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NL: Hi everyone. My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is the Inspiration Show. Today on the show, I have a very good friend of mine who’s written an amazing new book called “Radical Brilliance”. So we’re going to figure out what that actually is and how we can tap in to it. But before I introduce my special guest I just want to remind you that once the show is over don’t forget to click the link below this video so that you can download the free ebook version of my bestselling book “Never In Your Wildest Dreams”. So let me please introduce my very good friend Arjuna Ardagh. How are you Arjuna?
AA: Well I feel so much better than I did hearing that I’m your very good friend. You can’t imagine how much my hearts explodes with joy to hear that.
NL: (Laughter) But it’s not news to you. You know you’re my very good friend.
AA: Well it’s still nice to hear it. You know, I know my wife loves me but every time she says I love you it kind of still makes my heart flutter.
NL: Ahhh, there you go. It’s the public acknowledgement right?
AA: Yeah, yeah.
NL: So Arjuna, “Radical Brilliance”. Now, now I know that you have been on the Inspiration Show before, but there maybe some people who haven’t, you know, seen our previous show of yours. So tell us a little bit of your background and how you got to write this particular book because I know that you are the author of many books.
AA: Many books. Many, many books, yes. Too many books. Yeah, well, you know, 2 and a half years ago I had a car accident. It was quite an intense car accident. It was like, you know, a car accident at 65, bam, you know, well, you don’t really expect to survive that kind of thing but I actually did survive but it laid me up for awhile, no broken bones, I was just sort of traumatized for awhile. And in that hiatus from my normally busy life, I started out in those big life questions, you know, like is Santa Claus real? And what’s beyond infinity and those kind of questions. But also another question that came up to me very strongly was you know, basically why are we here? You know, what is it that makes a really, a really meaningful deep life? What is it that makes a life where there’s no regret? Somethings we can cross off right away, you know, there’s lots of things people try out to make their life meaningful and it doesn’t really work. We don’t need to go through the list you know. But I did a bit of reverse engineering, you know, like what is it, if you look at really really fulfilled people, people like Lynne Twist we both know or John Gray or you know, people who are like really brimming with fulfillment. What is it, what is it at the center of that and I realized it’s actually all about contribution and we both know that. It’s all about being able to make an extraordinary difference to other people that really flips everything around. So in that kind of malaise after the car accident, I started to ask myself, what is it that allows people to move in to this flow of brilliance, this flow of contribution and they came together like a jigsaw puzzle, like little bits at a time, that actually what emerged was this. Which is really an understanding of the components that allow a human life to become a brilliant life.
NL: Right. And those components of how, of what? How we tap in to brilliance?
AA: Yeah, well actually you know, when I look at, I did it very empirically by interviewing a lot of people. But I’ve done a lot of interviews over time like you’re doing now. I’ve done 420 of them. And 450 now actually as of date, so what I came to discover is there are actually 4 different value sets. You can see that here, orange, blue, brown, purple, 4 different value sets which often exist on their own but rarely exist together. And when they actually co-exist, they make, they involve opposing values, contradictory values, different ways the brain functioning, different ways of doing everything. When these very different value sets come together in one human life, brilliance is almost an inevitable result.
NL: Right. Because I know that you did do a lot of interviews and talked to a lot of scientists about you know, brain functionality when it comes to this. So what were some of the insights that you learned?
AA: Well, let me briefly mention what these are. So the first movement, then the brain stuff will make more sense, the first movement is from what we could call Awakening which means moments of transcendence. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be “spiritual thing”, it could be, I mean sex can be a way to transcend your mind, bungee jumping, you know, downhill skiing very fast, psychedelic drugs, there’s lot of ways, bang, of just going beyond the limits of thinking, and that leads to a moment of transcendence, a moment of awakening where all the boundaries drop away and there’s just infinite space. That sounds, perhaps I don’t know, bit highfalutin but actually every body’s tapped again in to that all the time in different ways where you just got out of your (inaudible)… flow, okay? So that’s a little of something new, emerges out of that infinity and it builds an intensity until it becomes creative flow. So for a brain science perspective, that is the play of serotonin and dopamine and they kind of play together. So at the top here, which is the place of radical awakening, there’s a lot of serotonin but a little bit of dopamine produces a big result. That means that the dopamine receptors sites are extremely sensitive so just a tiny bit of dopamine released in the presynaptic neurons creates a huge experience of like “well”, that’s why you know, a little bit of infinite, a little bit of inspiration here very subtle, can produce very strong feelings. In the same way, when you’re very attracted to someone right, you’re dating and you’re very attracted to someone, and you might just brush your hand and it can send shivers through your body but later when you get to know that person, all of that stuff isn’t going to produce the same intensity anymore. So this is really where a little bit of stimulation juice the people up, by the time you get to over here, 3 o’clock on the clock face, it’s full on creative flow which is characterized by lots of dopamine. Lots of dopamine but less dopamine sensitivity. The next movement is from 3 to 6 and it’s an opposing value. So this is about productivity and right up right here, when we’re talking about creative flow, one kind of creative flow, one style of creative flow is what we call intention. Right? And that’s what the movie The Secret is all about setting intentions or having clear intention. That is a kind of creative act but it’s a creative act with the future attached to it right? Intention is creativity plus future. So that begins the next movement which is from an intention to achievement and that’s where things get done in time, it’s where agreements are made, projects are made, schedules are made, it’s the art of operating within boundaries. And that requires form of male sense in type, it requires testosterone. Form of feminine disposition, it requires a blend of estrogen and oxytocin but once we move around towards this getting something finished, it also stimulates more adrenalin in the brain. That’s what allows us to push on through and get it done and stay up late, like go, go, go. Now more adrenalin in the brain is power to the patent of sympathetic novasystem activity. Right? That means where you’re basically, you’re nervous system stops to sympathize with your will power. But right after 6 o’clock, down here, when you get something done, there’s a kind of post-partum depression which is not just like having a baby, when you actually finish a book, I’ve written all of these books, I mean, when you’ve written a book or when you’ve finished a movie or something, you also get a kind of post-partum depression and that’s because of what the philosopher Gregory Bateson calls double bind. And double bind means that when you have to achieve something in time, you are inevitably faced with choices. This or that. And when you choose this, you are inevitably going to feel some regret about not choosing that. Inevitable. So if you inherit a company for example, if you try to satisfy the workers who’ve been with you their whole life, you may not satisfy the shareholders. If you satisfy the shareholders, you may not satisfy the workers. Lots of double bind. So consequently, right just here, we enter in to feelings of regret. Sometimes even shame. Inadequacy, feeling “uh, I can’t believe I did that” and maybe it was because you disappointed yourself and you burned out and you didn’t spend enough time with your kids and your family. Or maybe you disappointed somebody else but you feel this like “uh”, you know that feeling, it’s that “oh I can’t believe I did that” it like, “oh no”. and it’s interesting that those feelings of shame often come after a big achievement because now it’s all over, it’s done, then you start to willow, it’s the price you pay for pushing through. So this is what’s called Parasympathetic flooding. It’s where the parasympathetic nervous system floods you with stress symptoms that you had not been willing to feel. So this movement, 6 to 9, is the movement from parasympathetic learning, so it’s these feelings of shame, regret, remorse, through learning, in to humility. Humility is where you feel like “I’m doing the best I can, I’m just a little person, there’s a few things I know, there’s a lot of things I don’t know” right? “and I make mistakes but I forgive myself, so now I forgive myself, I forgive everybody else, we’re all good people, this is characteristic of mine” and this is associated with the brain chemical Gaba. When you’ve got enough Gaba in your brain, you feel “it’s okay, I can switch everything off, I can relax, I can rest, I’m a good person, I’ve done my best”, that’s Gaba right? So the last movement, when you have this, when you have very strong humility, when you have a very strong awareness of your own limitations, you also realize that it must be something bigger than you. Because when you feel very small, I’m just a little monkey, well who’s making all this happen? Right? Who made the butterfly wings so beautiful? Who made the forest so beautiful? Who’s making all these coincidences happen? It’s not me because I’m so small and fallible, something much bigger than me is making all of these happen. And that’s the last journey from humility to awakening and that’s where if you turn the intention inwards you connect with like your higher self, you know, your true self. If you turn the intention outwards towards the world, you start to have an intuition of divinity. Now these 4 movements are completely different from each other in brain activity, in brain chemical activity, in brain wave activity, in your own psychological experience which is why it’s unusual for them to coexist in a human life.
NL: (Laughter) So what you’ve just described there is a very scientific, you know, biological way of how this works and how we can tap in to brilliance. But you also, in the book, talk a lot about, you know, meditation and spirituality as well. So how does that fit in to this scenario?
AA: Well, that’s this, that’s basically this part of it, you see. One of the things, it’s a little bit different about the book for me is we realize that meditation and spirituality is a part of a cycle but when it becomes the centerpiece of someone’s life, actually, we miss out on other parts of brilliance which is why sometimes, spirituality when it’s made the center of someone’s life can be frustrating because it doesn’t necessarily generate creativity and contribution in the way that it happens when all of these parts come together.
