In this article, Ms. Dantes takes readers beyond the goal of “personal transformation”, what too often becomes a limited, self-centered action. Differentiating between personal change and transformation, she shows the way to a deeper awareness of the existential need for transformation in humanity as a whole.
I would like to propose that Human Transformation is a Spiritual event, what I call a Cosmological movement of the Cosmopsychophysicalness or Spiritupsychophysicalness process we are. Since we are an aggregate of Creation in the vastness of Space, one could say that we are molded as we evolve within the visible and invisible forces of Cosmos. We are conscious of our existence and are able to communicate about it. Furthermore, we have the gift of awareness that gives us an opportunity to consciously cooperate and be responsible for the experience of Transformation of humanity.
Experiencing the Need for Transformation
Currently, we are intellectually cognizant of the need for transformation of human consciousness at a global level. But, are we experientially totally aware that each one of us is responsible to recognize this as an individual need? I propose that to honor the natural transformational process we must begin with the experience of the need, to experience the need for transformation within us as well as at a global level.
This may sound tautological and confusing; as one of my students said. “Given the present human condition, everybody knows we need transformation.” True. We are cognizant, we can think thoroughly about it, talk about it, and even teach about it.
Students often present the following questions: “If we are a Cosmological or a Spiritual process, why have we not transformed? Why do we not become more aware? Does it mean that we depend on our Spirits? Why do you not consider making efforts to be transformed as important as it has been traditionally taught?
Well… It seems that if we knew how to transform we would have done it by now! Certainly we cannot do it with our egos. It is not just a matter of ego “trying really hard”, working through some technique to be better; this would only be personality change, which many people achieve through psychological processes, as well as inquiry processes, philosophical or religious beliefs.
What is being pointed to here is an individual responsibility at a Spiritual level —the level of Cosmos Creation (a state of constant movement).
As conscious beings, we know we need transformation in the consciousness of humanity. We need globally a very radical change in our paradigms of thinking that continue to control each of us through acculturation (the conditioning to the way of a society). But we fall short of experiencing in total awareness the need for each of us to experience directly the need for transformation within us as well as the whole!
The Individual Need of Awareness for the Need of Transformation
First I would like to caution the reader that the view proposed here it is not something to be believed or disbelieved; nor is this view to be just intellectually comprehended. It is for the reader to inquire into.
It needs to be a personal deep experience, an insight, into the human condition that is also true within us. In other words, we need to first experience the need to transform! Yes, I mean we, the ones responsible for maintaining peace and harmony within ourselves and in our relationships with others. Yes, I mean we the developers of and consumers in this civilization, and also the “keepers” of the planet.
It is my contention that only we as individuals, are responsible for the awareness of the need for transformation and therefore, the radical change in behaviors that must occur for the human species to survive peacefully and healthily on a planet that originally has given us all we need for our existence, but which we presently misuse to our detriment.
More Than Just Change
We know that our humanity needs more than just a change, it needs transformation; I dare say “transubstantiation” in consciousness. Some may argue that the Spiritual realm is not the same as the somatic level of experience, thus, separating body from Spirit; and that consciousness is just an enigma of human functioning. I am suggesting this would be a Spiritual event that would, in fact, be reflected at the somatic level; that is, a very radical change at the cellular level of our organism, our paradigms of thinking, and our behavior. In other words there would be microcosm/macrocosm shifts regulated by natural forces; these radical shifts could eventually become visible as mutations, perhaps a new species in thousands of years.
In general, we are only cognizant (intellectually, within the domain of knowledge) of the invisible forces of Cosmos, the potential of that energy and the many changes, mutations, and transformations that occur at the invisible quantum levels.
If we observe history carefully, we can see that human consciousness has been changing through evolution on the planet. The more visible examples are the philosophers like Socrates, the Spiritual leaders like Buddha, religious teachers like Jesus and Mohamed (to name few) who pointed the way to transformation in different human expressions. The Buddha, thousands of years ago, called our attention to impermanence. Today, scientists confirm this to be the state of everything on our planet and beyond. Everything is in constant movement at the quantum level, even though we cannot see it. The Buddha also unfolded for us the process of enlightenment, and for many this is a proof of human transformation —even though in Buddhist Dogma it means freedom from rebirth. Within impermanence or constant changes, Transformation or Enlightenment would be possible in any human incarnation.
In our present civilization (not yet transformed) we have, through a process of infinite changes, developed great technological wonders, some of which have created deleterious problems for the planet and ourselves.
The above statement is sufficient for us to ask, when are humans going to wake up, transform, and be totally aware of the endless repetition of patterns of behavior that are irresponsible to the earth, and create disharmony among people? Can we be aware of the lack of compassion that promotes inequalities (rich and poor) provoking hostilities? And above all, when will we stop the emotional disharmony within ourselves.
Since we are the developers and consumers of the technological wonders that are endangering us, and are also the people responsible for the conflicting emotional patterns within, the behaviors that keep us in merry-go-rounds of conditioned patterns of conflict and violence in the world, it behooves us to take a look at what we, as individuals, need to do.
Difference Between Individual Change & Individual Transformation
At this point, it is very important to differentiate between Individual Change and Individual Transformation.
Change: In modern times, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and self-help workshops have been helpful in understanding the emotional baggage we keep in our memory and how it interferes with our adult relationships. People suffering from patterns of emotional psychic pain, may be able to change these patterns through the observations made by their counselor, and by realizing their childish functioning minds. They may in particular recognize and stop the emotional patterns of behaviors that are deleterious to their health and their relationships. It is a process of remembering (bringing repressed or suppressed memory contents to consciousness) and abreacting (the emotional discharge associated to the trauma) followed by a healthier and adult understanding of the emotions and the situations attached to them. The person definitely changes if psychoanalysis or psychotherapy is successful, or if he/she sincerely and thoroughly completes the processes.
This is an individualistic experience that helps people resolve the painful memories from past experiences in their lives, their guilt and resentments; furthermore, it helps them make better decisions about their adult way of living, and therefore have better adult relationships. In other words their ego becomes more adept at mediating with the outside world. Their concerns remain within the self-centered modality. The experience of “self” changes from a troubled self to a more “comfortable within the skin” self.
Besides the psychotherapeutic procedures mentioned above, there are many people who achieve this kind of change through very serious introspection and inquiry. These changes may also occur through religious belief, or by self-observation, or through philosophical knowledge, or a meditational practices. Persons applying themselves totally to their Unfolding Process may experience as well the kind of change expressed above. They may experience a healthier way of living, and sometimes become teachers of their new understandings and emotional balance. These changes are beneficial for the individual level of existence, without the consideration of humanity at large. Thus, whether it is for a personal benefit, success, or prominence in society, the concern remains the improvement of the individual. Whatever change a person has experienced may also motivate her/him to help others by becoming a teacher or by getting involved in some professional service (yoga, exercise, social services, politics, etc).
This movement towards improvement is within the evolution of consciousness, and therefore it is important for many people to complete these processes as they experience the need for them.
It is very important to notice that while individual change, which is the work of ego operating to help us survive in our cultures, has been very helpful to many people it has not helped the human condition at large.
Transformation: I like to equate this process to that of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. It is a totally natural process guided by the inner workings of the caterpillar itself. The inner workings are the metamorphosis of the caterpillar producing the chrysalis where the complete radical shift occurs. While there is much knowledge about the process itself (scientists have observe and explain it for years) the mystery of the origin of what originates metamorphosis remains a mystery, as life itself on a planet in space remains a mystery beyond our beliefs and scientific explanations.
Transformation is definitely not an ego movement. As a matter of fact, the predominant behavior of humanity at large, at this time, is that of a global ego going beyond the necessary survival function of protection of the species. The self-center behavior, the desire for power and riches has propagated throughout the world with a speed tantamount to the subatomic electronic interaction of the belly of computers.
