The Translucent Revolution: How People Just Like You Are Waking Up and Changing the Worldby Arjuna Ardagh
There is a gentle but profound revolution in human consciousness happening throughout the world — it has affected millions of people from all walks of life, and the numbers continue to multiply exponentially. The breakthroughs they have experienced are startlingly similar and are marked by a new sense of well-being, increased joy in life, diminished fear, and a natural impulse to serve and contribute to the world in a real way. For more than a decade, Arjuna Ardagh has studied this worldwide advance in human consciousness marked by what he calls “translucents” — individuals who have undergone a spiritual awakening deeply enough that it has permanently transformed their relationship to themselves and to reality, while allowing them to remain involved in ordinary life. The Translucent Revolution draws on the author's dialogues with thousands of writers, teachers, and workshop participants around the world who display characteristics of “translucence.” He blends observation, anecdote, and research, including commentaries from leading pioneers in the field of human consciousness.
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The Translucent Revolution
How People Just Like You are Waking Up and Changing the World
By Arjuna Ardagh
New World LibraryCopyright © 2005 Arjuna Ardagh
All rights reserved.
IAGO AND YOUR PURE HEART
For hundreds of years, science has operated on some basic assumptions about the physical universe. A causes B. An object cannot be in two places at the same time. Time moves forward, never backward. Indisputable, right? But in the last few decades, quantum physics has thrown everything we thought we knew into the melting pot and invited us to look with fresh eyes. In the same way, to understand the translucent revolution, we first need to review some of the most basic assumptions we bring to being human. In this chapter we will get back to basics: Human Life 101. What do we all have in common? Why do we, unlike penguins or dogs, have a dimension of life we call "spiritual"? What causes us to seek for something more?
Melissa met John when she was nineteen. Right away, she knew. Sure, they had both been in relationships before; they had both tasted the thrill of new beginnings as well as the pain of unhappy endings. She came from a broken home, as did many of her friends. Her father was an alcoholic and left her mother with the three kids when they were still quite small. Melissa knew the smell of trouble between people. But still, she knew. "We are meant to be together, there is a destiny," she said before the wedding. "We can make it, I know we can. I mean, human beings can do anything when they love each other. As long as John and I are always honest with each other, we're going to make it through the valleys as well as the peaks."
Melissa and John could live on your street. What happens when I tell you the story of their beginning? Perhaps you feel cynical. You have heard that kind of optimism before; you know where it leads. But I wonder if you also recognize the certainty Melissa was feeling? Such confidence offers us a peephole through which we can peer into a deeper dimension: the way we really are, the way everyone really is, the way life could really be, if we weren't all so ...
Neal had only been out of business school for a few years when the offer of a lifetime came his way: a start-up Internet company helping other small businesses make the best use of cyberspace. "This is great," he said. "I've got a winning team here, an opportunity to help the small guy, to get some really cool products out there, stuff that usually gets overlooked. The best part is, I just can't fail to make money. We are promoting organic foods, environmentally friendly cleaning agents, solar power. These are the trends of the future, every one a winner. I've got a five-year plan. By the time I'm thirty I'm going to be retired."
I have talked to many people who have started up new businesses. Most assumed they would be fair and ethical and treat their employees well, that the business would not just be a way to make money but a way to make a unique contribution to the world. And that it would succeed. Everybody has vision. We all have an intuitive sense of our real potential. We often feel it when we initiate anything new, before cynicism sets in. A relationship, a business, having a child, moving into a new house — each opens a vista of possibility, of turning over a new leaf. We all have an intuitive feeling about who we are, what our life could become, and what this planet could be.
OUR NATURAL VISION
Vision is vital. It is the fuel that motivates action. It gives meaning to our lives, the aspiration to reach beyond our limits. Vision tells us where to put our energy, allows us to push through unforeseen obstacles, and, when a group of people work together, it is the cohesive force that keeps them motivated and connected.
There is an inescapable sense of our original being in us, however much it gets battered by experience and repetitive conditioning. The original sense is that I'm good, I'm me, and within that me there is the source of my health and well- being and vitality.
— James O'Dea
Vision also seems to be innate. My nine-year-old son used to have two rabbits. They had never spent any time among other rabbits; they were still babies when they left their mother. We built them a fenced enclosure in our yard so that they could hop around all day on their own. Their very first day in the enclosure, they started to make burrows. No one showed them how; burrowing was hardwired into their DNA. Our cat knows how to chase birds without an instructional video. Pigs roll in dirt; dogs sniff everything. And human beings ... they have an innate capacity to sense their own, and life's, potential, without any outside help. We are born with a sense of wonder and awe that is untouched by the limitations of the constructed world. The capacity to rest in this innocence is what makes childhood a time of wonder, for many the only time of wonder that they ever know. Although unaware of the stresses and disappointments of the adult world, this vision of our true heart is full of wisdom. It knows something about what is ultimately real.
