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Personal Transformation

The pond outside my home produces a variety of colorful dragonflies every year, and this year was no exception. My wife and I often watched them, mesmerized by their fascinating dexterity of flight, crisscrossing their chosen territory in search of prey. Occasionally, they would hover nearby like tiny helicopters, checking out their human audience. When we canoed, they would sometimes hop a ride across the pond, alighting on our hands, shoulders or heads.
    I remember lying on a blanket beside the pond one afternoon, years ago, and a dragonfly landed on the pad of paper that I was writing on. Sunlight streamed through its transparent wings; their segmented shapes cast a delicate etching of shadow. It was one of those special moments when time pauses to make a special imprint of its own. I knew I would never experience a moment like that again.
    The complex life-cycle of dragonflies is truly amazing, as they transform themselves from drably colored, boxy-looking pond larvae into their sleek, aerodynamic shapes, designed for mastery of flight. The larvae themselves pass through a number of moltings before their final metamorphosis, when cellophane wings finally extend from their backs. Once completed, their previous limits are replaced by unimaginable freedom.
    Transformations in life, from one unique stage to another, are common in nature. We are more familiar with caterpillars changing into butterflies within the snug enclosure of their cocoons. We see transformations in human beings also, as the helpless newborn develops into a curious baby, who then progresses into childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
    We don't zip ourselves into a cocoon to make the next phase of our existence happen. On the surface level, our growth patterns might seem quite tame compared to some species, if we measure human growth only by physical capacities. Our most unique qualities have to do with our ability to reason, hopefully subjected to that instinctive moral barometer we call conscience. This transformation of thought and moral understanding is meant to respond to our awareness of the here and now. The development and usage of these faculties provides a frame of consciousness that is (or should be) strongly related to the truth of the moment, and striving toward virtue in our everyday lives. Virtue is, after all, the logical aim of intellectual conscience, or it is not conscience.
    Since this movement toward completion is not entirely physical, but a process dependent upon thought, education, and personal decision, it does not happen in a universally standard and automatic fashion. For many people, it may not occur at all. When it does happen, it opens the mind to a process that purposely and directly learns from the world around us with a sense of autonomy. We come to see things differently, unvarnished by illusions, peer pressure or social dictates. We can freely extricate ourselves from the crowd to better think for ourselves. Since the efficacy of reason depends on our knowledge of what is true, truth, in turn, becomes our guide.
    Our ability to reason is not just a tool available when necessity calls for it. It is an uniquely important trait that defines our species. It facilitates our progression - our personal evolution toward understanding. It does not just happen, like the arrival of puberty for example. It is a process in which we must engage ourselves. It falls within the purview of culture to assist us in that development.
    Chivalry-Now offers some foundational concepts to repair our culture in that regard. The following includes some of those concepts, in the hope that they might help others move forward on their quests.
    One notable result of this transformational process is an actual change of consciousness, a qualitatively new awareness of self and surroundings. From a religious perspective, this could align itself with the idea of being "born-again," furthering the mandate that "the truth will set you free." Nature's Law spells this out in combining conscience and reason, which completes who we are and brings virtue to the forefront. We are psychologically and spiritually incomplete without a healthy integration of conscience and reason.
    We see this metamorphosis illustrated time and time again in mythology, where the hero's journey provides a process that increases his or her awareness of the world, and how to live justly. In Chivalry-Now, we call this journey-like process a quest. When we live our everyday lives as a quest for truth and personal growth, we increase our consciousness and capacity for virtue.
    We call the transformation itself by the Greek term, anagnorisis. The word describes the moment in a theatrical performance when the main character is suddenly confronted by truth and thereby awakened from his or her own personal illusions. The character's life completely and permanently changes.
    We have another word, telos, which means inner aim or an instinctive drive to become. If we fail to elevate our consciousness to its own sense of autonomy, brought about by a unity of conscience and reason, we end up suffering from an undercurrent of discontent. We constantly feel that something is wrong, something is missing from our lives. We know that we are not entirely what we should be. Telos signals us that there is more to being human than producing and consuming material goods, or distracting ourselves with self-withering illusions. This is a call to virtue, against which all other distractions seem conspire. Unfulfilled, it is the cause of much discontent that we sometimes channel elsewhere.
    This transformation is not something mysterious or esoteric or New Age. It is a process synonymous with human growth and the fulfillment of human nature that we might miss entirely without some effort.
    What does this have to do with Chivalry-Now?
   
The transformation can be thought of as a significant milestone along our individual journeys. This is why we often refer to its results as Grail Consciousness. It is transformational in that it awakens a clearer sense of consciousness of the moment, while breaking stale patterns of thought that interfere with our relationship with truth.
   
The aim of approaching life as a quest is not only that we learn and grow as compassionate human beings, but that we grow in consciousness as well.

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