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Inner alchemy archives - Is Inner work practical ?

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Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996
From: Dan Denlinger

May there be a general consensus that our inner work is, in fact, practical?
By this is meant that any psychic, inner work must be reflected in some
physical alteration of our vehicle. Here the vehicle is understood as
more than merely what is commonly understood as the physical body.

We may need only to understand the psycho-physical organism here,
the union of body and mind.

The important point is that each one affects the other; as, for example,
certain thoughts may arouse emotions which in turn follow definite
physical effects. Some easy examples are: thoughts of a fearful nature
inspire anxiety and may then be followed by definite physical
sensations of tension in stomach, throat or muscles; sensual thoughts
result in unmistakable physical changes.

The question which looms before us then is : "What physical responses
result from the contemplation of alchemical symbols?"

Before we can begin to grasp this we must surmount a first hurdle.
Whereas fear and sexuality are somewhat more concrete and arousing,
the contemplation of images is somewhat dryer and what is aroused in
us is less easily noticed and more easily obscured.

Repeated reading and study of alchemical writings may set the stage for
this through familiarity. The images arouse us emotionally, artistically.
Our imagination is stimulated.

In the interior, still, quiet and largely unknown, the traces of the answer
to this first question may slowly form. As we hold the images in our
mind's eye and in our heart the libido is raised, distilled, until a suitable
liqueur is obtained. This is not the end of our work, but is to be understood
as only the beginning.

Dan Denlinger


From: Adam McLean
Date: 20th Dec 1996

>May there be a general consensus that our inner work is, in fact, practical?
>By this is meant that any psychic, inner work must be reflected in some
>physical alteration of our vehicle...

>What physical responses result from the contemplation of
>alchemical symbols?


I don't think we can readily use the criterion that inner work must inevitably be
associated with physical changes. How can we use such an idea? Do we have
to take our blood pressure when meditating to make sure we acheived anything?
This doesn't make sense to me. The inner part of the human being is surely
so subtle that we cannot measure its activities with outer instruments. How can
we use outer measurements in judging the results of interior work?

Let us reserve physical measurements for physical processes. They are
amenable to direct outer measurement. The thesis that the interior life of the
soul can be easily measured belongs in the real of groups like the
scientologists with their e-meters, or the endlessly pointless experiments
in ESP labs.

This is an inner alchemy e-mail group. I don't see the point of trying to reduce it
and its contributors to discussing only physically measurable responses to
contemplating alchemical symbols. Why should we limit ourselves and embrace
this agenda? This group pursues inner alchemy, and will investigate this in all its
fullness and richness.

Adam McLean


Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 11:08:11 -0500
From: Gilbert Arnold

Well Adam, in all fairness I should say that when my inner lab is out of
control my BP goes up. When I meditate, be it using imagery, archetypes,
tai chi or aikido a sure sign (in my case) that inner processes are sort of
working is a lowering of the BP.

Blessings,

Gilbert


Date: Sat, 21 Dec 1996
From: Dan Denlinger

Doubtless, an effort to not appear to be too mystical has succeeded overly
well.

Indeed, the inner part of the human being is so subtle that it is not to be
measured by outer instrument, and no such suggestion emanated from
this quarter.
As my knowledge of scientology is nil, I am in no position to comment on
their meters; but I am confident that interior life is not easily measured.
Again the work of the parapsychologists has little application to the work
at hand (excepting perhaps some suggestive examples of Kirlian
photographs of plant leaves).
Any suggestion of a reduction to "discussing only physically measurable
responses" is simply not what I meant, at all.
Left then with the question of how we can use the idea of the transformation
of our physical vehicles through the inner alchemical work, let us inquire.

A kite can be a wonderful thing. With a little effort it is made to catch the
wind; thereafter it rises on the currents of air, swings, dances and sways: a
thing of beauty and an admirable symbol of our aspiration. Should its string
break, its relevance to our lives quickly fades.

Again, the lotus flower sits on the surface of the water; its roots, the
source of its beauty, reside in the muck beneath.

