Adyashanti is a spiritual guru from California. He teaches an introspective approach to enlightenment which calls for radical honesty.

With his technique, each thought is deeply examined as thoroughly as possible. As thoughts are gradually let go for the illusions that they are, the clouds clear to reveal one’s natural state of being.

Adya began his spiritual search within the Zen tradition. He looked around one day and noted people who had been practicing for 15, 20, 25 years… and they were no further along than he was. After 14 years of Zen, he had to let it go to move forward. He then used journaling as a means of examining his thinking.

After a few momentary glimpses of spiritual awakening, he gradually deepened his experience via this introspective approach. Adya is now in a state of permanent spiritual enlightenment.

The road to awe: is a spiritual practice required?

It is popular in certain quarters to question the need for formal spiritual practices. Many gurus will remind you that reality is an illusion, and you simply need to snap out of it. That is the whole of their teaching.

Does Adya support this view? One might be fooled into thinking this is the case given how he abandoned his Zen practice, but one would be wrong.

Adyashanti was a zen practitioner for 14 years

Adyashanti was a zen practitioner for 14 years

In an interview, he confirmed that spiritual practices are a necessary part of the path. He understands them as means of exhausting the seeker. Exhausting the egoic energy that’s seeking enlightenment creates an opening where reality, one’s true nature, can be recognized.

Said differently, a spiritual practice will get one to the gate but must eventually be let go to enter in. You are the one standing in “your” way to spiritual enlightenment.

Moreover, Adyashanti’s radical-honesty approach to evaluating thoughts is in itself a highly intensive spiritual practice when done correctly.

This is in sharp contrast to gurus like Mooji who offer a “lazy person’s” path to spiritual enlightenment. Laziness never got anyone anywhere. Except to expensive talks by these gurus.

It’s worth mentioning that Adyashanti spends 95% of his time talking about the illusion of thoughts. Very little time is devoted to spiritual practices beyond the radical honesty approach. How many of his followers have truly exhausted their search for spiritual enlightenment, something that took him 14 years to do?

He seems to draw crowds that are just starting on the spiritual path but he’s mostly offering the last step. Might be a problem.

Massive profits, little contribution

Adyashanti is one of the most popular spiritual gurus today. A few years ago, he charged $10 to sit in one of his satsangs. It can now cost upwards of a thousand dollars to go to one of his retreats, including food and accommodations. He’s followed a very Eckhart Tolle path in this regard.

Adya claims that these funds go to a non-profit devoted to spreading his teachings. Great, but it’s like a corporation saying its profits are directed to a marketing campaign to further advertise their product. Where’s the giving here? Is he helping anyone beyond himself?

Talks and retreats as spiritual entertainment

What is the point of spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars to go to go see Adya?

You’re a single person amidst a vast sea of people. You get absolutely no personal time with him. He has no further answers to provide anyone beyond what he’s already stated in his books, which are far more affordable.

For many, such talks and retreats are essentially spiritual entertainment. You’d be better off staying home and doing the radical self-honesty work yourself. That was his path to awakening. Why not emulate your teacher instead?

A great guru, but don’t waste your money

We rate Adyashanti as great. He’s a very good teacher when it comes to clearly expressing his awakening experience, what this means, and how to go about it. His online books are affordable and contain all his teachings.

We strongly advise that you not spend your money on his expensive talks and retreats. If you have extra cash lying around, it’s far more spiritual to give it to someone in need or use it to help the world in some way. Do the work! Forget the spiritual entertainment as it will lead you nowhere.

“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretence. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”  — Adyashanti



  1. Nice review of Adya, thanks! I spent many hours sitting with Adya during Satsangs in the Bay area 2002-2007. He is a wonderful man but I wonder about the people he has surrounded himself with. Who you are with will determine what you can know and do. These people influence your thoughts and Adya seems to have forgotten the point of enlightenment and awakening. Rather than serving the unfortunate and the needy, Adya and his followers have built themselves a very nice business. Still, he has helped many people awaken and he helped me find my true path in life.

  2. Totally worth the money. And I gotta say it’s interesting how much ego and bias from the moderators slip into a page like this.

