Our steering/visioning committee decided it would be interesting to
choose an article from the IONS Shift magazine for dialogue in one
of our meetings. So at our next meeting we will be talking about the
following article that was in the latest Shift. This issue is titled
“The Transformative Power of Learning.” For those of you who are
not IONS members, or have not received that issue, the article is reprinted
below. We will also have copies of the article at the meeting for people
to read or refer to. The idea of “Translucence” is new
to me. I am looking forward to hearing other people’s take on
the article and thoughts or experiences of this idea.
I am leaving as soon as I finish my email work for a week long spiritual
retreat/road trip. Will look forward to our meeting on Monday the 24th
May we all be uplifted by this wave of awakening.
Cultivating Translucence: a curriculum for a saner planet By Arjuna
Ardagh - - -
Shift, Sept-Nov. 2005
NOT LONG AGO, I
received an advertisement in my mailbox asking me to subscribe to
a new magazine. The headline read,” In a world
gone slightly mad, you need to read...”. It was a great marketing
hook because everyone can relate to the message. We may have different
political, environmental, or economic leanings, but everyone I know
these days agrees: We live in a world gone slightly mad. According
to any number of parameters, the future looks bleak—global warming,
melting ice caps, depletion of natural resources, pollution of water
and air, growing economic disparity, ethnic and religious conflict—with
the stakes escalating beyond our capacity to imagine. And this is not
just an academic consideration or idle dinner party chatter. If you
have been paying attention, this is a matter of ultimate concern. It’s
one thing to discover dry rot in your basement. It can be fixed. And
if the damage has really gone too far, inconvenient as it may be, you
can move. Even if the whole neighborhood has gone to the dogs, there
is still the rest of the country, the rest of the world. But our planet
in trouble? This is all we know for sure: Every memory, every reference
we have, is to this Earth.This is it.
is reputed to have said,”The significant problems
we have cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness with which
we created them.” What do we need to learn, individually and
together, to collectively shift to a level of consciousness that
solves problems rather than creates them?
Back in the 1970s
at Cambridge, my friends were already concerned. John became a Marxist
and saw the solution as political. Clair joined
Greenpeace and is still with them to this day. Paul became a pacifist,
abandoning his math degree to devote himself fully to waging peace.
Like many others of my generation, I took to spiritual practice. I
started with the only arena in which I felt I had any real authority:
me. The journey seemed endless, and often discouraging, but it was
fueled by a longing that couldn’t be denied.
About fifteen years
ago, we began to see an extraordinary shift occurring, at first for
just a few people. In 1992, for example, Robert was
out on an evening walk. He had been through a series of trials and
over the previous several years, and his mood was blacker than the
night. “I am finished,” his mind announced. He still has
trouble explaining what happened next. “I was overcome by a sense
of relief,” he reports. “A sudden feeling of inexpressible
freedom. I even began to laugh out loud. My body was filled with happiness,
as if I were suddenly getting a joke I’d been missing. For the
first time I was feeling really good for no reason at all. I was totally
here, in this moment. I could feel the trees around me, and hear the
sounds without having to listen to thoughts telling me things needed
to be different in some way. Everything was being experienced, but
the ‘me’ was gone:”
I call a moment
like this a “radical awakening.” It is
the moment when you taste reality outside the limiting confines of
the mind, when you know yourself to be limitless. much bigger than—yet
still containing— the body, beyond birth and death, eternally
free. Despite the activity of thought and feeling, you know yourself
to be the silence experiencing that movement. It is the moment
when you can intuit the real potential of life, free from the incessant
machinery of complaint and ambition. A radical awakening often
a tidal wave of creativity and generosity of spirit, a natural
impulse to serve and contribute. In these moments, we know that
love is who
we are, not something we sometimes feel.
can leave an imprint on the body and psyche. You are left with a
deep knowing of the perfection of things, even
are going wrong. You realize that everything is interconnected,
even when you are caught in conflict; that who you are is actually
bigger than the person you have taken yourself to be. At the
same time, you have the humility, the honesty, and humor to cop
of this human monkey—it has addictions to particular pleasures,
and to its favorite miseries. The awakening initiates a gradual
metamorphosis, which is both evolutionary and endless, inherent
in life itself. This
awakening is the impulse for the realization to continuously
marinate the personal, and to become ever more deeply embodied.
an amused, playful attitude to the only raw materials available:
the strange habits of the bundle of thoughts you call me.”
I call people who
have been transformed in this way “translucent,” which
Webster's Dictionary defines as letting light pass through, but not
transparent.” A transparent object, like a clean sheet
of glass, is almost invisible. You see everything through a
as if it were not there at all. An opaque object, on the other
hand, blocks light completely. A translucent object allows
light to pass
through diffusely while maintaining its form and texture. Objects
on the other side cannot be clearly distinguished. A crystal
So is a sculpture of frosted glass: If the sun were to shine
on it from behind, you would see the light passing through
and it would appear to be glowing from the inside.
Translucent people also appear to glow from the inside. They
have access to their deepest nature as peaceful, limitless,
and at the same time they remain fully involved in the events
of their personal lives. Thoughts, fears, and desires still
is still characterized by trials, misfortunes, and stress.
