The Translucent Revolution:
How People just like you are waking up
and changing the world.
was a peaceful man. After years of meditation and spiritual study, he
had trained himself always to turn the other cheek.
He spoke in an even monotone and nodded slowly and empathetically to
anything said to him.
Anger and conflict were, to Josh, stains on the purity of life; his
mission was to avoid them.
After experiencing a radical awakening, he began to sense this spiritual
and loving persona as a sham.
He recognized that his aversion to conflict was motivated more by fear
than by altruism.
Josh volunteers for a community housing project. He gives one day a
week to building affordable housing for the homeless.
The dam broke one day when he was working with Eddie, a licensed contractor
who was put in charge of all the other volunteers.
Eddie loved to call Josh "the rookie" and make his work an
object of ridicule to the other volunteers. In particular, Eddie loved
to show up Josh to the women.
Josh had been pushed around and humiliated all his life, and had taken
it all with a smile, but this time he stood his ground.
A lion woke up in his belly. "Listen, Eddie, either you stop bullying
me and everyone else here, or you can finish the building on your own."
Josh was amazed at the words that came from his lips and at the way
they had come from his gut.
Eddie didn't mess with Josh after that day. And Josh discovered himself
to be more than a nice guy. He found a wholeness that could embrace
both saint and demon.
sense of identity is at the very core of an awakening shift. This shift
in who you take yourself to be changes everything else in your life.
Feeling small, threatened, separate from other people, and lost in a
chaotic universe gives us grounds to act competitively, even violently.
Feeling vast, at peace, and connected with everything and everyone gives
us a totally different way of doing things. It changes the way we drive
to work, the way we parent, the way we make love, and the way we treat
the earth we walk on.
Living from fullness rather than desire transforms our life from a struggle
to a blessing.
When we are fully motivated by Iago's whisper, we become completely
identified with this personality. We defend its beliefs and habits and
feel offended if it is criticized.
Any potential change to our bundle of traits feels like death. When
I initially moved to America from England, I landed in Los Angeles.
The first thing I did was to buy a used car - living without a car in
LA is like surfing without a board.
My not-so-new car needed some repair work, to put it mildly, so I went
to a local auto parts store.
The only building I had seen in England of comparable size was a cathedral.
The guy in line before me approached the counter. "Got me a dent,"
he announced, chewing gum.
"Some idiot hit me and ran." How terrible! I wondered when
he had been released from the hospital, after his ordeal.
The clerk asked where the wounds had been inflicted. "Rear end,
bud, left side. Pushed me right out of shape. Gonna need me some bodywork."
I peeked at the man's left buttock. It looked fine to me.
Of course, he was talking about his car. You knew that, and now I do.
In Southern California, where a car is central to your life, what you
drive becomes synonymous with who you are.
So it is with our identity. Instead of a shifting, evolving art form,
an offering to the world, our personality becomes who we are, a matter
of life and death.
As Ayurvedic teacher Atreya Smith once said to me, "This whole
enlightenment thing has gotten really blown out of proportion. It all
boils down to a simple case of mistaken identity."
We Define Ourselves
clouds of glory do we come, from God who is our home," wrote William
Wordsworth. As preverbal babies, we experience ourselves as limitlessness.
At one with what we see and feel, we have no need to define ourselves.
We are both nothing and everything. Then Iago imposes a sense of limitation,
of something missing, which we can never quite put a finger on.
We can spend an entire lifetime trying to find a satisfactory ending
to the statement "I am..." It's as though we have amnesia
and just remembering the answer will allow us to rest.
We take on labels and defend them. We resist their opposites. Assigning
these labels allows us to function in the world of separate beings,
but none of them really removes the fact that we have a very vague sense
of who we really are, deeper than these roles we play.
Every label we adopt creates a polarity. As soon as we identify with
being intelligent, we live in a universe that also contains stupidity.
Being wealthy is a resistance to poverty, and power creates weakness.
So a personality is not only a bundle of qualities with which we identify,
it is equally a unique set of resisted traits.
