Interview: Benjamin Creme | part two

The essence of market forces is greed and separatism. The more one is attached to these forces, the more they create cells of imprisonment. This leads to spiritual bankruptcy and mental disequilibrium.." – Maitreya

Scottish-born painter and esotericist Benjamin Creme has spent more than 30 years preparing the world for the most extraordinary event in human history: the return of our spiritual mentors to the everyday world. Creme has appeared on television, radio and documentary films worldwide since 1982 when he announced that the Lord Maitreya, the World Teacher long awaited by people of every spiritual tradition, albeit under different names, is living in London, ready to present himself openly when invited by the media to do so. This event is now imminent.

Creme, based in London, continues to carry out his task as messenger of this news. He has written 14 books, most recently The World Teacher for All Humanity (2007) and The Awakening of Humanity (2008). He is editor of Share International magazine, which circulates in more than 70 countries and is dedicated to the emergence of Maitreya and the political, social, economic, environmental and spiritual changes that are now taking place.

In an interview with Edge Life, speaking by phone from San Francisco during a recent visit to America, Creme reminds us that Maitreya is a teacher who, when he makes his long-awaited emergence telepathically into the consciousness of every human being on the planet over the age of 14 on the imminent "Day of Declaration," he will give each of us a glimpse into who we truly are as human beings and offer us the personal choice of awakening.

The process is described thusly: Maitreya, who can change his physical form at any time, will come forward as a consultant on global issues and will be interviewed on American television. Those public and corporate leaders who have met with Maitreya at a conference in 1990 will come forward and support his ideas. Then, when enough people begin to respond to his ideas, the Day of Declaration will take place and Maitreya will emerge to teach and inspire. Maitreya teaches, among other things, the oneness of all life, humanity’s great spiritual destiny, the Law of Cause and Effect and its corollary the Law of Rebirth, and the absolute need to share the world’s resources more equitably among all people.

Last month, Creme shared with us more about the return of the masters and greater insight on the Day of Declaration. He continues the conversation now, beginning with Maitreya’s views on the current economic crisis in America.

In your book, The World Teacher for All Humanity, you write that Maitreya calls speculation the great disease of humanity.
Benjamin Creme:
Absolutely. Speculation for the Masters is anathema and is the greatest disease that humanity has, and it ends up, of course, in commercialization.

What is the future of the financial markets in America and Europe? Having them collapse and then rebuilt with new ideas?
Maitreya says they will never have the same role again. The present stock exchanges of the world have very little to do with the real economy of the world. Trading is a small part of the work of the stock exchanges. They are really to do with financial speculation, and they speculate on the value of the yen, the dollar, the pound, the franc, or the euro, at any given time. Billions are lost and billions are made by this speculation, and that’s what the stock exchanges are about. They are for greedy minds.

The Masters say that perhaps some segment of it might be retained for these greedy minds to play with, but for humanity as a whole, they have no major part to play. The Masters, through their disciples, have worked out various interrelated plans that will solve the problems. Any one of them would solve the problems of distribution, which are at the heart of the economic problem.

It is not economics per se, it is non-distribution. There is more food in the world than we could possibly use. There’s a huge surplus of food per capita, but it’s locked away and rotting in the storehouses of the Western world, whereas in the East, in many parts of Africa, India and South America, people are starving to death. Millions of people are dying of starvation in a time in which there is a huge surplus of food.

Maitreya says, "Nothing so moves me to grief as this shame. The crime of separation must be driven from this world. I affirm that as my purpose." So the saving of the starving millions of the world is the number one priority. After that, the number two priority is the saving of planet earth from decay and death, because this is a very sorry state.

Capitalism, as it’s practiced in America, seems to go against these values shared by Maitreya.
Yes, it does. But Maitreya asks us to think of the problem of the world as a cart. It has to have two wheels. If you have one wheel, the cart doesn’t go. If you have one wheel called socialism, it doesn’t go. If you have only one wheel called capitalism, it doesn’t go. It needs two wheels. These two wheels are capitalism and socialism.

Because of what they call the "new economy," the economy of market forces, the world is moving more and more toward a complete commercialization of life on earth, and the Masters find this a desperate state of affairs. One Master has said that commercialization has humanity by the throat and is removing humanity, men and women, out of life.

Others say life is not about commercialization. It is not about market forces. Maitreya calls market forces the forces of evil, because they benefit the few at the expense of the many. How long do we expect the many to go on? He says it’s reaching a point when these many will not put up with this state of affairs forever and will revolt. There will be massive upheaval, social destruction, revolutions of one kind or another, and eventually war – and that war would destroy all life.

We have no alternative but to share, and sharing is the divine plan. The Plan of Evolution is the plan destined by the Logos (God) of our planet for the evolution of the earth, and the governments of the world try all they can to make the economy work, but they can’t. Nothing works anymore, because it’s of the past. All the technology, all the ways, all the ideas, all the theories of economics don’t work. They work for a time and build for certain people a lot of money, and then there’s a depression and the whole thing collapses for a time, and then they build it up again, and for a time it works for a few, and then again collapses. This same pattern is repeated year after year, decade after decade.

Maitreya says governments are dealing only with the ways of the past, and we have moved into a new cosmic cycle. Humanity is no longer the same. Its needs are no longer the same, and the needs of all around the world are recognizable. We need jobs. We need food. We need shelter. We need health care. We need education. These few things are the absolute necessities of all people everywhere, and yet even in the most-developed world, like America and Europe, no one has all of these things by right, unless they have money – and this is the rub. Unless you have money today, you cannot live life according to your need.

Politically it seems as though we have a candidate in this nation who is encouraging a renewal of hope through the removal of fear. Is this in line with Maitreya’s blueprint?
All the thoughts and ideas that move in that direction are the result of the effect of Maitreya’s ideas. They saturate all the planes, from the dense physical to the high spiritual planes, and people respond to them according to the state of their heart. If the heart is relatively pure, they respond to the highest level, and downwards to just common sense – although it takes heart sensitivity at times to recognize it as common sense.

Politics seems to be a part of Maitreya’s message in terms of how to lead people responsibly. What has Maitreya thought about the course of these past eight years of America’s leadership, in proclaiming a war on terrorism?
America, like all nations, has to renounce war. It’s an utter, utter necessity to renounce war forever. And nothing new can be built until this is done. The wars of today, the terrorism of today, are the result of injustice, and that injustice is the outcome of our greedy, selfish, competitive way of working through commercialization and market forces. They no longer work and have to be seen to be of the past, and relegated to the past, so that we can build new structures, new forms of living together and sensing our common bonds of brotherhood and justice and freedom for all peoples – not just some of the people, but for all people.

One of those ancient civilizations, the Mayans, have their calendar ending around 2012. What’s the significance of that time period from Maitreya’s perspective.
None at all. There’s no significance. The Mayans disappeared as a culture, which was for the time extremely high. People have asked me this question many, many times, and the Masters say that when you wake up on the next day, the sun will rise as usual and you’ll have your bacon and eggs as usual. Life will be the same as what we have reached by 2012.

One thing that some of us do feel is that time is speeding up. Is that actually happening?
That is literally true, yes. Maitreya has created a new relationship between this planet and the Sun. It is so slight that you could never measure it, but we are slightly closer to the Sun than we were before, and this speeds up the evolution of the planet. Therefore, our sense of time is speeding up.

But for the Masters there is no such thing as time. For them, what we think of as the past, the present and the future are all one. There is only this moment of time. That is it, all of it. I have been shown by the Masters that the past is still going on as if it were happening, and the future is already happening, although from our point of view it has yet to arrive. But on the level from which the Masters work and from which they look at the world, these are all now, just everlasting permanent now, and there’s nothing else but now.

Next month: Maitreya’s views revealed.

