Transformation… Week 09


a Moment for Wisdom…



a Moment for…


“Observe always that everything is the result of change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing Nature loves so well as to change existing forms and make new ones like them.

Marcus Aurelius


“Consciousness is needed for that which we are unsure of, that which falls outside of our culture.”

Sharif Abdullah



Personal Wisdom:


What parts of change are comfortable for


What parts of change are uncomfortable for you?  What parts do you resist?

Societal Wisdom:


What are the “existing forms” of society that need to change form?



a Moment with Sharif…




Well, “Nature” loves change, but PEOPLE don’t like it so well!!


As I’ve said before: it’s not that we resist or fear change: we just don’t like being forced to THINK about change (or anything else!)  [NOTE: You may want to review the “Moment for Wisdom” for 21 March 2011]


I really don’t mean that in a derogatory sense.  (Okay, maybe a little!)  We have built-in mechanisms for processing our world without having to think much about it.  It’s called our CULTURE. 


Culture is something that is absolutely necessary for human survival.  Think about driving
your car (or riding your bicycle).You cannot do it!There is too much information, too many choices…  There are 140 different decisions that you must make, just to open your car and start it up.  


No, we don’t pay attention, and we don’t HAVE to pay attention.  We put our recurring actions and decisions on auto-pilot, reserving our conscious minds for that which is “important”.


So, what’s important? 

Of course, if you’re being chased down by a pack of wild hyenas, you probably ought to pay attention to that!  (And, I’ll bet that doesn’t happen much in your culture!)  Same thing with pending car crashes, walking on icy pavements… From this, we can see one aspect of consciousness: paying attention to that which has immediate danger/alert value.  (Not long-term danger value – which is why most of humanity cannot get its collective mind wrapped around concepts like global climate change.)


Another aspect of consciousness: Watching a beautiful, colorful sunset.  Making eye contact with the one you love.  Seeing a laughing baby.  Here we see another aspect of consciousness: paying attention to that which you love, to that which gives your life meaning and purpose.


Now: What do you normally pay attention to?  Where do you normally place your consciousness?


For many of us, we are steered to “danger/alert” messages that have almost nothing to do with our lives… news images of wars, famines and floods happening half a world away, while ignoring vital information just a block away. We are steered to “love” images of titillating sex and all the related “economics of desire” (fast cars, perfume, Vogue Magazine…)  We are steered away from a future that works, toward a present that doesn’t.


In other words: For many in this society, our consciousness has been hijacked.  Hijacked by people who want to sell you something, want you to be afraid — or both.  That hijacking is the direct source of our societal depression and suicidal tendencies.  Many of us don’t know how to feed our soul, feed our consciousness.


For the rest of us: we know that it is important to safeguard our consciousness, to filter out the nonsense of the Breaker Society.  We know that it is important to pay attention to that which we love.We know that it is important to pay attention to a positive future, for ourselves, for our communities, and for our Earth.       


We also know that it is important to EXPAND our notion of consciousness, beyond the individual self, to encompass all other human beings, all other beings, and to encompass all LIFE.  It really is not important for you to be conscious of whether your ignition key (or bicycle lock key) rotates clockwise or counter-clockwise.It really IS important for you to remember that all LIFE is ONE.

This is the change we can learn to love.







Transformation Exercises:


This week’s “Transformation” exercise: 


Many times, the positive changes that appear in our lives come as a result of something that we initially perceive as “negative”.  We find the love of our lives, but only after clinging to an inappropriate relationship.  We find our true calling, but only after being fired from our “secure” job. 


  1. Make a list of three to five major changes that happened to you in your past.  With regard to each change:
    1. From your present viewpoint, was that change positive or negative?
    2. From the viewpoint of the beginning of the change: did you think that the change was positive or negative?
    3. Did you resist the change?
    4. If you could go back in time to you Self at the beginning of each change, what words of wisdom would you pass along?
  2. Make a list of three (or more) changes or issues that you are presently experiencing.With regard to each issue:
    1. Do you view your present situation as positive or negative?
    2. Are you resisting the change?
    3. Sit quietly and imagine your “Future Self” sending wise advice to you at this moment.Listen for it.What are you saying?






All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.








This entry was posted in Wisdom & TRANSFORMATION and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Transformation… Week 09

  1. Holly Wells says:

    I’m exploring whether positive consciousness doesn’t mean just paying attention to the “good” or beautiful things about life, but also noticing the not-so-beautiful–but without judgment. New practice for me: Noticing, and accepting as real (“what is”), the graffiti and peeling paint on the 405 overpasses in Portland, not just the lovely landscaping along the road. I’m not really enjoying this (yet?)–waiting to see if this leads to positive, pro-LIFE change in me.

    • Sharif says:

      Well… it’s definitely the practice I am espousing, but I’m not sure it leads “to positive, pro-LIFE changes…” Where it does lead is to an appreciation of what is REAL.

