Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation - Track 301

Change, Conversion and Transformation

 I think we have three words which we underlined last time. We spoke of triple transformation: the psychic transformation, spiritual transformation and supra- mental transformation. We shall start with the first one, the psychic trans-formation. There is a difference between change, conversion and transformation. These are three different words which are similar to each other but technically they are having different meanings. Change is only a shift from one point of concentration to another. Conversion is a more durable shift. There is a very interesting book by William James, which is called "Varieties of Religious Experience" in which he has devoted one full chapter on conversion, and to make the idea of conversion very simple, he has distinguished between two parts of our mind. One part he calls hot place, another part he calls the cold place. He says every human being has two parts of his mind: the hot place and the cold place. Hot place is the place from where one's own dynamic activities emanate. One is conscious of that part, one feels vibrant with that part, one feels alive with that part, one feels thrilled with that part, excited about that part, one is able to give ready responses when one touches that part: that is the hot place, all the rest is cold place. Our totality of consciousness which is not in the hot part is in the cold part.  Something that is in the cold part today, if it shifts to the hot part, it is change; but if this becomes a more durable shift, then we call it conversion. Suppose for instance today I read a newspaper and I come across an advertisement saying that there is a conference in the United States of America on such and such a date. I simply read it, it is simply a kind of information given in the paper, it makes no meaning to me, no impression on me. So, it goes into the cold part. I take notice of it but it is so faint, it goes into the cold part. After a few days, a friend comes to me and says, "I am going to America for this conference" and then he says, "You must also come with me", and he arranges for my visit, and then I go there and I happen to meet some very important people who affect my life tremendously. That conference which was simply a faint ray in my mind now becomes a very important part of my life and begins to occupy me very much and I am in a hot part as far as that conference is concerned. This is called a shift from the cold to the hot part. But then supposing that that conference becomes a permanent conference, a continuing conference, and then I happen to be associated with it full time. Then my whole life shifts from what was before and it becomes centred around that conference. So that means that I am converted, my whole life is converted into the conference. It has not been a change, it is a conversion. Actually my whole being, my thoughts, my feelings, my actions, my programs, my activities, all of them begin to centre around that conference.

This is an example of conversion in ordinary life. But at a deeper level, certain ideas which today were simply passing ideas, if they happen to become very central to me – the ideas about God, ideas about soul, about destiny, aim of life – yesterday they were simply matters of passing interest and suddenly they begin to become more important to me, then a shift has taken place, a change has taken place. I begin to take interest in these matters: whenever somebody talks of God, my ears are pricked and I begin to listen to that much more seriously. But then a point may come when my whole life is centred in search of God, nothing else matters. My relationships, my activities, my thoughts, my feelings, all begin to turn towards God, then that is a state of conversion. In a state of conversion there should be a state of durability. In a mere change it is simply a passing movement from cold to the hot place but I do not get anchored into it. When I become anchored into it, then it is a state of conversion.