On the Falling Away of Self – Adyashanti and Susanne Marie

Adyashanti and Susanne Marie in conversation with Rick Archer. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation for some months.

Join Susanne Marie and Adyashanti in an exploration with Rick Archer about an often misunderstood subject. Beyond the traditional landing places that mind creates (commonly discussed in non-dual circles), lies an indescribable landscape of living as pure, direct experiencing. Prior to this opening, the habitual subjective filter creates a veil of separation of which one is not even aware. This is true even within expanded, unified states of consciousness. Once this filter falls away, life is experienced directly, as itself, without any intermediary.

In the words of this site, the process from Unity into Brahman. That filter or veil (in the video) is consciousness itself, the movie screen of experiences. It is seen through when we go beyond the dynamics of consciousness.

It is a beautiful conversation where they raise many key points and discuss some of the variations and challenges of the process. They also highlight there is an underlying process that can be trusted. Uncertainty can be a barrier to allowing the process to complete and integrate. As Adya mentions, this is why we talk about such things.

Adyashanti calls the Brahman shift “no-self.” Most people who use this term are referring to the initial awakening*, due either to tradition or the style of experience. But in the conversation, he said there can be a no-self before or after Unity. He apparently considers them equivalent even though one shift is local and the other cosmic. There is then the implication that if you had no-self with the initial awakening, it will be the same after Unity. I’m dubious he intended this meaning and I would suggest this is not the case. Letting go of the cosmic Self is a major, distinct step. There’s a good reason it’s called the Great Awakening. And if someone remarkably awoke directly into Brahman, they would not go back to Unity.

One other small point – the interpreting intermediary Adya refers to is the mind. When the self is identified with the mind, we can see them as equivalent but after awakening this is not so true.


In a related video, Susanne explores the experience of her shift in more detail. She associates Adya’s “head, heart, gut” to slightly different stages than I do but yes, existential identity is released at the gut. For her, the gut release happened at the end of Unity instead of the beginning. Adya, here, and others had it with the start of Unity. Her description here also blends aspects of both Unity and Brahman in the experience. Over time, these should separate out more.

I can also note a further stage of “root” when another layer of awakening the body arises. In a sense, each stage has its own embodiment which might be experienced as a bodily awakening.

On her site

Overall, I quite enjoyed both.

* I refer to the first awakening as Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness here. However, if someone experiences the loss of ego into an emptiness, they’ll be more inclined to call it no-self. The cosmic Self is not apparent. But, if someone is Buddhist or related, they may still call it no-self for traditional reasons, even if boundless awareness is myself.

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18 Responses to On the Falling Away of Self – Adyashanti and Susanne Marie

  1. Amaryllis says:

    Thanks David. I enjoyed the conversation most when they were talking about direct experience, and least when the conversation got speculative. I just can’t enjoy guessing about the nature of reality for some reason… Maybe when I have clearer experience I will find it more interesting. I don’t exactly mean clearer, I mean that my inner knowing is very subtle, quiet, and slow to unfold. In these early stages of awakening, it seems more important to see what is present, without the overlay.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Amaryllis
      Quiet and slow is the smooth path often recommended. And yes, with an establishing shift the emphasis is very much on sorting out what is real and what is no longer true for us. It’s the right approach.

      I don’t recall there being much speculation but Rick did ask a few questions they didn’t explore.

      • Amaryllis says:

        “I don’t recall there being much speculation but Rick did ask a few questions they didn’t explore.”

        Exactly. That’s what I was talking about; the interruption of their flow with questions that seemed to come from outside that space…

        • Davidya says:

          Well – it was an interview and not just a conversation. And it’s done live and isn’t always smooth.

          Some things, like the question about soul I found quite insightful – what wasn’t said.

  2. gayanee says:

    While I was listening to this I wanted to write to you and discuss some of the points you have discussed here. Was really happy to see this article. I adore Sussane and Adya was one of my very first modern teachers. So I enjoyed the discussion very much too.

    “he said there can be a no-self before or after Unity”

    My teacher recognizes this too. It ‘appeared’ very much true here. Ramana’s path seem to indicate the same unfolding. They say it’s rare which I am dubious of.

    “There is then the implication that if you had no-self with the initial awakening, it will be the same after Unity.”

    But this is not true here

    “And if someone remarkably awoke directly into Brahman, they would not go back to Unity.”