In creating a "spiritual" identity for himself, Josh had also
resisted his power, authority, and darker energies. His personality
was "spiritual" but not translucent; it was fragmented rather
It Yourself: Would You Still Exist?
do this exercise alone or with a friend. It can transform your relationship
to your identity. Start by writing down every quality you identify with.
If you are working with a friend, one partner can ask the other, "Who
have you taken yourself to be?" Be exhaustive in your answer. Write
everything: I'm a plumber, I'm Jewish, I'm someone who likes Italian
cooking, I'm a gardener.
Keep going until you cannot find any new answers to the question. It
might take you an hour or more. Then go back slowly through the list
and ask yourself, "If I no longer identified myself as..."
and add one of the words you've written, "would I still exist?"
For some of your answers, you'll get an immediate clear "yes."
For example, if I were no longer a plumber, would I still exist? Yes,
I could go into selling life insurance.
Some may be a little stickier: "If I were no longer a father, would
I still exist?" You might have to carefully remember your days
before you had children and ask yourself if the core of who you are
now and the core of who you were then is the same.
You might have to imagine what it would be like if one day you woke
up and found that your entire experience of parenting was just a dream.
Disorienting as it might be, would you still be here?
Some answers will be even more difficult: "I am a man." It
might take you several minutes of feeling deeper even than your gender
identity to decide if you'd still exist without the gender you are used
Some of your answers may be conceptual, like, "I am light"
or "I am consciousness." When you ask, "Would I still
exist?" you may feel that this answer points to something deeper
than the other labels.
You can change the question to, "Would I still exist without this
thought, without this concept?"
Whether you do this exercise alone or with a friend, you will need some
time for it to go deep. If it does, stop and feel your own presence
when you have let go of all definitions.
Are you still here? Can you still feel and see and hear? Take some time
to relax into knowing the face you had before you were born.
to the Past
we create in Iago's trance is a by-product of our sense of personal
history. What makes you different from your friends, your partner, or
Of course, we all have differently shaped bodies, which is convenient
when you need to find someone you know in a shopping mall. But that
is not all that differentiates us.
We experience the world in different ways; we have different reactions,
likes, and dislikes. We are all the products of conditioning and memory,
of different personal histories.
The more opaque we are in the way we experience each moment, the more
we are caught in Iago's web, the more attached we are to that past.
Iago could persuade us that we are helpless victims of childhood conditioning,
mechanically acting out the ways we have been programmed to behave.
Or we could cling to affirmations, to ideas of ourselves, in order to
feel secure, to feel we are somebody in particular.
Either way, as we age, still in Iago's grip, we cling to memories of
the past as a way to preserve a sense of separate identity.
For most of us, this fabricated sense of "me," put together
like a scrapbook, is no laughing matter. Our habits of defending identity,
resisting change, or submitting to its iron grip run our lives.
When any one of the roles we have adopted and called "me"
is threatened, we feel the deepest despair we can know. When Robert's
real estate dealings went wrong, he felt suicidal.
Years earlier, as a student, he had very little money and was happy.
But when his fortune was taken away, even though he knew life to be
fine without it, he contemplated death as a better alternative to pennilessness.
Losing his money seemed a fate worse than death.
When Sandra's children left home, she faced a period of depression she
had never before known. She lost her appetite, her will to live.
Although she had spent twenty-six reasonably happy years before becoming
a mother, once that role was taken away from her, she suddenly did not
know who she was and was plunged into devastating despair.
This desire to kill oneself is most often linked to the removal of a
I'm Bobby's mother...I'm Amy's boyfriend...I'm John's wife
...I'm the president of the bank...I'm the one who everyone turns to
...I'm the owner of this...the creator of that.
Take away our core definition, and we want to die.
our identity in Iago's grip through imitation. Because we have no intrinsic
sense of self when we are hypnotized by separation, we create one from
what we see around us.
After Josh had his moment on the building site, huge chunks of his identity
He realized that his soft gaze, his empathetic nod of the head, his
habit of deferring to others, were all qualities he thought he should
display, all created from the cookie-cutter image of a spiritual man.
