18 February 2012

Love, Surrender and Awakening

Robert Adams tells of his awakening experience and what followed as below. After that I discuss what his story means to me based on my time with him and my own life since he left us.


When I had my spiritual awakening I was fourteen years old. This body was sitting in a classroom taking a math test. And all of a sudden I felt myself expanding. I never left my body, which proves that the body never existed to begin with. I felt the body expanding, and a brilliant light began to come out of my heart. I happened to see this light in all directions. I had peripheral vision, and this light was really my Self. It was not my body and the light. There were not two. There was this light that became brighter, and brighter and brighter, the light of a thousand suns. I thought I would be burnt to a crisp, but alas, I wasn't.

This brilliant light, which I was the center and also the circumference, expanded throughout the universe, and I was able to feel the planets, the stars, the galaxies,
as myself. And this light shone so bright, yet it was beautiful, it was bliss, it was ineffable, indescribable.

After a while the light began to fade away, and there was no darkness. There was just a place between light and darkness, the place beyond the light. You can call it the void, but it wasn't just a void. It was this pure awareness I always talk about. I was aware that I am that I am. I was aware of the whole universe at the same time. There was no time, there was no space, there was just the I am.

Then everything began to return to normal, so-to-speak. And I was able to feel, and understand, that all of the planets, the galaxies, the people, the trees, the flowers on this earth, everything, were myriads of energy, and I was in everything. I was the flower. I was the sky. I was the people. The I was everything. Everything was the I. The word I encompassed the whole universe.

Now here's the point I'm trying to make. I felt a love, a compassion, a humility, all at the same time, that was truly indescribable. It wasn't a love that you're aware of.  

Think of something that you really love, of someone that you really love with all your heart. Multiply this by a jillion million trillion, and you'll understand what I'm talking about. This particular love is like no thing that ever existed on this earth, consciously. There is nothing you can compare it with. It is beyond duality, beyond concepts, beyond words and thoughts. And since the I, which I was, was all-pervading, there was no other place for anything else to be. 

There was no room for anything, because there was no space, and no time. There was just the I am, ever present, self-existent. The love of everything was the love of the self.

This is why, in scripture, it tells you to love your brother, and your sister, to love everyone and everything under all circumstances. This love couldn't differentiate. It couldn't say, "You're good, so I love you. You're bad, so I don't love you." Everything was going on as myself. I realized I am the murderer, I am the saint, I am the so-called evil on this earth, I am the so called goodness of this earth. Everything was the self. And it was all a game. All of the energy particles changed from one thing to another thing. But the love never changed.

Another word for this love was compassion.  There was this fabulous, fantastic compassion. For everything! For everything was the self, the I am. There was no differentiation. There was not me, what you call me, and those things. There was only one expression, and that was consciousness.

Of course, I didn't understand all these words at that time. 

There were no words like I'm talking about now. I'm trying my best to speak intelligently and try to use words to explain what happened, but you can't. All the games that people are playing, and all the planets, throughout the universe, is really the self. It was all the self, and I realized that nothing else existed but the self. Yet all of these things, the multiplicities of planets, of galaxies, of people, of animals, were really the self. Again, there are no words to describe this. I felt and knew that these multiplicities do not exist. Things do not exist. Only the self existed, only consciousness, pure awareness.

Yet, at the same time, creation came into existence. And there's no creation. We cannot understand this in human form. As long as we're thinking with our brains it's incomprehensible, for how can they both be simultaneously creating each other? There was creation going on, and yet there was no creation at all! There was no creation taking place, and creation was taking place. Sounds like the thoughts of a mad man. And it seemed normal. There's absolutely nothing strange about this at all, being nothing and everything at the same time.

So this great compassion was there. Since I was everything, the compassion was for everything. No thing was excluded, for the things were really the self.

And then there was this fantastic humility. The love, compassion, and humility are all synonymous. I'm trying to break it down to make you understand, to an extent, what was going on. The humility was there not to change anything. Everything was right just the way it was. Planets were exploding, new planets were being born. Suns were evaporating, new suns were being born. From the suns the planets came, and then life began on the planets. All this was taking place instantaneously, at the same time. And yet nothing was taking place at all.

