Getting Back to Eden, part 5: The Process of Transformation 2
Is it not written in your law, ‘I have said, “You are gods”?’ —Yeshua
Paradigm shifts have occurred in our consciousness rather frequently over the course of the last several decades, and innovations have emerged in the ways we do things. In the way we relate to God, for example, we’ve gone from church affiliation and attendance to spiritual transformation by way of “paths” to enlightenment and Self realization; from being mere humans to angels incarnate in bodies that are temples of a living God; from awareness as humans seeking an experience of God to that of God seeking a fuller experience of our humanity, as expressed in the saying “I am God being Human.”
In the field of healthcare, we’ve gone from the medical model of treating the symptoms of disease to the holistic model of treating the whole person and addressing the cause; from physical medicine to “energy medicine,” embracing esoteric energy healing modalities; from running costly and invasive diagnostic tests to honoring the body’s innate intelligence and wisdom by reading its energy fields and meridian circuits via muscle-testing for first hand information from the body itself about its condition and need for intervention and/or nutritional support; and from reactive passive healthcare to proactive preventive wellness care. We’ve even found a way via bio-energetic inquiry to discern and treat the cause of dis-ease at the emotional and subconscious levels with “Neuro-Linguistic Programing,” an approach too innovative and subtle for the reductionist “fix the problem from outside-in” mindset. Ultimately, we’ve dared to transplant organs from one body to another, even clone living forms via genetic engineering and test-tube creation.
In the tech world we’ve gone from naturally endowed intelligence to artificial intelligence; from building structures with bricks and mortar to constructing matter at the atomic level with nanotechnology; from assembly-line manual labor to robotics; from land lines to cell phones, from writing letters to sending emails, and now texts; and from attending seminars and conferences to teleconferencing in virtual “face time” space. We’ve gone from doing research in a library to “Googling” just about anything we want to know.
In science and physics we’ve seen leaps upward and out into the macrocosm of space and downward into the microcosm of quantum physics. We’ve “progressed” from mechanical and chemical engineering to genetic engineering of plants, foods, and, God help us, our own species.
In a word, we’ve evolved in our consciousness — and in our identity — as well as in our expression and functions, from being “creatures of circumstance” to creators; from being “mere humans” to becoming gods in our own right.
Transformation, the changing of the outer form of things, has been the main event of the last sixty years. And now with this coronavirus pandemic, social distancing has isolated us from one another—coupled by job and economic disruptions, world-wide social transformation is underway. The last 40 years of the 20th Century were particularly marked by transformation, preparing us for radical changes in the new millennium. The most important and pivotal transformation underway is a spiritual one, more like a transmutation of our identity from human to divine.
SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY OF THE NUMBER 40
It seems the number 40 carries the energy of change in numerology. A Facebook friend posted this recently: “The Latin root of the word ‘quarantine’ is ‘forty.’ The official lock-down started March 23 and will likely end May 1st. That is EXACTLY 40 days.” She cited biblical events, such as the 40 days Moses stayed on Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments and the 40 days of his wandering in the wilderness with the children of Israel; and Jesus fasting in the desert for 40 days. The optimum number of weeks for human gestation is 40, and the rest period for a woman after giving birth is 40 days. Essentially it is the time needed for preparing a person, or people, to make a fundamental change, to let go of things we no longer need to live fully and move forward into a new beginning in a New Earth.
Richard Heinberg sheds light on the process of transformation in MEMORIES AND VISIONS OF PARADISE, characterizing the personal transformation of Jesus and the Buddha as “opening a door between worlds.”
The process of transformation need not be arduous. Indeed, in some respects it is more play than work — though not the competitive, win/lose play of civilized adults, but more the spontaneous, mutually trusting, experimental, and ecstatic play of young children and wild animals. As psychologist O. Fred Donaldson puts it, “Play is nature’s way of triumphing over culture.” If Paradise is our natural state of being, then the deepest and most compelling force at the core of the collective unconscious is one that is always urging us toward that state of equilibrium. As we deliberately work toward a future characterized by respect and care for Nature and toward the nurturing of love, forgiveness, compassion, and celebration in ourselves and in one another, our conscious efforts resonate with the pattern at the core of our being. Heaven and Nature rush to return to a condition of balance and accord.
It is also true that as we move in the transformational process, we are working against social conditioning that continually tends to divide us both from one another and from the very ground of our own being. Hence, the need for the spiritual quest, which in all its guises is essentially a process of cutting through the crust of ego that prevents us from experiencing and revealing our own innate paradisal character.
This quest is neither new nor unprecedented. It is neither more nor less than the archetypal hero’s journey, identified by Joseph Campbell as being central to every mythic tradition. Every culture remembers exemplary men and women who have accomplished internal transformations, and who have left instructions by which others can do the same. While the details of the instructions may differ, all spiritual exemplars agree on the broad outline of the process. It consists, first, of a withdrawal from the world-as-it-is, and a deliberate act of purification. This is followed by a period of integration within the system of universal spiritual values. The process culminates in a final realization of unity with the ultimate Principle of all that is. While the details of the process are individual, the essential outline of the journey is always the same, as is the goal: Paradise — the realization of oneness with Heaven and Nature.