As Basil Valentine tells us:

"...A rational man must be able to assign a reason for everything, and when
he smells a dung heap of a very penetrating odor, he should be able to say
why he calls it good dung, and also why a certain person who has partaken of
fragrant and sweet-smelling food, gives it out in the shape of highly
maloderous excrement. Hence the sage should inquire...how those properties
can be turned to good account. For the earth is nourished with stinking dung,
and precious fruits are produced thereby. ... But you will ask me why I quote
such simple and absurd examples. The example, I confess, smacks of the
stables rather than of the drawing-room; but the careful student of Nature
will understand me all the better for that reason. He will see that the
highest things become the lowest, and the lowest are changed into the
highest-i.e., a medicine into a poison, and a poison
into a medicine; a sweet thing into a bitter, acid and corrosive substance;
and a common thing, on the other hand, into something useful".

All this said, the point is that our body, our vehicle (= a medium through
which something is transmitted, expressed or accomplished) in its
totality is the triune unity of spirit-soul-body. These elements are not
separable from each other, except through abstraction, a sometimes
deadly thing which cuts concepts off from the flow of life.
Our inner life is grounded in our body (this is not to say that it proceeds
from the body).
As the concepts which pervade our inner life are composed of a manifold
of representations,so our bodies are composed of a manifold of cells.
Each of these cells participates, collectively, in consciousness. Each
of them requires nutrition.

Take a common thing, e.g., diet. How is this to be used uncommonly? In
yogic teaching we learn of a subtle portion of food, its prana, the extraction
of which is initiated only through consciousness.; thereafter, the regular
digestive organs do the work.
This subtle portion of food directly feeds the the yogi's subtle body. A
truly wonderful example of a common thing used most uncommonly!

Let us take another common thing, e.g., the leaf of a plant, say kale or
collards, which is exposed to the the sun, moon and rain. In fact the
function of a leaf is to gather and store solar force. It is no accident that
the sun is a timeless symbol of consciousness.

Do we recognize no possible connection between our diet and our inner life?

Why are all those leafy plants growing at the feet of the artifex and his
soror mystica as they wring the water from cloths exposed to sun, moon
and rain. Do we imagine this is some physical dew? Do we see no
connection to aurum potabile?

Do we imagine that the functions of our lungs, kidneys, livers, nay, even our
brains, have no connection to our inner life?

Perhaps these thoughts are not appropriate to a forum focussed on inner
alchemy.
On the other hand, practical alchemy is generally concerned with the cooking
and grinding of the dead minerals and metals of the earth, and I think such
thoughts as these would be most unwelcome amongst such minds.
Perhaps a forum on physical or anatomical alchemy is needed. For myself,
there is and can be no conflict between practical and inner alchemy: They
are both inextricably and most happily embraced.

Please do not imagine this is all I have to offer you, as many things grow in
my garden.
But some simple concepts need to be clarified, so that we may know the uses
of good dung and how it may be turned to good account.

How do others feel?

Blessings,

Dan


Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 08:50:56 -0800
From: Belle

As the yin and yang, wax and wane, ebb and flow, through Eternal Love the
ugly is made into the beautiful and back again. Yes for once the
practical can be seen as the Spiritual Inner. I feel the Connectedness.
Your blessings are most appreciated.

Peace,

Belle


Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 12:22:00 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Patz

>From: Dan Denlinger
>A kite can be a wonderful thing. With a little effort it is made to catch the
>wind; thereafter it rises on the currents of air, swings, dances and sways: a
>thing of beauty and an admirable symbol of our aspiration. Should its string
>break, its relevance to our lives quickly fades.

Indeed. The practical side of inner work is our ability to bring the fruits
of meditation to harvest (the world of action). If we cannot do this - if we
don't grow by virtue of our work - then our work becomes nothing but an
elaborate distraction.

Spirituality is a very domestic thing. It begins at home. No matter how
wonderful and spiritual an experience might be, we still have to feed the
cats and change the cat litter (and the human equilvalents). It doesn't
matter if we can turn lead into gold or stop the process of aging if we
can't be genuinely compassionate with each other, if we can't realize the
inherent sacredness of feeding the cats.

And relating to all aspects of our world with an exalted view, I think,
reflects the transformative nature of the Stone. Treat people with kindness,
respect and a modest amount of trust and they respond in kind. Recognize
their essential holiness, it might make a difference for them in ways that
we can't possibly know.

>As Basil Valentine tells us:
>
>"...but the careful student of Nature
>will understand me all the better for that reason. He will see that the
>highest things become the lowest, and the lowest are changed into the
>highest-i.e., a medicine into a poison, and a poison
>into a medicine; a sweet thing into a bitter, acid and corrosive substance;
>and a common thing, on the other hand, into something useful".