This wisdom of the heart is worth investigating. If we examine the assumptions we make when embarking on anything new — a romantic relationship, a business venture, even a spiritual practice — they can be very telling. These assumptions reveal something simple that the heart never forgets, even if the mind no longer dares to believe. This vision feels clearer, more authentic, even if it is constantly sabotaged by forces we never anticipate. If we pay close attention to how we feel and act when we are initiating something new, we can discover a great deal about our natural state, and, indeed, about the natural state of life.
TRY IT YOURSELF
Remembering Our Natural Vision
Let's try an experiment before we go any further. Cast your mind back to a specific time when you began something new. It could be entering a new relationship, buying a new house, or starting a career. Try to recall the vision you had of how things would unfold. How did you imagine you would meet each situation? How did you anticipate being received? Close your eyes for just a few minutes and remember.
Good. If you have a pen and paper handy, write down some notes about these assumptions. You will discover something valuable about your heart.
In my experience of working with thousands of people, many initially bump up against an ingrained habit of cynicism and disappointment. "It won't work out," they think, or, "I don't have what it takes." I ask them to feel a little deeper, to the original vision before the voice of doubt kicks in. It might be just a picture, or a feeling. If life has been hard on you, you might have to cast your mind back to how you felt when you were younger. The basic assumptions we all make, about ourselves and about how life will treat us, are always similar.
This innocent vision, the kind we live as children and later pull back into our secret lives, emphasizes play, laughter, connection with the body, physical pleasure, and the spontaneous and uncensored expression of life. In this state we know nothing of pressure, stress, or achieving goals within an imposed framework. We are naturally trusting.
Let me share with you what participants in seminars have reported when I asked them the same question. You can see if their answers are similar to yours.
QUALITIES OF NATURAL VISION
Happiness. Whenever we make plans, we assume happiness to be the starting and resting point of our actions. Don't we always expect our time to be relaxed, infused with happiness?
Contentment. Although we may desire things we could get in the future, aren't our dreams of that future always desire-free? You are sitting on a beach, watching the sunset, hearing the waves with that special someone; you can smell the sea air. Do you imagine your mind as being distracted with desires for something else? In our imaginings, we are content.
Being fully present. None of our fantasies, whether of the perfect date, quality time with our children, or an effective business presentation, includes time spent worrying about other things. We plan to be fully present, to feel alive, empowered, and capable of anything.
Harmony. In our imagination, we anticipate being attuned to others. Arguments come as a surprise and ruin our desire to meet in an atmosphere of love. Since harmony and conflict exist more or less equally in life, why should we constantly anticipate the former, and feel so surprised by the latter?
Fulfillment. We expect any new experience to bring us fulfillment, to feel whole. We don't expect dissatisfaction. We naturally anticipate feeling complete before, during, and after the activity.
Success. None of us plans on failure. We imagine the actions we take will bring us the results we want. Like Melissa and Neal, we believe we will be the exceptions, the ones who make it.
Ease. In our original vision we do not anticipate having to make a lot of effort. Each time I sit down at my laptop, I expect the words to flow like honey. It is always a surprise, even after all these years, when they don't.
Honesty. When we connect with our innocent, open heart, we don't plan to lie. As one seminar participant in Germany said, "When I feel into it, I would say honesty is who I am in my essence, more than something I do or say."
Other qualities of original vision include being centered, loving, patient, and generous and acting with integrity and social responsibility.
Melissa and John split up, after two and a half years of arguing incessantly about unimportant issues. They were unable to tell each other the truth about either their love or their sorrow and felt their relationship was out of control. Melissa was left to take care of the two babies, while John had trouble making much of a contribution.
More than half of the marriages formed in the United States end in divorce within the first five years. Even though we all know this, each new beginning brings a new wave of hope and optimism.
Neal discovered he could not trust his employees. After many months of working seven days a week, twelve hours a day, his tendencies to control and humiliate the people working for him were shocking, even to him. His family sunk more than $100,000 into his dream before the dream finally collapsed.
Everybody has some sort of deep knowing or deep intuition. All it takes is one moment of connection with somebody to know that they're wrestling with the same questions as I, in one way or another. The same "why are we here, what is this place where we are?"
— Amy McCarrel
Three hundred thousand new businesses were formed in the United States in 2003. Eighty percent of these start-ups fail within the first two years. We can imagine that very few of their founders assumed they would be part of the unfortunate 80 percent. Why does our vision, which knows only happy endings and simple solutions, rarely lead to what we had imagined? When vision does take flight, why is it so often destined for a crash landing?
I asked the same seminar participants, who reported the qualities of original and innocent vision, what happened once their plans began to take form in the real world. Sarah's family reunion, anticipated as a joyful occasion, erupted into withheld resentments and then into a standoff. Paul envisioned he would be confident, amusing, and relaxed on his first date; instead he felt contracted and withdrawn. As a new mother, Amanda expected to be patient, calm, and gentle. By the time her child was walking, her impatience and anger took her by surprise.