But the personal story is no longer opaque; it is now capable
reflecting something deeper, more luminous and abiding, that
can shine through
Over the last three
years, I have conducted in—depth
interviews with more than 170 translucents, and surveyed 13,000 more.
fill 250 cassette tapes and make up more than one million
words. They include such well—known writers and teachers as Eckhart
Tolle, Byron Katie, Ram Lass, and Jean Houston. But I also talked to
hairdressers, housewives, and hobos. I’ve asked politicians,
drug dealers, and even my tax consultant about this. I
regularly ask whoever is sitting next to me on the plane.
All over the world, from
every imaginable background and system of belief~ people
report that the trance of separation is being broken. And,
as sociologist Paul
Ray shared with me, The mouth of the funnel is getting
bigger every day.”
In a translucent
life, we no longer separate spiritual experience from the fabric
of our day-to-day existence.
Our most mundane
circumstances are the very context in which realization
lives and breathes. An
life segregates realization into a small box called spirituality” A
well—attended life can make a trip to the grocery store a sacred
pilgrimage. James O’Dea and the late Wink Franklin,
present and past presidents of IONS, are among many who
told me that the emergence
of the translucent human is the only grounds for real
optimism they have for our future.
What great learning
are we passing through to bring spirit out of the cave and into the
marketplace, down from an idealized "ultimate
enlightenment" and into the vibrant reality of this very
moment? How can we live in a way that honors our deepest realization
of truth? How can relationships, sexuality, parenting, education, business,
creativity, and political activism become spiritual practices? These
are the questions that have fueled my investigation. From this quest
I have come up with a few nudges for living a life translucently. They
aren’t the final word on our evolution, but a line in a conversation
that is ongoing, global, and playfully urgent.
Be Reborn Every Day. Find your unique ways to step beyond the personal
perspective. Be willing to die every day to the person you think
you are, to hand the wave back to the ocean. Awakening is not a
event in time~ it is a river endlessly flowing in this moment now.
Come home to yourself as the prelude to all else.
Open to All Life as a Teacher. Translucents
live for the most part outside the context of organized religion
and hierarchy. They no
longer need to have one teacher or teaching, but rather have many
or experience all of life as a reacher. Ram Dass speaks of no longer
being a Buddhist but being a generalist.” Richard Holloway,
the retired bishop of Edinburgh, has re-evaluated his relationship
Christian Church since recognizing Cod to be everywhere, both behind
the eyes and in front.
Forget the Future, Abandon Enlightenment. Very
few of the people I have talked to would seriously label themselves
as “enlightened.” In
fact, the overwhelming majority said that they were no longer seeking
a state of enlightenment, although many had done so previously. Today’s
translucents have fallen in love with the present moment and
the possibilities of living right now as a gift of love, as a
work of art. They live
for now, and A o now, and now.
Question Your Mind. Translucents have learned to distrust concepts
and learned beliefs. Rather than sharing an ideology, they
delight in abandoning every kind of fundamentalism. The plethora
tools that has developed in the last decade is not so much
about self-improvement or the acquisition of new knowledge, but
the shift from cerebral
knowledge to a deeper knowing.
Honor the Goddess. For millennia, spirituality has been dominated
by the masculine expression of realization, which emphasizes
transcendence, annihilation of the ego, renunciation of the
world, and asceticism.
Feminine spirituality is much softer, drawn toward deep and
embodied love, open acceptance, the celebration of all life
as the dance
of divinity. Art, music, images, and sensations are just
as sacred as
words. Translucents demonstrate a restoration of this balance.
Our understanding and our feelings find one common flavor.
life and immersion in life are no longer seen as opposed
to one another, but rather as two aspects of a total incarnation.
Embrace the Body. Translucents are in their bodies, and care
for the body as a sacred garden. They practice yoga and
play tennis, ski, and surf, for the sheer joy of being
embodied, not to achieve anything. They are not, by the wildest
of the imagination,
recluses. They are embracers of life.
Find Your Tribe. Humanity
does not go through paradigm shifts very often. It can be a bumpy
ride. Like waking
up in the
an earthquake, you may sometimes wonder what is going
on. In your immediate
become aware of who else is part of the new paradigm,
and take refuge in each other. As you deepen in translucence,
find old relationships
dropping away and new people entering your life. Translucents
easily recognize one another, often without even needing
to speak. Find
your tribe—those with whom you can die together
to the old and rise up as the new.
MAKE EACH MOMENT COUNT
Are you a translucent? If what has been briefly summarized here sounds
familiar to you, then you are already a part of this evolutionary current.
You are probably more a part of the solution on this Earth than a part
of the problem. What we do and how we live are not as trivial as we
sometimes think. What you choose to do in the next five minutes, and
the spirit in which you do it, may contribute to the difference between
nuclear annihilation and the opportunity for this world to return to
Eden. The future rests in our hands, and the stakes are getting higher.
It is time for all of us to wake up to our natural sanity, and to live
it passionately, dangerously, intensely.
ARJUNA ARDAGH is the founder of the Living Essence Foundation in Nevada
City, California, which is dedicated to conscious awakening within
the context of everyday life. He is the author of The Translucent Revolution,
just published by New World Library,and four other books. He lives
with his wife, Chameli, and two sons.