Hank Wesselman: The Transformational Perspective (4)



By Hank Wesselman

(continued from last time)

Values of the Transformationals

When I started leading workshops a decade ago, I perceived that members of my circles tend to express a distinct character profile that I find deeply reassuring – one that the media finds puzzling at best or unworthy of serious news coverage at worst. Our newspapers, magazines, and television news programs inundate us with negative information on a daily basis, creating the impression that violent crime and genocide, economic catastrophes and political mendacity are reaching unprecedented proportions. While this may be true to some extent, it must also be remembered that all the murder and mayhem, political corruption and corporate fiascos are being generated by only about two percent of the world’s population. Despite this, the media seems to believe that this is what makes news, a supposition reinforced by polls and surveys created by the demographers who serve the media. The same could be said of the film industry, of course. There is no question that Hollywood knows the big money is to be made by appealing to the dark side of the human psyche.

Given this understanding, I was surprised to discover that most of the participants in my seminars and workshops lack the blade-runner mentality, as well as the cynicism it tends to generate. Instead, they express a strong sense of social justice and seem to be deeply concerned about the quality of human life at all levels of society. They feel strong support for women’s issues as well as those of minorities. They are concerned for the safety and well being of both children and the elderly, and human relationships are clearly seen as more important than material gain. Social tolerance, personal individualism, and spiritual freedom are highly valued ideals. The reweaving of the social fabric through the rebuilding of families, neighborhoods, and communities are major areas of concern. This is what I mean by deeply reassuring.

In looking at these values, it quickly becomes apparent that they have little to do with being a liberal or a conservative, a Christian, Jew, or Muslim, or even a patriot. Yet they have everything to do with being a humanist in the evolved sense of the word. Although the Western world continues to be driven by greed and fueled by denial, motivated by fear and dominated by competition, members of the transformational community are oriented toward democratic, humanistic ideals, and they tend to favor cooperative endeavors that benefit the many.

The importance of balance and harmony lies right at the core of their values, and in this respect, they, like the indigenous peoples, have grasped that humans must strive to live their lives in ways that contribute to the greater good rather than following lifestyles and pursuing goals that create its opposite. Accordingly, the value of simple, natural living is seen as a high ideal, and the monumental waste being generated at every level of the world capitalist system is regarded with grave concern.

Another area of consideration involves healthcare. Ever increasing numbers of the transformationals feel a growing distance from Western allopathic medicine. While all are very much aware of Western medicine’s miraculous achievements, more and more feel that it is failing on many levels. Elders who are terminally ill, for example, are often kept alive by a medical system that is trying to do the right thing, but in the process the physical suffering of the dying may be needlessly prolonged while the escalating costs of treatment can wipe out their family’s financial resources. In addition, all see quite clearly how the business-oriented and profit-motivated Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s) are affecting the quality of health care in an increasingly negative way while inflating costs beyond the imaginable. The need for healthcare reform in the United States, for instance, is overwhelming. The majority within the transformational community express strong interest in preventative and alternative health care strategies, perceived as adjuncts to rather than as replacements for allopathic medicine.

The transformationals are environmentally savvy, and like the indigenous peoples, they feel an active, almost ritual respect for Nature. They express a deep concern for the environment and, by association, the survival of the human species. All are seriously committed to stopping corporate polluters, reversing greenhouse warming, and discovering the limits to short term growth so that we can achieve the long-term ecological sustainability upon which the future of humanity, as well as Western Civilization, depends. Unlike many of the hardcore environmental activists of the last several decades, however, members of this emerging social movement are deeply committed to achieving the direct, transformative experience of the sacred, and it is really this that defines them as mystics.

Modern Mystic Beliefs

These direct transpersonal experiences leads the transfomationals to an inescapable conclusion: that everything, everywhere is interconnected, and that consciousness is the ‘etheric field’ through which this linkage is achieved. This is a core belief that is clearly articulated by the indigenous tribal peoples at one end of the human continuum and by the quantum physicists and Zen Buddhists at the other.

Another core belief concerns the existence of more than one reality. In addition to the everyday, objective physical level in which we all live and have families, friends, and careers in an ongoing basis, there are the nonordinary, subjective levels of the dream worlds or spirit worlds outside the time-space continuum, where the laws of physics and cause and effect do not work in the same way.

This belief leads directly into another: the ability of some individuals to expand their conscious awareness and enter into these alternate realities—a conviction that reveals why the rediscovery of shamanism has become a major thrust within the movement. The relative ease with which the shaman’s time-tested methods for achieving mystical states can be learned and practiced, even by non-tribal Westerners, stands in stark contrast to the years of rigorous training often required in many of the contemplative disciplines like meditation and yoga before significant consciousness shifts are achieved.

Another belief: by utilizing the shamanic method to journey into these inner worlds, the same levels that C.G. Jung called the archetypal realms of the psyche, the seeker may enter into relationship with spirit allies—inner helpers and teachers who may provide them with access to power and knowledge, protection and support. Among these beings can be found the personal Higher Self, variously known as the Transpersonal Self, the Angelic Self, the God Self, the Over Self, or simply the Oversoul.

Interestingly, despite their disaffection for and lack of affiliation with organized religions, most transformationals profess belief in some form of universal god-like consciousness, and Jesus of Nazareth is regarded as an important spiritual teacher, whether or not the seeker is psychologically Christian.

