TRANSFORMATION OR TRANSLATION?
"Every transformation demands as its precondition 'the ending of a world’
– the collapse of an old philosophy of life."
~ C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols
Every student of spirituality must cross two distinct borders on her journey to deep spiritual realization. Each border may be crossed several times on that journey, but unless both are crossed, the journey becomes stagnant.
These borders we will call TRANSLATION and TRANSFORMATION. Ken Wilber describes translation as being given a new way to think or feel about reality. Think of when you learn a new system of thought or a new way of believing. In New Thought teachings, we learn that our power is within, not outside of us; this awareness represents a translation of our version of reality. It is a necessary and important part of our journey. But it is a limited type of horizontal change.
“ . . . with transformation, the very process of translation itself is challenged, witnessed and undermined and eventually dismantled...with radical transformation, the self itself is inquired into, looked into, grabbed by the throat and literally throttled to death...Authentic transformation is not a matter of belief but of the death of believer, not a matter of translation of the world but of transforming the world, not a matter of finding solace but of finding infinity on the other side of death. The self is not made content; the self is made toast" ~ Ken Wilber
Whereas translation is horizontal change – like rearranging the furniture in your house, transformation is vertical change – like getting a new house and new furniture. Much of the frustration of the spiritual student is due to being stuck in translation and not achieving transformation. The reason we get stuck is because, as Carl Jung notes above, transformation is a massive, often shattering type of change. We often stand at the precipice of such change but hold back out of fear or our own ignorance of what lies just across that chasm. We refuse to do the inner work needed to make ourselves available for transformation. Our overall society is an expression of the frustration and stagnation of those who are unwilling to seek transformation.
“Many of us knock on the door but remain outside, because knocking and entering are entirely different actions. Knocking is necessary, consisting of reading books, attending meetings, asking questions. But entrance requires much bolder action. It requires one to enter into himself, to uncover hidden motives, to see contradictions, and to realize his actual power for self-change.” ~Vernon Howard
This inner work, including shadow work, takes time. Our soul’s call is always toward transformation because we cannot express our full potential without transforming our self-concept. Our limited beliefs must be expanded exponentially, and this requires deep, often (actually always) painful work. Like your tires need friction to grip the road and get traction, you need inner friction to get traction in your personal development. Transformation does not come easily or automatically. The Founders of New Thought expressed the need for transformation, because they had realized it in themselves, opening channels for healing which had been little known up to that time. However, today, we often seek expediency over deep spiritual work.
“Self-help books that offer rapid transformation fail us because they do not take
the complexities of the human psyche into account.” ~ James Hollis
There is no transformation when one is comfortable. It is only when we are knocked off-center, having crossed a border of translation and received new tools to apply, that we have the possibility of transformation. It is more than positive thinking, more than prayer and meditation, although these things are essential. If we are to court the potential within us which can only be brought into expression via transformation, we must be willing to enter after knocking, to step into the chasm, to open to the possibility of pain and the loss of some things we treasure.
Truly transformed people organically change the world, while fundamentally unchanged people can only conform to the system and wholeheartedly cheer it on (see Romans 12:2).” ~ Richard Rohr
When you came to New Thought, you were knocking on the door. Whether or not you enter into the realm of transformation is up to you. It is entirely an inside job, which can be done within community, but not by the community. You can tell that you are ready to enter that realm by the degree of frustration you are feeling in your life. Let that frustration, that “Divine Discontent” propel you into the depths of your being to find the jewel of your deepest self and bring it into expression. When one of us does that, we are all served.