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Arjuna Ardagh Headshot

Canceling Your Subscription to Enlightenment

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Here is a passage from my 2005 Bestseller, The Translucent Revolution.

Looking Beyond Enlightenment

There is an important distinction to be made between translucence and traditional understandings of "enlightenment." Very few of the people I have talked to would seriously label themselves as "enlightened." At the same time, the overwhelming majority said that they were no longer seeking a state of enlightenment, although many had done so previously. Most said they no longer had any idea what the word was supposed to mean. This is in sharp contrast to the atmosphere of spirituality that existed even fifteen years ago, when most spiritual people were still following a guru, trying to win the cosmic jackpot.

Musician and songwriter Peter Makena and his wife, Aneeta, exemplify this change. They were both disciples of the controversial Indian teacher Bhagwan Rajneesh in the 1970s. (He has been known simply as Osho since a few months before his death in 1991.) Now Peter is less sure what the "E" word means: " 'Enlightenment' used to have an elusive meaning, something like the Holy Grail. It represented a final end point, in my idealistic and dreamer-like search, of what human potential could be. Today my sense of that potential is more of a finger pointing, a hint, a direction, with no final product."



I asked Peter and Aneeta what they would say if someone were to ask if they were enlightened. "I'd laugh," answered Aneeta. "I couldn't say enlightened or unenlightened, I just don't think like that." Yet both feel they are always learning and growing. They call it an endless exploration. 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've lost interest in potential future states. Translucents have seen past the dangling carrot of future enlightenment. They live for now, and now, and now.



It's much easier to have a spiritual

experience than it is to live a spiritual

life. It's the life that is more important

than the experience.

-- Lama Surya Das

As we deepen in familiarity with our silent, limitless, real nature, and as we broaden our forays into the uncharted territories of living from here, the very notion of some final graduation becomes obsolete. The silence is neither enlightened nor unenlightened; it cannot undergo any change. And the monkey-like, mind-body organism is simply a sophisticated animal, no more. It is always undergoing change, unenlightenable. Have you ever seen an enlightened penguin or a liberated flea?

An Endless Journey

Translucents speak of life as a "rivering," a process without end. Like a fountain that is always pouring forth, it is an endless and spontaneous enlightening, not a fixed state. Unlike the goal-oriented self-improvement industry that has dominated our culture for so long, this process is an endless unfolding of discovery and delight. There is no attempt to fix a problem or to achieve a final higher state. Translucence is more a direction than a destination. Like heading East, the process doesn't imply a specific point of arrival. It is a way of living life with art and humor, returning continuously to here, and here, and here, always steeped in the vastness of the view and blessing each moment with a gift of creative presence.

"At some point, I just stopped seeking," says Tom. "There was a turning point, when I was about forty. I saw that I was like a rat in a maze, always thinking freedom would come later, after one more retreat or workshop. I saw how absurd this was, and it dropped. It was after that, after I stopped seeking, that I could wake up to things as they really are."

Our lives are like tiny little boxes within

the infinite realms of consciousness,

creativity, and expression. How far can

we take it? How much can we love?

How large is this, how applicable in

life? I can't imagine that there's any

limitation to that whatsoever.

-- ShantiMayi

Spiritual seeking may have a defining end; the process of embodiment, on the other hand, is endless. It is a relaxing, the allowing of more love, more presence, more creativity to flow. How can we ever say, "I have reached the outer limits of love?" or, "I now have discovered all that can be discovered of creativity, or humor, or compassion?" As we wake up, we see the very nature of things as they are: still in their essence and constantly undergoing modification in their appearance. Recognizing this may bring more relaxation, more love, or more humor to our humanness, but there can be no end point.

Andrew Cohen -- the founder of the magazine What Is Enlightenment? -- points out that both individual awakenings and their embodiment are happening within a larger context, one that completely transcends individuality. He calls this "impersonal enlightenment":



We are part of the developmental process. The evolutionary context is something very different from the experiential recognition of the timeless. An individual human being begins to glimpse that he or she is literally part of this 14-billion-year process of development, right now, and that their own awakening to that fact is the universe becoming aware of itself. It's as significant and as important, if not more important from a certain point of view, as the experiential recognition of timelessness.

Many of those I interviewed have come to the same conclusion; they realize that their own spiritual experience is only a tiny part of the larger context of collective awakening and evolution.

To read more about a radically different way of looking at awakening pick up your very own copy of Translucent Revolution today.

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