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The Translucent Revolution

The Translucent Revolution - cover
The Translucent Revolution: How People Just Like You Are Waking Up and Changing the World

Arjuna Ardagh - external link website

Translucence is a concept presented by Arjuna Ardagh in his book The Translucent Revolution: How People Just Like You Are Waking Up and Changing the World. The book is the product of more than 170 in-depth interviews, including many New Paradigm/New Age/Global Mindshift/Integral movement "thought leaders" and spiritual teachers (e.g. Andrew Cohen, Jean Houston, Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle, and Neale Donald Walsch), and a survey of more than 13,000 people.

From the external link website (via this page):

For more than a decade, author 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. According to conservative estimates, millions have shifted in this way, and while the breakthrough moments themselves donít guarantee sustained transformation, their increased frequency is remarkable.

The Translucent Revolution draws on the authorís dialogues with thousands of writers, teachers, and workshop participants around the world who have been touched by a radical awakening, and whose lives emanate translucence. He blends observation, anecdote, and research, including commentaries from leading pioneers in the field of human consciousness like , to offer simple, concrete strategies for cultivating a translucent way of life. The Translucent Revolution offers a blueprint for positive change and an optimistic perspective on these uncertain times.

"Radical Awakening ... the moment when you taste reality outside the limiting confines of the mind, when you know yourself to be limitless, much bigger than, yet 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 mental machinery of complaint and ambition. A radical awakening often releases 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."

A confusing quality of the book is the definition of Translucents, as the experiences seem to range from those who have had quite profound and permanent awakenings - certainly way beyond anything I've experienced! - down to others who are basically very ordinary and conservative people, but just with a little bit of awakening and insight (your base level New Age / Cultural Creative / Integral community person in other words). And as I read more I realised that what he is describing falls into the latter category, not the former (which is what I am interested in). This is indicated by Ardagh's rather pointless "Spiritual Myths List" which is central to his book, but is basically a Wikipedia link straw man argument that says nothing.

  1. After a spiritual awakening, there is no more ego and personality traits disappear completely. What remains is just a homogenous oneness with everything.
  2. Awake people are not identified with the personality and therefore have no interest in changing it.
  3. Awake people have no sense of a separate doer. Therefore they do not initiate action, but sit quietly doing nothing and wait for things to happen by themselves.
  4. People who are awake do not have feelings, particularly "negative" ones like anger, fear, jealousy or greed. Instead, they are always calm, in an unchanging state, feeling an unbroken oneness with everything.
  5. You have to choose between feelings and presence. When you have feelings, you have lost who you are.
  6. Awakened people do not need anything from anyone. They do not have relationships, since they feel oneness with everything.
  7. It does not matter what you say or do. Once you are enlightened, every action, even lying or manipulating is spontaneously for the good of all beings.
  8. After an awakening there is only peace and harmony with everyone, with no need to do anything. Translucent relationships are always harmonious.
  9. Sex is an event of the lower chakras. Awakened people have transcended sex. Sexual energy completely disappears with awakening.
  10. Awake people automatically have open and flowing sex, without the need for any practice.
  11. Having children is a distraction to spiritual life. Like Buddha, Jesus and all the great masters, you must choose between family life and spiritual freedom.
  12. After an awakening, all the negative influences from your family will dissolve through divine grace. You will spontaneously know how to be a perfect partner.
  13. Awakened people are naturally creative. Great art flows through them spontaneously, without any need for formal training or skills.
  14. Spiritually awake people would have no need to paint, write poetry, or make music; those are all just activities of the restless mind.
  15. After a spiritual awakening there is no need to learn anything; you already are everything.
  16. Business and spirituality are two separate arenas of life; it's inappropriate and embarrassing to mix the two.
  17. After any kind of spiritual awakening, money will flow easily and effortlessly into your life, with little or no effort.
  18. Money corrupts. Anyone with real spiritual integrity should not be concerned with money, success or the world.
  19. Awakened people are always in perfect health; they never get sick.
  20. Those awake to their real nature have spontaneous healing powers. Like Jesus, they can cause the sick to rise up and walk.
  21. After an awakening, no-one needs psychotherapy; there is no ego and no personal life remaining.
  22. Awakened people are beyond attachment to the body. They have no care if it lives or dies.
  23. After a spiritual awakening, there is no more need for religion. All churches are just for sheep to blindly follow rules.
  24. Only very few people in all history have ever known real spiritual experience. The rest of us must be content with a contact high.
  25. There is a specific state, in the future, that you can aspire to, where evolution is complete. Then you will flatline and nothing will ever happen again. Till then, you know nothing.
  26. Spiritual people are beyond the mundane activities of the world; they re just one with what is. Politics and activism are dirty and ignorant.
  27. Everything is happening on its own. There is nothing you can do, and no doer anyway. Nostradamus said there would be a big war, followed by two thousand years of peace. The Mayans support this, and so did the tea leaves in my cup this morning. Involvement in the ways of the world is just interfering with the divine plan.
  28. We are entering a golden age; all we have to do is to mediatate and to love each other and chant Om and the world's problems will evaporate automatically.
  29. Capitalists and big corporations are evil. We need an armed insurrection; we can overthrow the oppressors, and the enlightened ones will rule supreme. The world can only be changed through militant political insurrection.

