The path of transformation
The Path of Transformation is a complete, total, and thoroughgoing transformation of one’s emotional life, speech, communication with other people, relationships, livelihood and more. The Path of Transformation aims to enable us to bring the whole of our being on all levels up to the level of the highest moments of our lives. This is what it really means to follow the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path.
Buddhism sees life as a process of constant change, and its practices aim to take advantage of this fact. It means that one can change for the better. The decisive factor in changing oneself is the mind, and Buddhism has developed many methods for working on the mind – most importantly, the practise of meditation. Meditation is a way of developing more positive states of mind that are characterised by calm, concentration, awareness, and kindness. Using the awareness developed in meditation it is possible to have a deep understanding of oneself, other people, and of life itself.
One aspect of Transformation is a giving up of all that limits us or holds us back. This is the practice of renunciation or nekkhama. This springs naturally from a decrease of craving within us, consequent upon our vision of the true nature of conditioned things. It manifests as stillness, simplicity, and contentment.
The positive aspect of transformation consists in cultivating the remainder of the Eightfold Path:
Perfect Livelihood, Perfect Effort,
Perfect Mindfulness, and Perfect Meditation.
To take just the first, the positive aspect of Perfect Emotion consists in developing dana, maitri and karuna: generosity, loving-kindness, and compassion. These are followed by mudita and upeksa: sympathetic joy and tranquillity, and finally sraddha – faith and devotion.
The central problem of the spiritual life – for most people at least – is to find emotional equivalents for their intellectual understanding. This is illustrated in the well-known story of the great Indian teacher Bodhidharma meeting the Emperor of China.
The Emperor asked, ‘What is the fundamental principle of Buddhism?’ Bodhidharma answered ‘Cease to do evil, learn to do good, purify the heart’. The Emperor was rather taken back, and said ‘Is that all? Even a child of three can understand that!’ And Bodhidharma replied: ‘Yes your majesty: but even an old man of eighty cannot put it into practice!’.
The Path of Transformation: cease to do evil, learn to do good