    • Nothing egoic about honestly expressing your opinion. Just because Adya is a spiritual teacher, doesn’t mean you can’t critique him.

      • VLAD: Expressing an opinion, my opinion, our opinion, is—in my opinion—completely egoic…unless you Know yourself as the Wholey infinite unicity Reality beyond separation/multiplicity…and that, too—when contrasted against total open empty/full silence—is likely just another ego trip/reflection, eh? 😉

          • I don’t think Adya would express your view. In fact, it sounds like a false attachment to emptiness, which Adya warned about in his book, “The End of Your World.” There are two realities, objective and subjective. Objective reality does not endorse opinions, but even as we experience objective reality, our subjective reality (birth, life, death) doesn’t actually end. So, enlightened people have both an objective and subjective view of reality. If you use your objective view to dismiss the subjective opinions of others (or even to justify doing evil to others) you are not enlightened. I’m not saying I’m enlightened either, but I am trying to share what I’ve read.

        • It costs money to have retreats and most people can pay $10. You know people are truly serious when they pay that much money. I could not afford that myself but he has online retreats and free talks all the time. He has made a serious difference in my spiritual practice. I have practiced for years and read many books. My husband was a spiritual teacher on the Yogic path. He never charged except when he taught classes in a University years ago. He helped many but also experienced those who would not stick with it. But we live in a poor state so this was best policy for here.

  3. I’ve attended a few satsangs of Adya’s and had a real hard time spending the money for a retreat but I did a 7 day several months ago and everything has changed in my life. As Adya has said, the biggest part of the teaching is being in the presence of an awakened being. It was more than worth the money.

    • COLIN WALSH…Would you please care to share with the audience—perhaps offer some clear examples—how hanging out with Adyashanti has “changed your life”…and we’ll sssume your implication is that your life has been greatly improved, eh?

  4. He offers scholarships and partial scholarships to his programs (be it online or on retreats). If you break things down, he charges $450 for a 5 day retreat. The food and accommodations is what brings the costs up, and those funds dont make it into his pockets.
    The experience that I had was far worth the financial lay out. If you go and have an experience that changes your life, how can you measure all of this? If you go and it doesn’t work for you, then fine, move on and get another teacher.

  5. Adya deserves 5/5. His mission is to spread awakening, which is infinitely more valuable than donating money to various causes. I’ve been on 7 retreats with him and he chuckles and admits to selling water by the river, and that the true retreat begins when we leave, when we go into the world, when the rubber hits the road. Adya is a true teacher with such clear teaching and message.

  6. Although I don’t know Adyashanti personally, I consider him to be my teacher after I was awakened. At that point, and after passing a period of bliss, when my consciousness lets say returned to the business as usual of being human, his teachings through his books (especially ‘The end of your world’) and the various videos found in YouTube, helped me to find balance and to continue the eradication of my attachments to various beliefs and identifications within me. The part of the article which criticizes Adyashanti for charging too much money for his satsangs i find it at least inappropriate, for what his teachings has to offer and how valuable is his guidance. Is there a limit on the amount of money that makes a person ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’? What is it? 10$, 100$, 500$? At the end of the day, a person in order to realize must be willing to sacrifice everything in order to get awakened, even be ready to give, metaphorically speaking, his own life. When someone has that kind of thirst for the truth, money doesn’t matter to him. Of course as you mention in the article, the work towards awakening is all personal, and the greatest teacher of all is our own self, as long as we are true and not fooling our selves.

    • Thank you for the suggestion, Swasti. What is your experience of this guru that makes you suggest a review?

  7. Adya is so sincere in his teachings and he is one of the best at speaking in a way that is devoid of dogma and helps those with logically-oriented minds. Also, I think people could open their minds a little to see how money flows and is redistributed in different ways. There are so many choices that one could make with one’s money and not everyone is going to be pleased when the choices are made.

  8. I have tried over-and-over to listen to his stuff. It seems more intent-driven than content-driven. Much of what he says is cliche—sounds right, but superficial—he strings cliches and phrases together instead of talking in paragraphs. He is not well-read or well-educated. I do not understand why he is so popular—I have noticed, however, that tv shows I like get cancelled and popular ones are unwatchable. I very much like Ramana Maharshi and John Wheeler—to give you perspective.