I would ask, is there anyone, anywhere, who really believes or teaches that "spiritual awakening...(w)hat remains is just a homogenous oneness with everything"? And so on with the whole list except for the last which seems to be a straw man directed at a cartoon version of old style leftism. But mixed in with straw man charicatures is the element of dualistic and hedonistic thinking - e.g. Osho lifestyle tantra and Esalen feel-good Californian pop spirituality. For example, he lists among the myths "Money corrupts"; implying that money doesn't corrupt. Well, tell that to the victims of abusive gurus! Only an authentic Realizer like Ramana or Anandamaya Ma is at the level where money no longer corrupts.

To be fair to Ardagh, a lot of his book clearly seems to grow from the sort of disillusionment we all have with the New Age/Eastern Guru/Spiritual Teacher movements to "deliver the goods". People who expect enlightenment remain just as screwed up and limited as before. That's because, obviously, none of these so-called spiritual teachers are in any way Enlightened. They aren't even at the level of the Intermediate Zone. They aren't even at the level of gnosis. Because of this, the author incorrectly assumes that there is such a thing as Supreme Enlightenment (in other words, because he hasn't met an Enlightened Being in person, assuming he would even recognise one if he did), and instead adopts a well-meaning but at the same time muddled definition that comes from a place of exoteric consciousness. i.e. anyone and everyone who has any awakening or opening at all beyond ordinary ego-shadow consciousness, from the most banal to the most awesome, is a "translucent"

At the same time, although not providing any information at all regarding what authentic Realization means, this is still, from a social (and social evolution) point of view , an important book in that it provides a very detailed look at the postmaterialistic spirituality of the American holistic / Cultural Creative demographic. There is certainly a strong overlap between Ardagh's "Translucents" and Paul Ray's " Cultural Creatives" .

Of interest here is the idea of a collective shift in consciousness. According to Ardagh there really is a huge shift in consciousness occuring. This fits with what people in the Integral Movement like Ken Wilber, Link to Amazon com Steve McIntosh, and Andrew Cohen and the staff at EnlightenNext are saying, although Wilber and McIntosh would distinguish between "Cultural Creatives" and "Integralists". However there are blog link a number of other possible factors that could explain this, without a global evolutionary shift. At the moment, I honestly don't know which of these two explanations are correct. (Here's external link a discussion of the book on the Integral Institute (Wilberian) book club)

I did find Ardagh's book very useful in helping to explain features of many gurus, which I previously classified as "Intermediate Zone". Most of these are simply "Translucents" (see classification here) who arrogantly or deludely believe that they can present themselves as "Enlightened" Spiritual Teachers or Gurus, when they are no more evolved - in fact may often be less evolved - then many of their students, devotees, and disciples.

An alternative term, instead of "Translucent", could be Transpersonal. These are individuals who have a Transpersonal opening, who have developed some measure of Transpersonal consciousness; an awareness beyond their ordinary state. Speaking simplistically, one can assume a spectrum of Ego-Shadow (what Ardagh calls "Iago" after a sinister character in Shakespeare's play Othello) - Transpersonal/Translucent - Gnosis - Intermediate Zone - Enlightenment. This can be represented as follows

Ego-Shadow Translucent Gnosis The "Intermediate Zone" Realization Divinization

The Intermediate Zone might be defined as a powerful state in which - as with authentic Enlightened beings - the devotee can aquire experiences through "contagion". With a "Translucent", there would be much less likelihood of this, or none at all, because they are closer to ordinary consciousness. But the fact remains that many devotees of merely transpersonal/translucent (and common gnostic) gurus do have such experiences. In this case the explanation provided by external link David Lane ("neural surfer") (Wikipedia link Wikipedia page) is probably much better, that it is the devotee him or herself that creates the feelings ( he calls it the Kirpal Statistic external link (link) (link). Of course this does not mean we should make simplistic generalisations of this; there is no real way to tell where Transpersonal ends and Intermediate Zone begins

See also: It All Falls | Why I no longer say "Enlightenment"

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 4 December 2008, last modified 18 August 2009