I like this passage. I think it can be applied quite nicely to our inner
phenomena. Too often in our present society we are taught "this is a good
thought/feeling", "this is a bad thought/feeling". Valetine seems to be
calling us to a neutral, higher ground - where thoughts and feelings are
just that, thoughts and feelings. This frees us up for potential
transmutation and the realization of gifts that we already have but don't
recognize as such.

>Why are all those leafy plants growing at the feet of the artifex and his
>soror mystica as they wring the water from cloths exposed to sun, moon
>and rain. Do we imagine this is some physical dew? Do we see no
>connection to aurum potabile?

"Let us follow the guidance of Nature: she will not lead us astray" [The Only True Way, 1677]

......or whatever Adam decides.

>How do others feel?

Our measure of success is qualitative rather than quantitative.

As Aesch Mezareph puts it:

"For so the true Physician of impure Metals hath not an outward Show of
Riches, but is rather like the Tohu of the first Nature, empty and void."

Comments?

Richard


From: Steve Kalec
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 16:55:05 -0500

>Please do not imagine this is all I have to offer you, as many things grow
>in my garden.But some simple concepts need to be clarified, so that we
>may know the uses of good dung and how it may be turned to good account.
>How do others feel?

For myself I absolutely feel with you. From what I see in your
style of writing and the essence your post offers, I can tell that you must
have a beautiful garden growing. I love beautiful gardens, I would love to
take a stroll with you through yours. I am fairly new at Alchemy and I am
still at the tilling stage of my garden and I am on the lookout for good dung.

> For myself, there is and can be no conflict between practical and inner
>alchemy: They are both inextricably and most happily embraced.

I fully agree, and I could not imagine how and why inner and
outer should conflict with each other. The language ( symbols ) used by
the Inner and outer consciousness is always one that relates to one an
other. One day while I was calcinating the salt residues of Melissa and I
was forming it into one bunch, I was struck by what I saw outwardly and
what I felt at the same time inwardly.The heat that was being collected
inside the formed bunch was revealing itself in red hot fire. A glow was
forming in the center of the bunch and it was shining through layers of the
salts though cracks and openings to its center. For some reason this
became a most beautiful sight. I could have stared a very long time. It
attracted me very much,and I realized that there was something within me
that was in harmonious attunement with what was happening outside. I
realized that an inner fire and heat was being manifested within the center
of my being. This has never faded and it is still with me always. Through
the practical I have learned how to kindle, fan and control the inner fire.
So yes, I hear you when you say that practical and inner alchemy,
" they are both inextricably and most happily embraced ".

Steve Kalec


Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 15:28:37 +0000
From: John France

Jon Stephenson

I do not wish to deny the importance of the practical laboratory work
you refer to, but I feel that you have given me the opportunity to 'come
clean' and, in this erudite forum where I have already found much
helpful discussion, present my own opinions regarding the issues raised
for me by your question, but questions do tend to give rise to
questions, so I apologise in advance for perhaps not addressing your
question in the direct manner in which it was presented.

>. . . .what about the inner work? My suspicion is that
>it should be concurrent with the practical work. However, is there
value to waiting to start the practical work until a certain inner level
has been reached? Or is it better to just dive into the lab work right
away?
>
>If these questions seem basic, please forgive.

Holmyard and others report the opinions of many (particularly the
earlier) alchemists who were neither committed to the activity, nor, in
some cases, convinced of the possiblity, of making the physical object -
real gold. This, despite the many well-documented reports of successful
transmutations, appears to indicate their lack of interest in producing
physical gold either for themselves or (and apparently more usually) for
others.

My own approach to alchemy is that the practical and the inner work you
refer to are one and the same thing, and that in this sense the inner
work becomes 'physical' (ie, manifest in the measureable, commonly
observable experience we refer to as reality). The physical phenomena we
observe are simply the by-products of practical work taking place within
the alchemist (the laboratory), an arguement supported in esoteric and
mystical traditions where attention is often drawn to the dangers of
persuing the container at the expense of the content. In my view this
practical work consists mainly of the conscious manipulation by the
alchemist of real chemical processes within him/her self in order to
produce more highly refined chemicals which will, in turn, affect more
refined (ie, more perfected) activities. To me the alchemical discipline
lies in confining these enhanced activities to the achievement of
perfection or union, initially within the laboratory but ultimately
within the, then perfectly perceived, real world.