Therefore the humility is that everything was alright. There was nothing I had to change. There was nothing I had to correct. The people dying of cancer were in their right place where nobody dies, and there is no cancer. Wars, man's inhumanity to man, was all part of it. There cannot be a creation if there is not an opposite to good. In order to have a creation there has to be opposites. There has to be the bad guy and the good guy. I was able to understand all these things.

The next thing I remember is my teacher was shaking me. I was the only one left in the class, everybody had gone, the bell rang, and I had not even started the mathematics test. Of course I got a great big zero.

But those feelings and the understanding never left me. From that time on my whole life changed. I was no longer interested in school. I was no longer interested in the friends I had. I won't go on any more than that for now, as far as that's concerned.

The point I'm trying to make is this. If the end result of realization is love, compassion, and humility, what if we were able to develop these qualities now? Do you see what I'm getting at? If we are able to develop this love, this beautiful joyous love, for everything, without exception, without being judgmental, and we had a great compassion, for everything, without being judgmental.    

Then of course, there's humility. Humility means we don't have to try to straighten things out, to get even, to stick up for our rights, for there is no one really left to do that. If some of us were to work on those aspects, it would lift us up and make us free.

This is something for you to think about. We have to learn to leave the world alone. We become so involved in politics, in family life, in work and the rest of these things we're involved in, that we forget that we only have so many years left on this earth in the body. And what are we doing with all of the time we have? We're spending the time on things that do not really exist, things that make no sense.

Imagine you're in a play in the theater, and you're playing a role, and you're playing a part. All the time you're aware that you're playing a part. You're not really that person. It's only a part you're playing. In the same way you are now playing a part, but you have forgotten you're playing a part. 

You think your body, the way it looks, the way it appears, what it does, what it acquires, is real, and you put all your energy into the game of playing the part. This is indeed a waste of energy. If you'd only put your energy in finding the self, that you really never lost. And you can do this by developing the qualities of love, compassion and humility.

This is another method you have to work on. As you're working on self-inquiry, work on the love, work on compassion, work on humility. Do not just practice self-inquiry for a while, and then react negatively to the world, and have your feelings hurt. Be yourself.

Awaken from the dream. Refuse to play any longer. Look at yourself all day long. See the things that you do, the thoughts that you have, the feelings that you have. It makes no difference what situation you're going through. It makes no difference what's going on in your life. The only thing that matters is what's going on inside of you.

Karmically you are put on this earth as a body, to go through karmic experiences. Therefore, the experience you're going through is part of the maya, the karma. Do not reflect on these things. This is important. You have to drop this. Leave it alone. If you only knew that nothing can ever happen to you. There never was a time when you were born.

There will never be a time when you die. You have always lived. You are consciousness. You have always existed. Identify with your existence. Merge into the existence of nothingness. I tell you this again and again. Leave the world alone. Remember what I mean when I say to leave the world alone. I'm not saying that you should voluntarily, consciously, make a plan of how you're going to leave the world alone. You'll not be able to live up to it. By leaving the world alone I mean, entertain in your mind higher thoughts.

Always have in back of your mind, "I am not the body. I am not the doer. I am not the mind." Feel this. Feel it deeply. 

Do not feel good or bad about it. Do not try to prolong your life. It's a waste of energy. What you call your life will take care of itself. It knows what to do better than you do. 

We're very limited in our understanding about the body, or the affairs of the body, what's going on in the body. Do not try to do anything with your body. Your body will do whatever it came here to do. It knows what to do. Separate your-self from that. Of course, you may do this by inquiring, "To whom does the body come? Who has this body?" and remain in the silence.

Many of us here this evening are making tremendous progress. I've been talking to many of you who are really getting there. Of course, I use all these terms loosely. 

