Written by: JiHyang Padma
Ji Hyang Padma, Ph.D. has been practicing and teaching Zen for twenty years, 15 of those years as an ordained nun. She has completed several 90-day intensive retreats in Korea and North America. While her practice has been situated within the Korean Zen tradition, she has had the benefit of studying with teachers across a wide spectrum of Buddhist lineages. She is gifted at finding an entry-point into practice for people who are just beginning their journey.
Ji Hyang has combined an academic career with her work as a Zen teacher. She holds a Ph.D in psychology from Sofia University. Her dissertation research focused on consciousness & healing, through the lens of traditional Buddhist healing practices. She currently serves as Director of the Comparative Religion and Philosophy Program at California Institute for Human Science in Encinitas, CA. Her first book, Living the Season: Zen Practice for Transformative Times, was released by Quest Books last year.
Transmutation, according to the Cambridge English dictionary, means to change something completely, especially into something different and better The word was used often by alchemists, referring to the process of changing lead into gold. Also, it commonly refers to the process of changing poison into medicine– a healing technique which reaches far back into the depths of history. Ayurvedic medicine and many other traditional healing cultures used this principle.
In modern life, there has never been more need for such alchemy: the capacity to transmute confusion into wisdom, to transmute pain into strength, and our healing gifts.
I think of the people of Puerto Rico, working with tenacity to renew their communities, emerging with a deeper awareness of their relationships and what in the final analysis, really matters. My friends in Sonoma, who have lost their house in the fire, also come to mind.
I am reminded of my brother and his neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, who lost so much through Hurricane Sandy that his business, and many others, nearly came to an end. Through practices of connection and mutual aid, Red Hook emerged with resiliency. While the disasters that Napa, Sonoma and Puerto Rico are experiencing are so much greater, the work of regenerating through a focus on human capital, human relationships, may essentially be the same. For all of us who are witnessing these disasters, may we not carry their suffering. Instead, may our hearts be cracked open to the fullest compassion.
In these transformative times, we are all challenged to stay connected to our path, to detach from drama, to do appropriate self- care, to see our connections in an era of polarization. As we do so, we are, ourselves, transformed by pressure and heat, from coal to diamond.
Don’t turn your head. Keep looking at
the bandaged place That’s where the
light enters you.
–Rumi trans. Coleman Barks
Right now, when the pressures upon our social contract have perhaps never been as great, we nevertheless have this precious time to affirm and renew all our partnerships, all our relationships.
Because everything is changing, changing, changing–
Because human life is fragile,
and everything we love is so transitory,–
invest in human relationships, human kindness.
Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings. The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.