For the last decade, Arjuna Ardagh has studied what he believes is a worldwide advance in human consciousness marked by what he calls “translucents”--people who've undergone a spiritual awakening that also allows them to remain involved in ordinary life.

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.