Adyashanti

GURU RATING: 4 / 5 (GREAT)


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


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28 Comments

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

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