“Alchemy is the art of manipulating life, and consciousness in matter, to help it evolve, or to solve problems of inner disharmonies.” – Jean Dubuis
New age thinking gets a lot of things right: its optimism, its concentrated wish, its use of affirmations, its open-ended acknowledgment of personal value, its respect for personal achievement … and yet, for me, it embraces a trust that weakens the very freedom it tries to create. New age thinking holds a lot in common with alchemy. And my complaint would be that new age thinking, like alchemy, creates a form of trust that privileges and set apart a believer from a non-believer. Gallwey’s involuntary Self 2 (which we looked at yesterday) desires, but at the same time it knows what’s at stake for everyone. For Gallwey, there maybe a focused and involuntary command “to win,” but privilege does not attach simply because one issues an involuntary command; skill does. Resources that go beyond one’s conscious imagination come into play and these add a dimension of involuntary finesse to one’s skill. With new age, the emphasis is on creating a mental space where expectancy alone enables creation, and not just immediate and personal creation, but rather a form of creation that is supported and confirmed the cosmos itself. This is not the enhancement of skill, this is the creation of capacity that requires no skill whatsoever.
Just to be clear, trust and engagement, for me is a thoughtful and courageous “attunement” about whatever is at stake, regardless of our position; it emboldens us to make a difference, not because we personally stand to benefit, but because it is the right thing to do, according to us. Not every philosophy generates the same kind of trust and engagement. Some are more burdened with responsibility, others more charged with the lightness of being; but all of them generate an area of freedom that allows us to express ourselves.
For those unfamiliar with the ‘law of attraction,’ it extends human consciousness into material consciousness. Our thoughts can create the world, materially, in the image of our desires. With the law of attraction, our expectancy is enough to enable the cosmos to bring to us the things that we need and desire simply because we are committed to them.
Alchemists see the material world as a spiritual vessel. They seek to transform the imperfect, diseased, corruptible, and ephemeral into the perfect, healthy, incorruptible, and everlasting. Many people (myself included) are properly skeptical of the ‘something-from-nothing’ freedom that grows out of the ‘law of attraction.’ If we extend human consciousness across cosmic boundaries, where’s the courage? Where’s the attunement with others? Where the understanding of what is at stake for all of us collectively and individually?
It doesn’t take much to change the emphasis here AND there is much to be commended in new age thinking. It only requires that freedom be larger than individual desire. It only requires a fearlessness to pain.
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living…It doesn’t interest me how old your are…It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with JOY, mine or your own with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without… [having] to remember the limitations of being a human.” — Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s, “The Invitation”
No one is beyond pain; unless, of course, they “hide it or fade it or fix it.” And it’s not a limitation; it’s what makes us human in the first place. The material world most definitely is a spiritual vessel and it is not spiritual vessel that privileges those with immediate and personal creation, just because they create expectancy, even when that is an involuntary expectancy. The cosmos creates all of us all the time, why should it privilege some rather than others, or is that merely a matter of perspective or “inner disharmony”?
Postscript: I totally believe in Grace, and the idea that Grace is not be directed from this side of consciousness. To be fully human means relating to something or someone other than oneself. Forgive me, but new age literature has a very narcissistic side.
Thanks for listening.