The Translucent Revolution
What is translucence? What's it like to live that way? And why is the founder of Men's Wearhouse translucent?
BY: Interview by Deborah Caldwell
In his new book The Translucent Revolution, Ardagh interviews such spiritual gurus as Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, and Neale Donald Walsch--all people who say they have become "translucent." Recently, Beliefnet Senior Editor Deborah Caldwell interviewed Ardagh, who also led her through a meditation exercise for becoming "translucent."
Could you describe the experience of becoming translucent?
The shift that initiates you into the translucent life is an awakening that is beyond thinking and feeling, and changing experiences. Most of the time, most of us are glued to thoughts and feelings, belief, desires, fears. And all we know is the content of what’s in the mind at that time. So we say, I am a vegetarian, I am a Democrat, I am afraid, I am angry. But we don’t really know in that moment who we are. Because who we really are is experiencing beliefs, experiencing thoughts, experiencing objects moving, sounds being heard. When we wake up to the one who is experiencing this moment, people describe that as absolutely peaceful. Not just loving, but love itself.
My book documents 170 interviews with contemporary writers and teachers--13,000 surveys. And based upon those interviews, we believe there are three to four million people worldwide who have woken up to who they are beyond the mind. They realize that who they are is limitless consciousness beyond birth and death, absolutely free. Who they are is love itself.
Could you describe your moment of translucence?
I was a very dedicated spiritual seeker for a long time, for more than 20 years. I did everything you can imagine in the new age marketplace to try to become enlightened. And I found myself in India as part of this seeking. I went to visit a teacher there whose name is H.W.L. Poonjaji. And when I met him, instead of giving me another technique, or another meditation, he asked me a question: “Who is the one who considers himself to be not free and wants to become free?” And I had never really thought about it in that way.
Finally one morning I woke up in my hotel room with that question prominent in my head. I tried to find me. I reached back into myself to try and find this thing called me that needed to be transformed. And I couldn’t find anything there. When I really checked back into myself, there was just infinite empty space, space that went on forever that was light full of energy. And as soon as it lit upon anything, as soon as it became aware of anything, it was love. And that recognition was more of a realization: “Oh! That’s what I am, of course.” I’ve always been hearing sounds. I’ve always been seeing objects moving. I’ve always been thinking. But of course, these have all just been experiences. Experiences by whom? By this consciousness. So this was a realization, an awakening, to who I am. The realization that what I am is consciousness, that what I am has no form.
What’s it like to live translucently?
It’s very much like living normally. Except that now there is recognition that the personal life is not you. The personal life is being experienced by who you are. But it doesn’t define or limit who you are. And living translucently simply means that your life is handed over more and more from the habits of acquisition, desire, consumption, fear, separation, to this luminous consciousness, which is full, complete, free, and unafraid.
So your life is gradually transformed from one of trying to get something for me, to giving to the world from me. Because the me is now full, and the me becomes a source of blessings, a source of giving. So life is transformed from one of acquisition to one of blessing. And I wanted to emphasize one thing that really makes this translucent revolution a departure from the traditions of the past: the people I’ve interviewed don’t speak of the process of enlightenment that I’ve just referred to as an end point.
In other words, they’re not talking about the next life?
…or the next state. I think the most important thing about the translucent revolution is that most people I’ve interviewed have cancelled their subscription to the concept of enlightenment as a fixed state. Instead, life itself is an endless river of enlightening, where every moment there is the possibility to live with more love, creativity, humor, art, and generosity of spirit.
If you’re translucent, do you believe there is an afterlife?
I don’t know. What I can tell you is that I live my life in relationship to what I can recognize from direct experience. I don’t have much relationship to things I don’t have direct experience of. So I’m completely, totally, madly, passionately in love with the present moment. I don’t even have a relationship to tomorrow, let alone the afterlife.
Is being translucent a kind of freedom from your own mind?
Absolutely. It’s total freedom from the mind. The mind, of course, doesn’t really exist. There isn’t a thing called the mind. It’s a collective way of speaking about thoughts. And it’s not to say that thoughts stop. But now you know that they are thoughts.
Is this movement happening now because we have enough science about the brain to understand what the brain is--and therefore what we are?
I don’t think that has been a very important factor. One of the things I think has precipitated this collective awakening is the fact that our physical life is becoming less secure. The fact that we have so many more people on the planet then we ever did, and we’re using up resources much faster than we ever did, and we’re impacting our environment so much more than we ever did, and we developed our technology for weapons of mass destruction, which are now in the hands of strange characters. This makes life less secure, less reliable, less predictable than it has been in the past. And this uncertainty about the future has been an important factor in precipitating collective awakening.
But you could also look at the idea of being translucent as avoidance. Because if you realize that everything is so overwhelming, which it is, then maybe the only way to deal with it is to go inward.
I don’t think it’s a question of avoidance, and I want to explain why. There are several things about the translucent revolution which taken together make it remarkable. One is that many people are having these awakenings. The awakenings are similar to what happened to Buddha, what happened to Jesus during the 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. Human beings have always had awakenings, just not in such large numbers as we see today. That’s one part of it.