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Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Adyashanti: Falling into Grace


Ego is nothing but a state of consciousness

All of the great spiritual teachings direct us to look within, to “know thyself.” Unless we know ourselves, we can never find our way beyond suffering. In fact, it’s because we don’t know ourselves that we’re so prone to suffering, that we’re so prone to misunderstanding the nature of who we are and reality itself. So this assumption that we are something separate, something other than everything around us, is the basis of what I call our “egoic consciousness.” Because, after all, what we are really talking about here is a state of consciousness, a way of packaging the world conceptually. When our mind starts to imagine that we are something separate and different from the world around us, it changes the way we perceive, which means it changes our state of consciousness. The thoughts that we believe alter and change our state of consciousness.

You can see this shift in consciousness in any given moment, as you become aware of the thoughts that are present. Take the following thoughts, for example: imagine a sunny day on the beach, where you’re lying in complete relaxation and you can hear the water lapping up against the shore. You can feel the warm sand supporting you from underneath. You can feel the rays of the sun across your face. You can hear the distant bird calls of seagulls. If you just think those thoughts, and allow yourself to really feel them, they’ll start to change your consciousness. You’ll literally start to feel different about this moment, even though nothing has actually changed, even though you’re not actually at the beach. Even though all of it is created in your mind through imagination, it can change the way you feel, and how you feel affects how you perceive yourself, others, and the world around you.

So to take it a step further, when our mind interprets our sense of self to mean that there actually is self, our consciousness changes. And before very long, our consciousness is such that everywhere it looks, it sees separation. Of course, it doesn’t tell you this. Most human beings don’t walk around saying to themselves, “I feel separate from everything around me. I’m distinct and different.” That’s because this change of consciousness, this egoic consciousness, becomes so integrated into the way you see and experience life that you don’t even have to remind yourself of it. You don’t even have to be consciously thinking about it because it is so deeply woven into the fabric of your perception. The truth is that, ultimately speaking, ego is nothing but a state of consciousness.

If this was fully understood in its deepest aspect, that the ego is just a state of consciousness, we wouldn’t be chained to it. We wouldn’t be weighed down by it. We wouldn’t feel isolated. Yet we see our egos, we see ourselves, as very separate entities; and everyone around us is doing the same thing. Everyone around us sees themselves as essentially different from others, and from life in general. So we move in a world where almost everyone we meet will be reflecting back to us this egoic sense of consciousness. To find liberation, we must wake up from this dream that our mind creates, that we’re something separate than everything around us. This is the only way we can begin to find a way out of suffering.

See Adyashanti live in August 2013. Visit for more information.

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