    • How much are you willing to give up for truth…money is so cheap it means nothing CROSS that path it is blocking your way

  9. A series of spiritual awakenings began happening to me in 2001 in which the ego self was taken offline, which in turn allowed the truth to emerge and be revealed.

    Immediately after the first experience however the ego reemerged and childhood patterns ran for months because I had no understanding of how the ego worked or how to observe the mind and body from a state of non-duality.

    Later however I discovered through the teachings of Adyashanti, Leonard Jacobson, Gangaji, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie and others how to become present in the Now and acquire a non-dual state of perception. This in turn enabled the gradual resolution of the ego and brought about a continuing deepening into the truth.

    Do Adya’s teachings have value? For some perhaps not, but for me they absolutely do.

  10. Adya has helped me become more aware and present rather than lost in my thoughts and beliefs. All this for free (via his youtube videos). Despite the cost of his retreats, he’s giving so much more back to the world than he is receiving.

  11. I have gone to retreats in various traditions, and just went to my first Adyashanti retreat and found it to be the best I’ve been to. Seven days of silence, interspersed with zen-length sittings, Adya’s morning talk, and Adya’s evening question and answer session, and the rest of the time abiding in awareness while walking the grounds of beautiful Omega Institute in the Fall, communing with the squirrels, chipmonks, snakes, plants, trees, flowers, lake, clouds, sun, for the most part friendly wasps and one who taught me not to try to brush away what I think is a fly in my hair. What I appreciated was the continuous flow in Adya’s approach to levels of awareness, from being nothing, to being everything to being One Thing, to being a person. This was reflected in his approach to taking questions. Where I’ve seen other teachers shrink from questions at the personal level, Adya responded to questions coming from deep pain, trauma and very personal/world level events in a way that, as a psychologist, I can assure you is more helpful than anything most psychologists would say in response to the same question. Although I have practiced Zen, been immersed in the teachings of Ramana Maharshi for 10 to 15 years, and had numerous consciousness “experiences,” some of the most powerful imaginable, this retreat both answered questions I’ve had for years about my own experiences, as well as put me more closely in touch with beingness itself.

  12. I agree with Doug! (I’m also a mental health professional.) I attended a 5-day silent retreat at Mt. Madonna CA. It was a powerful experience that will stay with me. I’d call it transformative. As for the expense, it was less than a usual vacation and I came back much more refreshed, relaxed, and renewed. I’m very sorry to read your comparison with Tolle, (I can’t picture them in the same universe).

  13. What about: Ram Daas, Abraham Hicks, J. Krishnamurti, Osho, Sri Aurobindo, Rupert Spira and all those non-dualists, Robert Adams, Sadhguru?

  14. I think you make some good points. I’ve immersed in his teachings and attended in person retreats and there is some psychological benefit and lots of spiritual highs but that’s not what I’m after. Not sure I can go the distance with this teacher. Some resentment has always creeped in at times regarding how much he talks about himself and his enlightenment. Tonight I heard him criticize what he calls spiritual braggarts. I think he’s losing it somehow.

    • Thanks for the update, JC. Without purpose and service, even the enlightened will go mad.

  15. I did follow Adya for a few years and really trusted him. I went to a 7day silent retreat and took part in many of his online study courses, read all his books, watched the live shows, watched his free content. Everything was great, including the retreat. I understand that a western teacher has to charge money but I did start to wonder, why it gets more and more expensive. Seroius doubts started when he did collect donations for his new recording studio. 60-70.000$ were collected and the “peace room” built with the help of the sangha. (I dont know if links are allowed, but you can find all the information about the peace room project on his website). So, once or less per month a free online session with Adya is being broadcast from the studio that was paid (partly or fully?) by followers. If you cannot watch live, you can oder it in the shop for 10$ or more. I mean, REALLY?! He does not even bother to put this monthly broadcast on youtube/his website for free. The price for his online retreats exploded: before it was 175$ for 4 live sessions. Now it is 379$ for 6 live sessions. They say you can apply for scholarship, but mine and others were not granted without giving a reason.
    But when he totally lost me was in his last online retreat “A revolution of being” where he talked a lot about the dark places he had gotten during the last few years and it was obvious and admitted that he had “fallen out of” Non-Self…

