Transformation—as the venerable Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn explains—involves infusing known patterns and ways of thinking with new insight, awareness and mindfulness. Transformation, he asserts, does not necessarily involve abandoning old structures, traditions or habits, but rather refreshing the stuff of these experiences with new approaches, new imagination, new vitality.
In several of his books—including Living Buddha, Living Christ, and his newest title, No Death, No Fear (Riverhead, 2002)—Thich Nhat Hahn points frequently to the emphases that Christianity places upon transformation, including the message of Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Reinforced by this Easter season, these themes of transformation are central to all who advocate and communicate in the interest of deepening faith and spiritual awareness.
With its emphasis on rebirth and resurrection, the Easter season brings an optimal time for transforming old patterns into new innovations, for “morphing” outdated ways and means of operation into new modes of effectiveness.
The intentional, clear, disciplined focus of attention, say “Thich Nhat Hahn and other Buddhist and Christian scholars, often through meditation, is a vital way of achieving transformation of ideas, behavior, or other existing patterns. Making the time and space to concentrate—to give full and undistracted attention to matters at hand—is often the best first step to solving problems, to envisioning new horizons, to breaking out of unhealthy routines, to clearing out clutter, to moving in new directions.
How many of our personal and church-based forms of spiritual practice could benefit from such refreshment?
With such clarity of focus, there is space to encounter and engage in fresh ways the transforming reality of Christ, who says: “Behold, I am making all things new.”