He had borrowed every characteristic from a meditation teacher or from
stereotypical behaviors displayed by spiritual groups. As soon as he
took one step out of the box, the box disappeared.
The following week he discovered a whole new way of being with his girlfriend,
his friends, and even his meditation teacher.
Our best solution when Iago is the only game in town is to increase
the qualities we find desirable - usually the ones for which we get
the most external approval - and to reject their opposites.
To the degree we are successful at this, we feel we are becoming a better
person, and we call this raising our self-esteem. But it never really
Sometimes we may feel useless, sometimes like a great person, but either
way, as long as we feel essentially separate, as long as we ignore any
lingering knowledge of our deeper nature, ultimately we feel like a
Forgotten echoes of our innocent natural vision tell us we could, and
should, feel connected with everything, relaxed, expansive, at home.
translucents share a sense of humor about their personality, a distance
from it. They can allow it to be as it is. Translucents display a willingness
to be wrong, to let go and move on.
Their perception of their identity is the way we might experience a
crazy uncle who can be tolerated, enjoyed, even loved.
There is no reason to change your mad uncle, but there is also no reason
to defend him or apologize for him. If he disturbs the neighbors, a
little damage control is simply intelligent.
Translucents have shifted their dominant sense of self from content
to context. They know that who they really are is what remains when
they relax any attempt to define themselves.
It is like being the sky instead of a cloud, being the ocean instead
of a wave. Self-esteem yields to esteem for the Great One Self, which
knows no limits.
The Big Self was never born, will never die, has no limitations, and
is untouched by the swirling dramas of this world.
It is appearing in disguise for a limited time only in your hometown,
ladies and gentlemen, as a small person with a great many small problems
and a very severe case of amnesia.
Lynne Twist is the author of The Soul of Money. I went
to a book signing she gave in San Francisco. "I need you to know
that I did not write this book," she began.
People looked a little puzzled. "Oh, I signed the contract with
the publisher, and I got an advance, and my name is on the cover.
But what really wrote the book is the same source that has been my teacher
She went on to list some of the manifestations of this real teacher:
as children in South America or Asia, as courageous people who have
shown her firsthand the real meaning of wealth as something more than
"I feel blessed by so many gifts in this life, it would be a crime
not to pass it on. But I cannot take credit for what is in the book.
It came through me, not from me."
This is the translucent spirit speaking. Before an awakening shift,
we linger in the default setting of low self-esteem. We feel ashamed
of our smallness and fear.
Then, if we come to our senses and wake up, we lose even that small
amount of esteem we were holding onto for the sense of "me"
and instead have total esteem for the real source of our gifts, which
is everywhere all the time.
This overflowing esteem, for the real author of our books and for all
our other offerings, is gratitude. By remaining internally undefined,
you become nothing, but at the same time potentially everything.
So we feel quite comfortable to be both intelligent and stupid at the
same time in a way that defies logic but that we experience subjectively
Isaac Shapiro exemplifies this fluidity. He has been traveling as a
translucent teacher for more than twelve years in Europe, America, and
Hundreds of people attend his retreats and look to him as a source of
wisdom. He could have every excuse for solidifying an identity as a
"showbiz guru." Goodness knows many have gone down that road.
When Isaac's marriage fell apart a few years ago, he made no attempt
to hide his confusion or pain. I remember sitting with him in a small
circle of friends in Amsterdam. The circle included some of his students.
I watched closely as someone challenged him, pointing out his unattended
personality habits that had contributed to the breakdown of his marriage.
I saw in his eyes a vulnerability, a rawness, an absolute willingness
to be wrong that was as total as his willingness to play spiritual teacher
when that role was demanded.
When translucents are faced with being the great enlightened teacher
or with being the most unenlightened fool, they just don't know which
Both roles look interesting - like two flavors of ice cream. So they
take on what is real in that moment and die to the rest.
met Byron Katie many years ago, when she was still traveling the country
in an RV. She would meet with a handful of people in one city, then
drive on to another.
It was clear that she had unvelcroed her attachment to her story completely.
She would speak of herself in the third person, but with no trace of
She obviously experienced Katie to be a delightful, interesting, and
quirky creature. She enjoyed watching Katie and also knew herself to
be so much more than Katie.
She told me of a time she was walking in the parking lot at the grocery
store. Most of her stories took place in shopping malls or supermarkets
- she embodied the Mahabharata, relocated to suburban America.
In this story, she saw a woman loading her groceries from her shopping
cart into the back of the car. Poking out of the top of the last bag
Katie saw a bunch of bananas.
"And honey," she said, "this Katie just knew, without
any hesitation, that one of those bananas was destined to be eaten by
her." Katie walked right over.
Without saying a word to the woman, she smiled, took the banana, and
ate it. Katie relayed this story with a twinkle in her eye, as if she
were giggling about her eccentric grandmother.
There was neither self-aggrandizement nor self-apology, but rather absolute
humorous acceptance of her natural character.
The climax of the story was that the woman who owned the banana in question
did not bat an eye. She, too, mysteriously experienced the whole event
as quite normal.
This story is, of course, somewhat unusual. Perhaps not something you
should aim to imitate, this kind of event cannot be duplicated.
What is exemplary here is not the circumstance, but the relaxed and
amused way that Katie speaks of her own unique way of moving through
The thousands of people I have talked to have nothing in common except
that their awakening has imbued them with a growing translucence.
Translucents are relaxed, accepting, and amused by the personality.
There is no attachment to changing it, getting rid of it, or indulging
in it, but neither is there any resistance to change, if it happens.
In this awareness of being undefined and beyond the personality, a luminous
presence is liberated that has no content or opinions, that is still
and silent and empty.
This presence uses the personality, as the best raw material available,
to play in this world.
continuously relax into being less defined internally, they become more
vivid and unique externally. This differs radically from the personality
contractions created by Iago's anxiety.
Life chooses to express itself through you in a way that is quite effortless,
spontaneous, and original - as natural character.
Eckhart Tolle is quiet, very modest, and loves to stay at home for long
periods in his apartment in Vancouver. No one has told him to be like
that. He is not imitating a role model.
And he has no impulse to interfere with himself. It is his natural character.
Byron Katie is constantly on the road, traveling from city to city,
talking with people from dawn to dusk, always fresh.
"Don't you get tired with so much traveling?" I once asked
her. She looked puzzled for a moment. "Hmm," she finally said.
"Do I look tired, honey?" I had to admit she looked great.
Bill plays in the band and drinks beer, Cynthia cooks for her son and
volunteers at her church, and Ewa plays her flute. They are following
their natural character.
We all have natural character, but when we are caught in the Iago trance,
we are hypnotized into feeling there is a problem to fix, and so we
Hale Dwoskin calls this process "shoulding": "We are
'shoulding' on ourselves all the time. All that does is create resistance.
It causes us to resist the flow, if it does not match our rights and
wrongs, goods and bads, shoulds and shouldn'ts.
As you let go, you should on yourself much less. You do what you do
when you are doing it, and you don't do what you are not doing when
you are not doing it."
Because translucents internally experience themselves as undefined,
they can let natural character do its thing. With less identification,
there is no motivation to change anything.
willingness to be less defined comes a loosening of our grip on the
past. The past is of little use when you have no case to defend.
If the trial is dismissed as boring and irrelevant, you can send the
witnesses home to get on with their lives and dump the bulging dossier
of carefully crafted case notes into the trash.
Translucents have a natural interest in forgiving and moving on.
Forgiveness is no longer a moral virtue, or something we need to practice,
but the effortless by-product of no longer needing to protect an identity
with a story attached to it.
The past is not healed; it simply ceases to be useful. Sarah had memories
of abuse as a child.
She was never quite sure which of the events she remembered actually
happened, but they certainly all seemed real. She saw a number of therapists
over many years.
She visited her family from time to time; she tried to sit down with
her father to find out what had really happened. She joined a support
This identity, as a survivor of abuse, was one of the first things she
would tell you about herself.
Some years ago, Sarah came to a gathering I offered. She had an awakening;
she discovered reality without the filters of her mind.
