See https://shalomplace.com/view/a...ti-christianity.html for links to Kindle, PDF, and ePub written versions; Podcast and YouTube links to my critique of his book, "Resurrecting Jesus."
August 15, 2023 edit.
This discussion pertains primarily to how he speaks about Christianity.
Every now and then, I give Adyashanti's writings a go, and if I ever expect anything more than some westernized expression of advaita (nondual mysticism), I come away disappointed. Most infuriating is when he and others (Tolle, Chopra, etc.) presume to tell us what Christianity is really all about. Like this:
Sorry, but if we really were divine beings, we wouldn't be confused about who we were. We wouldn't commit evil acts, either, unless divinity itself was morally tainted. As is so often the case with gnostic writers on nonduality, he conflates the human spirit with the divine. Jesus never did so, nor did he teach that we were divine beings. Also, his interpretation of Mark would also be news to most Christian biblical scholars. Jesus searching for his identity? This is not the Jesus who was about his Father's business at the age of 12.
What's really wrong here is that many today seem to think that writers like Adyashanti and Tolle are teaching what Christianity is really supposed to be about. Instead, it seems that they're re-formulating Christianity through the lenses of their own experience and metaphysics. While there can surely be nuggets of wisdom expressed here and there in their writings, there's too much that's "off-key" to resonate with Christianity. These teachings do not lead one to Jesus or his Church.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
Try this Facebook quote from Adyashanti.
OK, but that isn't necessarily divine. In Christianity, we know this to be the spiritual awareness of the human soul, which is created, not eternal, and which has both reflective and non-reflective dispositions. In its non-reflecting aspect, it is the witnessing state, a background awareness, or Self, that perdures through all manner of changes in life. It is not omnipotent and omniscient (as divine being), but is finite and limited in perspective and experience to this embodied individual. My experience of it is not privy to yours, hence duality is real; there are other creatures sharing this existence with me, and it is not a dream. Granted, we have our illusions and projections, but there's also something real always coming through, and what we do with this life is important.
Adyshanti makes no distinction between this nonreflecting aspect of human consciousness, the Holy Spirit, and the transcendent Father. For him, it seems, there is no divine Other; once one awakens to spirit, that's it -- no more God "out there" to pray to or even think about. No First Great Commandment. No One to say thank you to. Obviously, this is all quite different from what one sees going on with Jesus and the Gospel, for Jesus never stops relating to his Father, even after the resurrection. The human Jesus is still "there" after the resurrection. In Christianity, duality is affirmed, and relational spirituality is emphasized. Adyashanti's spirituality emphasizes realizing your innate divinity, and so it's ultimately a type of gnosticism with very little in common with orthodox Christianity. It might resonate with some apocryphal scriptures, and, indeed, he seems to really love the Gospel of Thomas.
It seems to me that Christians who look to teachers like Adyashanti and Tolle for guidance had best know what they're doing and why, and be able to tune out the nonsense while sifting for helpful gems. As with Buddhism and other eastern approaches, these teachers can provide helpful guidance concerning detachment and clarifying one's spiritual awareness, but they fall short in so many other areas as to be fairly useless, on the whole. Their venturing out into interpreting Christian teaching is especially concerning, as they speak with great authority about who Jesus was and what he taught while generally presenting Christianity as having lost its way (e.g., we didn't follow the gnostics). Some of this seems self-serving, though I don't doubt their sincerity. Still, if it helps to sell a few books and gain a few followers . . .
Yeah, a lot of that nonduality stuff is aimed at people who are well toward the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You never hear about people working 12 hours a day in factories preaching, “Everything is okay, exactly as it is.”
I'm currently reading "Resurrecting Jesus" and see where he's coming from -- basically, projecting his Zen experience onto Jesus and viewing the "Jesus story" as a metaphor for the spiritual journey. I intend to write a review of the book when I'm done, but you can see from the above what some of the issues are.
Wow, what a treat, Phil. That's a review and a half. It must be almost ten years since I read that book, so I don't remember the details. I do remember a general conclusion, though, that Adyashanti hadn't really engaged with the New Testament scholarship. In that respect, the book was disappointing.