For complete information on the emergence of Maitreya and the Masters of Wisdom, visit or contact Share International USA toll-free at 1.888.242.8272. George Catlin, a long-time associate of Benjamin Creme, will present free talks on "The Masters and the Path" from 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and from 3-3:50 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at Minneapolis Convention Center. Daily admission is $9, or two for $10. For complete details, visit

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Interview: Benjamin Creme | part three

Last of a three-part series

"There will be no war as a result of the corruption and deceit of the politicians because I am among you. So far I have been acting behind the scenes, with My hands concealed, in order to give room to those in authority to change their ways and to serve the will of the people. But now the time is imminent when I will have to raise My hand so that people can converge on Me and look towards Me for guidance." Maitreya

Scottish-born painter and esotericist Benjamin Creme has spent more than 30 years preparing the world for the most extraordinary event in human history: the return of our spiritual mentors to the everyday world. Creme has appeared on television, radio and documentary films worldwide since 1982 when he announced that the Lord Maitreya, the World Teacher long awaited by people of every spiritual tradition, albeit under different names, is living in London, ready to present himself openly when invited by the media to do so. This event is now imminent.

Creme, based in London, continues to carry out his task as messenger of this news. He has written 14 books, most recently The World Teacher for All Humanity (2007) and The Awakening of Humanity (2008). He is editor of Share International magazine, which circulates in more than 70 countries and is dedicated to the emergence of Maitreya and the political, social, economic, environmental and spiritual changes that are now taking place.

In an interview with Edge Life, speaking by phone from San Francisco during a recent visit to America, Creme reminds us that Maitreya is a teacher who, when he makes his long-awaited emergence telepathically into the consciousness of every human being on the planet over the age of 14 on the imminent "Day of Declaration," will give each of us a glimpse into who we truly are as human beings and offer us the personal choice of awakening.

The process is described thusly: Maitreya, who can change his physical form at any time, will come forward as a consultant on global issues and will be interviewed on American television. Those public and corporate leaders who have met with Maitreya at a conference in 1990 will come forward and support his ideas. Then, when enough people begin to respond to his ideas, the Day of Declaration will take place and Maitreya will emerge to teach and inspire. Maitreya teaches, among other things, the oneness of all life, humanity’s great spiritual destiny, the Law of Cause and Effect and its corollary, the Law of Rebirth, and the absolute need to share the world’s resources more equitably among all people.

Last month, Creme shared with us Maitreya’s perspective on capitalism and the current global economic crisis. He continues the conversation now, beginning with Maitreya’s views on religion and more on the Day of Declaration.

What’s the future of organized religion in the bigger picture?
Benjamin Creme:
Organized religions will remain, some of them for a very long time to come, but under the inspiration and guidance of the Masters there will be built another approach to Divinity. You can’t call it really a religion. It’s a very scientific religion, esotericism, a path to spirit, to union with your soul, and through the soul, union with the spark of God.

You could call it religion if you have to, but we have no word to explain it yet. This scientific religion, scientific path to God, is such that you become a disciple and then you become an initiate, and then you can become a Master and reach the top of the mountain that way. People will go to the mystery schools, which will be reopened, as they go now to university. When ready, they will seek training for these five initiatory processes, which take place in the last few lives of our evolutionary experience.

All of us stand somewhere in relation to that path. We’re either coming up to the first initiation, or have taken that and are somewhere towards the second, or towards the third, or the fourth, or the fifth. Eventually, in the crowning glory for all of humanity, all of us will have taken the fifth initiation and be Masters, and as far as planet earth is concerned, be perfected.

But, the Masters see this as only semi-perfection. They don’t even think they have finished the path of evolution on planet earth. They see stretching ahead of them vistas of being, of knowledge that we can’t even begin to imagine.

But, on the Day of Declaration, Maitreya will give people an inkling of this. He will show how old humanity is – far, far older than we can imagine. There have been before us great civilizations that now lie under the sands and the deserts. We know very little about this, but the Masters know this, and they know the state of humanity and will inspire humanity to see itself in these terms, as growing towards a greater spirituality, a greater understanding of the spiritual nature of all life. We will see politics as having to be spiritual, economics as having to be spiritual, science and education and everything that we do as being essentially spiritual, lifting humanity to higher and higher levels.

Life is not about making money. It is about enhancing the quality of life for every single being so that they go from physical satisfaction to astral satisfaction to mental satisfaction to growing spiritual satisfaction, up and up and up, all the way. It’s all spiritual.

It’s been said that it’s a unique gift given to us to have been chosen to be incarnated at this time on the planet. Is this so?
Indeed it is. We have the world to rebuild. We have the chance to build it rightly for the first time in 98,000 years, under the inspiration and guidance of the Masters who are returning to the everyday world.

At the moment, 14 Masters plus Maitreya, and eventually about 40 Masters plus Maitreya, will be in human bodies. This is a unique happening. We have known nothing like it since 98,000 years ago, and here it is happening. We can, through their guidance, enlist their love and concern and build a world like nothing that has ever happened on planet earth before – a world of great beauty.

Before he died, the Buddha, through the prince Gautama, wrote a sutra that said a time would come when a great teacher, a Buddha like himself, by name Maitreya, would galvanize and inspire humanity to create a brilliant golden civilization based on righteousness and truth – and that is what will happen.

Maitreya Buddha is in the world now along with 14 of the Masters , and eventually more will come in. On the Day of Declaration, Maitreya will speak about his group of Masters. They won’t speak then, but one-by-one in the days, weeks or months following the Day of Declaration, the Masters will begin to come forward into the everyday world.

One of the first of these is the one who was Jesus in Palestine 2,000 years ago. He is now a great, highly evolved Master, one of Maitreya’s closest associates. They are inseparable, and they will teach and advise and work with groups of disciples all over the world, and through these disciples the world will be changed. Everyone who is responsive to this reality has the opportunity to lend their all, their energy and their time and their focus, to save the world through right relationship, brotherhood and sisterhood.

Prior to the Day of Declaration, what can an individual do in preparation for the experience?
Be prepared that it is going to happen. You will hear and see Maitreya on television long before that – no one knows how long – but the Masters don’t expect it to be very long. My guess is that they have a working idea of something like two to three years between the now very soon emergence of Maitreya and the Day of Declaration, but that depends on humanity – whether it responds.

I know your government doesn’t even acknowledge that the world is heating up, that global warming is a reality. They think they can overcome it by all sorts of technical advances, but really it isn’t a question of a little fiddle here and a little fiddle there. It is a huge work, and only the Masters know precisely the time involved and the amount of work involved. The sooner the people respond to Maitreya, the sooner they will get the information from the Masters on how to tackle global warming and all that causes global warming.

One of the deadliest issues is the nuclear radiation pouring from every nuclear power station in the world. With every atomic process and experimentation that is going on, high-level nuclear radiation is pouring out at the highest level. There currently is no technology to measure beyond a certain level. Scientists see only three levels of matter – liquid, solid and gas. But, in fact, the Masters and all esotericists theoretically know that there are four etheric physical planes above gas, and that the worst damage from nuclear radiation is on these highest levels.

The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is growing at a pace like never before, affecting people at a younger and younger age. This is the direct effect of nuclear radiation polluting the air of our planet from the power stations and other nuclear experimentation.

The nuclear power stations they are planning to build by the dozens all over the world to overcome global warming have to be abandoned. The advice of Maitreya right away will be to abandon all power stations of a nuclear type. There is a way to use nuclear energy, but it is a FUSION process, which is cold and simple and can be had from one simple isotope in water, which is everywhere on the planet. That information will be given to humanity when they have abandoned their nuclear fission.

But the true energy of the future is what Maitreya calls the science of light, in which we will receive all energy for every use directly from the Sun – and this will be one of the crowning achievements of our new civilization.

Will this information – the science of light – be spontaneously given to people at some point?
When we have totally renounced war forever that technology will be given to humanity, and it will solve all our energy problems. Otherwise it would be terribly dangerous for any nation to have that technology.