Recently, I tentatively asked her again about her memories. I knew it
was a sensitive subject.
"I don't really know if that stuff happened or not," she laughed.
"Maybe it did. I don't think about it anymore. It's not interesting.
It doesn't feel like I healed the past." She stopped and looked
surprised. "It's more like I don't really have a past.
I'd need to think a lot to create one." Sarah has been to visit
her father on several occasions since her shift but feels no need to
talk about the past.
They discuss sports results and gardening and have a good time. Sarah
discovered forgiveness as a by-product of releasing a part of her identity.
It was the death of a part of herself and, apparently, a great relief.
A survivor of abuse has every reason in the world to be angry, to have
strong feelings. A translucent's forgiveness is neither a moral quality
nor a cultivated virtue, but the natural and inevitable consequence
of knowing oneself as something more than the past.
When we disidentify with the story, there's no need to hold onto it
with regret. We forgive as an act of allegiance to the present moment;
it becomes choiceless.
Instead of clinging to our familiar identity, as we grow in translucence,
we discover a thirst for death and rebirth while still alive. Many of
us have experienced several different lives all in one lifetime.
This is very different from the discontented moving on described in
chapter 1 that disturbs us in the Iago trance. Translucents welcome
this death of identity with a sense of play and adventure.
David Deida describes the process like this: "Once I feel complete
with something, it's over for me as a gift, and it drops, letting a
new gift evolve.
If I meet someone who could do what I can do better, I stand aside and
let them do it, and develop a service that is missing in the world."
At one time Deida was considered one of the world's top neuroscientists.
He worked at Ecole Polytechnique and the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
When that career was complete, he knew it.
Neuroscience held no more interest or attraction. He then co-invented
a new form of calculus, publishing articles about it in mathematics
Then, when he knew that life was over, he moved to Hawaii and taught
Hatha yoga for many years.
In the mid-1990s he started to write about sex, relationship, and spirit,
since he didn't see anyone else doing that in the way he wanted to see
"I'll be moving on from the whole sex/relationship/spirit thing,"
he says, "as soon as someone gets up to speed. The sooner the better,
as far as I'm concerned."
Translucents enjoy creating and letting go of identities as much as
Iago resists change.
As we deepen
in translucence, we discover another dimension of our relationship to
It begins with the absolute acceptance of things as they are, of all
our strange quirks and addictions and banana nabbing.
Once we recognize everything to be fine as it is, we can relax even
We can feel, within each moment, an evolutionary impulse to steer life
in a more artful, loving, open way. This is not a personal doing fueled
It is a surrendering, a discovery of the urge inherent within life to
endlessly expand its expression of the mystery in form.
This is a subtle movement. As long as there are traces of Iago, which
can appear in all of us at any time, it can be hijacked by effort and
But within a radical acceptance of our broken condition, a willingness
to endure it eternally and to abandon futile efforts at improvement,
our habits of identity begin to mend and to evolve, always toward their
Life is not a static event. It is a river of endless evolution. Look
over your shoulder a few billion years. Once there was just a bunch
Look at how they have evolved into trees and rivers and rocks and sentient
beings - at how life has transformed into this unimaginable, miraculous
sentient being with the capacity to be aware of its own source.
Within this huge evolutionary process, the birth, awakening, relative
translucence, and eventual death of any specific individual is a very
small, fleeting event.
Andrew Cohen speaks eloquently about collective evolution: "In
the urge to become, there is a directionality toward higher and higher
levels of integration.
When human beings awaken to this and begin to emotionally care, not
only about themselves, but also about this larger context, the largest
context that there is, then their response becomes one with the God
Cohen calls this recognition "impersonal enlightenment" and
sees it as the next essential evolutionary stage of human life. In what
he calls "premodern, traditional models of enlightenment"
the goal was to just "get up and out of here":
concept of time was cyclical - the idea was that we are on a merry-go-round
that is going around and around for eternity. They hadn't yet discovered
the deep time developmental context that we're all a part of.
