The Forward from the book: Awakening into a Complete Human Being by Atreya Thomas
Foreword by Scott Kiloby
I am regularly asked to write forewords and reviews for books. I must admit, however, that many spiritual books I’ve read have left me feeling as if a critical piece was missed by the author. Some authors tend to lean towards the transcendental aspect of awakening, ignoring to one degree or another our humanity and the embodiment of awakening. Others tend to lean the opposite way. They focus on the human experience, how to heal suffering, how to make life better or manifest a fulfilling future – all the while ignoring the profound possibility of true spiritual awakening. Even authors who attempt to bring both sides of the coin into a book often fall short of truly integrating humanity and the divine. There is usually some bias towards one side or the other. And the bias robs the reader and can even mislead him or her or, even worse, lead to spiritual bypassing.
This book you are about to read is a first for me. After reading it, there was a deep sense of completeness that I felt, as if I had just eaten a perfectly balanced meal. Nothing was missed. I’ve never felt that after reading a book. Atreya truly captures the freedom of awakening from ego while delving deeply into what it is like to embody that awakening in human form. It is practically impossible to write a book like this unless the author has traversed these two territories himself. Atreya definitely has! In fact, he is merging these two territories beautifully in this book. After all, they are two sides of the very same coin.
I cannot overstate the importance of fully including both sides of this coin. I began as a spiritual teacher years ago working with people who had devoted their lives to waking up out of the sense of being a separate self. I came to find, however, that the drive to wake up is often accompanied by a seemingly natural desire to escape human experience. This desire appears innocent at first, until you begin to see what is really happening. It so easily leads to wanting to bypass real issues such as addiction, trauma, guilt, shame, grief, depression and anxiety. This bypassing can leave people confused and can prolong suffering. It often prolongs or delays awakening itself. For those suffering from addiction or mental health issues, bypassing can even lead to illness, suicide or death. A few years ago, I moved partially away from spiritual teaching to open the Kiloby Center for Recovery, the first US treatment center to focus on awakening and embodiment as a path to recovery from addiction, depression, trauma and anxiety. This was a monumental shift in my life and one that led me to understand on an even deeper level the importance of both awakening as well as integration of that awakening into everyday human life. To encourage bypassing, either implicitly or explicitly, in someone suffering from addiction or another mental health issue is simply unethical. These days, I cannot in good conscience share about the subject of spiritual awakening without including both sides of this coin. Thankfully, Atreya feels the same way. This is why writing this foreword is a true pleasure for me. Atreya and I are cut from the same cloth.
Embodiment or “coming back to the front of the body,” as Atreya calls it, is all about bringing the realization of awakening into human form, into the body, into our relative existence as human beings. This is where the real healing happens. Embodiment was a critically important stage for me. As I was going through it, I found very few teachings or books that spoke clearly and directly to this part of the path. Although Atreya’s book was not available to me then, thankfully it is available to you now. I urge you to keep this book as a companion as you travel through the various eddies of spiritual awakening. It will help you avoid many of the pitfalls that people experience before, during and after the awakening and embodiment process.
Beyond Atreya’s well-balanced and complete treatment of this enigmatic subject of awakening and embodiment, you can “feel” Atreya as you read the book. Some spiritual books feel “dry.” Not this one. You can tell Atreya has done the very work he speaks about. You can sense that he is not identified with his mind. More importantly, you can sense that his heart and stomach are open. There is so much love seeping through the words of this book. As you feel his heart, you can tell that Atreya truly and genuinely cares about helping people experience authentic freedom.
Atreya is not simply interpreting old teachings either. There is no regurgitation here. The guidance and the practices in the book are very fresh, coming right out of Atreya’s personal experience. It is easy to see that this book was a labor of love for Atreya. He is the kind of author that you want to get to know better after you read the book. You want to sit down with him, spend time with him, soak in his earnestness and sincerity. Although Atreya may not be well known now as a teacher, I’m certain that many people will soon learn about him and the wonderful gifts he has to offer. And with that, I leave you in Atreya’s capable hands!
Author of Natural Rest for Addiction and Co-Founder of the Kiloby Center for Recovery.