Average: 3.2 (1128 votes)
Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Steven Gray, Adya
Spiritual Teacher
Zen, Advaita
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Cupertino, California, USA
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Descendant Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
His Zen Masters - Arvis Joen Justi, Jakusho Kwong Roshi


Adyashanti was born in 1962 in Cupertino, California. His given name is Stephen Gray.

At the age of nineteen, he came across the idea of enlightenment in a book, and it ignited a desire to experience that ineffable state. He built a hut in his parents’ backyard and practiced meditation there with all the vigor of a competitive athlete, training under the guidance of Zen teacher Arvis Joen Justi. When he was twenty-five, he experienced an awakening, which he describes as “a realization of the underlying connectedness and oneness of all beings.”

For the next eight years he continued to meditate — though he says that all sense of effort and anxiety vanished — and work in his father’s machine shop. In 1996 Justi encouraged Gray to start teaching on his own. He gave his first talks in his aunt’s spare room above a garage to just a handful of students. Sometimes no one would show up. Over a few years the small gatherings grew, until there were hundreds of students in attendance each week. During this time Gray took the name “Adyashanti,” Sanskrit for “primordial peace.”

These days Adyashanti gives talks and weekend “intensives.” He also leads five-night silent retreats, which have become so popular that registration now takes place by random lottery. The nonprofit organization Open Gate Sangha supports his work and sells his books and recordings of his talks.

Adyashanti is married and lives with his wife in the Bay Area, not far from his childhood home.


Adyashanti's teachings are rooted in the heritage of the early Chinese Zen masters, as well as in the Advaita - nondualistic tradition, whose basic tenet is that a separate self, distinct from the rest of the world, is an illusion.

In the end spirituality is not about watching the breath. It's about waking up from the dream of separateness to the truth of unity.

Adyashanti says humans tend to identify with a sense of self that essentially does not exist, sometimes referred to as empty. The Buddha called this idea no-self, or anatta.

Suffering is thus said to be caused by the belief in a separate self that seems to be divided from the world. If someone was to realize that he, as an individually isolated self, was not real, but that there is only one being, known as Buddha-nature in Buddhism or Brahman in Hinduism, then they would be awakened to the true nature of their being, to oneness. To have such an awakening is to realize that there is no me and no other, there is only one. One being, one universe, one everything.

Adyashanti illustrates this idea when he says:

There is only life living itself, life seeing itself, life hearing itself, life meeting itself as each moment.

Suffering, however, does not necessarily end here. After an awakening it is suggested that there is often a long process of embodiment where the old beliefs of the body and mind, sometimes called sanskaras, gradually yield to the new understanding of one's true nature.

True Meditation

True Meditation is the form of meditation that Adyashanti suggests his students to practice while on his retreats.

It has two components: Silent Sitting and Meditative Self-Inquiry.

In Silent Sitting, the purpose is for the practitioner to let go of control and let his/her attention to rest in the natural state that he/she is already in. He states: "When you cease trying to control and manipulate your experience, meditation spontaneously happens."

In Meditative Self-Inquiry, the student can ask what are considered to be spiritually-significant questions. These questions are meant to expose illusionary thoughts and give rise to insight. An example of such a question is the "who am I?" inquiry, popularized by Ramana Maharshi. In My Secret is Silence Adyashanti explains: "A spiritual question is like an alarm clock thrown into the dream. "Who am I?" calls into question everything the dreamer believes in, namely him or herself. It disrupts the dream. That's its purpose."



Adyashanti provides public Satsangs where he gives a Dharma talk and then engages the audience with Questions and Answers. He also provides intensive sessions of all day, or weekend long, format. He also offers silent retreats several times a year. On these retreats participants refrain from speaking for several days, except during the Q&A in Satsangs, and also practice several hours of silent sitting.

For locations and schedule see

View Video

Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

The Impact of Awakening: Excerpts From the Teachings of Adyashanti

by Adyashanti


\"The Impact of Awakening\" is a collection of excerpts from the dharma talks and dialogues of spiritual teacher Adyashanti on the nature of spiritual awakening and the embodiment of self-realization. These discussions explore the true meaning of enlightenment in a down-to-earth language that reflects Adyashanti\'s roots in Zen Buddhism and non-dualism. These talks give many spiritual seekers the gift of freedom as a lived human experience.

