Genuine spiritual awakening is coming to a stable recognition of the pure consciousness within us, deeper than thought, emotion, feeling, or life story. It is radically non-theistic, viewless, genderless, both infinitely greater than the individual and inexorably bound to his or her breath, ego, and body.

Integral Zen is based on the fact that deep meditative consciousness is fundamentally pure and receptive, while ego is temporary and superficial. And yet we must use our egos — not destroy or transcend them — on our path as awakening human beings. This creates the paradox and confusion at the heart of spiritual practice.

Our teachings and our retreats are designed to work with this central paradox. We are fundamentally free right now, and yet spiritual insight must always flow through a relative and wholly constructed and fully conditioned human ego. The ego can be transformed by spiritual insight, but it can never be fully transcended (nor would we want it to be — that is spiritual bypassing, not spiritual maturity).

This understanding is the beginning of an Integral Right View. For even with profound spiritual awakening, an incorrect view will rob us of a stable insight. It will prevent us from interrupting our ego’s immediate and habitual reactivity and creating the transformation we most desire.