Transformation in the Time of Crisis
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?