Cover image

True Meditation: Discover the Freedom of Pure Awareness

by Adyashanti


What would happen if you were to allow everything to be exactly as it is? If you gave up the need for control, and instead embraced the whole of your experience in each moment that arose? In the 14 years that he studied Zen, Adyashanti found that most seasoned meditators had used the practice as \"an end instead of a means to an end.\" What he ultimately realized was that only when you let go of all techniques—even the concept of yourself as a meditator—will you open to the art of True Meditation, dwelling in the natural state. True Meditation invites you to join the growing number of seekers who have been touched by the wisdom of Adyashanti to learn:

  • How to make the \"effortless effort\" that will vivify the present moment
  • Meditative self-inquiry and \"The Way of Subtraction\": how to ask a spiritually powerful question—and determine the real answer
  • Two guided meditations on CD intended to reveal what Adyashanti calls \"your home as awareness itself\"

\"We\'ve been taught that awakening is difficult,\" explains Adyashanti, \"that to wake up from the illusion of separation takes years. But all it really takes is a willingness to look into the depths of your experience here and now.\" True Meditation gives you the opportunity to reclaim the original purpose of meditation—as a gateway to \"the objectless freedom of being.\"

Cover image

Emptiness Dancing

by Adyashanti


There is something about you brighter than the sun and more mysterious than the night sky.

Who are you when you are not thinking yourself into existence? What is ultimately behind the set of eyes reading these words? In Emptiness Dancing, Adyashanti invites you to wake up to the essence of what you are, through the natural and spontaneous opening of the mind, heart, and body that holds the secret to happiness and liberation.

From the first stages of realization to its evolutionary implications, Adyashanti shares a treasure trove of insights into the challenges of the inner life, offering lucid, down-to-earth advice on topics ranging from the ego, illusion, and spiritual addiction to compassion, letting go, the eternal now, and more. Whether you read each chapter in succession or begin on any page you feel inspired to turn to, you will find in Adyashanti\'s wisdom an understanding and ever-ready guide to the full wonder of your infinite self-nature.

  1. Awakening
  2. Satsang
  3. Openness
  4. Innocence
  5. Harmonization
  6. Freedom
  7. The Radiant Core
  8. Silence
  9. Conciousness
  10. Depth
  11. Ego
  12. Love
  13. Spiritual Addiction
  14. Illusion
  15. Control
  16. Letting Go
  17. Compassion
  18. Fire of Truth
  19. Enlightenment
  20. Implications
  21. Dharmic Relationship
  22. Fidelity
An Interview with Adyashanti


The aim of my teaching is enlightenment—awakening from the dream state of separateness to the reality of the One.  In short, my teaching is focused on realizing what you are.  You may find other elements in my teaching that simply arise as a response to people’s particular needs of the moment, but fundamentally I’m only interested in you waking up.
Enlightenment means waking up to what you truly are and then being that.  Realize and be, realize and be.  Realization alone is not enough.  The completion of Self-realization is to be, act, do, and express what you realize.  This is a very deep matter, a whole new way of life—living in and as reality instead of living out the programmed ideas, beliefs, and impulses of your dreaming mind.
The trust is that you already are what you are seeking.  You are looking for God with his eyes.  This truth is so simple and shocking, so radical and taboo that it is easy to miss among your flurry of seeking.  You may have heard what I am saying in the past and you may even believe it, but my question is, have you realized it with your whole being?  Are you living it?
My speaking is meant to shake you awake, not to tell you how to dream better.  You know how to dream better.  Depending on what you mental and emotional state at the time is, I may be very gentle and soft with you, or not so gentle and soft. You may feel better after talking with me, but that is incidental to awakening.  Wake up!  You are all living Buddhas.  You are the divine emptiness, the infinite nothing.  This I know because I am what you are, and you are what I am.  Let go of all ideas and images in your mind, they come and go and aren’t even generated by you.  So why pay so much attention to your imagination when reality is for the realizing right now?

