All too often, when we attempt to bring about change in our lives, we undergo a process of conversion without enlightenment. As a species we seem to be very committed to converting people, whether the conversion is religious, political, sporting, social or even gender, to mention but a few. If conversion is not possible, then we attack and ostracise. For me, the notion of conversion is largely a nonsense unless genuine enlightenment precedes it. That newly found understanding and wisdom will usually initiate a fundamental change in direction of its own accord.
Consumed by the emotion of conversion, and I am thinking here particularly of psycho-spiritual conversion - all too often confused with religious conversion - one is apt to think that all of a sudden one has been moved from one non-spiritual plane to a plane where we feel a born-again spirituality. (I admit to my inability to define the words "spiritual" and "spirituality" in ways which might find general acceptance.) In my view, such a transposition from one plane to another is very far from the truth. Any change that might occur seems to relate to a change towards a hopeful belief, to an admitting to a desire to change direction, because life has become unacceptably painful. The life changes that are required do not occur unless some understanding of the factors that have brought one to the stage where change is seen to be desirable, is gained through the process of enlightenment. Put simply, genuine change does not happen without understanding and wisdom.
What usually happens - in my own childhood experience, and observations of adults later in life - is that enthusiasm for the belatedly-realised impossibility of leading a life not grounded in denial-free understanding eventually wanes. The result is to fall back into a state of apparent failure, and the drawing of the conclusion that it was all rubbish anyway, and that if only conditions change all will be fine. The story of the "fox and the grapes" is apposite.
What I discovered was that so many traits that I had deemed to be wrong, were neither right nor wrong. They simply were! The baby simply is, and only requires a thorough cleansing. Even today, in our enlightened times, there are always people who will tell us what is right, and what is wrong; edicts based on their often blinded perceptions, but firmly rooted in egoistic selves drawing their sustenance from societal dogma rather than from truth.
As I have said elsewhere, I do not believe the ego is bad: it simply is. But then fire simply is, and I do not intent to thrust my flesh into the fire in the foreseeable future. I will, however, continue to endeavour to use things that are fit for the purposes I have in mind. And I must never intentionally, through denial or any other means, cut the taproot that links my lower, egoistic self to that source of enlightenment which feeds my inner life.
In choosing to talk about this subject I am intensely aware that it is like testing the quality of the Atlantic Ocean with a spoonful of its water taken at random. Every sentence threatened to draw me off into yet another vast subject with its own particular characteristics and interest. There are no clear-cut boundaries to the mind, or to consciousness, and I have had to pick my way carefully through my material to avoid becoming washed away on an errant wave of enthusiastic wonder.