I would welcome comment on this viewpoint
--
John France


Date: Sat, 22 Feb 97 20:30:50 UT
From: Mike Dickman

Jon

Leaping into lab work - or anything else for that matter - should, in my
experience, be done slowly and carefully - much (if I may put it this way?) as
one might leap out of bed with a hangover...
As to having had a purge-out experience already, good start...
Keep looking for 'em... There's more in there than in all the rest put
together (cf., e.g., Flamel 'Le Livre de Laveures' ('The Book of Rinsings')
and the coniunctio-separatio series in the 'Crowning of Nature' on Adam's
web-site). PoncÚ, as quoted in my own intro to the 'Cantilenae de Phoenice
Redivivo' (also on the web-site for the nonce), contends that the alchemist's
only real business is in the mine, hunting and extracting "lead", and then
purifying it in the laboratory ('the place of work and prayer')... "Gold" is a
gratifying result of all one's labour, perhaps, but, in the final analysis,
ultimately useless UNLESS one knows how to multiply it ad infinitum, at which
point, anyway, it is only put to work in the service and for the wellbeing of
others...

This, at any rate, is one view.

Love,
m


Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 20:22:49 -0500
From: Kate Ryan

My experience has only been with plants. These experiments have only
been in producing herbals medicines so far. I have to say that the
practical work, which was first with a group of people, which involved
timing, commitment, equipment, communal chanting, prayers, drumming, etc
was not only ego-freeing ( I was a child of the last of the Victorians),
but produced results that actually helped and cured people who believe
in me and love me.
My next self discipline was to produce herbal medicines on my own with
the aid of study, books and hope. As one teacher of Shiatsu I met says,
you do it for yourself, and if you actually help someone, thats an added
benefit. One again these were tried on myself, friends, family and one
or two of the less faint-hearted strangers to my ways.
These experiments produce:- commitment, involvement, trust, and
responsibility. Consciousness a word I would not use but I find it
difficult to replace, is all of the above. The medicine is nothing if
the seeking and self involvement is not an integral part of this. I
love the word used of refinement, because my fragile experiments involve
the trial and error of refinement. I hold myself back from the chemical
experiments with a multitude of excuses. Oh, I am too old, I dont have
the equipment, I cant do that ( 100 times), and yet we can.
I am sure that I am not alone, and that together we can at least start
from a known point, like John's practical course, which is so generously
on Adam's site for us. It is the overcoming of the known safety to
reach into the unkown which actually is not so difficult. I am still
not sure if it is laziness, the desire too live off other people's backs
or what, but eventually one tires even of these excuses, and takes the
dive into the water. There has to be a balance of the reading-dreaming,
state, the emotional can I- can't I state, and the actual start of
experimentation. When these are brought together, and I cannot talk of
what I dont know, but of the pride that my medicines were used, and
worked, then I can believe and trust that the refinement of the
experiment, trial and error, together with the understanding of the
experiment in the refinement of the thinking must achieve something.
The word dicipline was used, and the discipline is of self. Here on
Adam's site we have people who have been doing practical work for years,
and yet they do not turn their backs on us. They have been at this
place themselves, and still are, but on a higher turn of the spiral.
This is what the practical work means to me at my plant level.

With very best wishes,

Kate Ryan


Date: Sun, 23 Feb 97 13:45:42 UT
From: Mike Dickman

John (and Jon)

My own attitude on this (and, again, I too invite comment) is very similar to
yours, John, except for two or three details...
The two main traditions I have worked in over the past 35-odd years (to wit,
Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the ancient, Nyingma, school of
Vajrayana (that is to say 'adamantine vehicle' - socalled 'tantric' Buddhism)
and Dzogpa Chenpo ('Complete Perfection', the practice beyond practice at the
very apex of all Tibetan schools), and Ch'uan-chen - i.e., 'Complete Truth' or
'Complete Reality' - Taoism) all have an alchemical section - an alchemical as
it were "path" - as do manifestly many others, the one's leaping to mind
without so much as stopping to think being, for example, Shaivatantra, Sufism,
certain currents of Qabalah, and, of course, Hermetic Christianity...
The point of this hinges on the word "path", and on the interpretation of what
seem to be a chemical, but I suspect is - if not entirely, at least expressly
- symbolic terminology...
Much of the writings of Chang Po-tuan and Liu I-ming, which, unfortunately, I
do not have in the original and would probably not be able to read if I did
(although I am in the process of getting them, and am going to try!) revolve
around exactly this question... Books I might suggest on the subject are
Cleary's translations of "The Four Hundred Words on the Gold Elixir" ('The
Inner Teachings of Taoism', Shambhala, 1986) and "Understanding Reality"
('Understanding Reality', University of Hawaii Press, 1987)... It has been
suggested that Cleary be read with a pinch of salt; the point, then, is - much
as one would with Crowly, but to a FAR lesser extent - to read him with a
pinch of salt... What he is saying is absolutely fascinating.
I would like to add a brief translation extracted from the writings of my own
teacher here... It is taken from the rtsa gzhung (tsa shung, or 'root text')
of the spu gri reg phung (Putri Rep'ung, 'The Razor-Sharp 'Kila' that Cuts at
a Touch') [The Collected Works of H.H. bDud 'Joms Rin po che, Vol. BA (15),
fols. 5-6, pp. 467-469]...
For information's sake, the 'kila' or 'p'urba' mentioned in the text is a
three-bladed or triangular "dagger" whose unbearably sharp point is the
penetrating power of perfectly purified innate awareness, the three sides of
the blade representing in their turn the threefold manifestation of this
purity in the form of an outward expanding series of 'dimensions' of being,
which, when realised and unified, constitute enlightenment.They are: (i) the
dimension of pure reality, recognised as being the innate 'emptiness' of
ultimate reality in any composite phenomenon, be this subjective or objective,
this being considered the quintessence of the awareness, or 'mind' of a
Buddha; (ii) the dimension of blissful enjoyment, the radiant expression of
ever-arising phenomena, this being the nature of a Buddha's communicative
faculty whether as expression or as understanding; and (iii) the
all-encompassing expression of this understanding in the form of universal and
unsolicited compassionate activity for the benefit of all sentient beings... A
trifle 'technical', I admit: excuse me!... The translation... (my notes are
numbered and in brackets)
"... Fourthly, concerning the 'kila' of substances, he who weilds it is an
individual of perfect lineage and powerful vehemence, like sandalwood (*1)...
The 'kila' with which one strikes is of silver, gold, copper, iron, or of
woods with analogous properties (*2), and is decorated with a head, beneath
which there is a knot, a haft or 'waist' of one hand's breadth, after which
there is a 'navel' comprising a knot and the head of a 'makara' sea-monster.
The point is slightly rounded, square or semi-circular in shape, and it is
three bladed (i.e., triangular), lustrous, brilliant and beautiful, sharp,
nectareous and maddening, powerfully poisoning as it strikes... Its targets
are the eight fears (*3), the six conditions of good fortune(*4), three
necessities (*5) and seven degenerations (*6).
"The method by which one strikes: in the citadel of the view of one who is in
perfect union with reality (a 'yogin'), free of the least trace of contrived
meditation and possessed of the very life force of the attitude of compassion,
by the skilful means of visualising yourself as the meditation deity, the
materials as the sons of the four families, and the target as really being
there in reality, extract them as you would a string of jewels from the vast
face of a lode of gemstones.
"The sign of having hit is that one establishes profundity in one's ability to
perform the four compassionate activities of pacifying, increasing,
magnetising and subjugation (*7). The error of missing is that you are unable
to reverse unfavorable circumstances and assemble conducive ones, or to tame
and train those who are unruly, uncultivated and wild and therefore do not
protect and spread the Buddhist teachings. The qualities stemming from
correctly striking are that neither oneself nor others under one's protection
can be harmed by the eight fears, that you possess the six aspects of good
fortune and control over the three necessities, while at the same time cutting
off the seven degenerations, thus realising what is meaningful for both
yourself and others, and, freeing it and its holders from the defect of
narrow-mindedness and lowly meanness, you become one who spreads the authentic
Buddhist teachings..."