Recommended Audio: 
Cover image

The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment (Sounds True Audio Learning Course)

by Adyashanti

(Audio CD)

For those serious about enlightenment, author and teacher Adyashanti has some advice: better know what you¿re getting into. Because with spiritual awakening, you find that the strongly held beliefs and perceptions you¿ve taken to be ¿you¿ and ¿your world¿ vanish into the unmanifest nature of all that is. The End of Your World presents a landmark six-CD course on the reality of enlightenment and the total ¿re-wiring¿ of your being that accompanies it¿what Adyashanti calls ¿our journey into the infinite, our true nature as pure consciousness itself.¿

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The Nature of Illusion

by Adyashanti

(Audio CD)

Recorded live at a weekend intensive in Los Altos, CA April 45-15, 2007. Aprox. 8 hours running time. Offers a profound and intimate investigation into the freedom of spiritual awakening. Various topics including, *When illusion collapses, *Being your own authority, *Mystical experiences,* Insecurity, *The limits of intention, *Discernment& decision making, *Life as a spiritual practice, * True love. and more.

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Spontaneous Awakening

by Adyashanti

(Audio CD)

Enter the \"Ordinary State\" of Enlightenment

Many of us share the belief that enlightenment is rare-that true spiritual awakening only happens for extraordinary people. According to Adyashanti, this idea may actually be the most powerful impediment to our awakening. On Spontaneous Awakening, he invites you to inquire into the \"ordinary nature\" of enlightenment-and the profound truth of who you really are.

\"Do not think that enlightenment is going to make you special-it\'s not. If you feel special in any way, then enlightenment has not occurred,\" teaches Adyashanti. So where do we start? With the desire to look fearlessly at and inquire passionately into truth, explains Adyashanti. \"When you stop resisting experience, what remains is the bliss of sheer nothingness. And everything that is possible lives in that nothingness.\"

With more than seven hours of teachings, two guided meditations, and an exclusive Sounds True interview, Spontaneous Awakening is an eye-opening program that explores topics including:

  • The self-authenticating nature of spiritual discovery
  • The link between personal awareness and awareness itself
  • How attachment can lead to complete freedom and unattachment
  • Why genuine spiritual knowing requires mental subtraction-not addition.

Pro Opinions

Direct, unpretentious, unassuming and awakened.

vimutti's picture

I have heard Adyashanti speak on tape and CD since about 2003. His unpretentious manner and clarity have been very important for me.

Adyashanti is the real deal

Leelo11's picture

I first heard Adya speak at a gathering in Lajolla, CA when he was only in his 2nd year of teaching. There were many other "Enlightened" teachers who also spoke at this gathering.

Con Opinions

Near but certainly not there and therefore misleading

Jasmin's picture

He is nice, he is pleasant, he is very eloquent and extremely smart. But he is certainly not "there". There are these small fallacies in his talks that make the whole difference.

Hridayam's picture


I don't know Adyashanti well and read your comment with interest. In fact, i had the same question in my mind when seeing some clips or reading some texts. On the other hand it is very difficult to judge from the outside. If you read some answers of Ramana Maharshi and form a judgement out of these you would come to some misleading psychological conclusion. For me a sure sign of of spiritual liberation is the autonomy of being, remaining 'awake' even in deep sleep. Maybe one should ask Adyashanti about that....

Hridayam | Sat, 02/18/2012 - 01:27
marsia's picture

respectfully disagree

I live near a place where Adyashanti gives talks, so I go to them often. He does not always preface his talks with statements about how direct experience can not begin to be captured in words and concepts, but he does say that often. He also laughs at his own attempts to put the experience of the divine into words. In addition, he encourages his students to see for themselves what he is pointing towards. He uses the "finger pointing to the moon" analogy a lot, which I believe is a main criticism in your critique of him. So I do think you would be more in agreement with his teachings if you heard some of the times he addresses this.

He does not want to describe the divine because he doesn't want people to grasp on to the concepts of what enlightenment will be like. He encourages direct experience and questioning his teachings in order to find your own path, as everyone's path is unique. He also, as some Buddhists do, does not usually explore the metaphysical with students. So I don't think he would be an ideal teacher for you. He acknowledges this dimension of experience, but does not go into it much.

I do not blindly follow Adyashanti's teaching, and there is an aspect of the way he teaches that I do not agree with, but he is my primary teacher, and he is very open minded and very sincere and from my perspective, does point toward Truth. I think taken out of context, it can look differently, and I respect where you are coming from.

marsia | Thu, 03/28/2013 - 17:47