This knowledge is relatively recent, only three hundred years old. The
fact is, we're not on a merry-go-round; we are the product of fourteen
billion years of evolutionary development.
Human beings have only existed for about sixty thousand years, and only
very, very recently have we awakened to the evolutionary context of
our emergence. We are living in such an exciting time!
of radical awakening described in chapter 2 is a part of this developmental
And the very recognition that we are in a collective developmental process
is in itself another huge shift, one that transforms the individual
as well as the collective process itself.
Cohen continues: "You realize that part of what you are is an individual
human being that has been born in a particular time in history.
On a personal, emotional, psychological, and physical level, you have
a personal history.
From the larger perspective, you are actually part of a fourteen-billion-year
process of development."
As human beings, we are predisposed to become exclusively focused on
"my" life. It is all that most of us will ever think about.
Even when we have developed a higher degree of translucence, there still
often remains a natural and inevitable interest in "my" liberation,
"my" enlightenment, "my" spiritual experience.
This is natural and good; without that predisposition, no one would
even have the interest to mature and evolve.
When sperm are released during sex, every single spermatozoan is focused
on reaching the egg and fertilizing it.
Either one or none of them will be successful. The eventual outcome
may be a human birth and the continuation of the evolutionary process.
Out of the countless billions of sperm ejaculated out of a male body
in one life, only a very few will realize their potential to become
But in order for that to occur, it is vital that every little ambitious
fella rush like crazy to reach that egg every time. Almost all will
die and disappear.
The impulse to reach the egg is, we could say, the micro-motive, human
birth is the macro-motive, and the evolution and continuation of human
life is the meta-motive that lies beyond both.
In the same way, however profound our awakening, however deeply lived
our translucence, it is highly likely that in a few hundred years no
one will remember how enlightened or unenlightened any of us was, or
if we even existed at all.
Our personal lives, our spiritual journey, is the micro-motive, while
the evolution of life is the meta-motive.
Each human story is like a tiny grain of sand in an hourglass, irrelevant
and dispensable in itself, but an essential part of the bigger picture
Everything living is carried in this evolutionary current, and everything
is, to some degree or other, causing that evolution to occur. Cohen
actions we take, the choices we make, express the fact that we know
we are a part of this process?
Does this process itself, at a certain point in evolutionary development,
actually begin to depend upon my own conscious participation in it?
At this point there is an imperative to begin to be responsible for
the process itself through one's own incarnation in the biggest possible
way, rather than living for oneself the way that most people do.
points out, awareness of the evolutionary context is quite recent in
It takes the very peaks of human maturity to grasp that ultimately your
or my awakening, translucence, and eventual death are a tiny part of
a much bigger and more important process.
As long as we are preoccupied with our own identity, that very preoccupation
will keep the idea of a separate me locked in place, the very core of
the Iago trance, and will prevent genuine realization.
As soon as we realize the bigger context of collective evolution, our
attention shifts from "me" to that process itself, and our
realization of the timeless and formless deepens.
Cohen sees that simply by pursuing this awareness of the collective
evolutionary process, people pass through an enormous transformation.
He calls it the "authentic self" awakening. Not only do people
return to an awareness of their natural state, but they also realize
that the way they live is actually very significant; it is evolution
in action, here and here and here.
There is no evolutionary process happening outside of how you and I
live every moment:
"When you truly, deeply, profoundly recognize that your human experience
is not really a personal journey," says Cohen, "and it's not
a personal drama, your relationship to it changes in a way that's very
The individual is transformed and becomes a different person as a result.
They have a profoundly different relationship to what it means to be
a human being, living in the world."
With this awareness, we return to paying attention to how we live, to
how we relate, to the things we say and the choices we make.
We pay attention to these things not to improve ourselves, not to fix
a problem or achieve a goal, but because the larger current of collective
evolution demands it.
to this demand, we must be willing to look at the "broken zones"
of our personality with honesty and courage.
In the last decades, several new approaches have evolved that address
this calling. These are not paths to psychological healing.
They are also not spiritual paths to enlightenment in the traditional
sense. Rather, to some extent they all rest on a degree of awakening
to be effective.
