Adyashanti is a fifty-year-old independent American spiritual teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He is the founder of The Open Gate Sangha in San Jose, CA.

I recently listened to a free download MP3 in which Adyashanti speaks about his understanding of why we so often struggle in life. The whole teaching can be heard at:

Here are my notes from Adyashanti’s talk:


The human condition is defined by an almost endless struggle

Why do we struggle?

We struggle because we want to be unique, special, and different. We feel the need to keep creating this sense of me, this sense of separateness.

Every piece of our conditioning growing up supports this wanting to be special, unique, and different. And most people carry this right into their spiritual life. “I want to be enlightened because enlightened people are unique, special, and different.”

We want to maintain the sense of separateness because there is a payoff. We’ve been taught that, when we are separate we get to be different, we get to be special, unique.

We want to be unique, special, and different because we know that we feel good about ourselves when we feel unique, special, and different. We’ve all felt that. When we have felt unique, special, and different, it feels good. You see that’s the payoff. The human mind is conditioned to experience that sense of being unique, special, and different as some of the most enjoyable experiences of your life.

It is very deep in the human conditioning, that if I just get unique enough, then I’ll be truly happy. I’ll be free of feeling not special, not unique, not different.

A lot of people find their uniqueness in something very negative. “I’m the victim of my life. But at least I’m special, unique, and different. My life is tougher than yours. You don’t know how hard I’ve suffered.”

We struggle because we put ourselves on centre stage. Even if you’ve been to lots of self-esteem classes, and you really like you, you’ll still struggle because you are still centre stage.

When you’re really not struggling, you disappear. What does it mean when the “I” disappears? It means you are not thinking about yourself. For a moment you are not centre stage.

If you stopped struggling completely, you would not be centre stage of your own life.

We do what we like. We struggle because we want to struggle because we think it will bring us pleasure. When you realize it won’t bring you pleasure then you won’t do it.

Who are you when you’re not struggling? Nobody is there when you’re not struggling.

If we stop struggling and struggling dies, I don’t know who I am and I certainly don’t know how to live. We are living in an inner space where none of the old rules apply, which means wait a minute, I don’t fear about my future; I don’t have concerns about my past.

At least when I’m miserable there’s a certain sense of morbid security. Cause I always know where I am. I’m here. I’m struggling and when I’m not struggling I don’t know where I am.

What we don’t see, what we deny, we’re stuck with. I’m doing what I’m doing because some part of me emotionally thinks that it’s the right thing to do to make me happy.

Seeing your situation clearly, you also see your release from it. The release from it is obvious when you don’t move from it, when you don’t try to get out of it. Trying to get out of it creates the illusion that there is no way out. It’s the mere fact of trying to get away that is creating my bondage. When I don’t move away from it, and see it straight on without trying to solve it, something magical happens. All of a sudden one foot is already out, just in the acceptance of where you are.

Most people are trying to get out which is struggle, trying to avoid struggling.

In order for the mind to be quiet all you have to do is simply abide which means to let everything be as it already is. Let yourself be wholly and completely whatever your experience is. As soon as you do that, even if that uncomfortable experience remains, underneath that uncomfortable experience, you start to perceive and experience a profound sense of peace, of freedom, and of spaciousness around it.

The beauty of it is that the spaciousness does not depend upon that negative emotion leaving. The negative emotion can still be there; it can still be experienced and yet it can be experienced in a context that is so much bigger. The context never insists that emotional experience leaves. that context is always big enough for the emotional experienced to either stay or leave as it will.

This is really a willingness. This is where choice comes in, the choice to simply let everything be as it already is. As soon as you let everything be just as it is, that thing that is quite terrible will point right to your own freedom. You just stop resisting.