In your two recent books, The World Teacher for All Humanity andThe Awakening of Humanity, you mentioned that people can connect directly with Maitreya. How can this be done?
In 2001 the imprint of a hand appeared on a bathroom mirror in Barcelona, Spain. Since it was in the home of one of our co-workers, a photograph was taken and sent to me. My Master confirmed it was the handprint of Maitreya, given so that people can come in contact with him, on subjective levels, and ask for his help. He says, "My help is yours to command. You have only to ask." People should look at the center of the palm for a few moments and talk to Maitreya. Even if they don’t know it, this alerts him to their presence. He has no sense that we are separate. If we look at the handprint and ask for his help, that help will be given.

A photograph of this handprint has now been circulated throughout the world, and many people have confirmed that the help they asked for was received. The image is included in both of the books you mention and is also available free of charge from Share International. We have received reports that these handprints are now being discovered in other countries.

What is your personal relationship to Maitreya? Have you communicated in person?
I am a "conscious disciple" working closely with one of the Masters – and all of the Masters are the disciples of Maitreya. (There are many disciples of the Masters who are not conscious of that relationship.)

How does Maitreya share his writing and messages? Does he share them through his disciples and they are given to you?
The first series of messages were given through me by a process of mental overshadowing during my public lectures in London between 1977 and 1982. These 140 messages have been published by Share International Foundation in the book Messages From Maitreya the Christ.

Later, between 1988 and 1993, Maitreya gave another series of messages to a colleague in the Asian community of London where he lives. That colleague was told to give them to either of two independent journalists, with further instructions to pass them on to me.

I published all of them in our magazine, Share International, and sent them, wherever they were relevant, to the media of the world. Maitreya also gave some unique and extraordinary forecasts. There is nothing of this kind of forecasting going back thousands of years. It is so full and so direct, and it has been borne out to the letter. Maitreya gave this information so that we could awaken humanity, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

For complete information on the emergence of Maitreya and the Masters of Wisdom, visit or contact Share International USA toll-free at 1.888.242.8272. George Catlin, a long-time associate of Benjamin Creme, will present free talks on "The Masters and the Path" from 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and "Transmission Meditation" from 3-3:50 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at Minneapolis Convention Center. Daily admission is $9, or two for $10. For complete details, visit

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Dreamtime Revisited: Awakening to the Multiple Dimensions of Us

Call it a lucid dream, if you must, but the experience was as real to me as the act of typing these words. It was evening, one of those incredible October nights that are warm, slightly windy, with a full moon shining brightly.

I found myself walking to a nightspot known for beatniks and poets who, without a moment’s warning, would stand on a chair and recite the newest lines to be scribbled onto the page. It was crowded, yet intimate, dark but full of light. I felt alive.

Before long, I find myself walking along a sidewalk toward a friend’s house. I enter without knocking, observe the family viewing television upstairs, and then I open the door and head down to the basement.

I find myself standing there. And then suddenly…with a whoosh!…my body is moved backward against the paneled wall, and I hear a voice as clear as a bell say, "You have the power." With that, I am sitting up wide-eyed in bed, pondering what had just happened.

praying for rain

I am in the Pocono mountains, riding with a friend back to the Midwest after a road trip to New York City. We’re somewhere in Pennsylvania and the engine begins sputtering. It is hot and I’m thinking vapor lock. The car dies in a tunnel and I help push us through to the other side. I lose a sandal, glance back to see a tractor-trailer barreling down on us, so I forget the shoe and keep pushing. We make it through the tunnel and park the car on the shoulder.

We wait. We pace and wait some more. I think we need to cool the car down. I begin to think of my editor back at work, Jim Sherman, an old-school journalist who remembers lead type and card games and drinks after the latest edition has gone to bed. And then clouds roll in, rain begins to fall and the car cools down. Less than a week after I get home, my editor dies suddenly. I wonder what that momentary connection was that I shared with him as I wandered around aimlessly, praying for rain. Was he saying goodbye?

the gathering

I am dreaming again, or so I think, walking up to a very large open field. Cars are parked on both sides on the roadway, and like me, people are all walking toward what appears to be a gathering. Men, women and children are sitting on the ground…in a very large circle. There is a distinct feeling of anticipation. I see my brother nearby, and I sit down next to him.

I ask him what is going on, and he tells me that we’re all waiting for their arrival. I seem to intuitively know who they are. But what bothers me, in that moment, as if I am awake pondering what is taking place while I’m experiencing it, is that my brother would not be someone who would sit and wait for any extraterrestrial encounter. But here he is, waiting with just as much excitement as everyone else.

there’s more to us

As I write these words, feeling a tingling in my bones as if experiencing each of these events again for the first time, I get a sneaking suspicion that there’s more to us than we think. Call it a knowing.

Picture yourself as a ball of energy that happens to be anchored in your body. That ball of energy animates you as you go about your day in what most would call "the real world." But throughout the day, as you sit in front of the computer screen, as you wait in traffic, as you relax in front of the television, and as you lie down in bed and close your eyes, that ball of energy that is you is constantly reaching out and communicating with the millions of other light beings on the planet. And that ball of energy is constantly reaching out from the third dimension…the here and now…and communicating with the vast infinite intelligence in all dimensions…and beyond. Even with a part of yourself on the other side.

I think most of the beings here on Earth would explode they knew…consciously, in the here and now… the truth about who they are. To play out the game called life, here on Earth, that knowledge is better left for another day. But my question is, what about those of us who have glimpsed the other side? Yes.

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Being alive…now, and why today is the start of something new

I couldn’t help leaving the movie theater last night wondering why any of us choose to live life waiting for something to happen, as opposed to living each moment to the fullest.

The film was Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the high-society editor of the French Elle magazine, who suffered a stroke at age 43. He awoke from a coma with "Locked-In" syndrome, having complete mental functioning in a body paralyzed from head to toe. All he could do is blink one eye. His speech therapist spelled out the French alphabet and "Jean-Do" blinked once to indicate the next letter in what was his only means of communication with the outside world. He lived in this condition for 15 months, during which time he dictated the book The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, which was published 10 days before his death.

Bauby wrote in the prologue: "Through the frayed curtain at my window, a wan glow announces the break of day. My heels hurt, my head weighs a ton, and something like a giant invisible cocoon holds my whole body prisoner. My room emerges slowly from the gloom. I linger over every item: photos of loved ones, my children’s drawings, posters, the little tin cyclist sent by a friend the day before the Paris-Roubaix bike race, and the IV pole hanging over the bed where I have been confined these past six months, like a hermit crab dug into his rock."

Feeling like a diver trapped in a steel helmet, being lowered into the depths, Bauby also used his imagination to be a butterfly struggling out of a cocoon, now free to just be.

The most extreme situations bring out the best in all of us, because we are warriors at heart. Put a young mother in a life-or-death struggle for the safety of her child and she will fight to the end. Put a writer on his back with nothing to do except think, and you will get a memoir, a full-length motion picture and story that will haunt us for decades.Driving home from the theater, I couldn’t help but wonder why all of us don’t do much more with the time we have available to us in our lives…with minds that think, with bodies that move, with souls that connect us with what is truly real. Many of us struggle to get through the day, and then we anesthetize ourselves with [fill in the blank] before falling asleep.

Clearly, there are those among us who are awake, who seize the opportunity and make the most of their lives. What is the difference between those people and the rest of us who just struggle to get up in the morning and survive the day? Why do so many of us wait until something catastrophic happens before we grasp for life and truly live?

I can only speak for myself. It seems to be easier to just slide from day to day, not really caring whether something happens tomorrow or a year from now. It seems easier to not take responsibility to make the most of why I am alive…now. It seems easier to stay asleep than to be fully awake.

But what if that is an illusion, just a false belief? What if it is so much easier to be awake? What if it is so much more rewarding to be living like there is no tomorrow? What if my soul came into this body with the clear intention of shedding illusions and false beliefs? What if the reason that I am alive now – and you are alive now – is to wake up from struggle and fear and treading water and running in circles and repeating ourselves and going through the motions?

What if I choose now to live with purpose?

What if you do? What would you do differently? And more importantly, how would you be?

