“Transformation literally means going beyond your form.”
– Wayne Dyer
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Transformation is different than change. Transformation is a wholesale shift from one state to another, which is fundamentally different than piece meal change.
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Ron Ashkenas said, “… the overall goal of transformation is not just to execute a defined change — but to reinvent the organization and discover a new or revised business model based on a vision for the future.” 1
It’s interesting to apply this to our personal lives, particularly to our expanding awareness and increasing experience of truth. We could substitute reinventing the organization for reinventing ourselves. The new business model? Personally, that would be a new way of living. A vision for the future? Since that’s routinely missing (lost in the busyness of day to day activities), let’s focus there.
What’s your vision for the future? Most people don’t have one, at least not something they originated. On the other hand, there’s no lack of visions to borrow. One dystopian sci-fi film after another assaults us with visions of a dark future, while media assails us with dire predictions about the repercussions of political and economic blunders.
Henry Ford famously said that whether you believe it or not, you’re right. He was acknowledging the power of belief. Belief relative to this concept of creating a vision for the future is often described with the word “intention.”
In her book, The Intention Experiment, science journalist Lynne McTaggart wrote, “Intention has already been employed in many quarters to cure illness, alter physical processes, and influence events. It is not a special gift but a learned skill, readily taught. Indeed, we already use intention in many aspects of our daily lives.” 2
How skilled are you with intentions? Sadly, none of us received much support to develop our imagination, which is what intention setting requires. Einstein believed that imagination was more important than knowledge and it’s easy to understand why. Knowledge is a tool; imagination enables us to work it. We employ imagination to render knowledge useful. We focus imagination to envision the future and set intentions about the results we want in our lives. And we can harness imagination for transformation.
Change means keeping things the way they are but improving them. Transformation means, as the opening quote from Wayne Dyer clarified, going beyond the form, to literally “trans-form.” What would that mean, personally?
Perhaps one way to explore the implications is to consider what happens when we upgrade computer software. What’s different afterwards? Things have changed. You click a familiar button and get an unfamiliar result (hopefully something better).
And, there’s a learning curve. Ashkenas continued to clarify the more dramatic nature of transformation vs change: “It’s much more unpredictable, iterative, and experimental. It entails much higher risk.” 3
What’s the risk? Whenever we disrupt a system, we open the door to problems of adaptation. We may not all use computers and know the headaches of learning a new system but many of us can probably remember the challenges of “re-entry” after a peak experience. Returning from a holiday or a personal growth seminar, it’s always tricky to get back into our routines without losing the value we just gained. Sadly, we often just can’t integrate what we learned into new habits and that peak experience soon fades away.
What about spiritual transformation? Some people meditate occasionally, others are more disciplined and sit every day. But the ancient traditions all emphasized that the purpose of meditation is to culture a state change that lasts. It’s fine to begin with 30 minutes here and there, but the real goal is to sustain a meditative state throughout the day, and every day.
Those who meditate this way are fueling their transformation. Of course, the practice is one thing, an actual state change that is “unpredictable, iterative, and experimental” as Ashkenas wrote, is quite another.
Fortunately, there are many who have tread this path before us, masters and teachers of one sort or another who not only survived their transformation but are thriving in a rarified dimension of enlightened human experience.
They well understand that change is the nature of relative reality, the oscillation of the relative polarities we experience as “reality.” Transformation relates to the evolution of consciousness, the ongoing trajectory of evolving consciousness. That is a much slower process than change. Oscillation is fast, change happens on a daily basis. But the flow of evolutionary transformation is incremental, on other words, slow!
How do you know if what you are going through is change or transformation? Transformation progresses your state of being from fragmentation to unity, from limitation to increasingly holistic awareness. As your individuated consciousness evolves and progresses from egoic to trans-egoic levels, you undergo an alchemical process where your fundamental state of being radically alters and your awareness becomes more expansive and inclusive.
And change? It’s business as usual with tweaks. But, if you’re reading this, we know which path you’re more interested in! We’ll drill deeper into the dynamics of transformation in the next post.
2. Lynne McTaggart from The Intention Experiment, page xxv