Introduction: A Modern Times' Self-Realisation Master
In the annals of spiritual guidance and self-realisation, few figures stand as prominently as Robert Adams, whose teachings in the late 20th century captivated the hearts and minds of self-realisation seekers worldwide.
Born in 1928, Adams' journey was one marked by early spiritual inclinations, leading to a life dedicated to the pursuit of self-realisation and the sharing of his profound insights.
Adams' teachings, deeply rooted in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta* and profoundly influenced by the great sage Ramana Maharshi, resonated with a contemporary audience seeking solace and understanding in a rapidly changing world.
His approach was simple yet profound, often centering on the concept of the 'I' or the self, and the realisation of its true, unchanging nature amidst the ephemeral world.
Moreover, his message was one of love, compassion, and encouragement of the inner pursuit of truth, which he believed was accessible to all.
Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of Adams' teachings was his emphasis on silence as a path to inner peace and self-realisation.
He thus advocated for a meditative practice that involved turning inward, away from the distractions of the external world, to discover the eternal self that lies within.
This practice, he asserted, was key to experiencing a state of bliss and sensing the interconnectedness of all existence.
The teachings of Robert Adams were not confined to the realms of meditation and philosophical discourse.
He also emphasised the importance of living a life of virtue, kindness, and selfless service.
Coning back to spirituality, his approach towards it was holistic, combining the wisdom of ancient texts with practical advice for daily living.
This made his teachings accessible and relevant to people from all walks of life.
One of the most compelling aspects of Adams' legacy is his Q&A sessions, particularly several ones from the early 1990s that stand as a testament to his rare wisdom and insight.
These sessions were not just discourses but interactive dialogues, where self-realisation seekers could pose their deepest spiritual questions and receive guidance directly from him.
The specific session we are about to explore in this blog post is particularly special.
It is replete with spiritual awakening and self-realisation gems, offering timeless wisdom that continues to resonate with modern seekers of the truth about life - and hopefully this will be the case for you as well.
In this session, Adams delves into the intricacies of the spiritual awakening journey, addressing common challenges and misconceptions.
He speaks about the nature of the mind, the illusion of the ego, and the path to transcending these barriers to reach a state of pure consciousness, and/or the ultimate reality of the universe.
His answers are not just theoretical but are grounded in his own experiences and realisations, making them profoundly impactful and relatable.
Thus, this Q&A from 1990 is more than just a transcript of a spiritual discourse.
It is a window into the mind of a spiritual awakening master who lived and breathed the essence of self-realisation.
Therefore, it is an opportunity for you to connect with the teachings of Robert Adams and apply them to your own quest for spiritual growth.
In fact, as we delve into this Q&A session, you will find that each answer provided by Adams is not just a response to a question, but an invitation to embark on a journey within.
Reading it carefully and slowly - which I strongly recommend you do - will encourage you to question your own perceptions, to look beyond the surface of your everyday experiences, and to discover the one and only truth of your own being.
Thus, and overall, it's a journey that promises to be enlightening, transformative, and ultimately, liberating.
Note that this is part 1 of 2 of the Q&A in question.
Part 2 will follow in the next days.
*Advaita Vedanta is a school of Hindu philosophy and spiritual practice, tracing its origins back to the Upanishads, a collection of ancient Indian texts that form the core of Hindu teachings.
It was systematised in the early centuries AD by the philosopher Adi Shankaracharya (usually referred to as "Shankara").
The central tenet of Advaita Vedanta is the belief in the fundamental non-dualism (Advaita) of reality.
It postulates that the true, ultimate reality is Brahman, the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality that is the divine ground of all being.
Brahman is considered beyond the perception of the senses and the intellect.
Advaita Vedanta asserts that the individual soul (Atman) and Brahman are ultimately not distinct.
The sense of separation or duality between the individual and the divine is attributed to ignorance (Avidya).
The main goal of Advaita Vedanta is self-realisation or the recognition of one's true identity as Atman, which is not separate from Brahman.
This realisation is often described as a state of liberation (Moksha) or freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth (Samsara).
In this vein, the philosophical system (if we could call it as such, given that this label appears to do it a bit of injustice) of Advaita Vedanta encourages a path of knowledge (Jnana Yoga), where one engages in self-inquiry (Vichara) and meditation to transcend the limitations of individual identity and experience the unity of Atman and Brahman.
Furthermore, the teachings of Advaita Vedanta emphasise the importance of detachment, discernment, and the realisation of the non-dual nature of reality as key steps towards spiritual awakening.
(In the following text, "Q" corresponds to the question raised by the attendant of the session in question - which took place on October 14th 1990 - whereas "A" to the answer provided by Robert Adams):
Q: When we try to meditate, we just clear our minds.
You said that we could do it by asking the "Who am I?" question.
Someone also mentioned before about clearing the mind by just trying to listen.
Is that also another way [to clear the mind]?
A: It makes no difference what method you use to clear the mind.
The idea is to make your mind quiescent, to make your mind still and calm.
When your mind is still and calm you solve the problem.
Every method - self-enquiry, breath control, yoga - is to quiet the mind.
Use the method that suits you.
You can become the witness to your thoughts.
You can watch your thoughts as they go by.
When you become the witness, and you do not interfere with the thinking process, the thoughts will begin to weaken by themselves, until they dissipate entirely.
You can ask yourself:
"To whom come these thoughts?".
Whatever method you use is fine.
But by all means, do something to still the mind.
And, again, when the mind is still and quiet, everything will take care of itself.
The secret is to quiet the mind.
Your real nature is self-realisation.
When the mind is still, you just return to your real nature.
What you always were.
Q: Earlier you said that self-enquiry was the fastest path to self-realisation.
This is the fastest path versus what?
A: Versus anything.
It has been proven that vichara is the fastest path to awaken.
Vichara means self-enquiry.
By enquiring within yourself and finding the source of your existence, your "body-mind" disappears, and you become your Self once again.
But it's nor for everyone.
Most people seem to have some kind of difficulty [with vichara].
[In that case] you've got to do what you've got to do.
Do whatever helps you:
Breath control, mantras, japa, repetition of God's name.
But by all means, do something.
This is why I share these various methods of meditation with you.
If you get tired of one, you can use another one.
[But] if you practice, something will give eventually.
Something will happen to the one who practices.
Q: Ultimately, is there any need for meditation?
You meditate just to find out that you don't have to.
But if some of us do not meditate, we go crazy.
The world has a hold on us.
Therefore, once again, meditation is good to quiet the mind.
Consider this, though:
Does God have to meditate?
And what should God meditate on?
When you understand who you are, there will be no need for meditation.
Until then, do whatever you have to do.
Q: When we say "meditation", is abiding to our own awareness that we are referring to?
Abiding in the Self, in the "I".
When you abide in the "I", you automatically go to the ultimate truth.
You discover that you are pure consciousness.
By all means, abide in the "I".
Q: So, when we say "meditation", we do not mean something that will take us away from here?
A: Of course not.
As I said before, "I, I" is meditation.
When you repeat to yourself "I, I", and do it with your breathing - you inhale, you say "I"; you exhale, you say "I".
The reason it's so powerful is because "I" is the first name of God.
You, therefore, are speaking of yourself.
And as you continue with "I, I", ultimate reality will come to you.
Q: But, you are not talking about just plain repetition on the level of the mind.
But rather "I" as "I am that I am".
A: Plain repetition isn't merely nothing.
Plain repetition of "I, I", instead of thinking of the world, will eventually lead to realisation.
Most people think about their bodies, their affairs and the world.
When you start using "I, I", you forget about the world for a while, and you will notice how better you feel when you're finished.
How more secure you feel.
How happier you become.
And that proves to you that there is some substance [in this practice].
The more you continue with it, the greater the ensuing feeling of happiness within yourself.
Q: What role does grace play in self-enquiry?
A: Grace is always available.
Just like the sun is always available.
But, sometimes, the clouds seem to block the sun.
And you no longer see its rays.
But it's always there.
When the clouds dissipate, the sun shines once more.
In the same way, the clouds of doubt, suspicion, apprehension, laziness, keep the grace from coming.
But the grace is always there.
You just have to recognise it.
Realise it's there.
And take part in it.
There's no one to give grace.
Grace is consciousness.
It's the same thing, and it's always there - it never went away.
Q: In the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, it says that there are three different ways that the Guru bestows grace:
By look, or thought, or touch.
Is that somehow different from the grace you are talking about?
A: It's the same thing.
It's for the benefit of the ajnani (for those who are in ignorance) that it is said that the Guru bestows his grace by touch, by look, by feel.
And that has happened for the person who has taken part in that kind of grace.
But for the mature seeker, it's always there.
You just have to awaken to it.
But, again, both are the same.
There is no difference.
Q: How do you know when you are awakened to it?
A: Oh, you will know.
You will feel a feeling of immortality.
You will feel peace that you never dreamt it existed.
You will feel bliss that's unworldly.
It cannot be described.
But you will feel it yourself.
Q: And what is grace?
A: Grace is love.
Grace is realisation.
Grace is awakening.
Grace is consciousness.
Q: That's all there is, isn't it?
And nothing else exists.
Q: Is a Guru necessary in order to bestow [grace]?
A: For some people yes, for some people no.
It depends on your karma.
You have an inner Guru.
And if you trust the inner Guru, the inner Guru will lead you where you need to go.
It may lead you to another Guru, or to a tree, or to a river, or to a bug, or to yourself.
But you have to surrender to your inner Guru for this to happen.
When there's total surrender, you will find you are at the right place, doing the right thing.
Q: What part does choice play?
A: There is no choice.
The only freedom you have is not reacting to conditions.
The only freedom that exists is to turn within and transcend the whole thing.
Transcend the karma, the world and God - and become totally free.
As soon as you awaken, you don't have a choice.
[Before that], your choice is whether to turn within and not react to circumstances or react to circumstances and play the game all over again.
The choice is yours.
Everything else has been determined prior to you taking birth.
Now, that's a tough realisation to make for a Westerner, who has a big Ego, but I can assure you it's the truth.
It is only when you are not realised that it appears that you get entangled in a karma trip.