I don’t know if you can feel it yet, but our souls are stirring awake. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, we are emerging from a deep sleep. The birthing pain is causing us to recoil, but that cocoon is no longer our home. We are standing here free…free to move…free to act… free to be. We are no longer suspended in darkness. We are bathed in more light than we’ve ever known.

And it is time. Join me now in stretching our wings, flying as if for the first time, knowing that we are truly alive.

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Interview: Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith’s credentials are staggering: author or co-editor of 18 books; executive coach of more than 70 major CEOs and their management teams; named one of the top 10 executive educators by the Wall Street Journal; named one of the top five most-respected executive coaches by Forbes magazine; praised as America’s preeminent executive coach by Fast Company; columnist for Harvard Business Online and Business Week Online; selected as a "National Volunteer of the Year" by the American Red Cross; recognized in 2004 by the American Management Association as one of the 50 great thinkers and business leaders who have influenced the field of management over the last 80 years; just named for the first time to the international Thinkers 50, "the definitive biannual guide to business thinkers."

Goldsmith is renowned for making already successful people even more successful by identifying and then eliminating interpersonal flaws that are holding them back. Author of the top-selling What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful (Hyperion, 2007), Goldsmith spoke with Edge Life from his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., about change, about Buddhism and about how he is able to assist business leaders to improve their ability to lead other people. Along the way, he shared tips to help all of us become as successful as we choose to be.
You have a 12-to-18 month process that you apply for CEOs or managers who would like to identify a behavior that they’d like to change. What motivates them to go through this lengthy process?

Marshall Goldsmith: Well, if the person is the CEO, he or she wants to be a great role model for demonstrating that they not only speak the values of the company, they live the values of the company.

And the best thing you can do if you want to help other people get better is let them watch you get better. If you want them to live the values, the best thing you can do is live the values yourself, and that should be true for managers at all levels. If it’s not the CEO who I’m working with, it’s usually the future CEO, typically a very fantastic person who feels like if they make one or two positive changes, it would really help them be a more effective CEO.

How widespread does the CEO advertise the fact that he or she is going through this process?
Oh, everybody in the company knows it. My typical client will get feedback from 18 people who work with them, and everybody I work with publicly talks about what they’re trying to improve. If you’re at that level, and if you tell 18 people, you might as well put it in your company newsletter.

The word passes around.
Oh, of course. A lot of my clients, though, will just give talks in front of hundreds of people about what they’re trying to improve. I had a client, a great guy named George Borst, CEO of Toyota Financial Services. I worked with him as his coach. He publicly talked to 250 people and he had slides. He said, "Here’s what I’m trying to improve, and I have a coach, and here’s what I’m working on."

When the employees of a company hear this about their CEO, that would really help the manager’s image right away.
Yes, because then the message is, "I’m trying to get better"-and the message goes down that everybody can try to get better.

In the process of being coached, does the CEO provide any kind of information that could benefit all employees?
In my process, oftentimes I do training for people in all levels of the organization, not just the executive, and the process is the same for managers at all levels. In my process you just get feedback, talk to people about what you learn, pick key areas for improvement, you and your manager agree that these are important things to improve and these are important people, and your goal is to get better at these important behaviors as judged by these important people. Then you follow up on a regular basis, you get re-measured, and you improve.

Is leadership coaching a new phenomenon in American business?
I’ve been doing it for about 30 years, but it’s just becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon.

It’s commonly said that there’s nothing you can do to stop an alcoholic from drinking unless he or she wants to make that change. To what extent is that similar to the approach of changing behavior in successful people?
It’s 100 percent similar. I only work with people who want to change. I wrote an article about this called, "If they don’t care, don’t waste your time." So, regarding people who are not personally motivated to get better, I don’t work with them. I don’t get paid if they don’t get better, so why would I waste my time? If they don’t care, they’re not going to get better, I’m not going to get paid, it’s a waste of time.

I don’t convert people or sell people on the value of changing. They have to internally want to change.

Most of us make and use to-do lists, but you take it a step further by introducing the to-stop list. Why is that important?
I learned that from Peter Drucker [a noted business thinker and guru] who said, "We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop." He said, "Half the leaders I’ve ever met only learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop." And another thing about the to-stop list is that, in many ways, it can be easier. You don’t have to learn a new skill or practice something new. You just quit doing something. Quit interrupting or quit winning all the time, or quit trying to be right constantly. Things like that are, in some ways, easier changes to make than learning new skills, and they can have a dramatic positive impact.

In your new book you write that as we advance in our careers, behavioral changes often are the only significant changes we can make. Why?
At a certain level as we advance in our careers, people are no longer in technical jobs, and it’s too late to give people technical education. If you’re a top-level executive, you can’t take two or three years off and go back to school, so behavioral changes are pretty much the most significant change that you can make in a reasonable amount of time.

You write about this assumption: "I behave this way and I achieve results, therefore I must be achieving results because I behave this way." Why do you say that this is one of the greatest mistakes of successful people?
That’s called a superstition trap. Any human or any animal will tend to replicate behavior that’s followed by positive reinforcement. The more positive reinforcement we get, the more likely we are to fall into this trap of "I behave this way. I achieve results. Therefore, I must achieve results because I behave this way." The reality is, everybody achieves results, because they do many things right, and typically in spite of doing some things that make absolutely no sense. I’ve never met anyone who was so wonderful with nothing on the "in spite of" list. We all have things on the "in spite of" list.

You refer, in your book, to natural law. How do you define that, and how does it apply to becoming more successful?
Everyone is going to behave in a way that’s consistent with their own self-interest. When I say their own self-interest, does that not necessarily mean they’re selfish. When we think of self-interest, we think of things like status, money and power. The reality is that self-interest could be leaving a legacy of helping others, being altruistic or leading a meaningful life. People have to behave in a way that’s consistent with their values.

So when I work with people, I want them to behave in a manner that’s consistent with their own values. If they don’t, they’re going to feel like a phony and it’s not going to seem real. As a coach, you have to work with people and say, "What is important to him or her?" Not just what’s important to me as a coach or what’s important to the company. Why does the person want to do this? What is their personal motivation for change? Later on in their careers, most of my clients don’t really focus so much on status, money and power, as much as they do things like meaning and contribution and happiness, because if they have that other stuff it becomes less important.

They want to give back.

What role does the process of being more self-aware play in the identification and correction of behavioral flaws?
I think it’s very important, because nobody’s going to fix a problem if they don’t know they have one. You have to be aware that you have an issue in order to fix it, and the way you become more aware is by getting feedback. Often other people can see things in us that we can’t or don’t want to see in our self. By getting confidential feedback, you get a chance to learn how you’re viewed, not just by yourself, but by all those people around you.

It’s like a lot of mirrors being put up.

How difficult is this process for a lot of the people that you’re coaching? Is it pretty difficult?
First of all, they want to do it. They’re all very bright people, they’re good people and they’ve got great values. The real hard part of the process is the discipline of going through it. These people are unbelievably busy and they’re under amazing amounts of pressure. Just getting things scheduled and having the discipline to follow up with people on a rigorous basis is hard to do. Getting these people scheduled to talk to each other is a challenge.

In terms of actually stopping a behavior that they want to stop, is this a great challenge for many of them?
It’s harder than you can imagine. We confuse two terms: Simple and easy. Everything I teach people is simple, none of it is easy. The great misassumption of all leadership development is, "If they understand, they will do." That’s 100 percent wrong.

When my book was the number 1 best-selling business book in the United States, the number 1 best-selling diet book sold 10 times as many copies. Americans get fatter and fatter and fatter and buy more and more diet books. If reading diet books would make you thin, Americans would be the thinnest people in the world. You don’t get thin by buying diet books. You have to go on a diet. The problem is not understanding it. It’s doing it.

For example, let’s look at the need to win among top CEOs. The need to win at this level is so deep that we don’t even recognize how we constantly try to win everything.

And you say it’s the most common behavioral problem of successful people.
It’s very hard to turn it off. The case study I use in the book is this:

You want to go to dinner at restaurant X. Your husband or life partner or friend wants to go to dinner at restaurant Y. You have a heated argument. You go to restaurant Y. The food tastes awful. The service is terrible. Option A: Critique the food. Point out that your partner was wrong. This mistake could have been avoided if only they listened to me, me, me, me. Option B: Be quiet. Eat the stupid food. Try to enjoy it and have a nice evening.

What would I do? What should I do? About 75 percent of my clients would critique the food. What should I do? Shut up! It’s very hard for smart, successful people not to constantly go through life winning and being right.

You follow that up in the book talking about a group of generals and their wives. In front of you, many of the generals said they would do what sounds like the best answer, be quiet and eat the stupid food. And then their wives stand up and say, "Oh no, you wouldn’t do that!"
Exactly, wrong choice!

I liked your reference to the film Groundhog Day as an example of going through the process of correcting behaviors. And it reminds me that, from a Zen perspective, we have the opportunity in each moment, or the start of each new day, to do things differently.
I’m a Buddhist and most of my stuff is very Buddhist.

How long have you practiced?
Thirty years. I’ve probably read 400 or 500 books on Buddhism.

One thing I teach in my program is called Feedforward [as opposed to feedback]. You learn to ask for ideas, listen without judgment, thank people, and then do what works for you. Buddha said, "Only do what I teach if it works in the context of your own life. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it." Well, that’s exactly where the Feedforward idea came from. It’s a very Buddhist idea. You ask for ideas, you listen to the ideas, and you look at the ideas as a gift, and you say, "Thank you."

You don’t say, "Stinky idea, or bad idea, or stupid idea" or critique the idea or insult the other person. You look at it as a gift. If you can use it, great. If you don’t use it, you don’t.

I get the sense that all the ideas that you’re talking about here are timeless, that they would have applied to Napoleon or George Washington or even corporate managers 100 years from now.
Pretty much. What I do also is very industry independent. It doesn’t matter what rank you are, what industry you’re in, or any of that.

To what extent do the ideas in your book relate not only to the most successful CEOs, but to creating greater success in a small business.
One of the biggest challenges for small business people is letting go. If I look particularly at entrepreneurs, a lot of what I talk about in the book relates directly to them: winning too much and adding too much value are classic problems for entrepreneurs. What’s unique for entrepreneurs is the challenge of letting go. It’s very difficult for the founder, the successful entrepreneur who started the business, who has helped the business grow and develop to a certain point, to let go and let others take it from that point and manage the business. It’s hard for them to not be the boss and not be right. That can be very, very difficult. They need to let go so other people can start running more and more of the business operation.

Do behavioral weaknesses of successful people become more apparent the higher they go up the ladder or with the more success they have?
Definitely. One of my clients is president of a large company and I’m her coach. She was talking with the CEO when we began the coaching process, and said, "Does this coaching business mean I need to watch out for what I say and how I look in every meeting for the rest of my career?"

Her boss, the CEO said, "Welcome to my world. That’s exactly what it means."

The higher up you go, you’re under a stronger magnifying glass-especially today with the extreme amount of scrutiny in the press. Leaders have to look at what they say and watch how they act pretty much in every meeting for their career, not just from the press point of view and a PR point of view, but from a personal point of view.

Let’s face it, a lot of CEOs spend many hours of their lives watching excruciatingly boring Power Point presentations that they already know the content anyway, yet they need to look like they care and they need to look like they’re interested. They don’t do that because they’re phonies. They do that because they care about the people in the room, and the people will feel hurt if they don’t appear to be interested and they don’t appear to care.

For those who cannot afford to go through the process of hiring someone like yourself, what are some steps people can follow to begin the process of identifying personal flaws and making corrections?
Just get in the simple habit of asking people, "How can I be a better manager? How can I be a better parent? How can I be a better son or daughter? How can I be a better friend? How can I be a better partner?" Just get in the habit of asking people for ideas and listening to these ideas, not trying to change everything, but learning to change what you can. Learn to follow up with people on a regular basis and get their input on the level of improvement that you’re demonstrating. This is something you don’t have to have a coach for.

The other thing you can do is peer coaching. I’m very excited about the concept of peer coaching. This is something that anybody can do. Just work with a friend who helps you and gives you encouragement and support and follows up with you on a regular basis. I have two Ph.D. students writing dissertations about peer coaching and the results so far have been spectacularly good.

In our culture, it seems like we don’t seek such feedback.
Right, we don’t. In fact, my friend Jim just did a leadership profile analysis with 70,000 people evaluating their managers. The item that came in last place in terms of employee satisfaction was, "Asks for input about how he or she can improve." In other words, managers don’t ask, and a cultural change is to get people in the habit of asking.

Why did you write this book?
I was inspired to write this book by my co-author and my agent, Mark Reiter. He read the story of my life in the New Yorker magazine, and he said, "You know, the best thing you’ve ever written you didn’t write. It was the New Yorker magazine story of your life. You should write a personal book talking about the experiences in your own life. I think it would be much more interesting." He inspired me to do that.

And what did you learn in the process of writing the book?
I learned to just say what’s in my heart. Don’t worry so much. I mean, it’s hard for people that have a Ph.D. and an academic background to write, because basically creative writing skills are beaten out of you. So it’s a process of unlearning a lot of that more stilted, formalistic, academic way of writing. Just write from your heart. Write in a way that sounds more like a human being speaking.

What suggestions do you have for the average person who maybe has never read any book about leadership or being more successful in business-something that would help them in their everyday lives?
I have two. The first is, get in the habit of reaching out to the people around you. As I mentioned, this is something you can do at home, as well as work. Ultimately the people at home are more important than the people at work. How can I be a better father, better mother, better son or daughter, or better friend, better husband, wife, or partner? Get in the habit of reaching out to the people around you and learning how you can improve your relationships with them.

I’ll finish with my favorite coaching exercise, which anyone can use:

Just imagine you’re 95 years old. You’re just getting ready to die. You’re on your death bed. Here comes your last breath. But before you take that last breath, you’re given a beautiful gift, the ability to go back in time…the ability to go back in time and talk to the person who is listening to this tape…the ability to help this person be a better professional, and more importantly, the ability to help this person have a better life.

What advice would the wise 95-year-old you, who knows what really matters in life, have for the you who is here today? In your mind, answer two questions: Professional advice and personal advice.

My suggestion is: whatever you’re thinking, do that. Do that. A friend of mine interviewed old people, and their advice for living a better life was pretty simple.

First, be happy now. Life is short. Not next week, not next month, not next year. Be happy now. I’ve asked tens of thousands of parents this question: When my children grow up I want them to be…? There’s one word that comes from parents, no matter what country I’m in around the world. What is that word? Happy. You know what I say? "You want your children to be happy? You go first. You want the people that look up to you to be happy? You go first. They don’t listen to what we say, they watch what we are."

The second learning point from old people is: Friends, family and people. Take the time to develop relationships with friends, family and all those people around you, because the old you is going to be proud of you and happy because you did and disappointed if you don’t.

Finally, if you have a dream, go for it. If you don’t go for it when you’re 35, you may not when you’re 65 or 95. And it doesn’t have to be a big dream, maybe a small dream. Go to New Zealand, speak Spanish, buy a sports car. Other people may think you’re goofy. Who cares! It’s not their dream. It’s yours.

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Finding our way along life’s incredible journey

"Everybody’s talking about bagism, shagism, dragism, madism, ragism, tagism, this-ism, that-ism…ism, ism, ism…all we are saying is give peace a chance." – John Lennon "Give Peace a Chance"

Peace. The final frontier. It is what every human being desires, and yet, it is something very few of us ever realize completely in our lives. Whether that is because all of us come with a self-defeating ego installed or because we don’t put a priority on teaching every young child how to deal with emotions, it’s hard to say. The truth is, peace is as hard to hold onto as a drop of water.

The key, some wise ones remind us, is to remain in the now moment. Don’t linger in the past or worry about the future. Just be. The problem is that habits are hard to break. We get in our own way by following the endless stream of thoughts that fill our minds to the extent that we cannot find our way back home again. Leaving bread crumbs along the path doesn’t work. It’s like surfing the web for hours and then trying to remember where you started.

Just this past week, I have been trying to remember my start here in Minnesota when I joined The Edge as editor, a dozen years ago. Tracing my path back from now to then is impossible. I have interviewed hundreds of people and have written scores of articles and columns in that time, and yet, if pressed to name one of them that represented the pinnacle of my experience with this publication, I couldn’t do it.

Yes, I’ve spent time with the Redfields, the Walschs, the Millmans, the Dyers and the Bradens, and I’ve been in homes across the Twin Cities talking to the Bodines and the Harwigs, on many occasions with each of them. Some of the people I have interviewed have shared ideas that totally shook the foundation of how we viewed life. Some tapped into their inner guidance, some used intuition and others gleaned information from what they described as other spiritual realms or dimensions. Still others shared insight on life and how to live it after having graduated from the school of hard knocks.

But in the end, I do not view any of these authors and speakers and filmmakers and spiritual gurus any differently than I think of you. Yes, they have something to share, but so do you. We all do. And we all share our gifts in our own way-even if we don’t think we are doing anything at all.

In the end, if I had to share how serving as editor of The Edge has transformed me, I would say this: I am even more convinced than ever that what we call life is actually a quantum experience-a multidimensional process in which all of the emotions, intellects, physical bodies and souls of every human on the planet are interconnected. I feel that our evolutionary journey is one of remembering who we are as one. As individuals, we add our uniqueness to the whole not unlike the importance of every solitary pixel on a television screen. When one pixel is blank, we sense its absence even if we cannot definitively explain why we think something is missing.

That is why each of us is important, and why each of us uplifts the whole when we are able to transcend mediocrity and truly shine our light. When one of us rises, we feel it. And when one of us falls-or thirteen as in the tragedy on the 35W bridge collapse-we feel it.

Our challenge in the moment is to feel that connection, own that connection and live that connection.

Every so often, one of us taps into that connection and makes a bold reminder to the rest of us. Marianne Williamson told us: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." We are reminded every day of our lives. When your best friend tells you the truth, and energy moves through your body, you say it must be true because you feel the goose bumps. That’s the reminder. That’s the connection.

I sense that this is only the beginning of our understanding of who we are.

A single cell becomes two, and then it splits and becomes four. Miraculously, by the time we are adults, we actually are trillions of interconnected cells. But in the deepest part of who we are, we think of ourselves as one being. In the same way, the 6 billion people on the planet may appear to be disconnected, but who’s to say that we aren’t just as interconnected as all of the cells in our body and that there is only one being? Who’s to say that quantum theories are not correct, speculating that we exist in a super Star Trek Holodeck, believing that there are other people and trees and rivers and things, but actually, when the lights are turned out, all that exists is the one mind that believed everything into reality?

When I was twentysomething, I re-read the Edgar Cayce and UFO books that I had first inhaled as a pre-teen. I pondered the nature of reality while paging my way through the Seth channelings. My first acrylic painting was an early circular crop circle with satellites. As the years passed by, I wondered about lucid dreaming and spirit guides and animal totems. And then I explored remote viewing and mediumship and past-life regression and life between lives and meditation and untold other forms of spirituality and psychic phenomena.

Remember Forrest Gump when he began running across the country "for no particular reason?" He attracted followers who ran with him, each of them anticipating that somewhere along the way Forrest would utter some incredibly deep message about why he was running. In the end, Forrest said he stopped running because he got tired.

Something changed in me during the twelve years that I have been editor of The Edge. I have stopped getting so excited about any particular book, despite a popularity that seems to spread like wildfire. I’m not so convinced when new products promise spiritual enlightenment. Like Forrest, I just stopped. For no particular reason. I see so many things as distractions that keep me from being in the present moment and listening to the truth within my own being. That’s just me. Now.

As human beings, I think we have a long way to go before we figure it all out. There are many mysteries that we will never understand. But what I do know is that the journey to know myself, and to better know my connection with all that is, remains incredibly exciting-and I am grateful that you continue to share your personal stories, and insights and experiences with the community at large, through this vehicle we call The Edge.

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What a difference one year makes

Come out of the circle of time

And into the circle of love.” — Rumi

editor, Tim MiejanOne year. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred sixty-five days. Eight thousand seven hundred and sixty hours. Five hundred twenty-five thousand and six hundred minutes. One present moment.

On and on we go, spinning on the surface of this revolving Earth with no sense of movement, and often spinning out of control in our everyday lives with no sense of the stillness that resides within our being. That’s a lot of spinning and a lot of lack of awareness of being still.

As always, it is our choice of what to be and where to go, even if our mind tells us differently.

It also is our choice of how much power to give time. Do we let work deadlines churn our stomach? Do we count the pages of the calendar as they flip by, reminding us of how little we have done, or how far away we still are from our lifelong dream? Or do we count the wrinkles on our face — feeling as if age is an anchor wrapped around our neck, pushing us further into the ground?

With the passing of another year, seemingly quicker than the last, we traditionally focus on external events to witness what a difference one year makes. The news media is quick to keep us up to date. As of this writing, seven hundred and seventy-nine American military men and women died this past year in the Iraq War. An estimated two hundred thousand Iraqi citizens have died in 2006. An estimated seventy thousand men, women and children have died in the Darfur region of Sudan this year. Nearly three million people from around the world have died this year from AIDS.

And the health report for planet Earth this year is very grave. Scientists are charting the unprecedented melting of Arctic ice — and an ice-free North Pole by 2040 is possible. What effect that could have on life on Earth is unmentionable. Scientists also report other global-warming trends related to the continued expansion of man-made industrial waste in the air and the deforestation of the land, resulting in drought and desertification worldwide — not to mention the growing extinction of a variety of life forms due to mankind’s unwelcome footprint globally.

It is sad that our world is in such a state, and that it is filled with war, conflict and disease. It is honorable for us to do all that we can to alleviate the suffering of others. It also is our reality, in this experience we call life, that everything dies. Our soul only resides for so long in these spacesuits we call bodies. We cannot stop death. All we can do is live as fully as possible.

“Today well lived makes every yesterday a Dream of Happiness and every tomorrow a Vision of Hope.”Native American wisdom

Let us intend, in the coming year, to be as present as possible, aware of our eternal spirit and eager to find opportunities for learning, and for joy, around every corner. Let us intend to be in life as we were before our soul incarnated. Is that even possible? Can we remember our soul’s intent in being here now? If not, we can imagine how excited we were to meet with other members of our soul group in the library, exploring possible life paths and reminding ourselves of past experiences and opportunities for growth.

“Hey, did I hear you say that you wanted to be an inspiration for others this next go-around?” Raphael asked from across the table.

“Yeah,” Samian said, “but only if I can overcome my tendency to be so focused on my own issues. That comes up time and time again for me on Earth. As a child, I have these dreams, and then I forget and get caught up with being a big shot. I’d like to find a way to remind myself to stay focused on the big picture.”

“I can help you,” Raphael said, lost in thought for a second. “What if…what if I go into body as your younger brother, whom you absolutely adore, but then I get sick and die at a very crucial point in your life, inspiring you to help others?”
“That just might work,” Samian said. “Let’s see what our teachers think.”

We have the opportunity to do some pretty incredible things. Now. Living present, conscious lives, we can truly create and manifest in ways that we always knew we could, at the soul level. But as I see it, our future no longer is a solo adventure. This is the age of collaboration. We are re-forming our soul groups here on Earth, and it is through these soul connections that we are remembering why we are here. We do that for each other. And in community, we are in the processing of doing the incredible — not only to alleviate the suffering of others and to help our planet Earth, but to inspire humankind to evolve beyond war and the thinking that creates it, and beyond poverty and the thinking that creates it.