Natural vision is invariably sabotaged by an unforeseen element, which affects us both internally and externally. It influences the way we parent, the way we treat our loved ones and each other, the way we do our work each day. And it influences the way others treat us. We never expect or invite it, yet every aspect of our lives exists in its shadow. And although we find evidence of its effects, this force in our lives is essentially invisible and hence never anticipated or understood. We do our best to keep this "shadow self" hidden from the world, assuming our dark secrets are ours alone. What is this mysterious element in human nature that stalks us and inevitably sabotages us?
THE IAGO FACTOR
In Shakespeare's play Othello, the protagonist and his young Venetian wife are deeply in love. Othello is a noble and simple-hearted soldier who trusts those around him. Desdemona is devoted to her husband and hangs on his every word. It is Iago, Othello's advisor and apparent friend, who plays one character against another, creating an atmosphere of separation and distrust. He whispers doubts into Othello's ear, inciting in him a violent jealousy that ultimately leads to senseless tragedy.
We are all Othellos at heart — open, trusting, wanting to see the best in each other — and we are all seduced and driven to insane action by our own invisible Iagos. Our insidious Iago is a state of mind; he can't be seen, he lives in the shadows. Yet his influence can be found everywhere. Iago whispers to us both from within and through other people as the voice of collective conditioning. Most of us live with a painful sense of separation from others, a sense of something missing, and a pervasive experience of limitation, fear, and desire. As a result we engage in a whirlwind of activity to avoid the objects of our fear and to obtain the objects of our craving. This trance of problem-based living, although widely regarded as normal, fuels an endless saga of struggle. It seeps through the cracks of our noblest aspirations, manifesting as disease, conflict, and failure. Globally it is expressed as war, as economic and environmental madness.
We cannot see or measure the Iago factor directly; we only know it by its effects. It is like the raccoons that occasionally visit our kitchen during the night. I have never actually seen raccoons in the kitchen. How do I know they visit us? I find that the cat food has been eaten, the garbage has been overturned, and there are muddy paw prints all over the floor.
QUALITIES OF THE IAGO TRANCE
Like our natural vision, the Iago state possesses numerous inherent qualities:
Sense of lack. The very basis of the Iago trance is a pervasive and undefined sense that something is missing. Enough is never enough; we always want more or better. We are never spiritual enough, skinny enough, smart enough, or hip enough. We filter everything through this sense of lack. In the ultimate suburban nightmare, we are driven to keep up with infinitely recurring Joneses.
Sense of separation. Looking to the external world to fulfill our perceived lack keeps us focused on a me-oriented reality, reinforcing alienation and separation. The Iago trance is characterized by this twenty- four-hour absorption in "me," while we are actually separated from our own true selves.
Addiction. Both the feeling of lack and the craving to fill this void are so strong in us that as soon as we sense, even faintly, that something external may "do it" for us, we latch onto it and become addicted. In this way, Iago can lead us to an addiction to work, sex, food, drink, drugs, the Internet, or even to spiritual highs.
Fear. As soon as desire and addiction take over our lives, we are gripped by nonspecific fear. We decide our craving will be satisfied by money; we are gripped by the fear of poverty. We believe the right relationship will alleviate our gnawing lack; immediately, loneliness becomes a terrifying fate.
Suspicion. Nonspecific fear makes us suspicious. When deeply in Iago's trance state, we trust no one completely, not even family members.
Strategic living. We carefully plan for the worst eventualities. Something bad could happen at any moment. Iago whips our thoughts into a whirlwind of emergency responses. We live in a permanent state of alert.
Anxiety. The notion that something is wrong, that we should be doing something more to be complete, creates a constant sense of worry. It's as though we are continually late for an appointment with something we cannot remember.
Hostile competition. Iago creates a feeling of hostile competition, as opposed to co-creation. When there is not enough, we must fight others who are trying to get it too. Our success, even our survival, rests in their defeat.
Other qualities of the Iago state include self-doubt, self-sabotage, disappointment, and meaninglessness.
Excerpted from The Translucent Revolution by Arjuna Ardagh. Copyright © 2005 Arjuna Ardagh. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Arjuna Ardagh was educated in England, and earned a Master's degree in literature from Cambridge University. From a very early age, he has had a passionate interest in spiritual awakening, and he began to practice meditation and yoga at the age of 14. In his late teens he trained as a meditation teacher and, after graduating from Cambridge, studied with a number of prominent spiritual teachers in India, Nepal, and Thailand as well as in Europe, and the U.S. He has developed the Living Essence Training, which prepares people to be facilitators of this shift in consciousness with others and cultivates "translucence." He and his staff have trained more than 450 practitioners in the U.S. and Europe. He teaches seminars throughout the U.S. and Europe, speaks at many international conferences, and has appeared on TV, radio, and in print media. He lives with his wife and two sons in Nevada City, California. His websites are: www.livingessence.com and www.translucentrevolution.org.
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