Just as a fire is built by lighting small twigs so that they can in turn ignite the larger branches, we make the world a better place by changing ourselves first. This change, this transformation, must be mental, because all things begin with the mind, and mind is none other than our thoughts and emotions - these rule our lives. Two universal truths rule our lives as well; the rule of change, and the rule of conflict.

Everything we meet in existence changes constantly. On a micro scale, each cell in our body changes moment to moment. On a macro scale, emotions change from minute to minute. We might be happy one moment, depressed the next, or thoughts might change from worldly thoughts to spiritual ones, from partying to praying. Everything in the universe is in constant flux, and we can't count on anything for long.

Conflict is a fact of our lives as well. Without conflict, life as we know it would not exist. Every time we think, we are resolving a conflict - thought is our conflict solver - and emotion can be the result of thought, or sometimes the harbinger of thought.

Transformation is change. When we transform ourselves from an undesirable state to a desirable one, we are being true to the law of change. The capacity to transform ourselves means that we have been able to distinguish between the desirable and the undesirable, and it's this distinguishing that enables transformation. Without first being able to see, no transformation is possible, therefore, the critical thing in transforming ourselves is awareness.

If we can make this awareness non-objective, then the transformation will be true, simply because we will then notice conflict without either an agenda or desire to resolve that conflict. In fact, there can be no conflict in reality, because all conflict is illusion, just as our thoughts that resolve conflict are illusion. Existence, itself, is illusion, however we must work within this illusion to break free of it. Even though we are inherently already free of it, we are not free of the illusion. As the old Zen koan goes: "How do you get a goose out of a bottle?" "Oh, it's out!"

This absence of desire is what makes our transformation limitless because no "I" thought is involved. As long as we have desire, or a goal; we will limit our transformation every time. If we limit our awareness to what our perceived transformation should be, then, yes, we will transform, but the transformation will be transient, that is, caught within existence. In other words, our karma will not change. Everything that is transformed will transform again, this is nature of change, which means that when something comes into being, whether it is a new attitude or an new understanding, it will be destined to disappear as quickly as it becomes apparent, since it is within existence.

Limitless transformation always involves the mind letting go, never building. An ego is built up, and must be let go of by the mind for fundamental transformation to take place. Playing around with egocentric goals, loosely called spirituality, is egocentric activity nonetheless, and will not provide freedom. This of course must be done until the ego is seen through with piercing awareness.

Shifts in consciousness enable mind to acquire this piercing awareness. The best method I know of to acquire awareness begins with personal discipline, followed by Samadhi practice. Once the mind is capable of piercing awareness through discipline and Samadhi, then wisdom follows when existence is seen through. This is approaching enlightenment. This is true transformation. This is what changed the world in Christ's and the Buddha's times, and can make the world a better place again.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com