Question: What is real transformation? How do we know when we've actually changed?
Answer: The transformation of our present nature is something all of us are meant to go through (as human beings) in order to fulfill the purpose of our existence on this planet. But, the truth of this word "transformation" has been lost; it has come to be a misunderstood "New Age" kind of word with a gentler meaning than the real meaning, which is to die to oneself.
There is a transformation that we go through when we get new clothes, a new job, a new relationship -- where we have defined for ourselves who we will be by what we have envisioned. The real work however is not about things seen, but about a relationship with things unseen, and when we have imagined for ourselves what we are to become, before we know it, we have imagined ourselves into a box. The only thing we can imagine for ourselves is from the content of our own past, re-configured to be something comforting and consoling to us.
Our work is not about finding a new image for ourselves. It is about freeing ourselves from the nature that is inside of us, that relies on an image to define us.
Question: Are we meant to transform ourselves on this earth? It seems so out of reach. What is our part in the process?
Answer: We human beings are born with an indefinable longing to grow beyond ourselves, to penetrate and illuminate the mysterious depths of our own heart. The ideal and pursuit of perfection is literally seeded into our soul; it pervades our very being. Our longing to walk among the stars does not seem out of reach; the wish to be eternal goes with us everywhere. In more down-to-earth terms, if we wish to live without resentments that linger in our hearts and rid ourselves of fear with all of its debilitating limitations, we must shed the skin of our selfishness. We must learn what it means to consciously suffer ourselves without complaint and have compassion even toward those with whom we disagree. If we do this, we would be on our way to being immortals. Christ's admonition, "Be ye gods," rings true in our innermost ear.
We are created with the capability of realizing the timeless truth of ourselves, which includes being empowered to use -- to release or transform -- all the conflicting forces that are woven into the path of the upward Way. Nothing can stop us from receiving that Niagara Falls of celestial impressions whose light not only serves to reveal the still in the dark character of our undeveloped nature, but also pours into us, all that is needed to evolve beyond it. Now all we need is to learn -- and practice -- the specialized part we must play in our own transformation.
First, in order to rightly receive these vital impressions that are a prerequisite for becoming conscious of the life lessons they bring in their tow, we must learn what it means to be rightly passive in the Now. To understand this important spiritual principle, think of what it would mean to receive life without pre-determined demands upon what you will or won't accept as it unfolds. This state of impersonal conscious awareness is referred to in Eastern wisdom traditions as having one's mind polished like a mirror --perfectly passive to all that passes into and through its consciousness, a silent witness to whatever life reveals. This conscious compliance with a broader reality is the first of two vital stages we must actualize within us if we would transform both ourselves and the world in which we live.
The second stage needed for our transformation -- after the passive ground of us has been seeded with what we have observed within us -- requires we become active. We have received, now we must give. The opposites must be united within us by our own conscious efforts. For instance, say we've worked hard to be more aware of ourselves in the Now, and that for this effort we catch a glimpse of how quick we are to judge others, to criticize them for their "failings." This pain that strains us -- and those we touch with it -- is itself a creation of a false sense of our own perfection. But our awareness of its punishing presence within us is the same as our invitation to transcend the negative nature that is responsible for it. So, if we want to realize the higher level of Self that reveals the need for further transformation, then we have work to do. We must actualize this new level of ourselves by acting from our new understanding in a whole different way.
In each instance where we see that we still have more to understand about ourselves, we must use our lives to become a living example of those qualities of character that we need to learn. In other words, in order to transcend what we have seen as limiting us, we must teach, by example, what we would further understand.
Excerpted from Let Go and Live in the Now, pages 193-195