  16. I agree completely with the comment by JC. I could have written every part of it. After the recent talk mentioned, I was put off by the judgemental tone that seems to be more frequent with him lately and directed at those that have had deep realizations. I think there is more ego to him than I wanted to believe. All my inner sensors have gone off at times with him and I’ve ignored them because he does have a powerful presence. I’ve also wondered lately if I’ve gone as far as I can with this teacher. Same thing: psychological benefit and some great spiritual highs but that’s not what I’m looking for. He seems to be catering to those looking to wallpaper their life, make it better, more meaningful or some such thing and seems somewhat hostile toward students wanting to go much further than that. He gives lip service to things such as nirvikalpa samadhi becoming sahaja samadhi which I had previously written to him about, but he seems to be catering to a different crowd. Seems like it’s the Facebook crowd.

    • Forgot to mention that after the “enlightened braggarts” comment I posted a comment on his forum about it and it was removed by his staff. It wasn’t a particularly offensive comment, just expressing some surprise at the judgmental tone of it.

  17. Unfair to call out Adya on profits. He is the ONLY teacher to send out a physical book FOR FREE to around a thousand members. I have attended three online retreats for free through his scholarship program. Show me another sangha with that kind of generosity.

    • Thanks, Jamie. I did know that. What is the title of the physical book that Adya gives out for free?

  18. The Way of Liberation is available free on his website. They sent out the free books just the once in 2012. It cost them like $10,000. Adya certainly deserves to live comfortable, but I must admit I’m annoyed they don’t make radio broadcasts available for free, though they did grant me a full scholarship to a week long physical retreat. I only had to pay $400 for a tent space. Maybe the people that are denied scholarships aren’t sincere enough in their application, or don’t live on $600 a month like myself. It makes me slightly ill that Eckhart Tolle is worth 70 million. I imagine Adya has significantly less than that.

  19. This site is a joke. Only you can know what’s right for you. For someone to ditch a retreat that could benefit them greatly just because it costs money is such faulty reasoning I don’t even know where to begin. Who are you to judge first what Adyashanti does with his money or his patrons do with theirs. People are capable of judging for themselves. There’s no authority that can rate spiritual teachers as worthy or unworthy. It’s up to the individual. This might as well say “i, the writer know what’s best for you, I’m more enlightened therefore listen to what I say”

  20. I’m concerned that the initial commentary totally underrated being in the presence of any teacher- the energetic transmission is a huge part of transformation and the one retreat of Adya’s I intended was awesome, deeply peaceful & insightful. I think his retreats are reasonably priced compared to many other programs especially
    My concerns did stir up around the fundraising for the peace room- I’m a therapist but I don’t feel it would be ethical to ask my clients to donate to the cost to build a therapy room for my practice, I would consider that a business cost. This was the first time I started questioning the retreat cost for the teaching portion. I also contacted an Adya group in the USA a few yrs ago to ask info about flying in, visiting their city & transport to the nearby Adya retreat & none were attending & mentioned they were going to see another teacher, I thought that was curious.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jazz. The whole issue of what is a business cost, and what is not, reveals that much of what Adya does, is in fact, a business. As for the “energetic transmission” – that is totally subjective and new age woo-woo. Everything is vibrating with energy.

  21. Adyashanti’s Open Gate Sangha, Inc. is a nonprofit, tax–exempt organization with
    Spiritual Director: Adyashanti, Vice President: Mukti , and stuff members about 15 employees, full time, part time, and volunteers: online:
    If one wants to be a professional spiritual teacher, one must run a small business with employees, one can’t do everything by oneself, but I think to ask for a donation is on the Adyasanti level incomes unnecessary….