Ever since I read Hans Urs von Balthasar's "The Unknown God" (Elucidations, pp. 34-44), I've puzzled over the relationship between Christian mysticism and ordinary, face-value, words-and-images Christianity. In some ways, that question's not relevant to the current book, since I don't think Adyashanti has really been shaped by the Christian mystical tradition either. He's just kind of invented his own version of it.
I began to wonder what motivated Adyashanti's book in the first place, and I learned that it was conceived by his publisher as a commercial product. If you look at the five-star reviews on Amazon, you can see the sort of audience it's reaching.
Then I wondered who the editor was who had instigated this project. I googled the name Mitchell Clute of Boulder, Colo., and learned that he has just been arrested on some most disturbing charges. I won't post a link to the news stories, but you can look them up if you're interested.
Thanks for your kind words about the review, Derek. Yes, it is lengthy because I wanted to document what the book stated and contrast that with Christian teaching. I believe this book has profoundly influenced both Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault. Some of the stuff they're saying about nonduality and their criticisms of Christian teaching are so similar to what Adya has written that it can't be accidental.
The book was horribly edited, as you suggested. Some of the sentences are poorly constructed; many of the same stories show up in several places; no effort was made to link biblical references to specific passages; some of the passages are mis-quoted; so many are mis-interpreted that it became pointless to try to point it all out. A teacher on Biblical studies would send it all right back for revision, with a provisional F grade to motivate. But Adyashanti excused himself from all these constraints early in the book by stating that the only thing that really mattered was the "Jesus story," not history, nor, less, theology, so he could then tell and interpret the Bible as it pleased him. He does seem to hold Jesus in high regard, but, in the end, he frames Jesus' teaching in a manner so similar to his own that it seems the whole purpose of the book is really to demonstrate that they are in agreement, and it's the Church that got it all wrong! Quite arrogant, when you get down to it.
I'll probably read the report as a podcast and post a link to it sometime.
Just think: if the early Christians had been Adyans, they could have easily said that the Emperor had a divine nature just like Jesus, so why not worship him, too? Or each other? Why give one's life for some silly belief that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God and risen savior of the world when, really, he's no different from the rest of us -- just a little more "realized" or "awakened?"
- Silly Christians and their non-inclusive beliefs! Now, Adyashanti makes money selling books criticizing the very beliefs they died for.
Glad your strength is improving, Phil.
I came across the quote below a few minutes ago. The famous ChatGPT (artificial intelligence thingy) was asked about this subject. I did not know that the notion of pre-reflective (or non-reflective) consciousness comes from Jean Paul Sartre, but ChatGPT did. This is what ChatGPT said when asked about it:
"Jean-Paul Sartre's concept of pre-reflective (or non-reflective) consciousness refers to the immediate, pre-reflective level of awareness of the world and our own experiences that occurs prior to any conscious reflection or thought about them. This level of consciousness is characterized by a raw, unprocessed experience of the world, without any sense of separation between the self and the objects of perception. It is seen as the foundation for all other forms of consciousness, including reflective consciousness, which occurs when we actively think about and reflect on our experiences. Sartre believed that our pre-reflective consciousness is always present, but that it can be obscured or suppressed by reflective consciousness, which creates a sense of separation between the self and the world."
Thanks, Derek. Martin Buber (who pre-dated Sartre) had a similar idea in his description of the "pre-biographical unity of the human spirit," which he had thought to be God in an Easternish phase of his life. I think it's also basically what is meant by the term "awareness" in many teachings, east and west. Once one sees how this works, it's possible to shift the attention to just simply be present and "be" to some degree almost any time.
If you have a copy of "Suprised by Joy," C.S. Lewis also refers to this experience in his description of being wounded. He alluded to a philosopher, I believe, but I don't recall who it was, and can't seem to track it down.
Of course, this understanding is there "between the lines" in any accounting of consciousness that makes a distinction between the contents of consciousness and the experiencing subject. The common phrase, "you are not your thoughts," for example, implies the existence of a "you" that is transcendent to your thoughts.
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