The question of improvement vs. transformation was one we asked during the first Essentials conference call earlier this week. And it is a profound and extremely important question for any of us that are striving to practice Evolutionary Enlightenment to answer for ourselves. If you are familiar with Andrew Cohen’s teaching about “clarity of intention” you will recognize that the inquiry into improvement vs. transformation is another way to clarify what your spiritual intention actually is.
Before I go on to discuss this question I first want to say as I did on the call that when we are looking into our own motives all that matters is that we really discover what is motivating us – NOT that we find the “right” motive. That might sound strange, but after 18 years of work on this path I can tell you without hesitation that it is true. The only way to either change or strengthen your motivation is by being clear about what your motivation ACTUALLY is. If you think you want one thing when you actually want something else there is no way to develop. As Andrew Cohen has said for years, “You can only move from where you are.”
With that clarified let’s take a look at what we discussed in our first call. We were looking into why we are involved with Evolutionary Enlightenment as a practitioner in the first place. Many people want to improve their lives by improving different parts of their lives. They might want to go to a gym to get stronger or faster. They might want to take a course to learn more. They might go to a training to gain skills. Or do a spiritual practice to become “more spiritual.” All of those activities are fundamentally about improving the person that we already are. Those types of changes are added to who we are without necessarily changing who we are in any fundamental way. Have you ever known someone (maybe even yourself) who made significant changes to one aspect of their life and then been disappointed to find that those positive improvements didn’t seem to have any effect on other parts of them?
On our call we were engaging in fearless self reflection. Is this kind of self-improvement what is actually motivating our involvement with Evolutionary Enlightenment? I am not saying that having this motive is bad or wrong, simply that if this is what is motivating you it is important that you know it.
Most of us who begin to work with Evolutionary Enlightenment, or any other spiritual path, start by because we want spiritual self-improvement. We want to be a more spiritual person who lives a more spiritual life. I know that is what got me started. Ultimately, however, the teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment offers and is really about the possibility of transformation. When we talk about transformation we are talking about a much more fundamental change than is implied by self-improvement. Have you ever known someone who transformed? What you recognize in a person who has transformed is that they have not just changed some part of themselves; they actually seem like a different person. It can be shocking to be confronted with someone who has transformed, who has changed so deeply that you feel like you are meeting them for the first time even if you knew them well before.
Remember that Evolutionary Enlightenment is at heart a teaching of Enlightenment; and Enlightenment means spiritual transformation. I believe that those who have become spiritually transformed have not only fundamentally changed from who they used to be to who they are; they have actually become a different kind of human being. Spiritually transformed human beings have long been recognized to see the world differently. Their actions are motivated by different values and driven by deeper sources of energy and wisdom than seems to drive most of us.
What is it that is motivating your involvement with Evolutionary Enlightenment? Do you want to improve aspects of who you are? Do you want to transform? Or do you want to become a spiritual transformed, Evolutionarily Enlightened human being? As we talked about together on our call, when we begin to approach these big questions we may experience fear in relationship to the possibility of transforming. That seems natural enough response because usually when we are confronted with the real potential of transformation we instinctively fear for what we “imagine” we “might” have to give up – our job, our house, our friends, our family – whatever it is. It is interesting to note that we assume that we will lose things, but it seldom occurs to us in these moments of reflexive kickback that things might get better. Maybe I won’t lose my job, but get better at it, or maybe I will lose my job because I won’t want it anymore and will find a much better one. Maybe my relationships with friends and family will actually become deep and profound, what makes us believe that that spiritual transformation and enlightenment will make things worse – it doesn’t really make sense. We might not be involved with Evolutionary Enlightenment to improve parts of ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that it makes sense to assume that things will necessarily get worse. The arising of fear may be natural enough, but that doesn’t mean we should listen to it. That is why on the call I asked all of us to think about what it is we fear more – the possibility we might change or the possibility that we might never change.
I would love to continue this discussion with all of you here on this blog so please add your thoughts as comments.