As part of his teaching practice called “Satsang”, the California spiritual teacher Adyshanti engages members of his audience in conversation.He speaks for about 40 minutes and then for another 40 minutes receives comments, or questions to which he responds.

It is an effective teaching method, often leading to some stimulating exchanges.

In his teaching session titled “Why We Struggle”, (http://www.adyashanti.org/cafedharma/index.php?file=library_audio&sorton=rid&sortorder=asc&stitle1=), the question period opens with a fascinating exploration of church.

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Here is my transcript of the Question and Adyshanti’s response:

Comment from participant:

I had an experience over Easter.  We went to church. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a churchgoer. But we did go to church. It was so moving. It was one of these places that has old rituals. And it filled me with love. I was so moved. And coming here it’s similar. Everything that bugs me in my normal life is here. But there’s some sort of novocaine. And it’s magical to me how, being in a group, you know even before you started talking, the context of… and going to this Episcopal church. Part of me goes, “How’s this happening?” But I really don’t listen to that voice any more because it doesn’t matter. I put myself in the way of this stuff. And the things that normally bother me, don’t bother me in this context.

Reply from Adyashanti:

So, the important question might be, “What is this context?” If you discover what this context is when you stop struggling, you’ll really be on to something. What is the context you experience here and in that church? What is it?

You walk in this door. There’s a group of  all around you. What’s missing? What’s the conspiracy. There’s a conspiracy in this room. There was a conspiracy in that church. What was the conspiracy everyone entered into?

When you walk into here, or you walk into a church, it’s ok isn’t it. No matter what’s going on you’re ok. When you walk into that church and there’s Jesus on the cross, what is Jesus saying? He’s saying “You’re ok.” That’s the entire message isn’t it. You’re ok. That’s the traditional message, “I died to make it all ok for you. It’s ok. I know everything you’ve ever done and it’s ok.” Are you ready to accept that? Can you take that much love in? And when you go to church, you do take the love in. That’s the context; everything’s ok. Even the fact that you struggle is ok. That’s the conspiracy of telling the truth.

Everyone without saying anything is saying, “Look pretty much most of us here are here because we struggle. Welcome. We’re not hiding. We’re not pretending we’re not struggling. The curtain is up. A room full of people is not pretending. And you walk into that atmosphere of a room full of people who are not pretending and then you don’t have to pretend anymore. You just walk into an environment where your struggles are allowed to be. Nobody says “Stop struggling; be this; be that.”

Now when you taste it here, or you taste it at church, there’s a very important recognition that must be made, otherwise the mind is going to miss it. It is something very simple. When you meet a happy friend and you sit down and talk to your happy friend, at the end of your time together you are pretty happy. You have been drawn into this. What happened in that encounter? Usually we think, “This person made me happy. I love being around them because whenever I’m around them, I feel happy.”

The mind will say, “They gave me some happiness. I have to go see that person again.”

But, actually the happiness was already there inside of you. It is not anything they did to you. Their happiness awoke the happiness in you. The same thing here or at church that acceptance, that embrace, where one naturally stops struggling because struggle itself is not resisted is elicited in the environment. It doesn’t belong to the environment though.  The environment can be useful to elicit that which is in yourself. But until you start to realize that what is elicited does not in any way belong to the environment, that what arose in you was already there, it just was called forth. It is a different relationship.

It’s ok here.