  22. I received full scholarship and attended one of his retreats for free, when I had financial problems. My scholarship included not only the retreat per se but also the accommodation and meals. In the same period I also received scholarships for at least 4 of his online programs. Actually I received scholarships whenever I asked for them. I just had to declare my income and give a short status description; and to write down my motivation to attend the retreat, For the online programs no explanation was required.
    I found his retreats of great value. Apart from his teaching, watching the way he moves, the way he acts, his simplicity and modesty, the way he is relating to Mukti, was precious for me, He is a great teacher. I would say he is particularly gifted to orient the students after they had an awakening.
    Regarding the webcasts, recently they made them available on youtube for free for one week after broadcasting, which I think it is enough.
    There is a path and a teacher for everyone. I have a question for the guy who wrote the article: have you met Adya? Have attended a retreat with Adya (or with another teacher)? My personal experience was that silent retreats are highly beneficial. I do not have the strength to organize a silent retreat by myself so I was grateful to attend few of them organized by others. Are they required for spiritual “progress”. No. Are they beneficial? They might be. I would have been more reserved about discouraging people to attend an event with a master, because you never know what is the best way for them.

    • Hi Angela,
      Thanks for your comments. Yes, I have met Adya. In fact, I used to attend regularly his Satsangs in the Bay area (primarily in Oakland) and I volunteered for the Sanga for 2 years. I have also attended 3 of his weekend retreats. Adya is a very nice man and he helped me to get on my path of real preparation. However, as Adya often says, he is just “selling water by the river.”

      • So he’s being honest about it at least right? Some folks need help to get to the river too sometimes.

  23. I just saw Adyashanti in Portland, Oregon at a retreat. it was 2 days (6 hours one day, 5 hours the next) the cost was $180… How is that too much? Not sure where these facts are coming from. If someone gets a hotel room for 2 or three nights maybe & eats out? But that isn’t going to his organization. C’mon. (He was wonderful, BTW)

  24. Hi guys,

    Yes it seems , as many have said here, the review regarding Adya and money is pretty poorly researched and more reflects a personal bias than pointing towards substance.

    My own experience is that I’ve been tuning into Adya for a few years now, with his YouTube, SoundCloud and FB content for free, and it’s never cost me.

    Being from London, I went to see him a year ago as part of a retreat. My friend also came, and she got a full scholarship as she didn’t have the funds at the time. It was wholly worth it and was a strong nudge of the spiritual fence I had been sitting on for a while! I also saw him in Palo Alto in Dec 19 while visiting my brother in California. It was donation based and food was provided. He along with Mukti also spent time with everyone at this satsang, and have them a gift at the end too.

    What is money anyways? I’d like to think it’s something you can use to invest in things that can improve your well-being as well as others. And also question things too, which is why I appreciate the review. But you get a sense that adya is not on that path, that’s the inner sense I get.

    Thanks folks n keep it locked down

  25. I listened to a recent interview with him and wow, the ego on this guy! He is obsessed with himself. Talk about over-identifying with being a “spiritual teacher”. It’s a shame, they always succumb to ego sooner or later.

  26. Hey,
    I am appreciating your articles. I like Adya for his no-nonsense methodology, and his simple -very human- way of talking. I’m curious if you’ve considered doing a review of Byron Katie? I’ve recently started working with some of her processes and have found them efficacious. I have a Zen and Neo Taoist background, but find her direct questioning of thoughts to be quite helpful in my ongoing realization process. Once again, thank you for the articles.

    • Thanks for the praise, Collin! Glad you’ve enjoyed the articles. We’re fans of Byron Katie, too. Her book “Loving What Is” is a classic!

  27. You said, “We strongly advise that you not spend your money on his expensive talks and retreats. If you have extra cash lying around, it’s far more spiritual to give it to someone in need or use it to help the world in some way. Do the work! Forget the spiritual entertainment as it will lead you nowhere.”
    I believe Adya would wholeheartedly agree with this!

    • Yeah Sean! Adya is a good guy, without too much pretense, but just enough ego to have a really big house in Palo Alto!

  28. I have been “following” Adyashanti for years. In my book, he is a great spiritual teacher who is able to give listeners great insight into their true selves. That said, I would not spend a lot of money to go on a retreat with Adya or Eckhart Tolle, or any contemporary spiritual teacher. There is so much material available online through Youtube and various websites that won’t cost you a dime. I get that the teachers build up a small business and that begins to drive their activity, but that doesn’t mean we have to participate. There are books galore and as I said, so much free stuff online that you will never get through it.

