When the Self Drops Away

‘Most human beings spend their lives battling with opposing inner forces; what they think they should do versus what they are doing; how they feel about themselves versus how they are; whether they think they’re right and worthy or wrong and unworthy. The separate self is just the conglomeration of these opposing forces. When the self drops away, inner division drops away with it.

Now, I can’t say that I never make a mistake, because in this human world being enlightened doesn’t mean we become experts at everything. What does happen, though, is that personal motivations disappear. Only when enlightenment occurs do we realize that virtually everything we did, from getting out of bed to going to work to being in a relationship to pursuing our pleasures and interests, was motivated by personal concern. In the absence of a separate self, there’s no personal motivation to do anything. Life just moves us.


When personal motivation no longer drives is, then what’s left is our true nature, which naturally expresses itself on the human dimension as love or compassion. Not a compassion that we cultivate or practice because we’re supposed to, but a compassion that arises spontaneously from our undivided state. If we undertake being a good, compassionate person as a personal identity, it just gets in the way of awakening.’


By Adyashanti, The Taboo of Enlightenment, an interview with Stephen Bodian from the Fall 2004 issue of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

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