What is real change? It may feel good to escape the heat of an uncomfortable situation, but that hardly guarantees we won’t be triggered again or that we won’t repeat the same fateful drama with a new cast of characters. The ego might try, with all of its cognitive might, to identify and rationally put to rest its fears and anxieties, but despite all its heroic intentions it might still find itself blindsided and seized by a passionate emotion of anger, terror, or attraction, or be swallowed up in a pool of sadness.
The simple truth is that the ego fortress alone, despite all its mighty defenses, is unlikely to permanently change or transform the deeper issues of the psyche housed in the depths of the unconscious and triggered by the outer circumstances of everyday life.
Permanent change is very simple to recognize: the person or situation that once triggered us, as measured by a strong activation of the central nervous system in powerful emotion, is now experienced as neutral; no activation of the central nervous system, no powerful emotion.
Energetically, we can say that the inner electrical charge of the triggering object has been completely depleted of its electrical charge. Psychically, we could say that the energy of the unconscious content behind the trigger has been transferred from the unconscious to the ego in the form of deep understanding, acceptance, and resolution. The ego becomes stronger, not in its defenses but more in its reduced need for defenses, the energy formerly spent in defenses now available for a more fulfilling experience of life.
The symbol that often emerges to represent this enlightened state of consciousness is white light, or whiteness in some form. This form of illuminated whiteness in spiritual terms is awareness that transcends maya, the veil of illusion that entraps us in the triggered situation, projected onto everyday life.
The bright light of whiteness lays bare all the truths, like the bright sun at its midday zenith. But this transformation also requires that the ego withstand the intense heat of both the blinding light of truth and the full heat of emotions that are sure to arise during any encounter with truth.
Rather than discharge that emotion in defensive spurts of blame and rage, the ego contains this cauldron of volatile emotion without action. As the truth is laid bare, the ego pours its deep well of tears into the cauldron as well, allowing both the heat of the fire and the dissolution of water to break down its intense attachment to the illusion it has held onto in an attempt to medicate itself from the full impact of the truth.
Finally, the fire of contained passion, the solution of sadness and depression, and the consciousness of the full reality of what is, eventuates in a genuine transformation. We are released into freedom from a formerly binding attachment. We can then stare into the truth of our lives with the detachment of reading a benign history book, no triggers, only genuine transformation.
In her new book, to be published later this year, Jan offers an account of an experience of this cauldron of transformation, of bright white light followed by an intensity of emotions. She was at a family gathering, usually an emotionally triggering situation: “I feel myself move slightly, not my body, for my physical body remains stationary, but something inside me shifts and suddenly I see everything differently. One second I am my usual self, thinking my thoughts, and in the next second everything goes quiet. I go quiet too, utterly calm and still, and I see that everything and everyone is highlighted in white light. Crystal clear and luminous energy flows from everyone and everything. I am almost afraid to blink; I don’t want to disturb the beautiful, numinous vision. Then, just as suddenly, I am flooded with emotions. Feelings of sadness and loneliness envelop me…”
And that is followed by this: “…and then I know that it’s all true, that everything is true, that this experience in this moment is true and all I have recapitulated is true too.”
In the end, Jan states: “I was able to maintain a sense of continuity in the midst of the shift,” underscoring that the ego was ready to encounter what was being proposed as the means to transformation. Now that is real change!
In the cauldron,