Sunday, March 12, 2017

Alchemy as a Transcendent Function

"The secret of alchemy was in fact the transcendent function, the transformation of personality through the blending and fusion of the noble with the base components, of the differentiated with the inferior functions, of the conscious with the unconscious. No one who has undergone the process of assimilating the unconscious will deny that it gripped his very vitals and changed him.. [moving the centre of awareness to the Middle Plane between the inner and outer worlds] where the centre of the total personality no longer coincides with the ego, but with a point midway between the conscious & the unconscious. This would be the point of new equilibrium.. which ensures.. a new & more solid foundation." …………………………….C,G, Jung, Two Essays, para.365
Traditionally, alchemy was understood as a chemical process where a base material is converted into a noble metal such as Gold. The esoteric interpretation of alchemy as a process of inner transformation is being dealt with in the above quote from the writings of Carl Jung.
In the Bible, we find some events of radical changes in the consciousness of people: there is the "thief on the cross" at Golgotha who realizes the spiritual nature of Christ and was promised by Jesus that he would be with him in paradise the next day as a reward for his transformation; and the chief of a gang of robbers who was converted by Francis of Assisi and became a monk. Cases like these have always moved the hearts of the religious-minded and have raised the question how such changes could be possible. Angulimala's story might give an answer to these questions.
In the Buddhist story of Angulimala, though warned of the notorious bandit Angulimala, who wore a garland of the fingers of his victims – ( "necklace of fingers" in Pali is Angulimala) hence his name, Buddha, unflinchingly went into the forest infested by this bandit. The bandit gave chase but could never catch up with the holy one, though Buddha was walking at a normal pace. Then this conversation took place: The murderer said "Stop, monk! Stop, monk!". Buddha replied "I have stopped, Angulimala. Do you stop, too."
Then the bandit Angulimala thought: "These monks, followers of the Sakya scion, speak truth, assert truth; but though this monk is walking, yet he says 'I have stopped, Angulimala; do you stop, too.' Suppose I question the monk?" Then he addressed the Blessed One thus:
"While you are walking monk, you tell me you have stopped; But now, when I have stopped, you say I have not stopped. I ask you now, O monk what is the meaning of it; How is it you have stopped and I have not?" The Blessed One replied: "Angulimala, I have stopped for ever, Forswearing violence to every living being; But you have no restraint towards things that breathe; So that is why I have stopped and you have not."
The above events pointed out are to emphasise the spiritual alchemy that is at work when lower order consciousness is instantly transformed to higher level consciousness.
I would like to point out another event in the life of Christ where we witness a transitory alchemical process. In the Bible the symbol of a higher consciousness revelation is always the mountain top or the peak experience. It was on Mount Sinai that Moses is revealed the Divine presence, it was in Mount Horeb that Elijah found Divine presence and it was on Mount Tabor that Christ reveals his higher consciousness nature through a radiant transfiguration as witnessed by his chosen apostles. Finally it is on the mount Golgotha that he undertakes his journey to his final transcendent nature of a physical death and a spiritual resurrection
Let me conclude with a classical story of transformation:
A great warrior samurai once went to see a little holy monk.
“Monk!” He barked, in a voice accustomed to evoking instant obedience.
“Teach me about heaven and hell!”
The monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain,
“Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You’re dumb. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you.”
The samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the monk.
Looking straight into the samurai’s eyes, the monk said softly, “That’s hell.”
The samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.
The monk said softly, “And that’s heaven.”
This instantaneous transformation in the Samurai is an alchemical process where a base nature is instantly transformed into a nobler nature.
May we all realize our true higher nature and undertake this life journey to eradicate our ego dominated lower nature

Love to you all.

4 comments :

  1. The Zen story is so good. I am sharing it with due acknowledgement. You are very inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very enlightening....each time we loose ourselves...even our temper at small petty things ...this needs to be borne in mind. Thank you Sir!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, Augustine. You are most welcome to share.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Unknown, thank you for your thought and appreciation.

    ReplyDelete