By Suma Varughese
It is the only evolutionary step that comes with a lifetime guarantee: Total Transformation.
• D.R. Karthikeyan
Special Director, CBI, India.
• Deepa Kodikal
Author of the book, A Journey within the Self.
• Sharon Clarke Sequeira
Former Indian model.
• Surinder Sharma
Former manager in Indian tourist resorts
.• Rahul Setia
Doctor.• Swati Chavan
Social worker from India.
• Prema Seshadri
• Mahadev Mangela
• Ma Yog Neelam
Osho commune’s India secretary.
• Anjali Malvai
A staunch believer of Reiki.
• Sultan Shahin
A journalist from India.
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly: -Richard Bach. The delicate, iridescent butterfly emerging from the pupa shroud that claimed its former self is an abiding and haunting symbol of transformation. Of an evolutionary process, of a new life, unimaginable to the old. Of the true self, encrypted with the false, bursting out in full glory at the appointed time. Little wonder, then, that the image is a graphic metaphor for our own life and destiny.
The Chandogya Upanishad says: 'In that which is the subtle essence, all that exists has its self. That is the True, that is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art that.' Thou art that. For centuries, these three words have been a signpost to our butterfly self. Beyond the body, beyond the emotions, beyond the mind, beyond the personality, beyond death dwells the region of our True Self, the spiritual masters tell us. Our unlimited, Universal Self, loving, compassionate, omnipresent. And the purpose of human existence is to find and be that. Through their own self-realization, great prophets such as Krishna, the Buddha and Jesus Christ have kept this vision alive. Yet, what has always been on the fringes of human endeavor�the preserve of saints and sages�is today moving into the mainstream. Transformation is becoming your business and mine. Psychology, science and other streams of knowledge are increasingly confirming the age-old spiritual perspective that we make our own reality. That in a world of flux, human nature is not a given. It is an infinitely malleable compound of conditioning and impressions. That we are spirit, not matter, and our primary drive is to realize that aspect of ourselves. Carl Jung, Freud's brilliant and breakaway disciple, had challenged the pessimistic Freudian understanding of human nature as essentially driven by sexuality. He did this through the introduction of the concept of Pneuma, an indwelling spiritual component of the Self behind our Body/mind, that is an organic part of the human psyche and experienced as the urge towards wholeness. Abraham Maslow, father of humanistic psychology, also contributed to a more positive, transcendent approach to psychology with his concept of self-actualisation, a basic human drive to realize the innate potential for goodness. Today, with New Age thought percolating into all aspects of life, never has there been so clear an understanding of the infinite scope of human potential, or of our own ability to realize it. Self-help books, spiritual texts, personal growth workshops, yoga and meditation classes, spiritual gurus, all these reiterate the message that perfection is possible and within our grasp. Transformation is currently the hottest game in town. While almost all transformation occurs in the context of moving from matter to spirit, Sri Aurobindo, the great Indian seer, introduced a new twist to the process by postulating the possibility of spirit moving into matter. His stance is that the transformation we are heading for is the evolution of a higher species altogether, through which the Creator can express himself perfectly, a Godlike species. Which is not to say that all transformation is of a spiritual nature. Maslow divided self-actualisers into two types: non-transcenders and transcenders�those who were clearly healthy but with little or no experience of transcending, and those in whom transcendent experiencing was important, even crucial. He described the first type as 'practical, realistic, mundane, capable', while the other was motivated by unity consciousness and a sense of destine, having had 'illuminations or insights or cognition which changed their view of the world and of themselves'. Without invalidating the first, we will focus on the transcendental variety. Transformation, most thinkers, including James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy, agree, begins with restlessness. The simmering discontent will not be appeased by the circumstances of the current life. If the restlessness converts into a quest, either through self-inquiry, books, discourses with spiritual masters or discussion with friends, it can often led to a revelation�that split-second parting of the mind's veil that flashes a firsthand vision of the sought-after goal. But revelation is not transformation. Transformation is the slow, steady infusion. Transformation is the slow, steady infusion of the vision into a reality. Transformation is moving from seeing anew to being anew. Which, to begin with, calls for a path. God does not play dice with the universe: Albert Einstein. Fortunately, there is no dearth of paths that one could follow. Try Patanjali's ashtanga yoga, where the eight processes of yama, niyama (dos and don'ts), asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (single-pointedness), dhyan (meditation) and samadhi (merging with the divine) from a complete, holistic guide to transformation. The Buddhists have their own eight-fold path: right view (Perspective), right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right work, right effort (self-control), right mindfulness and right meditation. There are also the classic routes of Karma yoga, Jnana yoga, bhakti yoga. Zen Buddhism advocates engaging with questions (koans) which have no answer at the level of the thinking mind. The Advaitists and Taoists have a way too�which is no way at all. We are already that, they tell us, and the mistake is to think otherwise. Others map the journey through of consciousness. Jacquelyn Small, author of Transformers, charts a growth graph of seven levels, beginning with the infant's instinctive will to live, which later generates the will to feel and the will to know. The fourth stage of acceptance is the crucial bridge leading to the higher levels of consciousness consisting of Love of Truth (revelation of ultimate reality), Love of Life (universal love), and the summit, Love of Self (the revelation of the sacred in all things). Robert S. De Ropp, author of The Master Game, evaluates growth on the basis of the activity (game) that preoccupies us. At the bottom are the pursuits of glory, fame and wealth. Beyond these is aimlessness or no game. Beyond these is aimlessness or no game. Beyond aimlessness lie the higher pursuits of family, beauty (artistic