NL: Right. Absolutely. And so who is the book for? Who would benefit most from reading the book?
AA: Yeah, the book is you know, basically, I think it’s pretty obvious, you know, you and I were speaking in a week where there’s just been a big shooting in a synagogue in Pennsylvania. Some guy in Florida was making bombs you know, there’s just been endless stuff going on and it doesn’t get any better and then politicians are just shutting their mouth of about it. And it’s just like a bit hopeless. So and there’s environmental things, there’s you know, problems with migration and all sorts of things. So you can look at the world and go “pff, it’s hopeless” you know. And a lot of people do feel that it’s “uh”, but a lot of people feel that it’s a call to action today. A lot of people feel I want to make a difference, I want to contribute, I want to use my life for something meaningful, I want to actually make my life make a difference. And that’s who the book is for. And the book is for people who realize that this time on the planet, it may not be the best time to think about me and my needs, it maybe a time to think about making a difference and contributing and this is really a very practical guide, I mean the book, you know, it’s not a thin book. You know the book is, I mean Lynne Twist very kindly described it as the complete guide to living a life in contribution. Like all you need to know to lead a life of contribution.
NL: Yeah, that’s the thing that you did. Like you actually put a lot of practical, like practice that people can you know, that they can implement to actually step in to this life of contribution.
AA: Absolutely, yeah. The book is just crammed with practical stuff, absolutely. It’s really a, you know this is what I’d described as a model but when we commit to living that model it becomes about practice, it becomes about understanding where the cycle get’s blocked and then developing deliberate practices to unblock it.
NL: Yeah. Now, what are the practices that you do talk about is incorporating this in to a social situation.
NL: So how do you do that?
AA: (Inaudible)… friendship, but one way that you can have a friendship which I think is the friendship that you and I have together, you know, bff’s that we are, right? One way to have a friendship is to bring out the most brilliant, brilliant parts of each other. So that means you can get together and you can ask like “So what are you doing?” “Well I’m doing this”, “Wow, tell me more, that’s great, what about this?” So you can actually use the friendship to cultivate and bring forth brilliant ideas and the book describes in very pragmatic terms how to cultivate a brilliant friendship. I give the example of my friendship with John Gray where just out of being friends, we wrote this book together. But we didn’t do it as a business thing, we did it, it became an overflow of our friendship and now it’s quite a popular book, you know. And so friendship can become a way to collaborate, to co-join in brilliance and in service. I just want to mention one more thing, you know, because we are human beings and we do feel like we need to take care of our needs, you know, we feel like “okay I do need money. I do, maybe I want to be a little bit respected and famous. And I do need love, and I do need all this stuff you know”, and the interesting thing is what I’ve noticed is when you set your sights on just get the money, get the fame, get this, get that, it doesn’t always work so it’s a lot of effort, sometimes with not the results you want, but here’s the interesting thing, when you make your, and this has been proven again and again and again and you know this, when you make your life about service, when you look around and ask where can I make the greatest contribution to the most people and you don’t block money right? You just go, “I want to contribute, I want to give and I’m perfectly willing for money to flow in and out but I’m going to focus on contribution”, money takes care of itself that way. Relationship, sexuality, good health, energy, all these things take care of themselves when you focus on giving the best version of yourself.
NL: Yeah. I absolutely agree 1000%. If people want to connect with you or get their hands on the book, where can we send them to do that?
AA: Oh, come over to my house, we’ll have some tea.
NL: (Laughter) Yeah, but you live in the middle of nowhere.
AA: Yeah, failing that, if you can’t make it to my house, then go to radicalbrilliance.com, there’s a little free 5 day, there’s a 5 day kind of a series of videos you can have, there’s an ebook you get all free. And if you like to go a little deeper, you can buy this book on a website, let me spell it out for you, it’s a little obscure, A-M-A-Z-O-N, okay, you can get it on that website. A little bit difficult to remember but you can get it on that website too, amazon.com. You can get it as a paperback, as a kindle, or you can get the audible edition and hear my dulcet tones in your ears when you’re at the gym.
NL: Wonderful. (laughter) Well darling, thank you for chatting with us today. It’s always a pleasure having to chat with you.
AA: Always a pleasure, totally a pleasure. Thank you Nat, bye.
NL: And guys if you’re watching this show, don’t forget to either click the link below the video or the banner to the side to go directly through to Arjuna’s site and let’s share this video, let’s get the word out, you can do that by clicking the facebook and the twitter share buttons on this page and after that is all over, don’t forget to click the link below that so you can download the free ebook version of my bestselling book Never In Your Wildest Dreams. So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously, and love without limits. We’ll see you soon.