” alt=”” height=”266″ width=”400″ />If you’ve been reading my stuff here for a while, you probably remember that back in the summer of 2009, I started to conduct interviews for a new publication with some very interesting people. I’ve been busy with that ever since. Finally, it’s come to some sort of completion.
In almost every tradition, there has been a split between spiritual awakening and worldly life. A sadhu in India renounces money, sexuality, and even clothes to discover “moksha.” In the Christian tradition, priests have generally been single and celibate, or even living in a monastery, secluded from the world. This remained true even 30 or 40 years ago when it was still quite popular to take a vow of celibacy or poverty, or to live away from the world in a spiritual community. But things have changed dramatically in the last few decades.
I regularly attend large conferences and events, and I’ve enjoyed conducting my own little amateur sociological project. When I get a crowd of a few hundred people, I like to ask, “How many people have a current vow of celibacy?” It’s very rare, these days, to see even one or two hands go up. Then I ask, “How many people would celebrate bringing your heart’s deepest awakening into your sexuality?” The crowd becomes a sea of hands. I can ask the same question about parenting, family, social and political action, but the most interesting to me is money and material success. “How many people,” I ask, “are living with a current vow of poverty? You’ve renounced money and material possessions?” Again, it’s rare to see a single hand. “And who,” I continue, “is interested in bringing awakening into your business life — to have a more conscious and awakened relationship to the flow of money?” Again, it’s a sea of hands.
My teacher H.W.L Poonjaji asked me to return to America and teach “Satsang” in the spring of 1992. Back then, everyone was interested in “getting it.” They wanted some sort of magic moment where a light bulb goes off and the truth is revealed. And sure enough, if you make your life about spiritual highs, you can have them. Back in the early ‘90s, there were a few people in each gathering who had had a deep enough realization of their true nature that the game was up. The rest still considered themselves to be “seekers.”
I’ve noticed now that things have completely changed. When I conduct a weekend workshop or seminar, pretty much everybody has had a deep enough recognition of being spacious, of being infinite, of the dimension of themselves that is free, that it’s no longer their dominant priority. It has become interesting to discover how to live this in daily life. Many other teachers of awakening concur with this observation. Adyashanti, for example, who leads large retreats in the United States, shared the same thing with me. It used to be a handful of people who had abandoned seeking. Now it’s pretty much the whole retreat. We want to discover how to live this in every aspect of our lives.
About 18 months ago, I began to conduct video interviews with people who had been extraordinarily successful in giving their gift to the world from this platform of awakening. I have talked to people who are well-recognized and well-rewarded for what they do well, and who acknowledge that it is coming through them rather than from them. Almost all of these people are not recognized primarily for being spiritual teachers, but for something else they do well.
The best example that comes to mind is John Gray, whose book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, is the bestselling self-help book in history, with over 50 million copies of the series in print. Very few people know John’s background. Before he even completed his undergraduate degree, he went to live at a meditation community in Switzerland, under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. John lived there for nine years, absorbed in deep meditation for the greater part of each day. Later, he became Maharishi’s personal secretary, and lived with him 24/7. John had absolutely no interest in fame or money or worldly success. His only interest was meditation — awakening — merging into oneness. John had a younger brother, Jimmy, who suffered from bipolar disorder. John loved his brother immensely and wanted to help him with his suffering. He returned to America, moved into a garage, and continued meditating most of the time, drinking only a glass of orange juice each day. But Jimmy’s calls for help grew stronger.
Finally, John moved to California and lived for a while on the beach. He did everything he could to investigate alternative therapies that might restore his brother to health. Before he could compete this investigation, Jimmy killed himself. John’s heart was filled with grief. Something took him over, and he realized that being of service and helping other people, alleviating suffering, was actually more important to him than a life of meditation and renunciation. His first book was self published, You Can Only Heal What You Can Feel. It was accompanied by illustrations he had done himself. He was picked up by a small publisher and his next book rolled out just as easily. His third book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus was written in three weeks. “It just poured right out,” he said.
I have the great good fortune to be a member of a men’s group with John Gray, so I’ve got to know him quite well. The man is passionate about service. Just in the month of November alone, he he spoke in 27 cities. He’s on fire with wanting to communicate simple ideas that can change lives. He makes money doing it, but it’s clearly not his primary motivation. John is an example of a rapidly increasing kind of human being I would call “translucent.” He’s not a seeker chasing after the carrot of enlightenment, but he’s also not identified with being in any particular state. His life is a gift, and his gift is life.
I’ve come to discover thousands and thousands of other people in the same way. Business leaders, religious leaders, psychotherapists, musicians, dancers, hairdressers, doctors, you name it. Translucent people have full access to their true nature as limitless consciousness, free as the sky, but they also have no problem with being a human being with all of its quirks and limitations, and allowing the gifts to flow freely through a personal life.
Here’s the most startling conclusion I want to share with you today. Having a moment of awakening is relatively easy. Ask yourself “Who am I?” with some degree of sincerity, and the clouds will almost certainly part and reveal the limitless sky of your true nature. It’s not that difficult to have a realization these days. It’s living it that takes practice, because that’s where the old habits of separation, judgment, and limitation kick right back in.
Over the last many years, I’ve interviewed more than 300 people about living awakening. Recently I condensed the best of this down to 27 video interviews. This is an extremely practical, hands-on kind of a subject.