They are skillful means to bring wakefulness into full embodiment. Until
recently, spiritual teaching presented an either/or choice.
It was thought that if you were trying to fix, mend, heal, or release
tension from your personality, you were identified with it, in a state
Awakening, in the traditional view, meant that you had seen through
the personality as fictitious, and therefore you no longer touched it.
This view has resulted in many people with some degree of genuine awakening
but who also carry horrendous dysfunctional habits.
They obstinately refuse to look at them, because to do so would display
One of the most effective and powerful ways to address this schism is
found in the work of Saniel Bonder:
"It's a particular passion of mine to communicate the extent of
the brokenness of the human soul and psyche, and how gravely impaired
we are by the degree to which even 'awakened' people continue to be
governed by all that."
He describes his approach, Waking Down in Mutuality, as
"not formally psychotherapeutic, but rather initiatory and mutually
Bonder's work has three dimensions, all contained in its title.
The first is waking. He and his community help people to awaken through
a variety of means, including self-inquiry.
This awakening is not the end of spiritual life, as it's often thought
to be in approaches that emphasize transcendence.
Rather, it catalyzes an exploration of our potential to live with sanity.
As long as you're predominantly identified with personality, as long
as you think "this is me," you can't really make any big shifts,
That's like trying to make a major renovation to the hull of a boat
you are sailing in - first you've got to get the hull out of the water.
You can't do brain surgery on yourself. Similarly, you can't begin to
deeply mend your psyche if you overwhelmingly feel and think you are
the psyche. That would be brokenness trying to mend itself.
Bonder sees awakening as the essential foundation for the evolutionary
work that follows:
"You can't do that work for real without the transcendental ground
of being. Otherwise, it is one part of your split-off self engaging
the other, but still to some degree fearing and fighting it."
Without an awakening, we are able to accomplish only a relatively superficial
mending of our human brokenness.
The second dimension is down: bringing the liberated spirit into embodiment
in daily life, and integrating the broken zones:
wakefulness comes forward and starts to wake down, to embody, to descend
more fully into the psyche, there is a sacred marriage of two great
dimensions of ourselves.
We undergo a challenging exposure to our issues, traumas, broken zones.
When we fall into them, these dimensions of our identity feel radically
discontinuous with our ordinary sense of who we are.
We start reacting in ways that others may find quite disproportionate
to the actual realities of the present moment.
sees these broken zones as relatively untouched by a radical awakening.
When we discover a deeper, unconditioned dimension to ourselves, we
identify less with these old habits; we may feel they are essentially
unimportant, but they continue nevertheless.
He believes that most traditional spiritual approaches have tended either
to ignore these broken zones or even to exacerbate them:
"Under the guise of attracting people into ego-death and ego-transcendence,
the teaching styles of many teachers have practically pulverized people
in their broken zones.
It takes an Olympic gymnast of a psyche and spirit to somehow leap over
those gaps, collect enough energy and attention, and crystallize the
Consequently, only a few in any generation pull it off."
Bonder feels that traditional spiritual approaches often hole up in
awakeness, shying clear of the much more difficult, messy work of evolutionary
We know ourselves to be limitless and free, untouched by birth and death.
"Good," they might say, "let's close the book on how
we live and treat other people."
In this way, the evolutionary aspect described by Cohen is more or less
stopped dead in its tracks. Bonder feels that in order to bring forth
the real evolutionary potential of awakening, we must return to how
we live and heal, or make ourselves whole, from an awakened perspective.
The third dimension is mutuality, doing this work with others of like
mind, catalyzing further transformations together.
Bonder sees mutuality as an essential context, one in which everyone
is equally vulnerable, open, and willing to see where the evolutionary
impulse can be given more room:
"You can't hide out in the enlightened ivory tower of 'my realization
is superior to yours,' or, 'I know you better than you know yourself,'
or, 'I've got a superior insight, wow, isn't that amazing to you?' "
In real mutuality, the teacher is no longer one particular person in
the room; the real teacher becomes the meeting itself, the highest evolutionary
potential of the group, called forth by the gathering.
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