    It’s not a going back to unity consciousness. The physiological integration brings about a different flavor.

    This is my take on this. When a soul comes into this life having realized Self and having been in a state of unified consciousness in the previous incarnation, at an early age before the physiology is fully developed the Brahman Shift could take place. It may seem like they shifted to Brahman without going through unity but that is not the case.

    Looking forward to hearing your insight.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Gayanee
      Yes – the 2 no-selfs are not the same. It would have been valuable for him to have clarified that but Adya was sick and no one else brought it up.

      I’ve never related to no-self as the Self was very present, even long before awakening. Although in some ways, the Brahman shift was a 2-step process, the first being more about what wasn’t there – Self. But I’m not inclined to the language. Different tradition.

      Yes, that is a possibility. In fact, I know someone who had their Unity shift on their death bed. In that case, they didn’t come back though.

      There is also the element of the need of the time. People can be elevated in exceptional ways. It’s always useful to recognize that none of this is personal.

      • Gayanee says:

        Yes I don’t care for that language either. Sanskrit and Maharishi’s language helped me sort it all out.

        It’s not personal but I also don’t like dismissimg the person or the divine and the divine forces. Nothing is ever created .. How could anything be created from holy wholeness yet there’s very much a person still here and there right?

        Wouldn’t you say a mature awakening integrates the person and the divine forces very well.

        When Adya somewhat dismiss the divine (or was it God) I didn’t care for that too much either :).

        It is pretty remarkable though these conversations are happening and anyone with internet have access to them. Yay!!

        • Davidya says:

          Yes, as I’ve written elsewhere, a monks approach came to dominate many spiritual traditions and it’s shadows still remain.

          With some of the shifts, there can be a falling away where it is directly experienced that there is no ego or person. But usually as it becomes integrated in time and recognized the person is still there, it’s just not who I am.

          Then there is a difference between ‘I am not the person’ and ‘there is a person there’. However, if the rajas “world-as-illusion” is dominant, we may see the world and the person with it as illusory and just say it’s not there. I don’t find that useful though as they are simultaneously expressing opinion, experience, and preference. 🙂

          Here, it’s very clear the world was never created in the first place and yet here is it, along with all it’s layers and life. They are both simultaneously true.

          Thats an aspect the mind can struggle with – simultaneous apparently-contradictory truths. But the Unity stage often means a whole series of sub-shifts, each of which change reality in various ways. That and unfolding subtle perception can mean that by the time you get to Brahman, you’ve given up looking for the “one right answer”.

          And yes – when the subtle layers become known, it becomes very clear how the world arises and thus the role of divine forces. Heck, even the witnessing of action in first awakening can make it clear I am Not the Doer. If we inquire what is…

          I don’t recall Adya dismissing the divine although I agree early experiences of that stuff can be a distraction. The focus should be on source, deeper and deeper into it.

          And yes, I agree. A decade ago, I knew one person in Brahman. That’s changed a LOT.

          • Amaryllis says:

            The Divine is very interesting to me at the moment. My life has been turned upside down, and I am in a pickle. I had so much fear, and it was really unpleasant; I couldn’t function properly when I most needed to. I don’t have an idea of what the Divine is, but spontaneously, I started praying, ‘please take my fear away, so I can be fully present to this situation.’ I woke up the next morning, and the fear was gone?! I can eat; I can sleep; I can contemplate what I need to see and learn; I can tolerate all the feelings… and I have no explanation for how this is possible… Boy am I grateful and humbled… whatever *it* is has gone straight to my heart… thanks be…

          • Davidya says:

            Hi Amaryllis
            Ah sorry to hear. But it is interesting how life’s challenges sometimes open doors we didn’t know were there.

            Fear can indeed be deeply incapacitating.

            On the experience (beautiful!) I would suggest there is 2 parts. The prayer, but also a deep letting go. A Thy Will Be Done moment. Then the contraction can release and with it, the fear.

            But of course, we also have the second element. When you let go, then the divine can support you.


          • Amaryllis says:

            Hi David, I have a question sort of about this:

            “when the subtle layers become known, it becomes very clear how the world arises and thus the role of divine forces.”

