The Direct Approach. Part 1. Always-Already and the Integral View.  

Adyashanti “dares all seekers of peace and freedom to take the possibility of liberation in this life seriously.” Although unaffiliated with any particular lineage, his 15-year training in Zen Buddhism and deep resonance with the teachings of Advaita Vedanta highlight his emphasis on what both of these traditions are often known for: the immediate and unfettered realization of the Self Absolute, which can only ever be recognized now, as the always-already Enlightened Nature of all things. In line with this no-nonsense view of awakening, Adyashanti sometimes refers to his teaching as “the direct approach.”

Making his inaugural appearance as an Integral Naked Guest Host, Bert Parlee exhibits the same serene and deeply inviting competence that has made him a favorite at Integral Institute workshops. A founding member of Integral Institute and co-Director of the Integral Psychotherapy Center at Integral Institute, Bert also works as an I-I certified trainer of Integral Life Coaching.

As Adyashanti (or just “Adya”) explains, for him, “the direct approach” is any approach that brings one’s attention to that which is always and already present—which is to say, the never-lost and ever-present nondual Suchness, I AMness, Awareness, or Emptiness of this and every moment. Whether called Spirit, Tao, Godhead, Ayin, or the naturally occurring luminosity of mind, there is but one common Truth to be recognized, and it is to this self-validating Reality that Adya constantly points. This Reality was present before the Big Bang, is utterly untouched by tides of history, and never even entered the stream of time to begin with. About this Simple Truth, Adya is surely right.

But this Simple Truth can be deceptive in its simplicity, as it also holds in nondual embrace the many complex, relative truths of the manifest universe. Adya readily acknowledges the importance of relative truth, and gives many lucid examples of why the capacity for discrimination is crucial in both teachers and students. An Integral Approach to spirituality would go on to point out that discrimination can only function on the data present in consciousness, and that the relative “data” of reality is not simply “given;” unlike Suchness, it is, at least in part, constructed.

Pointing-out instructions and meditation—both 1st-person methodologies—can help you realize that your deepest identity is radically free from the phenomena of your mind, but it cannot tell you about the patterns that organize that phenomena, or even that there are patterns there to spot. These patterns are following structures in consciousness, and these structures can only be spotted by taking a 3rd-person perspective on interior phenomena, and watching how the patterns of phenomena change over time. Extensive research by developmental theorists such as Jane Loevinger, Abraham Maslow, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Robert Kegan has shown that not only do many of the patterns organizing consciousness change over time, they emerge in a stage sequence. In a similar way to an oak developing from acorn to seedling to tree, human consciousness develops from egocentric (me), to ethnocentric (us), to worldcentric (all of us)—and in both cases, you can’t skip stages!

Surprisingly, there is nothing in any of the great contemplative traditions worldwide that will tell you that these developmental structures exist, and the same is true for the direct approach. This is not a trivial concern. Among other things, one’s stage of development will play a large role in determining to whom this Awakening is available. A person at the egocentric stage of development will likely come to the conclusion that he or she is special somehow, and that only he or she truly understands Reality. A person at an ethnocentric stage of development will likely come to the conclusion that only their group, tribe, or ethnicity is capable or worthy of this realization (which helps explain how some genuine spiritual masters in, for example, Tibet and Japan can be shockingly xenophobic). A person at a worldcentric stage of development will likely come to the conclusion that this realization is available to everyone, regardless of sex, race, creed, religion, etc. Why does this matter? Because an understanding of Ultimate Reality tells us what is. It tells us nothing of what should be, which is why it’s essential to include an integral and developmental perspective when assessing different interpretations of the relevance of Suchness in day-to-day life, where questions of beauty, truth, and goodness have very real meaning, and some answers are clearly better than others.

For those seeking a no-frills introduction to their very own Self, the direct approach is just about as direct as it gets, and is highly recommended for what it does. We are very excited to have both Adyashanti and Bert Parlee joining us for the first time, and we invite you to jump in on this fresh, humorous, and intelligent conversation exploring the very core of mystical insight, in dialogue with the insights of an integral view....

(To learn more about an Integral Approach to spirituality, check out “What Is Integral Spirituality?”)

transmission time: 31 minutes
keywords: San Quentin prison, Suchness, I AMness, Awareness, Emptiness, Spirit, Ken Wilber, Integral Spirituality, always-already, states and stages, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, spiritual materialism, Integral Life Coaching, Integral Life Practice Starter Kit, Integral University, Enlightenment, nondual fundamentalism, Buddha, the Middle Way, “What Is Integral?,” A Theory of Everything.
most memorable moment: “From the foundation of always and already, then we are in a position in which it is much easier to work with the elements of the developmental psyche, because it’s a myth that you just wake up, and all of you wakes up with it....”

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