Awakening as a Rocket Ship
An interview with Adyashanti
The teachings that are included as Chapter 13 in The End of Your World were recorded in San Jose, California, over the course of three days in August, 2007. After Adya delivered this series of talks, Sounds True publisher, Tami Simon, had the chance to interview Adya and ask questions related to these teachings. The beginning of their conversation follows.
Tami Simon: Let’s return to your metaphor of awakening being compared to a rocket ship achieving liftoff. How do people know if their rocket ship of being has actually taken off? I could imagine some people being deluded about this.
Maybe they have read lots of books about spiritual awakening, so they make the leap in their mind that awakening has occurred, but perhaps in reality they are simply sputtering on the ground. How do we know for sure that we have attained liftoff?
Adyashanti: It’s not an easy question to answer. The only way I can answer it is to reiterate what the nature of awakening is. The moment of awakening is very similar to when you wake up from a dream at night. You feel that you have awakened from one world to another, from one context to a totally different context. On a feeling level, that is the feeling of awakening. This whole separate self that you thought was real, and even the world that you thought was objective, or other, all of a sudden seems as if it’s not as real as you thought.
I’m not saying it is or isn’t a dream; I’m saying that it’s almost like a dream. Upon awakening, the experience is that life is like a dream that’s happening within what you are—within vast, infinite space. Awakening is not experiencing vast, infinite space, feeling spacious or expanded or blissful or whatever. These feelings may be by-products of awakening, but they are not the awakening itself. Awakening, quite apart from its by-products, is a change of perspective.
Everything we thought was real is seen to not be real at all; it’s more like a dream that’s happening within the infinite expanse of emptiness. What is actually real is the infinite expanse of emptiness. It’s the same way that, when you dream at night, your dream does not have reality; it’s your mind, dreaming your dream, which actually has the reality—relatively speaking.
Tami Simon: When you describe your own life story, you say that the rocket ship of your being achieved liftoff at a specific time and date—when you were twenty-five years old. Do you think it is possible that for some people their ship lifted off over a period of a few years—that there wasn’t any specific moment that it happened, but instead it was more like a gradual dawning that that their rocket ship wasn’t on the Earth anymore?
Adyashanti: I’ve seen that, too. I’ve met people for whom awakening almost happened as if in retrospect, like it snuck up on them. The transition may not have been marked by distinctive, obvious moments. It’s almost like they snuck out of the dream or snuck into outer space, and then at some point there was recognition, “Oh, when did that happen?”
They can’t really point to any distinct moment when there was a change, but they recognize at some point that a real, total change has happened. So it can sneak up on you; it can happen that way, too.
Read more of this interview in Adyashanti’s book, The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment. Visit the online presskit for more details.