Adyashanti: The Paradox of Unity and Spiritual Autonomy

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Adyashanti’s talk on the paradox of unity struck me as an important recognition to have in your journey as a spiritual seeker. The paradox of unity is put quite simply an important concept to understand to further yourself in practical life. While his talk centers on the spiritual, it has much practical import as well. If you don’t have strong will and life energy directed in the right orientation to achieve your goals then you will spin your wheels. No one likes trying and not succeeding. Much worse, no one likes the missing aspect of practical will. The video aims to correct and reorient the positioning to re-establish practical will.

Spiritual and practical autonomy is important. While there are many pitfalls to having a balanced practical ego, it is possible to get there. It is even more possible to control your spiritual practice and reach what you’re focusing on.

The video clocks in at 45:00 minutes so it’s a longer watch, but it’s not that long as far as spiritual talks go. If you have a decent lunch break then sit down and check out the video while you’re snacking.


The talk begins with outlining Adyashanti’s views on the stages of awakening. In the first stage of awakening, you experience a dream like state. Everything seems like a dream. You can choose to participate in it as a dream, or you can go about your practice, both spiritual and practical, as normal. The second stage is when in Adyashanti’s words, “the heart comes online.” This occurs when the awakening reaches the heart and is deeply felt as a true presence. Further, there is much more import in the awakening than before. Previously, one might understand the awakening on an intellectual level, now it is felt. The final stage is where it travels into the gut and becomes the deepest thing possible, as contraction. I don’t quite understand what Adyashanti means by the third level of awakening, but I do quite deeply understand where he is talking about the heart. The awakening must be a lived experience, and everything must come alive with presence and feltness. It’s my personal opinion but I figure when he mentions the third stage, he means that you travel to completely to an eden like state or place as Stephen Jourdain talks about. I wouldn’t personally know because I’m not fully awakened myself.

The paradox of unity and spiritual autonomy is summed up as a balance of the ego where the I comes home, and the spiritual seeker can still handle his practice and life naturally. With most coming into the dream like state, the will is destroyed. It withers because of the recognition of oneness. There is nothing to do. Adyashanti outlines how spiritual teachers and yogis are able to maintain a deep balance between the outer and inner. He effectively demonstrates how to gain spiritual autonomy and at once egoic autonomy through right orientation.


This is probably only my second video of watching Adyashanti speak. I was thoroughly entranced by his effort to explain the stages of awakening in his perspective because it’s all preverbal when you get to the end. I also like how he focused on right orientation and making sure that you’re beginning your practice in the right way. Having a good teacher and being guided by someone who has been there before is the best way to make sure that you reach your spiritual aspirations.

I would personally give the video 3.5 out of 5 stars. It’s not that I don’t like the video. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the video. There were parts that I just couldn’t understand though. This is a personal fault as much as it is a fault of the teacher. You can see in the video that he is speaking to a crowd of hundreds or thousands. It is extremely difficult to speak to the level of everyone at that size. At the same time, I’m not well versed in all of the technical language of non-duality so it makes sense that there are parts that would pass by me.

Outside of what is my personal rating, and yours will most likely vary, I found the video to be extremely useful in understanding the unity paradox. Seeing yourself in a heartfelt way in everything and at the same time maintaining a willful balance with practical life is difficult.


I definitely suggest viewing this video even though I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars. It is worth the watch even if you’re only measuring where you’re at. That’s not the focus of the video, but it will give much territory to explore to understand yourself better. Knowing yourself is really all you can ask anyway. It is also the best question to ask.

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