We are a whole and parts at the present moment. In the timeline, our future self is a whole and our past selves are parts. It’s a karma from our past parts that we don’t have unlimited choices to choose but it’s a creativity (from a certain limitation) that we can freely figure out what choices we can make to become our future whole. Life is simply a journey of learning and transformation. Lessons we learned from the past conditioned us to learn at the present moment.
In a moment of life, all parts are communicating together, the head, the heart, and the gut. The head says, “I need you to exercise.” The gut reacts, “If I get enough food, you’ll faint after exercise.” The heart says to them, “I can’t feel my value if both of you can’t agree.” Then life goes chaotic whether or not eating or exercising. The head may go out and find external motivations to win the game. The gut may drive the body to reach out for foods and beverages. The heart may hide away from the scene. Life goes on with the inner fight. Guess who win?
It’s a higher levels of consciousness that come to reconcile all the parts. We may call it “soul.” The soul get in touch with the head as it goes distracted with some news of Covid-19. The soul softly touch the gut and says, “there, there.” The soul calls for the heart to come back home. The soul points out the fact that his body is now overweighted and his mind is full of stress. The soul facilitates a dialogue among them, let their voices be heard, and find solutions together.
Here is the list of commitment they have for each other:
- The head will ask permission from the gut first, are you willing to go exercise with me? If not it may ask more, what do you want for now? what time is right for you to do exercise? The head also promises that it will do the same to the heart and will always listen deeply to them both.
- The heart will keep affirming the value of the head and thank the gut for taking care of the body. The heart also promises that it will be there with them.
- The gut will energize them with fun and joy for any activity they will do together. The gut also promises that it will help calm down the body.
Can you guess whose inner dialogue is this?
With mindfulness and compassion, we observe and connect our selves. We come home to ourselves. From this place, we learn, unlearn, and relearn. As we learn to let go of the illusion or invalid identity of some selves, a new sense of self emerges. Life is not static but a circulating flow of parts and whole. It’s a journey of learning and transformation.
What is Transformation? Why is it important in the time of crisis like Covid-19 pandemic?
We can categorize human change into 2 groups, horizontal and vertical ones, transformation falls into the second category. Horizontal change refers to expanding our skills, knowledge, or experiences that requires us to learn to do something repeatedly. However, vertical change is all about changing our sense of self at the core. It’s a big change that requires us to learn differently, not repeatedly. It’s also not about doing anything but being and connecting with a deeper level of being. It requires us to reflect upon our old patterns of doing things automatically, let go of parts that has long been assumed as “I”, and move towards more whole sense of self.
Transformation shows up in the nature like a butterfly emerging out of a cocoon. I’m very curious how a caterpillar feels through the experiences of changing its sense of self from forming a chrysalis to changing its form inside the pupa and emerging as a butterfly. How does it feel being “quarantine” in its cocoon?
What if the Covid-19 pandemic is not just a crisis but a stage of human transformation? What if our pre-pandemic world is ripe for the next transformation? Like a butterfly, human consciousness has potentials to transform itself. Prof.Robert Kegan’s constructive developmental psychology identifies 5 transformations of human consciousness. He refers to the Black Plague in 1300s (the origin of quarantine) that brought an enormous transformative potential to human consciousness as people of the servant class saw that the noble class can die as easily as them. All classes are equal in this respect.
If Black Plague was a significant transformative potential of the 4th, can Covid-19 bring us the 5th transformation?
In 2020, people all around the world can die easily again with Covid-19. All countries are equal despite of political systems or advancement of the economic systems. There is no discrimination in the world of microbes. Now we can see all the systems we build, like economy, transportation, politics can fall as easily as human life. Human life and the human-built systems are equally fragile. The 4th transformation potentials liberated humanity once from classes, now can the 5th transformation potentials, if this pandemic is one of them, liberate us from stressful and exploitative systems?
In pre-pandemic world, we have long been in the trance of making economic progress, growing business, increasing political power. We forget that our precious life is right here in this present moment and our vulnerable human species and planet earth need more compassion. From the cocoon of staying-at-home, can we incubate a new form of human consciousness and emerging again with the wings of mindfulness and compassion?
It’s been a long time I have written any blog since 2007. Fast forward 13 years later, here I am staying at home, writing this blog to share my personal journey of how I stay alive, survive, and thrive as a person in this planet with the Covid-19 disruption. It may be your thought friend as I share my thoughts and feelings along with exploring and learning numerous useful ideas and insights emerging at the same time around the world.
As Prof.Robert Kegan put it in this youtube video, amidst this Covid-19 pandemic, we all around the world are contemplating on one same issue for the first time in human history — how we survive Covid-19 — and we may unlock our transformative potentials as many of us starts to realize we are all the same vulnerable species in the vulnerable planet. As I contemplate this thought and open my compassionate heart-space, It feels like I live everywhere, even through I live in Bangkok, Thailand. It feels like I sense all hearts beating together in fears and pains but at the same time with a light of hope into the unknown.
We don’t know how long it will take for this to end or how many waves of Covid-19 we will have to face. I believe that if we are mindfully connecting with our heads, hearts, and guts in the present moment, each new moment will bring us love and compassion to heal our vulnerable species and protect our vulnerable planet.