An individual neutrally observing, neutrally inquiring may experience clearly the interrelationship of him/herself to the whole and profoundly experience that the global ego is the individual ego. If more of us can experience this true oneness perhaps we would open doors for the so needed human transformation. This would bring the kind of compassionate insight, inquiry and practice that could affect consciousness, just as in chaos theory the fluttering of the butterfly wings invisibly affects the cosmos.
We need to look into transformation as a movement in consciousness that is beyond change.
In the view presented here, change is a self-motivated, self-centered behavioral modality of living, while transformation is a self-less living modality. The first is of necessity ego bound, while the second, ego is only an assisting “as needed” normal function of protection of the organism (something to be address another time).
Transformation appears to be a natural Spiritual Unfolding experience that occurs in the individual consciousness manifesting in different expressions. People may have inner experiences (usually inexplicable) often of “a presence” or “oneness”, sometimes considered Religious or Spiritual, which will then be associated with and expressed through their personal beliefs or the deep experience of life in the Universe. Or it may be a “gut feeling”, an insatiable curiosity to discover the mysteries of life that brings them to deep inquiries.
It is easy to see that we change to help ourselves to feel and live better; but can we see that transformation, which is a total radical shift, would change our focus from self preoccupation to that of serving others to live harmonious and healthier lives according to their needs? Could we see the joy that is true service?
Spiritual teachers usually regard this as true Selfless Service, which may be the practice they teach towards attaining transformation or enlightment or a Bodhisattva state. We could say that transformation is a deeper human experience than change. Today, there are groups of human beings who recognize within themselves the need for transformation and are dedicated to neutral inquiry beyond old paradigms.
As we inquire and experience our responsibility, an important question arises. What can we do to honor this individual responsibility for transformation?
If we needed to use just one word, I will say it is “Mindfulness”.
Not just learning about it (though it helps) but practicing mindfulness in our quotidian living. Not as a “practice” demanded by some belief, but as a natural movement in consciousness arising from a total awareness of the need for a radical shift within us and in our way of living. This means that we would realize the fantasy world of the mind (the constant chatter) and be willing to bring our attention to the present activity of the moment. Being aware, being mindful, neutrally observing the way our brains function in interpretations, assumptions, judgments, evaluations, biases, generalization, memories, beliefs, and emotional repetitive patterns etc. in the moment of life itself, is to experience our conditioned minds. This is the experience of the “chattering mind” which people complain bothers them in meditation. However, being mindful of the “chattering mind” in meditation (neutrally observing our conditioned minds) is a positive movement towards experiencing the need for transformation at a very deep level.
Why would this be helpful?
It would be helpful because mindfulness is “living the moment of now”. This means that we are realistic and aware of “what is” in the moment “that it is”. In other words, the mind eventually becomes silent, without judgment or evaluation, without preference, or desire of what “should be”— without the influence of conditioned mind. When the mind is in this state of equanimity, the needed appropriate action is taken. In this state of mindfulness, there are no emotional difficulties, no ambition to be better than others, there is no “self preoccupation” and therefore we are attentive to others and ourselves with love and compassion. This is a state of attention or neutral observation of “what is,” “as it is”. It is a moment of total responsibility to humanity, which also is us. We experience our totality of being — our Cosmopsychophysicalness or Spiritupsychophysicalness process — no separation in our beingness. As J. Krishnamurti used to say: “The observer is the observed”. What we see as being outside is also inside.
Mindfulness is always accompanied by an inner unfolding, a curiosity about ourselves as human organisms “as they are” not as we have been told they “should be”; as a consequence, a neutral self-inquiry unfolds as a natural effortless experience.
Therefore, I propose that we are individually responsible for our transformation on the planet by becoming totally aware of the need within ourselves to transform, regardless of how it is to occur in humanity. This experience of the need for transformation will have to be an incandescent love in the heart of the individual expanding through the invisible quantum that is humanity.
We have depended on authorities to tell us who we are, and how to transform or be enlightened. However, while knowledge is very important, our inquiry, self-observation and direct experience of our presence on the planet as quantum beings, interrelatedness with others and the Cosmos, is perhaps the supreme gift in our conscious determination towards realizing humanity’s natural possibility of transformation.