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Change and transformation

James Anderson


Transformation will only come if one opens to change. Only by identifying with the psychic being is true change possible. The microcosm for this immense work is the body itself. Through little victories the human being inches towards transformation. It is a supreme adventure into the unknown.


No word is more evocative in the English language than ‘transformation’. For me, it summarises everything I aspire for. Its depths are so sublime that it can only be defined satisfactorily by one word. Every other definition is partial and inadequate. By total and irrevocable transformation, we mean ‘supramentalisation’. This means the transformation will bring with it the descent of an entirely new plane of consciousness.

After its first manifestation in 1956, it has become an ongoing process and through it, even our dimmest corners will eventually be uplifted into a new light. Even our most noble features will be transcended beyond measure. Our body will be transfigured into a state of immortal bliss. Inertia will become the sweetest ecstasy; matter will become just another expression of the soul or spirit. The multiplicity of our nature and the world around will be harmonised by this impregnable and invincible Force. Words fail to convey the full implications of this process. I look upon transformation as the executive action of the Truth, which will prepare the way for a new dawn of Love.

The reality is that, in our human terms, this transformation is a long way ahead. Sri Aurobindo, indeed, said that the gross body itself would not be transformed for “something like three hundred years”, even after all our other parts had been supramentalised (1). But, in truth, the human being is not an ephemeral creature. He is eternal. Man is not his nature but the psychic being, which has evolved through centuries of lifetimes and awaits its finest hour. The reality is, it’s an unbroken thread and this thread leads to a very golden future. Once I realised this truth, the goal of transformation became so much more compelling. It became my whole framework, my entire raison d’etre. True, I try to stay as present and grounded as possible but this Reality is always with me. It aligns me and guides my steps. It is always there in the background, like a mother, watching over me and helping me move forward. It insulates me from harmful influences and shows me the shortest way. When I stray, which is frequent, it gently tugs me back. It is the key to my well-being and growth. I find it to be the secret behind the ‘Sunlit Path’.

So how do I prepare for this transformation? Most importantly, by invoking change. Change is a necessary precursor to transformation and we must embrace it. There is a tendency to shrink away and this fear must be overcome. Sometimes one leap into the Unknown may be enough. Each of us has to remain open and plastic so that the transforming Force can do its work. A template has been created by my Teachers1 and I need just to replicate it into my present life. This is really all I can do. In a way, it may seem like a repeat performance but unique challenges will present themselves always in the context of my sādhanā. It is the same for all of us. Everyone has a singular role to play in this vast play. Without us, the play would not be complete. The key is to adhere to this all-pervading Presence and invite it to the forefront of our existence to saturate our nature. We must learn to distinguish between what is mortal and what is eternal within our being and pitch our camp firmly on the side of the Truth.

Each one of us is part of a vast multiplicity that in its present state finds expression in discord and division. But the true cause of the division lies inside. To harmonise the whole, we have to work on ourselves. How can we expect to manifest true change unless we attempt to change ourselves first? It is the only way. Only then can we raise our level of well-being to a higher level than the world around. We have to raise ourselves onto a higher level of determinism. Only then will cosmic change be possible. The divisions of our nature need first to be altered into a workable unity, onto a surer foundation, so that the psychic being2 can step forward to do its work. On such a base, no part of us will be shaken by surface influences. And I feel the greatest work of the psychic being is transformation. Transformation is the consequence of psychicisation3: the psychic being works through harmony and, from the tiniest potential, can turn each individual truth into a sublime reality. It does this integrally at every plane of being down to the most resistant matter. Because of this, it is the dynamo behind all meaningful evolution.

The truth, though absolute, is also individual. It is like a diamond with many facets. Because of this, there are innumerable avenues that lead each one to his or her goal. The goal is one but this Oneness allows for an endless variety of individual manifestation and expression. This is one of the beauties behind the play. But this truth is not personality. Personality is largely a creation of nature and a product of environment and conditioning. The personality may give a clue, but sometimes one must work through many layers to discover the truth that lies inside.

We have to know ourselves and get behind the façade and surrender to our true nature. Somehow there has to be a way of stripping the dross away from the truth inside. We have to become almost transparent. But what does this process actually entail? For me, essentially, it is one of observation. The work of observation has dynamic consequences but for it to be effective, it must be disinterested. It requires a contact with something way beyond ego. Essentially it is poise, something that never really stops and so comprises different depths of enquiry. The deeper I go the more enduring will be the result. The final gauge that arrives is always a sense of illimitable peace and a conviction that I have touched something very true.

The arena is always the body. The body is a most perfect channel for everything that happens inside. Each part of our nature has its own location in the body. I find that when the body is well it is a sure sign that equilibrium reigns there too. I look upon this work as the ultimate sacrifice of the body because every conceivable distortion will surface there. It has to put up with so much! The alchemy of transformation can take place only with the collaboration of the body and because of this sacrifice it will eventually experience the supreme consummation of the transformation itself.

The work

So I look at the body from top to bottom and just see what is there. There should be no sense of judgment. There is a descending Force which runs through the length of the body and beyond, which I regard as an indicator of my inner well-being. It is a force for progress and a receptive vehicle is a sure sign of health. If I see or feel a disrupted flow, it signals a resistance in my nature that needs to be addressed. This disturbance may show itself as a dullness or pain: it is a knot that needs to be unravelled. I do nothing but watch and enquire. Holding the gaze, I allow the force of the consciousness to do its work. I need to be timeless in my approach as so much lies burrowed within the folds of my nature. If the connection inside is maintained, a knowledge will come which captures the truth behind the affliction that comes to the surface. I may want to articulate it out loud. There is a profound resonance in every affirmation and once the truth intervenes, the result is conclusive and harmony is restored.

Through the unknown

It is by these little victories that true change is achieved. Each one symbolises a tiny transformation. I find that this simple procedure helps align the nature around my ‘true person’, the psychic being. These building-blocks to progress need to be reinforced time and again. The human being is a complex entity made of many parts. He is not a homogenous whole and only the psychic being has the capacity to integralise his nature. There are always different parts of my nature that need to be addressed with each sitting. Each time a different angle of approach will be adopted to address the obstruction ahead and the total anomaly may not be rectified in a single go. The entire stain will rarely reveal itself.

The psychic radiance needs to be nurtured. Much patience and perseverance are required in this work of true change. Each time a facet or side may be converted but I need always to go deeper and deeper to locate the central knot that is sustaining every affliction. Ultimately is there but one solitary nexus lying at the root of all? I don’t know. Perhaps the ultimate prize waits just behind this ogre but the only way to know is to get there and find out for myself.

“It is like the explorer’s trek through virgin forest in quest of an unknown land, of some great discovery. The psychic being is also a great discovery which requires at least as much fortitude and endurance as the discovery of new continents (2).”

Each path is different and everyone has his or her ‘impossibility’ that needs to be resolved. Each represents a unique aspect in the entire matrix of transformation. It is a microcosm that opens the door to the entire whole. One has little idea what lies ahead. One must only carry on.


1. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 5. 2nd edition. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003, p. 58.

2. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 12. 2002, p. 33.

1 Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
2 The psychic being is the human soul in evolution. It accompanies him through his various lifetimes and its growth and emergence marks the level in the spiritual evolution that he, as an individual, has reached. At first veiled by the lower nature, mind, life and body, it can gradually come forward by sādhanā to master and freely use these instruments so that the transformation of these parts becomes possible.
3 The psychic being’s saturation and permeation over the entire nature.

James Anderson is a member of SAIIIHR and coordinating editor of NAMAH.

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