body are the sacred rivers…

The commitment to our immediate embodied experience is the most radical commitment we could ever make. To commit to this life – right here, right now, as it is – is the unbearable and direct path into the love and freedom that we all so long for. When sadness comes calling, grief appears, shame arrives, anxiety comes for tea, do not mistake them for ordinary visitors, for they have been sent from beyond. Inside every feeling, each sensation, and every flow of emotion is a secret doorway into the center of the heart. Let us allow these guests to reveal to us their gifts, turning toward them, for they have come to show us the way home.

In the words of the great tantric sage Saraha, “Here in this body are the sacred rivers: here are the sun and moon as well as all the pilgrimage places… I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body.” Whatever we are offered in this day – the beautiful, the challenging, the heartbreaking, the painful, the difficult – let us allow this life to touch us in the most unprotected way. Let us somehow be willing to risk everything for this one and only rare experience, allowing each and every person we meet to matter deeply.

Snowy River

Let us make this pilgrimage into and through the cells of our heart, learning its secrets; and through the strands of our DNA, sailing down the sacred rivers which make up this precious human body. And, finally, let us behold the movement of love as it washes through every organ, reorganizing our entire somatic sensual reality into a vessel of kindness and attuned empathic presence, filled with a profound care for this life and for all beings everywhere.

It’s okay to be broken

In our own ways, each of us hears that most sacred call – to return home, to come to know ourselves at the deepest levels, and to somehow allow this precious life to be organized around love. We have also come to see that to respond to this call requires everything we have (and more); we are asked to step all the way into the unknown, taking the risk that love always requires. We sense that there is no way to make this journey without the breaking open of our tender, vulnerable hearts, in response to this blessed world.

We want so badly to figure this life out, to resolve the sticky, gooey, messiness of the heart, and to control the movement of love. We know we can do it, we can hold it all together, we can remain strong, we can find a way to not completely shatter in response the tenderness of this life as it is. But in one moment out of time, we’re flooded with a certain kind of grace, and it becomes so clear: It’s okay to fall apart, to let love take this life apart, and to reassemble it as the master architect that it is. There is no need to push this back any longer, for you were never together to begin with. What you are is love itself, which can never be contained, limited, resolved or pinned down. Love is never “together,” but is always moving within the unknown, as a raging fire seeding this world with its ever-purifying flames. Fall apart and resist the temptation to put yourself back together again – and see what is forever and into eternity untouched by concepts of “together” and “apart.”

There are lovers content with longing. I'm not one of them. ~ Rumi

It’s okay to be broken, for in your brokenness love can then pour through the cracks of your being by way of the most luminous light. As you open in this way, you watch in awe as that same intelligence and creativity which birthed the stars moves through your body, making use of your entire sensory system to seed this world with its essence. Through all the ways you touch and deeply listen to another, wanting so sweetly to come to know how they organize their experience and how they make meaning of their lives, through the kind words that you speak and presence that you offer them – and even (especially) through all of your broken-open places – this life comes to be revealed as something much different than you originally thought. It is seen, finally, for what it is – a grace-field; and what you are is a unique, alive, unrepeatable expression of this field, a transparent vessel for love to move in this world.