- Diego Palma -
For many years I have been using and contemplating the word “enlightenment” without grasping its true meaning. One day, during a lecture I was attending at a Buddhist center, I asked this question: “Is enlightenment a direction or a destination?”
To my surprise, half of the Buddhist participants attending the retreat considered enlightenment a destination, a final point of arrival, a final state of realization that can be attained in the same way the historical Buddha attained enlightenment under the Boddhi tree. The other half considered it a direction, like heading East, with no fixed end point to be achieved, like an endless exploration or evolution.
Today I see enlightenment as a direction, a finger pointing to the moon as the Buddha stated in the Snake sutra. What we are calling the “moon” is the realization and development of our full true potential, our own expression of the unlimited. Living without limitations. It could seem to be a fixed point of arrival -if we were to establish a fixed idea of what our true potential could be – but it will eventually change because once we get closer to it, our own expression of the unlimited will also have evolved.
It is important to fully understand the attribute of constant evolution ingrained in the concept of direction instead of being trapped in the idea of reaching a final destination which is based on the present ideal of our full potential, which is constantly evolving.
The concept of translucence is a new term suggested by Arjuna Ardagh who wrote the book “The Translucent Revolution.” He proposes to use the word translucence instead of enlightenment. In the core of the concept of translucence is the sense of movement and constant evolution. The process is evolutionary and endless rather than aimed at a fixed point of result. The word translucent refers to the degree of embodiment of a realization, not to what has been realized. One can always become more translucent.
Translucent is defined as “letting light pass through, but not transparent.” A transparent object, like a clean sheet of glass, is almost invisible. An opaque object, on the other hand, blocks light completely. A crystal is translucent. If the sun were to shine on it from behind, you would see the light passing through the sculpture, and it would appear to be glowing from the inside.
Translucent people also appear to glow from the inside. To me, translucent people are the ones that due to some event like an experience with sacred plants or a spiritual practice, have touched a deeper nature of self and have felt a shift in their way of perceiving reality. After that event, they feel the call and clarity to move in a new direction and a sense of transcendence.
Translucents speak of life as a process without end, like an endless unfolding of discovery and delight. 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.
Once they start to question and reinterpret some assumed beliefs about reality they learn to transform the models and maps that they have inherited. Instead of following a doctrine they embrace many teachers and experience all of life as a teacher. Rather than conforming to the ways that have been handed down through patriarchy, they embody a radical feminization of the spiritual life. Rather than renouncing to the world and aspiring celibacy, they are actively involved and they delight in sex more than ever. And rather building a holy or “spiritual” personality in any external way, their most easily distinguishable quality is a sense of simpleness and humor about themselves and their lives. They are simple, honest, deep, and at the same time remarkably human and humble about their weaknesses.
These people are more interested in the present moment than any future state. Their spirituality is more grounded in direct experience than in imitation or belief. They have been affected so deeply by a moment of radical awakening that their relationship to who they are and what this life is about has been permanently transformed.
“Let yourself feel deeply the possibility of really resting in the center of your own being without the idea that there is anything more to get, to do, or to become.”
- Arjuna Ardagh -