This will be the final post in this series and it brings the ideas we have been working with together into a model for how human transformation happens.
Human beings change in many ways. We become smarter, we become stronger, we become more assertive, we become more reflective, we become, we become, we become… There is seemingly no end to the ways in which we can improve upon who we are. If we make a category for all these ways of changing we can call them forms of ‘self improvement’.
There is another completely different way that human beings change that I would categorize as ‘human transformation’. The distinction between these two classifications of human change is critically important for those of us who aspire to attain dramatic and lasting change during our lifetime.
The experience of human transformation is one in which the sense of identity itself changes. In this experience you do not feel that you have become an improved version of who you already were. You feel like you have become a different person altogether. You have transformed.
What could we possibly mean by this? How does transformation happen? How do we become a different person?
In these posts we have been speaking about our sense of self as being formed by a boundary between those ideas that we experience as ‘thoughts that I have’, and those that we experience as ‘me thinking’.
Those thoughts that we identify with as ‘me thinking’ are also those thoughts that we compulsively act on. When they appear in consciousness we simply do what they say – or fight what they say – either way we compulsively respond to them without feeling that we have any choice in the matter. Our identity then could be said to be composed of those aspects of our experience that we respond to compulsively. (In this series of posts I have been speaking of thoughts, but this would certainly also include feelings and emotions.)
Let’s think for a minute about perception. When we perceive something we don’t think of ourselves as having any choice in the matter. When we see a tree we have no sense that we could have seen a dog or a cat. We don’t relate to perception as something that we choose.
In terms of our thoughts and feelings there are some that we definitely relate to as optional. Certain of my thoughts reveal possibilities for action that I can either choose or not choose to act upon. Other thoughts seem to spontaneously lead to action without me being aware of any conscious choice being made. These thoughts simply feel like me. I don’t act on them because I choose to; the thoughts themselves seem to lead directly to action without my intervention.
What if this was all a function of habit? What if we simply had fallen into an incredibly strong habit of responding to certain thoughts and feelings? And what if that habit had become so strong and so fast that we were not aware of choosing anything at all? Is our sense of identity created from a very strong habit of responding to certain aspects of our experience spontaneously?
If this was true – and I believe it is to a large extent – then it must be possible to break that habit and develop another. First we must find a way, for instance through spiritual practice like meditation, to break our habit of compulsively identifying with and acting on certain thoughts and feelings. Then we must find some deeper and more profound part of our experience and begin to identify with and act on that. The work of transformation would be to consistently make choices that are aligned with that deeper part of our experience. If we do that long enough it is possible that it will become a habit and eventually we will find that we spontaneously respond to that part of ourselves without thinking about it. When this happens we will feel like a different person. We will have the same body and the same mind, but we will be responding to a completely different part of our experience. We will see the world differently, we will act differently and the people that know us will want to know what has happened to us.
Reblogged this on The Conscious Leadership Consultancy and commented: Jeff Carreira at Enlightennext has written the most amazing series of four posts to do with the transformation and evolution of ourselves as human beings – and I believe what he says is the most essential part of the evolution and transformation of the conscious leader. To ‘get ourselves’, our essential nature – or our identity – and to be able to develop the choices to step outside of this, is the fundamental building block of the journey of the conscious leader. These posts are well worth a read and well… Read more »
Reblogged this on and commented:
Ditto with Gina Hayden. Supporting those of us bringing transformation into the field in gettable ways.
transformation is definitely an inside-out process. the experiencing self finds it being done, as opposed to doing.
if you have had the fortune to be around a good guru for a few years, you notice people changing in the most amazing ways, becoming more themselves. it is quite astounding.
the mechanics of that involve something that we don’t have english words for .. an immersion into a higher frequency vibration that heals from within.
a lot more could be said about that
Gregory I agree with you that there are deeper dimensions to spiritual transformation that are more difficult to describe in words. They involve more mysterious languaging using words like surrender and grace. This woul certainly be excellent themes to explore more here.
I wonder if it’s accurate to say that there’s at least two kinds of knowing–the intellectual kind and the spiritual kind. The intellectual kind is often confined to the brain and is about info. The spiritual kind is info that concerns the heart and soul as well as the intellect, a more holistic knowing. Brainy people are sometimes and often prideful in their intellectual accomplishments but sometimes lack spiritual understanding. This sometimes amounts to a kind of arrogant hubris that looks down on those not as intellectual. I believe it’s better to be kind than to be right, if it… Read more »
Hey. I found this a particular powerful statement what I have personally experienced as well as observed in others. Much of what we think is our identity is a compilation of habituation in response to an incredible array of variables. Habituation that is so strong that we no longer recognize that we are not making choices, no responding spontaneously or authentically at all. I believe that it is possible to break the habit and develop another. However, such change is difficult because what we really have are complex sets of interlocked habits–paradigmatic habituation. I believe meditation is a core practice… Read more »
HI Trish: If I understand your comment, It seems you experienced difficulty in your breakout. I wonder too if it’s possible to break through easily because for me there was some anguish, yearning for a quicker resolution and somewhat of a “dark night of the soul”. For some, it may be too arduous but my yearning to “know myself” and to find deeper meaning to my life at that point egged me on. I’m glad I persisted but I would caution for those who find themselves at that point of discontent that there’s a temptation to slack off and go… Read more »
@Frank. Reflecting on your questions. First, I’ve always been committed to becoming a fully realized person. However, my sense of what a fully realized person is has changed dramatically over time. Second, I have had many small insights and larger epiphanies–common experiences. However, insights and epiphanies are not what we’re trying to describe. Third, we construct ourselves within our personal pyschosocial paradigm, which involves both overt, covert, and insidious causes and effects. For example, committing to a long-term relationship means weighing our own needs together with others’ and seeking some kind of working balance. We intentionally and unintentionally give away… Read more »