Q: Is there an indication when one comes near to realisation?
A: Sometimes there is, sometimes there's not.
Usually, it's like turning on the light.
You've been living in the darkness for years, and then you turn on the light.
The only indication is that.
Q: If one gets to that state during this lifetime, it would not be so bad to come back, and see what world the people who are realised can make.
A: Everyone who gets to this state is not of this world anymore.
This planet is like a third-grade planet, dominated by duality.
The idea is to get off this planet and never come back.
Let God take care of the world.
Find your true self and become free - and then see if you'll ask again this question.
You always get so concerned about the world.
But, remember, you are the world.
The world comes from your mind, from your thoughts.
You are the creator of the world through the very thoughts that you project.
When you thoughts go out, the world is created.
When you pull your thoughts in, the world disappears.
Q: So, theoretically, if we all became realised, there would be no world to come back?
Because the world never existed to begin with.
The world is like an optical illusion; like a dream.
It exists because you exist.
But what happens to the world when you're in deep sleep?
It no longer exists.
But you exist.
Find out who you are.
Q: There seems to be no answer to that question.
A: No, there isn't.
As long as you feel that you are not yourself, there will always be a question.
If you are the Self, tell me who asks the question, [given that] your Self is omnipresence.
Q: It seems so sad to leave this world...
A: It seems sad to leave this world?
Q: ... without trying to make it a little bit better.
A: What do you have to do with the world?
The world has always been here and will always be here.
Set yourself free, and then see if you're concerned of the world.
Do you know what I mean by this?
The world does not exist as it appears.
As long as you believe in the world, you are going to ask the question you just asked.
Because you think the world is what appears to you as reality.
But it does not exist.
Let's say, for instance, you have a dream.
And in that dream the world is a terrible mess.
People are killing each other, there are earthquakes, cataclysms - it is simply terrible.
And then you wake up.
What happened to that world?
You forget about it, don't you?
You forget about your dream
And you concentrate on this world.
In the same way, when you wake up from reality, this world disappears in the same way the dream did.
And only you exist as the Self, or as consciousness.
Q: And from there, whatever happens, happens.
A: There is nothing to happen.
What is there to happen?
To an ajnani, all kinds of things are always happening.
To a jnani [an enlightened being], nothing is happening.
Q: I can view you as affecting hundreds of people, yet for you the world doesn't exist.
From my point of view, as an ajnani, I can see the benefit you are making by attaining realisation.
A: Never mind what I'm doing.
Why don't you see what you're doing?
Find out who you are and never mind me.
People have been trying to bring peace to this world from time immemorial.
Remember, our civilization is not the first one on this planet.
This planet is billions of years old, and we have had civilizations more advanced than the one we have today.
The point is:
Don't worry about the world.
Find out who you are, and let the world take care of itself.
Q: It seems like the world is like a necessary obstacle for the soul to be realised.
[If you can't overcome it in this lifetime], you need to come back again.
A: That's a nice way to put it.
It seems like that.
But in reality there are no obstacles.
For whom is the obstacle?
If you ask yourself that question, and you look for the answer within yourself, you will realise that there was never any obstacle.
You have always been free.
Q: But in order for us to be free, it seems that we need to learn certain lessons.
So, we keep coming back to achieve that, in order to be free.
A: It seems that way.
But the only lesson you ever needed to learn is that you are not the body-mind phenomenon,
Everything else will take care of itself.
Q: So, until I learn this, I'll keep coming back.
A: That's right.
We become too attached to worldly things, and the world puts us back, over and over again.
It's part of the dream, which is called Maya.
It appears very strong for most people.
That's why most people can never get in a path like this.
It's too much for them.
Q: It seems to be that the natural world that was here before people (air, water, trees) was fully aligned with this kind of universal existence...
A: When you go to sleep, what happens to the trees and the water?
They don't exist for you.
They only exist when you wake up, because you create them with your mind.
So, ask yourself:
Whom is the trees, the air and the water for?
And you'll realise that they exist because of your ego.
When your ego is disintegrated, everything else goes with it, and you become free.
See, everything that exists in the world - so to speak - must perish.
The trees last for so long, the mountains last for so long, people last for so long.
Everything has to perish.
Everything that is born must die.
So far as your true self is concerned, who was born and who has to die?
Enquire within yourself.
And see what happens.
For whom is the birth and death?
Now, most of you will leave it here.
You're going to forget what I said in about ten minutes.
You're going to wonder what to do next.
You will go to a restaurant or to a movie or worry about your future or get ready for work tomorrow.
It's only one in a thousand that thinks about these things all the time.
And this is the thing about them.
As it has been said [in ancient texts]:
"Out of a thousand, one searches for God.
And out of the thousand who search for God, one finds Him".
Find out who stands in the way, [blocking the view] of your true self.
Do you still have fears, frustrations, doubts, suspicions?
Do you still worry about your job, the world, your body, or your life?
This makes you earthbound.
It keeps you from becoming liberated.
To become liberated, you've got to forget all about your little self; about "me, me, me" all the time.
And realise that you are the whole universe, and that the whole universe is your true self.
Realise that I AM THAT, and all is well.