The notes to this, then, are as follows:
(1) Which, one will note, is not the most aggressive of perfumes... but it IS
pretty all-pervading...
(2) These metals and:or woods represent the Buddha families of
(i) Vajra - 'Mirror-like Wisdom' - purified anger-hatred
(ii) Jewel - 'Wisdom of Intrinsic Equal-Nature' - purified haughtiness-
pride
(iii) Lotus - 'Wisdom of Understanding Each Thing In and As Itself' -
purified Desire
(iv) Activity - 'Wisdom of the Accomplishment of Activity' - purified
envy-jealousy
The fifth - central - family is the visualised meditation-deity himself, and
he represents the 'Buddha' family, the 'Wisdom of the Absolute Nature of the
Expanse of Phenomena', and the purification of the 'root poison', ignorance,
which very often masquerades under the guise of what is generally called
"knowledge".
(3) The eight fears are: fear which is like a lion, analogous to pride; fear
which is like an elephant, analogous to ignorance; that which is like fire,
analogous to hatred; that like a snake, analogous to jealousy; fear which is
like a thief, analogous to wrong view; fear like one in iron chains, analogous
to miserliness; fear like a raging river, analogous to desire; and fear which
is like a cannibal, analogous to doubt.
(4) The six situations of good fortune are extracted from the following ten:
being a human; being born in a central (=civilised) country; having one's
senses intact; being free of extremes of evil action; having faith in the
teachings of liberation; and continuous compassion arising for the plight of
others [these are said to stem from oneself; those that stem from others
are:] the fact that a Buddha has appeared; that he has taught; that his
teachings still flourish; that these teachings have followers.
(5) A place to practice meditation; the leisure to do so; and the supplies
necessary for protracted retreat
(6) The seven degenerations are: degeneration of oneself (aging, stupidity,
defilement, etc), of others (as friends, companions, guides, etc.), of the
correct point of view (drifting into duality, eternalism, nihilism or
unbelief), of moral discipline, conduct, livelihood and of life (in terms of
its quality, accessibility and value)
(7) Pacifying situations, attitudes and even beings that harm or bring harm,
generating wealth and well-being for beings who have none, magnetising or
attracting good fortune and vitality for those whose are flagging, and
subduing through splendour those negative beings and situatiuons
non-susceptible to more the other three gentler means.

Okay! After this long squawk (it's now after 2:00; I've been at it since just
after 10:00, but then I've always been a slow translator!), my point is:
there's not much reference in all this "kila of substances" to anything WE
would call substance, process, chemicals, chemical changes or laboratory...
And yet, aside from some very rare transmutations of substances and a brief
excursion into Rasayana, or exercises in extracting essences (living, for
example, on flower- or metallic-essences), this IS the main road of what is
dubbed 'alchemy' in Vajrayana Buddhism.
Come to what conclusions you will.

Respectfully,
md.


Date: Sun, 23 Feb 1997 22:18:10 -1000
From: Gary Whiting

> From: John France
> My own approach to alchemy is that the practical and the inner work you
> refer to are one and the same thing, and that in this sense the inner
> work becomes 'physical' (ie, manifest in the measureable, commonly
> observable experience we refer to as reality). The physical phenomena we
> observe are simply the by-products of practical work taking place within
> the alchemist (the laboratory), an arguement supported in esoteric and
> mystical traditions where attention is often drawn to the dangers of
> persuing the container at the expense of the content. In my view this
> practical work consists mainly of the conscious manipulation by the
> alchemist of real chemical processes within him/her self in order to
> produce more highly refined chemicals which will, in turn, affect more
> refined (ie, more perfected) activities.


As a psychologist who specializes in work with medically-referred
patients, I agree with this viewpoint entirely. Most of these clients
have stress-aggravated physical difficulties and are failing to "heal"
(which our miraculous bodies know best how to do, sans prescription
medications) because of countless uncharted biochemical/neurological
factors that impede their immune response. I am trained in hypnosis,
and in our initial work and use of session-made audiotapes a vas is
formed around the massa confusa, which allows for a kind of self-calming
that is very much of a piece with feeling "contained" (versus
out-of-control). I have found that alchemical imagery does indeed allow
for the kind of "tincturing" of inner strife that transmutes not only
conscious experience, but measurable effects in the physical system.

Using these observations as a springboard, I would like to again
engage a topic that has so far gone unresponded to: if we are ourselves
to do the "inner work" of alchemy, we must first seek out the lead, the
prima materia. That means direct and unflinching confrontation of our
own shadow, that part of us that is unseemly and chaotic and unbridled,
which Jung has made clear is the "moral task" of the individual
alchemical work. Depression, for example, or anxiety are therefore
"harbingers" of the work, as are compulsive or obsessive behaviors
(which is why Jung knew that alcoholics have first call on a "spiritual
solution"--being of the solutio--and why he was so influential in the
formation of AA......to acknowledge that you are "out of control" is to
know that you must turn toward something higher that will inform your
life).