endeavors), knowledge (science and academics), salvation (religion) and finally, awakening�the master game. Whatever the route, the journey remains the same. Since transformation is a complete paradigm shift in the way we think, speak, act , relate to ourselves, to others and to life, the changes it calls for are drastic. Which means, to even begin to effect these, we need a sound sense of self-esteem. Only self-esteem will enable us to look deep within ourselves and not baulk at the unpalatable sight. Self-esteem is pretty much the starting block of the transformation process, without which the path, always perilous, may well turn fatal. Self-esteem accesses for us the tools of transformation which are two: awareness and acceptance. We can only change what we are aware of, and we can only change it when we accept it. We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses: Carl Jung Jacquelyn Small wasn't exaggerating when she called acceptance the bridge that leads to the higher levels. Acceptance is a crucial component of growth. It helps us to view all circumstances of our lives, including our mistakes, negative character traits and damaging events as something to learn from, enabling us to transit from resistance to actual change. For, in actuality, once acceptance is won, awareness of our faulty tendencies alone can effect a change, in much the same way as the sun dissolves the morning mist. We don't need to flay ourselves, or force ourselves to change. Once the process of growth is underway, acceptance can yield rich dividends. For one thing, it allows us to ford duality. Good/bad, desire/desirelessness, conformist/nonconformist�acceptance melts the division between the two, freeing us from the hold of likes and dislikes, and bringing equanimity in its wake. This equanimity will not budge even in the face of evil of wrongdoing. Acceptance helps us to move gracefully from protesting against wrongdoing to doing right. From anti, we shift to pro-mode. There are other byproducts to the growth process. As we move beyond the conditioning that determined our thoughts, words and actions, we become increasingly aware of being whole and perfect. We learn deep inside that that is what we are and have always been. This realization, in turn, generates an integrated sense of self. Freed of the need for fronts, we become who we are, regardless of whether we are at work, at play, at home or in public. Our personality becomes honed to utter simplicity, eventually leading us to the understanding that our personality does not determine us it is we who determine our personality. In time, fear dissolves, helped by our growing sense of self, and above all, by an increasing trust in the universe, with which we find ourselves mysteriously more and more in alignment. Cabs appear when we want them, crowds melt when we approach the buffet table, friends materialize at a thought. And whatever we may need for our further growth, is instantly provided, either through thoughts, books or a stray comment. Freedom from conditioning frees us to see life as it is, helping us to fine-tune our sense of discrimination. Distinctions between means and ends, between action and consequences, the individual and the universal, flower out at this stage, giving us clarity and depth of thought. As we take responsibility for our actions and spin away from the orbit of others' control, we taste freedom for the first time. The freedom, that is of being our own master controlled neither by life nor by others. Simultaneously, this generates respect for the freedom of others, which we now see as a fundamental right given to us at birth. Growth occurs by our becoming more and more of who we are, not by our trying to be someone we are not: Jacquelyn Small Somewhere along the process of growth, as we learn to leave behind our concerns of the self, we begin to focus on the larger world. Says Small: 'I can see you-the other-for the first time, a subject of your own life, rather than just an object in mine.' A sure sign that our growth is maturing is an ability to transcend dichotomies. We learn to become both childlike and mature, playful and serious, loving and detached, flexible and firm. Freed from the conditioning that dictates our behavior, we span the spectrum of possibilities, spontaneously responding to the moment in hand. This spontaneity spills over into the ethical aspect, allowing us to always be appropriate, without ever operating from external or preset rules of right and wrong. We are now well into the transformation process. Expect change, always tantalizingly slow, to speed up a bit, bringing us, in time, to the domain of surrender. Here, we let go of all personal motives and concerns. Trusting and loving life and the universe completely, we allow life to live us, rather than the reverse. We see ourselves as instruments of a Higher Will, whom it is our deep privilege to serve. We are now within shouting distance of the summit, where, having penetrated the layers of our own identity, we merge into that of the Universal identity. This is samadhi, Satori, turyavasta, that fabled domain we have sought so ardently and for so long. What is it like? This is the region of the Sat, Chit, Ananda�existence, consciousness, bliss�the attributes of the Creator. Here is where universal friendliness, love, mercy and detachment dwell (maitri, mudita, karuna, upeksha). In Emerson's words: 'All things are friendly and scared, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine; for the eye is fastened on the life and slights the circumstance.' But even this is not the end. That occurs when, letting go of even the vestiges of the Creator's identity, we plumb the void of consciousness. 'All there is is consciousness,' says Ramesh Balsekar, one such cosmic voyager. And consciousness is what we return to. Here at the Source, we begin to see that the nothing is, in fact, everything. The journey is done, what next? It is said that the Buddha, immersed in the bliss of union, nevertheless roused himself to need the call of the suffering multitudes. It is almost second nature for the transformed person to take on responsibility for the world at large. Henceforth, the world's problems are his problems, the world's happiness his. Usually, this takes the form of teaching but there have been other outlets. Some, like Ramesh Balsekar, write books: Masanobu Fukuoka, author of One-Straw Revolution, took to farming: others like Rabindranath Tagore took to the arts. Each serves life in his own way. Merging into the universal is the final release into unique selfhood. These are a few who are well-known, but there are numerous others who are well into the journey of transformation. In the following pages, you will look into the minds and share the thoughts of eleven such individuals.
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