There's nowhere to get. But I have to talk to you this way, to remind you to leave yourself alone. I know some of you may be in pain sometimes, and you say, "Well I want to live a life free of pain, therefore I have to do things to myself so I don't feel that pain." This is really a mistake. If you could only realize who has the pain. To whom does the pain come? I have the pain. Then who am I? If I have the pain, it means that the person who is thinking these things does not have the pain, for it is I that has the pain. You are free of pain, for you are not the I-thought. Remember the I we're talking about now is the thought, the I-thought, that has the pain and the experience of being born, the experience of dying, the experience of having problems. This is the I-thought that has these things. Not you.

You have to vehemently make up your mind that the only thing that matters to you is to become free, liberated, and let go of all the other things that keep you bound. This is why you have to work with love, compassion and humility. For if this is the end result of awakening, if you do this first, the awakening will come faster.

Even while I'm talking to you, some of you are thinking about your body, you're thinking about the mind, you're thinking about your work. This is what keeps you back.  

Destroy the thoughts through self-inquiry. Become free. Do not fight. Do not fear. Observe, watch, look, but have no opinions for or against. Some people think if they act this way they will not be able to function in the world. You will function. Always remember, there's an appearance of the body, and the body came here to do certain things, and it's going to do those things. It has absolutely nothing to do with you.

Many times when I talk to you I have to keep from laughing, (laughter) explaining all these things, talking about all these things, when you're already free, and you already know these things. Sometimes we're pulled into the illusion. For there's really no thing.

When I talk of God we're speaking of nothingness. God is nothing. And that nothing is you. We get more deeply involved when we constantly study, when we constantly read about so many spiritual topics, we get more deeply involved in maya which prevents us from waking up.

Why can't you be yourself and wake up? Why do you have to go through all these things, and make me sit here talking to you like this? Just think what I could be doing if I didn't have to talk to you. I could be watching Tales From The Crypt. (Laughter)

Be your self. When you are yourself the thoughts come slowly to you until they cease. When the thoughts become slower and slower into your mind, and the thoughts begin to disappear, you automatically become loving, compassionate and you'll have humility. In other words, the faster you get rid of your thoughts, the faster these other things come, these other qualities. So it's a matter of stopping your thoughts. It is the thoughts that see everything in this world as good and bad, right and wrong. As the thoughts begin to subside, love comes by itself, compassion, humility come by themselves. So again, we have to stop thinking.


So, what was Robert’s awakening experience? What was it all about?

It was a brief, time-limited transcendental experience wherein Robert perceived himself to be, the sense of I, his sense of I am, to be pure consciousness, and that everything in the universe also was pure consciousness, and was him. In addition, he felt that that an essential characteristic of the I am, of consciousness, was love, a great love far beyond what humans feel towards each other. Along with this, he felt compassion for all sentient beings, for everything that is alive, as well as a great sense of humility.

Then he returned to normal consciousness, but with the belief and conviction that he was consciousness itself, and the basic nature of that consciousness was love, compassion and humility, and a total acceptance of the world when it was.

At the same time, the recognition that he was consciousness itself, the totality, relieved him of the illusion that he was bound by an individual body and mind.
Then Robert proposed one more step and suggests a method.

First, he suggests practicing self-inquiry onto the sense of I, looking ever more deeply into one's own sense of I, or I am. This is the classic self-inquiry process which is the mainstay of both the Ramana tradition of which Robert is a part of, but also of Nisargadatta Maharaj.

Then he states, the feeling that never left him subsequent to his awakening experience, was his deep love for everything and everyone, and a profound sense of humility, and a compassion for all living things.

Then Robert proposes, “What if we work on developing this compassion, this love, this humility here and now before the awakening experience?”

This would be an additional practice to self in query, of looking into that sense of I am gradually becoming that sense of I am in meditation and in everyday self-witnessing, self-awareness.

He says awakening will come more quickly this way. In a sense, he saying "him Fake it till you make it." That is, grab onto the lasting after-effects of the awakening experience. 