    • Gururatings cares only about one guru and that is Marshall Vian Summers.

      The rest of this website is just fluff and misrepresentation. Really has zero interest in doing a true investigation of other spiritual leaders.

      Maybe some have played a role in his past, but his future is set on one person only.

      His brains independent thought centers have shut down.

      So now you can: censor my posts, so your fraudulent website can continue untested (and I can expose you elsewhere)

      or address the issue of your deceit and misrepresentation, instead of pretending to be impartial and running a false website.

  29. I knew nothing about Adya until I went to a retreat to see Mark Nepo and Santana Kaur.
    My experience with listening to Adyashanti was profound. His being was truly compassionate and authentic. Healing just the hear his voice. Plenty of free stuff online.
    Thank you Adyashanti.

  30. I see no reason why satsangs should be charged at hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This strikes me as being nothing more than greed. There are a ton of gurus out there, raking in the cash! Why does Adya Shanti need all this cash? For what purpose? Why does he not keep his satsangs affordable and accessible. Strikes me he is good at talking the talk, but how does it go, when it comes to walking the walk???

  31. When Adya was first developing his business in the Bay area – when his satsangs were free of charge – I spent a fair amount of time with him. We would have coffee together at starbucks and chat, sometimes for several hours. We took long walks in a local park. I recall him complaining about the small one room apartment where he and his wife resided. It was cramped. At that time in his life, it was all he could afford. Adya worked hard at developing a lucrative career. And he achieved his goal. This business about Adya living in a state of permanent enlightenment, however, is not only a bunch of baloney; but it’s a tad transparent. I would disagree with the overall rating the above review gives him. On a scale of one to five, Adya is a minus two.

  32. Adya is one of the best Spiritual Teachers we have in this time, and its not true that he doesn’t encourage Practice. I have done quite a few Home/Online Retreats with Adyashanti to include his talks and Teachings and intensive Meditation every day, I have had my own Awakening 12 years ago but join in the Retreats to be with other Sangha members and Participate in Gatherings.
    I do have some reservations about the charges for example $10 to download individual meditations and talks. I can understand that this is Adyas and Muktis sole occupation and they have to afford to pay bills ext like anyone else. Scholarships available for those on a low income but still my concern is about ‘selling Dharma’ which is a big No, no in Buddhist circles. I think he is well off enough now that he could at least offer the downloads for free. After All the teachings actually are no one’s property. Maybe it would be a lot better if he simply asked for Donations.

  33. Can someone tell me why they think they are awakened, when there are others who are claiming to be woke? The woke ones…poor souls don’t have a clue and the awakened ones, well, they just think they are.
    Adya is awesome except once he showed up on Oprah I knew he was in the guru club along with tolle, chopra, and the rest of the sell outs. He must be a millionaire now and to me that spells problems, big problems. Imagine having retreats with 5 star meals to support the “must have my stuff” boomers. It is laughable and pathetic.
    At one retreat, Adya met with a handicapped man who was obviously suffering and adya said, I can’t help you. What happened to the people who would help the less fortunate. Oh right, the once charitable churches are being demolished to make way for the new religion called satanism, which is part of the new age psyop. It’s all about ME and MY enlightenment (whatever that is). I NEED self care. So glad I jumped out of this narcissistic nonsense, including the great Adya.

    • Thanks for your comment, Cate. We are entering a “new world” but it is not based on the old ideas of enlightenment, gurus and “selfless service.” It is a world based on compassionate selfishness, we believe. It’s about becoming individuated to give the world our unique gifts and not be molded by some mindless spiritual club or squashed by a corrupt guru who can’t follow their own teachings.

  34. How many separate parts does this person think we are? This person holds a sad and fragmented view of the self. Being taught not to believe in oneself, one then becomes vulnerable to the misleading influence of others. Religion and belief in external powers is a prime culprit aimed at destroying one’s belief in oneself. How can a person gain inner strength in this world, when that belief has been crushed from a very early age. Being strong in spirit requires inner strength. Without inner strength one cannot understand what is truly spiritual in life. Why is it that people try to take that away? Simply because they seek power over us.

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