One of the final questions that we had considered in our #SpiritChat conversation two weeks ago, in the chat titled “Risk and Reason” was ~ “Are we in the Age of Reason, the Age of Risk, or….?”. There were several answers, including “Age of Awareness”, “Age of Awakening” and “Age of Triumph” – all brilliant answers. As autumn has descended upon us in the Northern hemisphere, for those of us fortunate enough to observe the changes that it brings, I am inclined to propose that we are in the “Age of Transformation”.
Let us examine the what, the how, the why, the when and the where of transformation, as it relates to spirituality. What is transformation and what does it imply or entail? For me, it denotes more than mere change, for transformation has a quality of immediacy to it. It is like an on/off switch which acts on our inner core, and moves us seemingly instantaneously from one state to another. By contrast, change is more gradual – like a ‘dimmer’ switch on our heart plate which we can move up and down to vary the amount of light that shines within. Change and transformation are of course connected, but the light that shines as a result of inner transformation, creates an unmistakable sense of awakening, awareness, and perhaps even triumph!
How does this seemingly ‘step-change’ of inner transformation occur? Some say that it is the outcome of dedication and devotion over many years of spiritual practice(s), that results in a seemingly ‘instant’ transformation. Others, notably the proponents of ‘Zen’, say that transformation can occur in the instant that we make a decision to awaken. One analogy of zen-like transformation is that of making a decision to give-up a habit which may be negatively impacting our quality of life e.g. smoking, compulsive eating/drinking, shopping, or the like. This is often referred to as the ‘cold-turkey’ form of transformation – make a decision to transform, to leap, and stick to the decision you make. It may take a tremendous investment of accumulated will-power to effect such a transformation, but the returns are proportionately high too!
Why does transformation happen for, or to, some people, while it seemingly escapes others inspite of their best efforts? Everybody who is making an effort towards inner change and transformation has his or her own ‘why’. For some, the ‘why’ is tangible, and can be described as a path, leading towards a goal. For others, the ‘why’ is more intangible – it is that voice within which has grown louder over time, which pulls us towards higher ground, a higher state of being. The famous quote by Anais Nin goes – “…and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” There it is again. Risk. Driving our ‘why’ towards transformation.
This brings us to the fourth dimension of transformation – when? The question of ‘when’ implies a sequence of time, of the right timing, for transformation to occur. When change does not seem to happen in our lives at the pace we would like it to happen, we often comfort ourselves with the reminder to ‘be unattached to the fruits of our actions’ – we sow the (action) seeds, the divine power grows them to bear fruit in its time. This is a simple way to look at the question of ‘when’ – we deftly side-step it by focusing on our work in the moment, and let the leaves fall where they may… but somehow, in some way, the caterpillar seems to know when to begin its transformation – for there is a narrow window of time which creates a sense of urgency, to begin the flow of blood into its wings, or the butterfly may not see the light of spring!
The final aspect of transformation is – where? For me, the last three months of walking the local forest reservation have brought about many transformative moments, and some locations are more distinctly etched in my heart and mind than others. I have uncovered that the infinite variation of nature’s beauty and bounty is here, there and everywhere – or wherever I happen to be. And that nature has the power to transform us in ways far beyond what we see, hear, and feel in her embrace. Can you recall the exact location where you were sitting or standing or simply being when you had your most recent moment(s) of transformation? What was the confluence of events that brought you to that transformative location? Were you alone or were you among friends and family?
For those of you who have read this far, I express my gratitude. I extend an invitation to you, to reflect on your personal (spiritual) transformation in the context of the five W’s that I discussed above. I invite you to write a blog post, share in the comments below, and join in our weekly conversation on twitter on Sunday, October 25th at 9amET/1pmUTC in the #SpiritChat channel.
Till we meet again, I hope that your transformations are kind to you,