Transfiguration is a state of being in which a leader reveals his or her soul. Transfigured leaders are capable of leading others to heights that were hitherto deemed as unattainable. The purpose of this paper is to distinguish between transformation, transcendence and transfiguration, thereby opening an entirely new dimension of leadership education. In time, and within the context of transcending the limited selves that they are, certain leaders transfigure.
Change vs. Transformation
To begin this exploration, I first want to distinguish change from transformation. Many people, for example, make New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps someone decides to join a gym to lose weight. If they stick with it, they will probably achieve the change they were seeking. If they quit exercising, they will probably gain back the weight they lost. Regardless, both conditions are what I call “change”.
Transformation, on the other hand, is a recent secular term for what used to be called conversion or being reborn. St. Paul’s famous conversion on the road to Damascus is the classic example of transformation. In ontological parlance, this is referred to as re-inventing the self that you are. So, the difference between change and transformation is that change is reversible, whereas transformation is not. Once you are transformed you can never be what you once were. Your identity is altered. The observer with whom you have identified has shifted. As such, you cannot revert to the interpretation of self in which you were previously immersed.
Transformation vs. Transfiguration
Transfiguration, as distinct from transformation, is a revelation of one’s true self or essence. In other words, transformation is about reinventing who you are, whereas transfiguration is about revealing who you are. Within the Christian tradition, transfiguration is associated with Jesus who, on the mount, stood revealed as if a mask was removed from his face and his disciples were allowed to see who he really was. Transfiguration, in this sense, occurs when there is a shift in one’s DNA. Since DNA determines a body’s shape and function, Jesus aligned his DNA with the higher frequency energies of the unified field and, thus, transfigured before his disciples. This is an example of transfiguration from a mystical or esoteric perspective.
I, however, employ a secular approach designed to make transfiguration an operational distinction for leadership development. Thus, my approach to transfiguration enhances our awareness of the selves that we are becoming. Over time, our embodied selves shift, which directly impacts our DNA as well as the neuronal pathways of our brain. These are necessary pre-conditions for transfiguration to occur. My advanced leadership work incorporates practices designed to produce this more powerful embodiment of self because it is connected with our essence or our soul.
Style and Transformation
Each of us has our own unique style. By “style” I am referring to an embodied way of being as expressed through our personality. A style, therefore, is an interpretation of what characteristics unify most of a person’s or a group’s or a culture’s practices. It is not a fashion statement -- something we add on as a matter of refinement. Consequently, styles can only be understood by someone sensitive to practices as meaningful. When we do not recognize someone’s style, we are not really recognizing the person as a person. Prominent figures in society, be they famous performing artists, outstanding athletes, successful leaders of business, government or social movements, become “alive” to their unique styles. They glamorize their personalities, and their personalities are glamorized by others, often resulting in the characterization that they are “larger than life” because their style resonates with large segments of the population.
Mahatma Gandhi is a classic example of someone who became transfigured as he immersed himself in India’s struggle for independence. Before he transfigured, however, he transformed himself by discarding the trappings of his British education as a barrister and became, instead, a simple ascetic committed to the non-violent struggle for the independence of his people. In other words, Gandhi changed his style. In time, he became alive to his new style as an ascetic in a loin cloth embodying humility combined with unbending will and courage. Over time, by cultivating thoughts and emotions and adopting a lifestyle that we're in harmony with his non-violent principles, the structure of his DNA altered, and the neuronal pathways of his brain adjusted, bringing them into alignment with his essence. As a result, Gandhi increasingly revealed his soul as he and his soul became one and the same. Not surprisingly, his followers called him “Mahatma”, which means “great soul”. For Gandhi, transfiguration had become a way of life.
My work with energy has shown me that we human beings are multidimensional. Yet most humans are blind to it. Their perception and experience of reality is stuck solely in the dimension of physical matter, and they suffer for it. My work helps people transcend their entrapped selves by teaching and coaching them on how to take a stand for something they truly care about. In doing so, they step into the purpose for which they took birth. This is the first step towards in the process of transformation to self-transcendence, and ultimately to transfiguration.