By this time next year, let us not dwell upon death statistics to measure the impact of the past 365 days.
Let us celebrate what a difference one year makes by the new friendships we have formed, by the ideas we have dreamed, by the results we have manifested, and by the joy in our hearts. Let us consecrate 2007 the Year of Soul, and let us remake our lives in that image.

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Remembering our reason for being

In my September column, I wrote that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are living with all kinds of chaos spinning around us – seemingly through us – but each of us has the ability to make a conscious choice to promote peace and love with every action and step we take. Instead of waiting for someone to pave the way for us, we can live awakened lives in spite of the fear we see outside of ourselves.

At the end of the column, I wrote: "You can also go up in the woods and never come back. In that case, it will be you who I am waiting for." I was implying that we are all connected. I am you and you are me and we are all together. If you run and hide in the woods, because the world is too scary, then part of me is with you there – and a part of me is still here, moving forward, one step at a time.

Sometimes I swim in subtlety. Some readers didn’t understand what I was saying at the time. One reader e-mailed about the increasing fear she is feeling in response to the events in her life and in the world. The reader wondered if I also felt like finding shelter from the storm, whether I literally felt like going into the woods and never coming back. I tried responding to the reader, saying that sometimes I feel that way, but I don’t think that is the answer – but my e-mail would not go through.

So to the dear reader who is feeling fear, and to each of you reading these words, I say to you now: Be brave and don’t be afraid to be who you are.

Our next challenge
In that ethereal space where our eternal souls rest, gathering momentum and initiative to take on another incarnation in this physical dimension on Earth, we couldn’t wait to come into body once again. We were overjoyed that our next challenge would be more difficult than the last, and quite honestly, we felt we could do even more. We spent hours imagining how we would grow as children, learn as teenagers and become self-empowered adults, willing and able to share our unique gifts with our community of souls. Whatever challenge came our way, we would be more than able to overcome it. We could rise above every obstacle and become a more brilliant light than ever before.

Easier said than done. Easier imagined than done.

I never imagined that I would be telling you this, but it is not easy being a human being. From the poorest pauper on the street to the wealthiest person on the planet, and from the most evil convict to the most holy adept, each one of us struggles. This isn’t lighter-than-air gas that we’re scurrying around in. We live in a dense world, with gravity to hold us down, with atoms and molecules that bind together to form concrete and other solid material. And in that denseness, thought patterns of fear and hatred and scarcity and pain linger easily in our collective consciousness.

However, our bodies are as sensitive as the world is solid. There is a transparent membrane that separates each of our cells. Fluids and energy are constantly flowing in and around our beings. We are electric. We are liquid. And we are soul, seated in the core of our body, operating in multiple dimensions simultaneously. Our children and our pets are keenly aware of things we cannot see. Most adults are like billion-channel satellite TV sets that have been programmed to receive only one. And most of us don’t like what we’re watching.

Your full potential
The good news is that each of us still has the ability to connect with the frequencies of the universe. The connecting software has not been removed. It takes intention. And there are many teachers, described in this publication and throughout your community, who can help you reconnect to your full potential. They are here to help you remember. They are here to put you back on track, back in step with your original plan, the one you were so eager to achieve as you made your way into your body.

The question is, do you want to remember? Do you want to carry on? Do you want to actively shine your light into every darkened doorway you come across? You came into the body as a soul with infinite capabilities, as a shining star with enough light to fill the galaxy. You have the opportunity of a lifetime. Do you want it?

Be brave and don’t be afraid to be who you are. w

Copyright © 2005 Tim Miejan. All rights reserved.

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Interview: Arjuna Ardagh

Translucence, the quality of allowing light to pass through, is the focus of what can only be described as a deep and engaging study of how spiritual teachers, artists, leaders and millions of others on the planet are allowing their gifts to shine brightly. And you may be one of them.

The Translucent Revolution: How People Just Like You are Waking Up and Changing the World (2005, New World Library), written by Arjuna Ardagh, is a book for this generation, as it not only reveals the process of connecting with divine light or inspiration, but the essential follow-up step of using that light to do works on this planet for the benefit of humankind.

The author interviewed the notables – like Neale Donald Walsch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Ram Dass – and hundreds of others, in addition to surveying thousands of people, in the process of sharing this printed documentary on the radical awakening taking place today.

This book is in direct alignment with Ardagh’s life path. A graduate of Cambridge University in England, in 1987 he founded the Alchemy Institute in Seattle, Wash., where he trained people in a transpersonal approach to hypnotherapy. Four years later, he returned to India and met H. W. L. Poonjaji, a direct devotee of the great sage Ramana Maharshi, with whom he went through a radical shift of perspective. Since then, Ardagh has been sharing his awakened view with people throughout the United States and Europe. He developed the Living Essence Training, which prepares people to be facilitators of this shift in consciousness and to cultivate translucence, and he is the founder of the Living Essence Foundation, a non-profit church in Nevada City, Calif., where he lives with his wife and two sons.

"The foundation supports people in awakening and in living that awakening within the context of ordinary life," Ardagh told Edge Life in a telephone interview, speaking with a British accent. "So, rather than teaching people to be Hindus or to shave their head or meditate, we’re really supporting people to bring forth their spirituality within the context of ordinary Western life. The Foundation offers trainings and weekend workshops and evening events that can really allow people to awaken on their own terms and to feel their own spiritual life as something arising from within, rather than imposed from any sort of dictate from without."

The following is our conversation with Arjuna Ardagh.

Let’s start with a definition. What do you mean by the word "translucent?"
Arjuna Ardagh:
Translucent is a word that I borrowed from the physical universe. We know that there are some objects that are completely opaque, like a wall or a book. They don’t allow light to pass through at all. And then there are some objects that are completely transparent, like a sculture of frosted glass – or a piece of stained glass, which allows light to pass through, but diffusely, so it maintains its original shape and its texture and its color. If you shine light on a translucent object, it appears to glow, as though from the inside.

And in the same way, a translucent person appears to glow as if from the inside. It’s as though they’ve been lit up from inside and they appear to emit light. A translucent person is someone who has been deeply enough affected by a radical awakening to their nature, who they really are, that their life is no longer completely opaque. It’s no longer dominated by a personal agenda of likes and dislikes and beliefs and prejudice. Now something beyond the personal can shine through that individual, and they become emitters of light. Instead of just their life being about acquisition and desire and fear and greed, their life becomes a transmission of light.

In the beginning of your book, as a point of contrast to translucence, you refer to the collective "Iago" trance state. What is this and how does it relate to translucents?
The Iago trance is a state that we’ve really come to accept as normal, even if we may not feel it to be natural.

The Iago trance is something I’ve borrowed from Shakespeare’s play, Othello. Othello was an all-around, clean-cut good guy. He liked everybody. He trusted everybody. He was one of those guys who wakes up in the morning in a good mood and just wants to make the world a better place.

Othello had one problem. There was a member of his court named Iago who was very insidious, one of those slippery, slimy guys who whispers doubt in your ear. And he would get inside Othello’s skin and tell him, "These people are plotting against you," and "Your wife is having an affair." He got Othello so riled up that he actually managed to persuade him to kill his own wife, Desdemona.

It seems to me that all of us, in our own way, have our own personal Iagos. We all have within us a voice that is whispering doubt, that is whispering suspicion, that’s telling us there’s something wrong, there’s something missing, there’s something that should be different. And we easily become hypnotized by that voice of doubt. In fact, most of us spend our lives convinced that there’s something missing: "If only I had a bigger barbeque, more money, a bigger car, a different wife, a different…. If only I could upgrade somehow, then I would be okay."

Of course, this is a trap that has no end to it. And this, I would suggest to you, is the dominant trance of the planet.

The dominant trance of the planet is that we live in a perpetual sense of lack, a perpetual sense of, "If only I could make this small tweak, then I would feel okay." And, of course, none of the tweaks ever work in the long term.