            Did you understand this process to the point of being able to articulate it, at the time it was happening, or is it only in hindsight that your experience became clear? I ask, because lately I have experiences of light and energy in my body which I *know* to be some kind of healing force (due to clarity and insight arising during and after). Note that it sounds coarse when I say it, but the knowing is a very subtle, quiet thing (and I am not attached to my interpretation being correct, as in I am open minded about it). My knowing is very tentative. Should I welcome these experiences with an open wonder at what they have to teach, or let them do their thing and not pay too much attention to them, given that they are not in my control anyway… the latter seems a bit forcibly detached and cold to me…

            Thanks 🙂

          • Davidya says:

            Hi Amaryllis
            In the beginning, there was usually a period of time it took to become clear or integrated, then words came and it could be articulated. Sometimes, it was so outside the minds conception that articulation took longer. Not only did the experience need to be digested but the mind had to too.

            Later, clarity often came with the experience as well as it’s own understanding. But even there, it can take time for the mind to digest and articulate.

            You approach is good. Don’t try to rush it as you don’t want to build conceptual filters based on first impressions.

            The optimum is kind of in the middle. Welcome but don’t push it. And don’t give them too much weight either. Remember that it will always evolve so theres nothing ultimate in there. But lots that can be discovered.


  3. Gayanee says:

    I love reading your words! Thank you!

  4. Gayanee says:

    What do you mean by the difference of ‘I am not the person’ and ‘there is a person there’
    They are both true to me. I would like a little bit of clarification.

    • Davidya says:

      Yes, that was the meaning. We recognize both as true. But if world-as-illusion is dominant, we may see the second as illusion and thus not consider it true.

      Then you get ‘I am not the person’ and ‘there is no real person’.

      Ironically, someone who insists on any of these being true is a person. 🙂

  5. Uli says:

    Hi David,
    I noticed this:
    Susanne Marie (minute 38:40):”I actually feel that as much as one can say ‘Oh,there’s still some individual left, there’s still human, you know, all that stuff…I can’t say that I can find it. And I’m not saying it that it isn’t there, it might be so thinned out and diffused that maybe you don’t..”

    That reminded me of what Sri Aurobindo says in “The Synthesis of Yoga”:
    “In the current forms of Yoga it is supposed that the Impersonal can only be sought for a complete unity in which God and our own person disappear and there is none to adore or to be adored; only the delight of the experience of oneness and infinity remains. But in truth the miracles of spiritual consciousness are not to be subjected to so rigid a logic. When we first come to feel the presence of the infinite, as it is the finite personality in us which is touched by it, that may well answer to the touch and call with a sort of adoration. Secondly, we may regard the Infinite not so much as a spiritual status of oneness and bliss, or that only as its mould and medium of being, but rather as the presence of the ineffable Godhead to our consciousness, and then too love and adoration find their place. And even when our personality seems to disappear into unity with it, it may still be—and really is—the individual divine who is melting to the universal or the supreme by a union in which love and lover and loved are forgotten in a fusing experience of ecstasy, but are still there latent in the oneness and subconsciently persisting in it. All union of the self by love must necessarily be of this nature. We may even say, in a sense, that it is to have this joy of union as the ultimate crown of all the varied experiences of spiritual relation between the individual soul and God that the One became many in the universe.” (The Mystery of Love)


    • Davidya says:

      Hi Uli
      Thanks for the quotes. I would rather have personal comments than a whole series of quotes. The first quote covered the main points, so I left it at that.

      It is interesting to explore. Rick wrote me about this point also.

      What I’ve found is that with a major shift, there is a change in our sense of who we are and a falling away of the old sense. So for example, a shift to being infinite Self (or no-self) and ego falling away.

      Renunciate approaches culture egolessness to continue and that approach has come to dominate some teachings.

      But if we continue to live in the world, it generally becomes apparent that the ego is still there, it’s just no longer who I am. It’s a function, like the mind, that allows us to be here in this body.

      This later also becomes true of the cosmic and devata bodies.

      Even if that is not the experience, it can be recognized logically. There is still a person here, expressing through this body, that has preferences, skills, and foibles.

      Further, as the process of embodiment unfolds, there can be a sense of the infinite descending into this form and flowing through. So what is here becomes a part of that.

      But there is big differences in how this is subjectively experienced. Our teaching can also influence expectations and emphasis.

      But also, some people are not particularly analytical. They will simply enjoy what is unfolding here and not get into questions about what else is going on. They will tend to have a simpler and clearer approach to the process that can make them better teachers.

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