Another related belief concerns the existence of a field of mystical power, perceived by virtually all as an invisible essence or vital force that is widely dispersed throughout the universe and highly concentrated in certain objects, places, and living beings. It is becoming generally understood within the movement that everyone can learn how to access, accumulate, and focus this power, and that one’s health, well-being, and success in life are ultimately dependent on being able to maintain, and even increase, one’s personal supply.

This awareness gives rise to the belief in the existence of a personal energy body – a subjective self-aspect that carries this power as life force and provides the “etheric pattern” around and within which the physical body is formed and maintained. The ability of some transpersonal healers to manipulate the energy body in restoring and repairing the physical is a skill that many in the transformational community have personally experienced. It is believed that this energetic matrix can be perceived as an aura by those who have psychic awareness and that it can be enhanced utilizing the energy centers within it called chakras in Eastern thought.

Taken together, these beliefs and values constitute an emerging worldview that is being embraced by an ever-growing population of well-informed souls. Those who hold the new view perceive quite clearly that it offers an unprecedented promise of hope for all human beings everywhere as well as a firm guarantee of sweeping changes to come.

The Global Consequence

In summation, the perception of the primacy of consciousness is embedded within a larger complex of beliefs and values being held by an ever-growing sector of the general public in the West. In the United States for example, their numbers currently match and will shortly surpass those of the fundamentalists. It is also significant that this heightened awareness within our citizenry is emerging in a time in which humanity’s problems appear to be reaching critical mass—a time in which our leadership seems to be failing us at all levels, political, corporate, military, and even religious.

Whether the solutions to our issues can be achieved by our current political leadership or by the increasingly questionable machinations of our military-industrial complex is in doubt. In response, increasing numbers of concerned citizens are coming to consider the possibility that our problems may not have political, military, or economic solutions, but rather that they may actually be spiritual in nature, in alignment with the beliefs and values outlined above—a conviction that may, in turn, enhance the growth of the new spiritual complex. In addition, if our children are acquiring these altruistic, spiritually based values and beliefs within the fabric of their families, they are already spreading rapidly throughout the larger society, accelerating the shift.

Although the current spiritual reawakening is most visible in North America and Western Europe, the invasive influence of Western Culture upon the rest of the world suggests that it may, in fact, extend deeply into the international community. In Paul Ray’s words “we should take heart, for we are traveling in the company of an enormous number of allies.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has put it this way:

Nowadays, whatever happens in one part of the world will eventually affect, through a chain reaction, people and places far away. Therefore, it is essential to treat each major problem (and social movement), right from (their) inception, as a global concern. It is no longer possible to emphasize, without destructive repercussions, the national, racial, or ideological barriers that differentiate us. Within the context of our new interdependence, self-interest clearly lies in considering the interest of others.(8)

This insight confirms that the transformational community taking form in the West is of enormous import, for the emergence of the new spiritual complex within it, as well as the awareness that the complex is engendering on an increasingly societal scale, has the power to alter the directions of history in much the same way that the emergence of Christianity utterly changed the Roman world, as well as the Western mind, almost two thousand years ago.

While the time frame for this shift may vary with the ebb and flow of current events, there are no maybes here. The proverbial handwriting is on the wall. The history of the world’s peoples will be profoundly and inescapably changed by the spiritual awakening going on in the West. The results will be felt at every level of society, in every country, and will, by association, determine much of the politics and individual lifeways of the Twenty-first Century and beyond.


1. These anomalous experiences are fully documented in my autobiographical trilogy Spiritwalker: Messages from the Future (New York: Bantam Books, 1995), Medicinemaker: Mystic Encounters on the Shaman’s Path (New York: Bantam Books, 1998), and Visionseeker: Shared Wisdom from the Place of Refuge (Carlsbad, California: Hay House, 2001.)

2. See Sankara Saranam’s God Without Religion: Questioning Centuries of Accepted Truths, (East Ellijay, Georgia: The Pranayama Institute, 2005.)

3. Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World (New York: Harmony Books, 2000.) Ray now estimates that the number of people involved exceeds 60 million in the United States alone.

4. Paul Ray, personal communication, March 2002.

5. Richard Sellin, The Spiritual Gyre: Recurring Phases of Western History (Fort Bragg, California: Lost Coast Press, 1997.)

6. Robert S. De Ropp, The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness Beyond the Drug Experience (New York: Delta Press, 1968). See also Hank Wesselman, Visionseeker, chapter 1, and Roger Walsh, The Spirit of Shamanism (Los Angeles: Jeremy Tarcher Press, 1990),

chapter 3.

7. See Joan B. Townsend, Neoshamanism and the Modern Mystical Movement, in Gary Doore, ed., Shaman’s Path: Healing, Personal Growth and Empowerment (Boston: Shambhala Press, 1988), pp. 73-85.

8. The Dalai Lama, The Global Community and Universal Responsibility, in Eddie and Debbie Shapiro, eds., The Way Ahead: A Visionary Perspective for the New Millennium (Rockport, Maine: Element Books, 1992.)


Hank Wesselman, PhD. Former university and college professor, zoologist and paleoanthropologist involved in expeditionary field research in search of human origins in eastern Africa’s Great Rift Valley. In addition to his scientific publications, he is the author of Spiritwalker (Bantam, 1995), Medicinemaker (Bantam, 1998) and Visionseeker (Hay House, 2001), an autobiographical trilogy focused upon spontaneous anomalous experiences that took him deep into the shamanic worlds of magic and meaning. His most recent books include The Journey to the Sacred Garden (Hay House, 2003) and Spirit Medicine (Hay House, 2004, with Jill Kuykendall.)


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