You’ve interviewed and surveyed thousands of people who have experienced radical awakenings in their lives. If you combined all those into one person, how would you describe this translucent being who exists outside of this Iago state?
The first thing I want to clarify is that I’m using the word "translucent" as a relative term. That’s a very important point.

The reason that I coined a new word is that the word "enlightenment," which some people like to use in place of the word translucent, has been used as an absolute term. You are or you’re not – and there’s no middle ground. I think that is actually a very naïve and short-sighted view of what spiritual transformation is really about.

Transcluence, on the other hand, is a relative term. You can be more or less translucent. You can be very translucent on Monday, not so translucent on Tuesday. Somebody might think you’re very translucent, somebody else might disagree, and you could be very translucent in one area of your life, but quite opaque still in others. And, this makes it a much more subtle term, you see. Translucence refers to the degree of embodiment of a realization rather than to the realization itself.

In one sense, every human being to some degree or other is translucent. The people I’ve interviewed for my book, they display an above average degree of translucence and their life is predominantly about the emanation of translucence.

So, to come back to your question, if we were to kind of merge all these people together into one person, what would that be like?

The most important thing about translucent people is that their life has been deeply transformed by an awakening. That means that the recognition of who they really are, as luminous consciousness, has expansive awareness that has no limits, that is at peace. That realization has become more important, more dominant, in their life than simply an agenda of acquisition or control.

That’s the overriding driving characteristic. How does that manifest itself? In general, their relationship to life is more one of art, creativity, generosity of spirit. It’s more of a relationship of giving to the environment rather than trying to get something for "me." It means the usual habits of acquisition of desire have been replaced by habits of generosity and overflow of Spirit. We could go into very specific areas of life and look at how that shows up. How does that affect people’s relationship? How does it affect their sexuality? How does it affect the way they are at work? And that’s really what my book is all about, from beginning to end.

It’s an exploration of these different areas and what it looks like when someone’s life is transformed in this way.

I get a sense that there are some people who are in the process of exploring spirituality and feel that it looks a certain way. I think that’s a common experience for people who are waking up. They say, "Well, this is what it’s like to be spiritual." They listen to this music. They do these things. But throughout the book you shared dozens of what you call "spiritual myths." What affect are these myths having on our culture overall?
I think the myths are keeping us limited to, and tied to, what I would call the hypermasculine tradition. All the major religions in the world have been founded by men and propagated by men. Now, that’s kind of bizarre if you think about it. There were statistically more women than men on the planet. Why should every major religion have been founded by men and propagated by men?

We think that we have spirituality, but what we really have is the masculine interpretation of spirituality, which is a very different thing. Masculine people, by their nature, tend to want to make everything into a journey with a goal, right? Masculine people enjoy football, which is about pushing through obstacles, breaking barriers, and reaching a goal – and then there’s a temporary feeling of relief. Consequently, masculine people have made spirituality into a journey. That’s the language used. You’re a seeker on a path, on a spiritual journey, a spiritual quest – another very masculine word – to a goal, the goal being enlightenment.

Feminine spirituality is much more about the emanation of love in this moment, feeling into this moment, feeling the texture of this moment through the skin, through the body, and then letting your life become an emanation of love.

Most of the myths that we carry about spirituality are because we have been dominated by this hypermasculine trance. These myths tend to congregate around the notion that spiritual awakening and participation in the world are an antithesis to each other, so you have to choose between knowing yourself for real, which would be awakening, or participating in the world – having sex, having children, making money – and it tells us that there’s a choice. That is the hypermasculine myth.

The translucent revolution is not only about more and more people having awakening, it’s also about the way that awakening is embodied – and that’s much more revolutionary, actually.

There have always been people who’ve had awakening, but maybe not in the quantity that we’re seeing now. I have record of millions of people who are having this kind of awakening, and I don’t know if we’ve ever had that many people waking up before on the planet. But besides the widespread awakening, which is in itself a pretty fantastic thing, what we also have is a completely different embodiment of that awakening. The translucent people whom I’ve interviewed are passionately involved in the world – they have children, they have houses, they have mortgages, they’re sexual, they have relationships. These are people who are fully here – and they are a radical departure of the stereotype of a kind of Buddha statue, sitting with eyes half closed just contemplating some impersonal voidness.

What gives you the sense that we’re having such a widespread awakening on the planet?
First of all, my own experience of teaching. My own awakening came in 1991 and my teacher then, in India, asked me to return to the West and to share this kind of inquiry.

Awakening is usually precipitated by the honest, sincere, inquiry into who you really are. So my teacher asked me to facilitate that kind of inquiry. When I first returned to America to help people inquire in this way, very few people would have that kind of awakening or could relate to that direct personal experience.

Fifteen years have passed. My wife and I travel extensively in America and Europe and when we talk to a group of a few hundred people, almost everybody in the group, if not all of them, has already had this kind of awakening. Their spiritual life has become more about, "How can I embody this?" more than "What is the meaning of life?" Their spirituality has become more about the expression and embodiment and stabilization of the awakening, more than trying to find out who they are.

My own personal experience is that this is growing exponentially, but that’s also the question I put to the majority of my interviewees, many of whom are teachers in their own right, people like Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, Shanti Mayi, Jean Houston – people who have contact with millions of people.

And they’re all reporting the same thing. They’re all reporting a snowball of awakening, which is getting larger every day, an exponential growth of awakening. So both from my own experience and through the indirect contact with millions of people through these teachers, I can report there is definitely an unprecedented growth of this kind of awakening happening.

As a result of that, what do these people need to fully embody this experience?
I would actually like to challenge the idea of fully embodying, as though there is some end to it. I don’t think there is any end to translucence. It’s an endless journey, rather like playing the violin. The late Yehudi Menuhin used to be one of the greatest violinists, but I don’t think he could wake up one day, play a little violin and say, "That’s it! I’ve just perfected the violin! There’s no more beauty to be found in this violin than what I’ve just played. I’m going to move on and take up the trombone."

Because, however beautifully you play the violin, you can always play the violin even more beautifully again.

Or differently.
Or differently, exactly. And in the same way, when we talk about embodying awakening, there’s no end to that process. However much you may have expressed love through your life, you can always express love more. However much your life may have become an expression of creativity, of generosity of spirit, there’s always the further possibility of more – or as you said, just expressing it in different ways.

Does this widespread number of people who are awakening now need some assistance in relating to or understanding the Iago trance, which constantly pushes up against their awakening in their daily life?
Yes, and I think that’s an ongoing practice. But it’s more along the lines of cleaning the kitchen. It’s not something you do once and then you never do it again. You clean the kitchen, the next day it gets dirty, and you clean it again.

That’s the translucent life. You are continuously discovering how you can ooze more Spirit into your personal life – and there’s no end to that process. It goes on and on and deepens and deepens and deepens.

And that becomes the joy of living, exploring that process.
Absolutely – the joy of living and the joy of giving also. The translucent life is very much about overflowing with a gift to the world, rather than being here to consume or to get something for yourself.

I think the main way that somebody would know they’re translucent is that their life has become more about the embodiment of Spirit than about acquisition, and that may be something that creeps up on you.

You find that is just where you want to put your energy and attention. So maybe instead of spending your weekend going out and having fun and wanting to race speedboats or whatever, you might want to spend your weekend enjoying different ways to explore deepening.

I’ll use myself as an example. I just spent the last weekend leading a translucent intensive, a weekend with people where we were going deeper together into the embodiment of our awakening and exploring that. That’s what gives me pleasure. That’s what I like to do. I enjoy spending time with other awakened people and feeling the shared vibration of that, whereas just fun for its own sake might no longer be quite so enticing as it used to be. I’m not saying that you never enjoy life anymore. That would be inaccurate, but just loosely what I’ve described is somebody who would know they’re translucent, because their life becomes more about awakening and the embodiment of awakening and less about just getting more stuff.

But most translucents are very modest and wouldn’t necessarily think of themselves as such.

For more information The Translucent Revolution and author Arjuna Ardagh, visit

Copyright © 2005 Tim Miejan. All rights reserved.

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