Given that these postings are devoted to the "inner work" of alchemy,
I had expected more honest talk of what we do when we struggle,
individually, with our own "massa confusa", the ways we are a mess, and
how we shape this into the alchemical work. This of course is personal
rather than scholarly, and this site seems to be almost entirely devoted
to the latter. Which is fine,in a way, but I'm just so aware (as I said
earlier) of how much the work involves solitariness, the stone as the
"orphan's son"; how much of the motivation to do the work involves a
dismay at how the world is "corrupt" and how much the panacea is needed.
More than dismay: Freud and Jung (as psychiatrists) both became aware of
the fact that there is something perverse and grotesque at the core of
the human soul. Freud felt that it was civilization's task to contain,
repress, inhibit this, but there it was, immutable; Jung knew, with the
alchemists, that a spirit is trapped in this unseemly dark form, that
instead of locking it up and turning away we must reach out to it and,
consciously, help it find the light. Hard to do, given that the lead is
poisonous and potentially overwhelming (ask any alcoholic or sex addict)
but..."the pearl of great price is found in the dung heap, where few
choose to look".

Anyone else care to talk about this?

Best wishes,
Gary W.


Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 16:01:09 -0500 (EST)
From: Dan

John,

In a message dated 97-02-22 17:13:37 EST, you write:

> My own approach to alchemy is that the practical and the inner work you
> refer to are one and the same thing, and that in this sense the inner
> work becomes 'physical' (ie, manifest in the measureable, commonly
> observable experience we refer to as reality). The physical phenomena we
> observe are simply the by-products of practical work taking place within
> the alchemist (the laboratory), an arguement supported in esoteric and
> mystical traditions where attention is often drawn to the dangers of
> persuing the container at the expense of the content. In my view this
> practical work consists mainly of the conscious manipulation by the
> alchemist of real chemical processes within him/her self in order to
> produce more highly refined chemicals which will, in turn, affect more
> refined (ie, more perfected) activities. To me the alchemical discipline
> lies in confining these enhanced activities to the achievement of
> perfection or union, initially within the laboratory but ultimately
> within the, then perfectly perceived, real world.


Clearly, John, the laboratory of the alchemist is his own "body." Equally
clearly, we must understand by this term something more inclusive than what
modern science considers the body.

The container of this work on one's vehicle is the human "aura," which is
formed, in part, by the contents of the psyche. When we awaken our higher
centers in the brain through exercise, the currents of the aura swirl around
them, due to the established focus of vitality within them. Eventually, our
habitual patterns of thought are influenced. In meditation, while our
cognitive processes are quieted, we receive subtle impressions of the larger,
but largely obscurred, "astral" world, which contains the "physical" world.

This is not to say that external laboratory work has no validity; however, I
have the organs and systems of the body(s) primarily in mind.

When there is real commitment to a (notice the indefinite article: the
process is archtypal and COMMON) work, the auric vessel forms.
Within this environment, as the cognitive processes naturally draw upward the
libido or prana (distillation), through chains of associations which, in this
case, diverge widely from the limited sphere of the ego, the nascent higher
centers accept this influx as nutriment. The process is not unlike the birth
of a star, in which swirling gases concentrate at a point (remember, Kether
is in Malkuth). When sufficient mass is achieved the fusion reaction results
and radiation of solar energy (essence) ensues. This is analogous the the set
of experiences most people will have as they unfold. After this, the higher
center, specifically the ajna chakra, is self-feeding and secretes a fluid
substance, the nectar,amriti, elixer, moon juice, which initiates other
changes in our bodies. The process is generally quite slow; and we are
"disadvantaged" because the work takes place on ourselves, as it is an open
secret that "man" (the human body/personality) is the first matter and
subject of our work.
Nothing changes in the world, but our organ of perception is enhanced and we
percieve the world anew in the brighter light radiating from our activated
ajna chakra. This is the light that is not to be hidden under a bushel
basket.

But the work begins with manifestations of the four elements within our
current world of perception, and our artful manipulation of same.

Blessings,

Dan


Date: Wed, 26 Feb 97 21:55:59 UT
From: Mike Dickman

Gary

In my reply to Jon Stevenson dated 22nd. Feb., it is exactly this latter
consideration of yours that I evoke.
The final cantilenae of Maier's "Cantilenae Intelectuales de Phonice Redivivo"
very clearly drive at just this point as well as it's correlative, the problem
of "fool's gold"... I, for one, should be very pleased to take this up with
you;

Respectfully,
md