      We are learning to SEE Reality, without the filter called “judgment”. Without the filter that sees landscaping as “good” and peeling paint as “bad”.

      Many people, including people who think of themselves as “positive”, get through life by cutting out the disagreeable chunks. That’s not LIFE.

      There’s a religious group that regularly leaves literature on my front door. In some of this literature, they depict “reality” as lions looking on benevolently as little lambs are playing at their feet, with Jesus smiling on it all. What do they think lions eat? Straw?

      We are training ourselves to first, see the filter. Then, remove the filter and see Reality…



  2. Susie says:

    I’ve seen how resistance to change can block people from appreciating things that are positive. At work (now quite a few years ago), I worked with two middle-aged women (wow, I’m now older than they were) who were totally change averse. I changed the system of work from one that was totally paper driven to one that was completely computer driven. This process took years because it took changes in technology years to get to the point where we could do everything without resorting to paper. Throughout those years, each incremental change that removed some part of the paper process resulted in a definite and immediate improvement in one of these two women’s jobs. These were things like one woman no longer had to punch holes in papers (a few at a time) that filled two very large binders (we’re talking hundreds of pages) EVERY WEEK or the other woman no longer had to collate hundreds of pieces of legislation into client piles every day. (I had done all the parts of their jobs myself, so I had personal experience in how the changes would affect them.) I mistakenly thought that they would be pleased that they no longer had to do these tedious chores and would happily thank me for making their jobs easier. No, I listened to bitching and moaning every time there was a change and never once did I get a single acknowledgement that the job was easier. I asked one time a few days after we made a major (positive) change how the person liked it, and she told me she’d have to get back to me in two weeks. It was an immediate positive change; there was no need to test it out for two weeks. I know that if I had told her after two weeks we had to go back to the old system, she would have been very unhappy!

    After watching these two women resist positive change year after year, it definitely affected my views on change. I had been someone who liked order and predictability in my life. I wasn’t as change averse as these women, but I wasn’t crazy about change myself. Having seen how being so fearful of any change robbed these women of their ability to enjoy positive change in their lives, I changed my mind about change. I started appreciating and embracing change. I developed more of a detachment about things in general, except the things I deem “truly important.” I care deeply about certain things, like my family, close friends, and my spiritual beliefs, but I don’t hold too tightly to most things. I go back to my belief that everything is working for my highest good and I don’t have to understand the big picture at all times. Live in the present, love all people as my brothers and sisters, live and let live. I embrace the change that life brings as time goes on. (Okay, maybe I’m not crazy about the wrinkles but I don’t stress about them either.) Life is boring without change!

    • Sharif says:

      Susie, this is exactly what I mean by changes in culture (behavior) causing us to have to THINK… to actually use our consciousness. Doesn’t matter whether those changes were good or bad — “different” means “bad” by definition.

      Check back with them a few years later, and they probably couldn’t tell you how the system worked before!

      “Progressives” look at “Conservatives” as resistant to change… but from my viewpoint off of the Left-Right spectrum, they BOTH are resistant — just to different things.

      Thanks for the comment. And, incidentally, I was in your fair city for 10 hot seconds on Monday, checking in on Kathryn on my drive back to Portland from the Bay Area…



  3. Greg says:

    I know that I am working to create a world that might not be comfortable for me if I walked into it cold. What I find difficult is to know what needs to change. The best way to tell you the details is to tell the God-story I believe:

    Because the Universe appears to human beings as paradox, I believe that God is a Principle, not a Being. I also believe that God is sentient–two ideas which seem contradictory.

    We are told that God created us in God’s image (I never replace the word, ‘God’ with a pronoun). What could that mean? I like to believe that humanity is in its teenagerhood. Anyone who has ever been the parent of a teenager knows that their kids face truly scary choices–whether or not they know it. Parents always know that when they hand over the car keys, the kids could make a fatal mistake–or worse. When they are alone they may experiment with sex, drugs, or cults. They may get into abusive relationships. But the wise parent also knows that their children cannot become mature adults without taking those risks and succeeding.

    I believe that God intends for human beings to understand and control the forces of nature but, like teenagers, we can do horrible damage with that power. We can’t put the Genie back in the bottle; we have to learn what to do with the power of science and technology. It will not go away. We have to learn what medicine and genetic engineering should and should not do for us. We have to learn to use nuclear energy without unreasonable danger or move beyond it. These technologies are not going to go away unless we “bomb ourselges back to the Stone Age.”

    So, we are going to have to find “the quality without a name” in places and objects that we cannot yet imagine. We are going to have to look beyond nostalgia for the time before technologies, because humans have been evolving ourselves using technology for hundreds of thousands of years–and we can’t say that what we lost is the lifestyle and culture of bonobos.

    I write this because I feel that the future belongs to technologies that we revile–not because of their inherent toxicity–because of their implementation in a culture that prizes profit over the environment and the lives of human beings.

    I’m sorry to post such an incomplete response, but the bell rang and I have to leave the building.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *