Preface and Introduction

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from  the preface and introduction to such a text:

The Way of Liberation

A Practical Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Adyashanti – 53-page book – © 2012

Preface vii

This book is a clue left behind, a means of remembrance,
and a guide to waking up from your imagined
status as a person to what you really are. The teachings contained
within this book are a condensed version of my core teachings.
In order for the teaching to have any effect, you must apply it
with utmost dedication. Be forewarned, applying these teachings
may be damaging to your beliefs, disorienting to your mind, and
distressing to your ego. From the perspective of waking up to
reality these are good things to be cultivated. From the perspective
of ego they are to be avoided at all costs. The choice is entirely
yours.

Introduction ix

The Way of Liberation is a stripped-down, practical
guide to spiritual liberation, sometimes called awakening,
enlightenment, self-realization, or simply seeing what is
absolutely True. It is impossible to know what words like liberation
or enlightenment mean until you realize them for yourself.
This being so, it is of no use to speculate about what enlightenment
is; in fact, doing so is a major hindrance to its unfolding. As
a guiding principle, to progressively realize what is not absolutely
True is of infinitely more value than speculating about what is.

Many people think that it is the function of a spiritual teaching
to provide answers to life’s biggest questions, but actually the
opposite is true. The primary task of any good spiritual teaching
is not to answer your questions, but to question your answers.
For it is your conscious and unconscious assumptions and beliefs
that distort your perception and cause you to see separation and
division where there is actually only unity and completeness.

The Reality that these teachings are pointing toward is not
hidden, or secret, or far away. You cannot earn it, deserve it, or
figure it out. At this very moment, Reality and completeness
are in plain sight. In fact, the only thing there is to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, or feel, is Reality, or God if you like. Absolute completeness surrounds you wherever you go. So there is really no reason to bother yourself about it, except for the fact that we humans have long ago deceived ourselves into such a confined tangle of confusion and disarray that we scarcely even consider, much less experience for ourselves, the divinity within and allaround us.

The Way of Liberation is a call to action; it is something you
do. It is a doing that will undo you absolutely. If you do not do the
teaching, if you do not study and apply it fearlessly, it cannot
effect any transformation. The Way of Liberation is not a belief
system; it is something to be put into practice. In this sense it is
entirely practical.

To read this book as a spectator would be to miss the point.
Being a spectator is easy and safe; being an active participant
in your own awakening to Truth is neither easy nor safe. The
way forward is unpredictable, the commitment absolute, the
results not guaranteed. Did you really think that it could be any
other way?

If you compare The Way of Liberation to other teachings, or
interpret it through the lens of other teachings, you will inevitably
misinterpret The Way to be something that it is not. In the
modern age, with its instant access to all the world’s spiritual
teachings, this is an especially pervasive problem. People often
misinterpret what I say because they are filtering it through the
lens of other spiritual teachings that may use a similar vocabulary.
Therefore, I suggest that you approach these teachings on their
own merit without filtering them through the mind’s previous
understanding.

No spiritual teaching is a direct path to enlightenment. In
fact, there is no such thing as a path to enlightenment, simply because enlightenment is ever present in all places and at all times.
What you can do is to remove any and all illusions, especially the
ones you value most and find the most security in, that cloud
your perception of Reality. Let go of clinging to your illusions
and resisting what is, and Reality will suddenly come into view.

The Way of Liberation is medicine used to cure various states
of spiritual disease. Just as medicine is not itself good health
but a means to good health, these teachings are not Truth but
a means of revealing Truth. The Indian sage Ramana Maharshi
likened spiritual teachings to thorns used to remove other thorns,
and I rather like that image.

To study The Way of Liberation teachings is to study yourself.
To study yourself does not mean to add more knowledge to your
cluttered brain’s ideas about yourself, but to remove all of the
customary defining characteristics you usually associate self with:
name, race, gender, occupation, social status, past, as well as all
of the psychological judgments you make about yourself. When
the self is stripped down to its essential core, all that can be said
about it is: “I am; I exist.”

What then is the I that exists?

This is not a book about spiritual betterment, self-improvement,
or altered states of consciousness. It is about spiritual
awakening, going from the dream state of ego to the awakened
state beyond ego as quickly and efficiently as possible. The journey
isn’t what anyone anticipates, and enlightenment isn’t what
it is frequently sold as. I won’t be telling you how to achieve
bliss or unending happiness, find your soul mate, or the ten easy
steps to making a quick million bucks. I don’t believe in deceptive
advertising or luring in spiritual seekers with false promises.
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.

I have left clues to realizing Reality throughout this entire
book, from the first page to the last. Do not assume that the
most important elements of this teaching are easy to spot or
clearly emphasized. They are woven into this book as threads are
woven into fabric, easy to miss if you do not have the eyes to see
or the sincerity to understand. This is not because I want to be
obscure—I do everything I can to not be obscure—but because
Truth is not something that can be truly and deeply understood
by having it spoon-fed to you. Such truth is like fast food, easy
to access but hardly satisfying in the long run.

In our modern society we expect to have everything given to
us in easy-to-consume bite-size portions, preferably very quickly
so that we can get on with our hurried lives. But Truth will not
conform itself to our frantic avoidance of Reality or our desire
to have the whole of something for the very least investment of
time and energy.

You will get out of The Way of Liberation teachings exactly
what you put into them. These teachings need to be studied,
contemplated, and put into practice, not simply read as entertainment.
As a wise person once said, “The proof of a desire is
found in the habit of response.”

It should also be understood that The Way of Liberation is
neither a form of psychotherapy nor a cure-all for all the challenges
that human beings face in their daily lives. While such
therapeutic applications may be necessary and useful for some
people, they are not the focus of this teaching.

Awakening is neither a magic cure for all that ails you, nor an
escape from the difficulties of life. Such magical thinking runs contrary to the unfolding of Reality and is a great impediment to its mature expression. The aim of this teaching is to wake up to the absolute nature of Reality, then embody and live it to the fullest extent possible. Such awakening does eventually bring a sense of deep peace, love, and well-being, but these are the byproducts of the awakened state, not the goal.

It is not the pursuit of greater and greater states of happiness
and bliss that leads to enlightenment, but the yearning for Reality
and the rabid dissatisfaction with living anything less than a
fully authentic life.

Wake Up or Perish

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 recognize
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.