by Arjuna Ardagh: My latest book, Radical Brilliance, came out as a pre-publication edition in December 2017…
and is now available as the fully-published version on Amazon as a paperback, Kindle, or Audible: so you can listen to my dulcet tones while in the gym or driving in your car.
If you have not yet read the book and you’d like a quick summary of the four phases of the brilliance cycle please go to radicalbrilliance.com and register there for the free PDF. It will give you a quick summary that you can look at on your computer or print out.
The brilliance cycle as it stands is somewhat theoretical, in the same way, Chinese medicine provides a theoretical model of how energy (or “chi”) flows through the meridians in the body. The idea of chi flowing freely through every energy channel is purely theoretical; If you go to an acupuncturist, even in pretty good health, he or she will take your pulse and notice deficiency or excess in different meridians, and then apply acupuncture needles to address them. Even after a treatment you will probably hear “it’s more balanced now,” but it’s very rare, almost impossible, to hear, “The energy is now flowing freely in every meridian.”
In just the same way, the brilliance cycle is interesting as a theoretical model, but it becomes really useful and practical when we use it to understand the nature of blockage. We have been able to determine four types of blockage in the cycle.
The first is addiction: which means that we get overly identified and preoccupied with one phase of the cycle to the detriment of the others.
The second kind of blockage is the opposite: judgment, which means that we develop a negative assessment, or judgment, of a particular part of the cycle, and we don’t want to spend any time there.
The third kind of blockage is called “aspiration/resistance” and it means that we look a little further along the cycle and think to ourselves, “Wow, how on earth did you do that?” It looks like somebody just pulled a rabbit out of a hat. For example, very productive people (6 o’clock on the cycle) look forward along the cycle to people who rest a lot and take care of themselves (9 o’clock on the cycle) and say, “That’s so great. I really want to take the weekend off too, next week… next weekend.. or the weekend after… or perhaps in a month.” Very productive people continue to postpone resting, again and again, and again. They aspire to the next phase of the cycle but they also resist it.
Finally, the last kind of blockage is “looping:” which is sadly all too common. It means that we become a “specialist,” and spend our lives going round and round and round in one very small part of the cycle.
So: four types of resistance and four phases of the cycle means that we can distinguish 16 styles of getting blocked. Today I want to focus with you on addiction (the first kind of resistance) to awakening (the 12 o’clock position on the cycle).
We get addicted anywhere in the cycle because there is no final end to any kind of exploration. 12 o’clock is the place of awakening. It is where the attention turns deeper than thought and reactive feelings, and discovers the infinite nature of consciousness without boundaries. There are lots of ways to have tastes of awakening. It can come through meditation (an obvious and time-tested way) but moments of awakening equally come through free-form dance, making love, extreme sports, psychedelic substances and many other portals.
In a moment of awakening there is no longer any sense of “I” or “me,” there is just consciousness, awareness. It is neither male nor female. It is neither American nor German nor Russian. It has no bias for or against anything. It is just aware. It hears all sound but it is, in and of itself, silent. It sees shape and form but it is, in and of itself, formless and has no boundaries. It is aware of events in time, of things that have beginning and end, but it is, in and of itself, eternal and timeless. It was never born and it could never die. A moment of awakening means not that you understand this or experience this as something outside yourself, but that you relax into being this. That is an important distinction. You realize that this which is hearing and seeing and feeling in this moment (that what you call “I”) is this infinite awareness. It is who you are.
The reason we get addicted to twelve o’clock is because there is no end to infinity. However deeply you relax into being infinite consciousness, you always know you could relax even more deeply. However far awareness stretches into being infinite, there is always infinitely more of infinity. Hence it can become an addiction. An awakening addict wants to keep going back to retreats in India with someone sitting on a dais surrounded by flowers with a -ji at the end of their name. An awakening addict seeks out places of solitude, confinement and retreat in order to explore the silence and infinity even more. An unhealthy addiction to this phase of the cycle becomes an obsession with enlightenment, which is often projected onto another human being (usually someone you don’t know personally) or onto some imagined future state.
It is very difficult for people who identify themselves as “spiritual” to understand that spirituality can become an addiction. Once you set up an ideology that the purpose of life is enlightenment, or liberation, or freedom, or dissolving the ego, everything is seen through that lens, and any of the other phases in the cycle: like creativity for the joy of it, worldly accomplishment and achievement, or self-reflection upon personal limitation becomes less significant.
The brilliance cycle is not a dogma set in stone. It is an open exploration. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you think about this idea? Have you ever become addicted to awakening in your life, and just wanted more and more of infinity and nothing else? Do you know other people who have become addicted in this way? What effect did it have on them? I’d love to hear your thoughts.