The heroic quest is fundamentally a symbolic journey, representing the progressive unfoldment of the hero’s transcendent character and destiny. Jesus and the Buddha are figures who accomplished the profound inner transformation by which a door was opened between worlds, and human society was led to a partially or temporarily restored condition. Ultimately, the records of their lives are metaphors for what must occur in the experience of anyone who takes up the quest.
In every hero myth, the first stage in the journey consists simply of hearing and responding to a call. The hero or heroine must realize that the world is in need of healing, and that his or her own actions will make a difference to others. For the Buddha, the call came when he was thirty years of age and first saw sickness, old age, and death. He was so profoundly moved by the suffering he saw that he stole away from his sleeping wife and child to seek the key to liberation from the universal human condition. For Jesus, the first awareness of the call came when he was only twelve years old. He left his parents and spent three days in the temple among the doctors, discussing theology. When his worried parents finally found him, he said simply, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”
As we lift our attention above our conditioned wants and fears long enough to become aware of the purposes of a greater Whole, we suddenly see the possibility that our lives could have significance beyond comfort and self-satisfaction. The call may be faintly sensed, or it may blare. In either case, a conscious decision must be made to either listen or shut it out. To ignore the call is to die to the purposes of life. But to listen and to accept the challenge of the quest requires a willingness to leave behind the ruts established for us by heredity and environment, and to explore unfamiliar territory. We cannot enter Paradise without leaving behind our present cultural or psychic environment.
The second stage of the quest involves coming to terms with a dragon, demon, or enemy. Seeing suffering, we seek its cause, and causes of human suffering are legion. At the beginning of this stage we may see a dragon that is external to ourselves — an immediate source of injustice and cruelty. We may decide that the dragon is embodied in a philosophy we detest, or in a person whose actions seem to cause others pain. Many people become fixed in this phase of the quest and never proceed further. Their lives are spent battling the demons of the world, which, even when apparently slain, seem to grow new heads and return to torment them again.
As long as we continue battling external demons, we are incapable of fully bringing peace to our world. Eventually, if we remain true to the call — if we continue to listen — we will come to understand that the real dragon is within us: all the problems of our world have been produced by tendencies present in ourselves. Until and unless our internal dragons can be dealt with, even the most valorous external battle cannot fully bear fruit. Some of the great heroes in religious literature seem to have realized this from the beginning. Both Jesus and the Buddha, for example, knew from the outset that the victory they sought was a triumph over their own lower natures. Gandhi, on the other hand, began his career with the belief that the dragon consisted entirely of governmentally enforced racism; only gradually did he come to see his own attitudes and behavior as the battleground for the forces of good and evil.
Once the dragon is recognized as being an internal force, a different kind of battle begins. This stage of the process, in which the hero is wrestling with his own inner demons, doesn’t seem especially paradisal. It involves the exposure of one’s weaknesses and the surrender of personal attachments. Paradoxically, it seems, one can only get to Paradise by being willing to go through hell. But this conflict, too, must come to an end. The resolution of the battle with the inner demon is represented in the story of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness. Before Jesus began his public ministry, and after he had fasted in the wilderness for forty days, the Devil appeared to him. The Devil first offered Jesus bread, symbolizing personal fulfillment at the physical level; then he challenged Jesus’ authority; and finally he offered the kingdoms of the world, “if thou will fall down and worship me.” But Jesus, refusing physical desire, the need to prove himself, and personal ambition as motives for his behavior, replied, “Get thee hence, Satan!” For him, the demon was gone.
A similar story of the Buddha says that while he was sitting under the Bodhi tree, immediately before attaining enlightenment, he was tempted by the god-demon Mara. Amid both violence and offers of pleasure and power, he simply sat and remained calm, “like a lion seated in the midst of oxen.” Mara and his armies, frustrated, left in defeat.
The dragon or demon can be fully tamed only through consistent inner work over a period of years. Yet, there is an instantaneous quality to the essential transformation that eventually comes: at any time a sudden change of state may occur and Paradise will be present, if only for a moment. The hero tames the dragon not by fighting it, but by refusing to fight it — by facing it, courageously holding steady, and expressing the character of innocence and love. Suddenly, the hero realizes that Paradise has been there all along, unnoticed.
Even after the hero has momentarily achieved paradisal awareness, he must still learn to sustain and communicate that state. From this point on, he is certain that he has known the true and natural condition of human consciousness — the pearl of great price, for which the wise person will sell everything (Matthew 13:46).
After having developed the ability to consistently maintain paradisal consciousness, the hero returns to the mundane world with a healing balm. Having found Heaven, he must share it — which means sharing himself, his state of being. For the individual, the return is the culmination of the journey, but the quest is not complete until the world has been restored.
Richard is interviewed briefly in Michael Moore’s recently released film PLANET OF THE HUMANS, an hour-and-forty-minute documentary update on the present state of our world and our ill-placed hope in biomass, wind turbans and solar panels — well worth your time watching.
On a more personal note, I will join the elder generation of octogenerians and complete my 80th trip around the sun on May 20, 2020. There’s got to be a few 40’s in those numbers, as I have certainly gone through many changes in those eighty years. I have been greatly blessed by many life-long friends and clients over the years. I thank you for following my blogs and sharing them with your friends. Feel free to share your thoughts by email. Until my next post,
Be love. Be loved