Deliberately cultivate being kind, develop love for another, feel love for another very deeply and totally and lose ourselves in love. Every day we should cultivate increasing compassion for all living things, for hungry animals, starving babies, towards trees, insects and even rocks and a running river. And at the same time, we lose our arrogance, wanting constantly to bow in complete surrender to one's beloveds, whomever or whatever they may be. We drop our knees in humility. We touch the feet of our beloved. We become like dust in service to those we love. And by such deliberate cultivation of love, humility, compassion and surrender, we build in us a receptivity is for the transcendental awakening experiences, which in a sense, really are no longer necessary because we are already living the fruit of awakening.

For this reason I emphasize loving one another as deeply, as extensively compassionately as possible, until our love for another is so intense and deep that naturally we drop our knees in deep humility surrender.

That is why I recommend human relationships so much, to practice increasing loving this in the most personal and powerful way to open us to the deepest love for sentience, surrender to the unfolding of consciousness in its own way and time. It is a way that the limited becomes the infinite.  

By practicing love, compassion, surrender and humility, we take on the cloak of God, until, as Nisargadatta puts it, the I Am, God, Consciousness loves you back and releases you.

Nisargadatta’s experience was similar. His guru toldhim he was not his body and he immediately accepted that.  With that conviction he concentrated on his sense of I Am less than three years and had a great awakening, but which is never described. 

What I would note though, is that Maharaj grabbed onto one fruit of the awakening experience, that he was not his body.  That conviction, along with focus on and love of the I Am, released him from suffering and distress and created one of the great Jnanis of our time.


  1. Why did I got into spirituality 4 years ago?

    Boredom, the desire to escape from life as I knew it, and an over all feeling of being imprisoned as a woman. I began to realize that my whole life I had been an echo for another man's truth, that I had been a 'man-made' woman, a second-class citizen, and I was dying in many ways.

    I was pondering today my ascent out of many of the binding tenets of Christian Orthodoxy, a system I had managed to shove every aspect of my life into.

    Reflecting back, I was stunned at how powerful 'belief' is and how the ideas I use to believe in years ago seem so silly today; meaning, they no longer have any power over me to a large extent.

    I wondered how I had come to be so easily convinced of another's ideas and if these ideas could be seen through and dropped.

    I wondered if that primal belief of, 'I am the body, I was born, I will die' could be dropped in the same way as any other belief, by constantly questioning, investigating, contemplating... I pondered how I came to have these beliefs, who told me these things? Are they true? Can I know for myself?

    I wondered if these things are squeezed out of us, gently, mostly without detection and we find we feel more natural, more whole. I am finding that patience and spirituality are not to be spoken of in the same sentence.

    Another one of the reasons I got into spirituality is because when I began to question and see through my religious beliefs I became terrified. I couldn't imagine life without God and since I only knew God within the context of Christianity, I was convinced that to drop that religion as the blueprint for my life, meant that I would be without anything. The fear and the terror were too great at the time, so unconsciously I turned to spirituality in order to feel 'safe and secure' and became deeply infected with the learned conceptual idea of what awakening was.

    The more spiritual books I read the more I was convinced that I would experience something like the 'big bang'; a huge, one time, cataclysmic event that would relieve me of 'my life.' I notice from time to time that the residue of this idea still lingers in the back of my mind. I find myself sometimes, 'waiting' for 'IT'. I am realizing that this has all been learned just as my beliefs in Christianity had been learned. I have merely exchanged one belief for another. Must they all go? Can they all go? Is it possible to 'be' without 'belief'? I must find out for myself.

    I am seeing that the search 'without' is endless.


  2. Very much enjoyed reading this post. Back to basics, thanks Ed.

  3. that s so beautiful and profound - thank you, Ed!

  4. Thanks for this Ed. An ABC of the main points for me....

    Have a fierce commitment to freedom.

    Avoid reading too many books.

    Abide in the self to slow and stop thought.

    Practice loving kindness, humility and compassion to quicken awakening.

  5. Joan,

    Your question "is it possible to be without a belief" reminds me of an interview I saw of C. Jung. When the interviewer asked him do you believe in God, Jung replied, I don't believe, I know. And you could see the solidity of his statement.

    Janet B.