A Time of Transformation
A big opportunity for transformation is presenting itself to us right now. It is the beloved Christmas season. For most of us, the holiday season this year will be vastly different. Some of us will face this holiday as a difficult ordeal.
The Covid pandemic has created conditions of isolation for numerous people. It’s resulted in desperate and sad situations of separation for so many contact-loving hearts forced to remain at a distance from their loved ones. Some folks are experiencing melancholy and depression along with feelings of intense frustration and anger.
I offer what might bring relief. We can train ourselves in the wisdom of the Alchemy of Life that teaches us to turn iron into gold.
You certainly have heard before about the bitter lemon – if we handle the lemon with wisdom, it can be made into sweet and tasty lemonade. Similarly, olives straight from the tree are horribly bitter. However, if we treat them properly they become delicious on our pizzas and in other cuisines. In fact, no Italian meal could ever be complete without the indispensable olives that were once so terribly bitter and pungent.
Have you glimpsed where this idea is going? We are essentially describing the ancient Alchemy of Life. Here is its essence:
Any bitter and heavy situation we face
hides a golden opportunity,
and can be transformed
into a sweet and tasty gift of God.
What follows are some elements in the ancient process of alchemy. Our exploration will consist of two important steps. Here are some of the questions we want to answer:
- How can we become able and skillful alchemists?
- How can we learn to gradually turn bitter days into sweet, or at least palatable, experiences?
- How can we transform, like the alchemists of old, life’s iron into gold?
Like every other art, the Alchemy of Life is only mastered by diligent application. The magic key is a constant practice.
The magic key is constant practice.Fortunately, our opportunities for practice are countless. The tough metal is never missing or hard to find. As we all know, life can be hard and unforgiving as iron, cold and sharp as steel, dark and heavy as lead. Nevertheless, that coarse metal can be transformed into precious gold by the Alchemy of Life.
What follows are a couple of steps into the ancient process of alchemy. It consists of two primary steps: (1) Basic Elements and (2) Reassembling the Pieces.
STEP I: Basic Elements
Alchemy first breaks apart an object or situation into basic elements, and then it reorganizes those elements into an entirely new object or form.
For our example, we break down our current dilemma (Covid) look at its basic elements, and see what golden and sweet opportunities are hiding within it for our Christmas season and festivities.
We can look letter by letter: C-O-V-I-D to see what it has to offer us for the possibility of transformation — especially for the upcoming inner Christmas banquet of celebration.
C = Communion
The C in Covid secretly stands for Communion — communion through meditation. Here then, is our golden transformation process, meditating regularly, not missing a single day. In this way, our Christmas alchemy will be launched. It actually produces inwardly another secret ingredient – the wine of Spirit, made from the most delicious inner soul-grapes.
This is exactly what Omar Khayyam wrote about in Quatrain 43 from his famous Rubaiyat. The inner grapes of Spirit are an unfailing element to transform life’s metal into gold:
The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice
Life’s leaden Metal into Gold transmute.
During these holy days, let’s make a commitment to meditate every day, practicing our inner communion with one single goal in mind – to taste the inner wine and sweetness of joy, even if it’s only a sip. This daily practice will make our Inner Christmas the best one ever.
O = Om-Chanting
The O in Covid secretly stands for Om, for our purposes here, OM-chanting, meaning japa. The alchemical process is this: Inwardly we constantly repeat a soul-word, which might be OM or simply Joy, Peace, or any devotional japa, such as “Reveal Thyself” or “I am Thine.” This Alchemy of Life element will unfailingly create a delicious flavor for our Christmas season. Who knows? Maybe no Christmas dinner will ever taste better than this fabulous inner flavor.
Try to hear AUM in everything you do, in everything you perceive. Swami Kriyananda
We may also use this special strategy: Sing a chant, like “Divine Love Sorrows” by Paramhansa Yogananda, or a song by Swami Kriyananda such as “Vieni Presto Gesu,” with all your heart. First, sing it loudly (if possible), then softer, then in a whisper, and finally only mentally. Afterward listen into the silence, trying to hear the subtle sound, the sound of Om (Aum).
Swami Kriyananda explains the advanced practice of japa. It is a powerful alchemical component:
The higher aspect of chanting involves listening to the mighty sound of AUM, and becoming absorbed in it. You’ll hear this sound first in the right ear. Gradually let it permeate the brain and the entire body until every cell vibrates with that sound. After that, try to hear AUM in everything you do, in everything you perceive. This is true japa, when the mind no longer repeats words, merely, but is intoxicated with the bliss of the music of the spheres.
V = Venus
The V in Covid secretly stands for Venus, a universal symbol for Love. The transformative process is this: During these days consciously fill your heart with Love – all the time – and your mind with loving and kind thoughts, in spite of everything. Then see how sweet your Christmas will turn out to be. You might perceive it to be even sweeter than the amazing Italian Christmas cake (panettone). Love can produce flavors that we relish deeply during our holy season.
We may reflect on the transforming power of Love, from these words in Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi:
Ordinary love is selfish,
darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions.
Divine love is without condition,
without boundary, without change.
The flux of the human heart is gone forever
at the transfixing touch of pure love.
I = Intuition
The I in Covid secretly stands for Intuition. This, too, is a precious alchemical process. Look to the spiritual eye often, asking questions about your life and situation. Then enter into your silent heart and listen for the answer.
It might add an exciting flavor to your traditional Christmas gingerbread, one that only this Christmas season has brought to you. Like the alchemists of old, let’s see how each situation can indeed successfully transform into a blessing of God. You may joyfully affirm with Yogananda:
I will transform all conditions, good or bad,
into the veritable instruments of success.
Before a conquering soul,
even dangers loom as benedictions from God.
D = Divine Spirit
The D in Covid secretly stands for Divine Spirit. The alchemy is this: If you connect often during the day with the Divine Sweetness, it will gradually turn your days into a pure delight. Spiritually speaking, this can truly be tastier than any exquisite Christmas chocolate cake. Chocolate often does the trick when life is sad, doesn’t it? However, there is heavenly chocolate that is even better!
Spirit, in fact, is the greatest Alchemist of all. Ask Him how you can work on yourself to become pure inwardly in order to better receive the sweetest celestial blessings. You may lovingly pray with Yogananda and with Swami Kriyananda, who reads these words from Whispers From Eternity:
O Infinite Alchemist,
spiritualize our weaknesses into strength,
and our wrong thoughts into right thoughts.
Grow Thou a flower of divine understanding
from every seed of activity.
With the magic wand of foresight, given by Thee,
teach us to transmute the ugly imps of selfish ambition
into fairies of all-serving, noble aspirations.
Train, Lord, each stallion of desire
to become a champion racing for Thine abode.
Transform our base ignorance
into the gold of wisdom,
that it become a liquid stream of spiritual gold,
rushing steadily to Thy shore.
Listen to the audio here:
STEP-II: Reassembling the Pieces
We come now to the second part of the Alchemy of Life. First, we broke apart the iron of Covid into basic elements, now we will skillfully reorganize them — thereby turning them into gold. The letters C-O-V-I-D can easily be reassembled to D-I-C-O-V, comprising much of the word Discover.
See how brilliantly the Alchemy of Life works! The harsh moments of COVID instead become a sweet DISCOVERY through the transformative power of our souls combining Divine Spirit, intuition, communion, Om-chanting, and Venus/Love all together.
Isn’t that transformation what Christ and the masters have always taught us to do? Wasn’t Jesus showing us the Alchemy of Life when he turned water into wine? Isn’t it important teaching for us all and for our lives?
This Christmas then, let us fully apply the precious elements of Alchemy described by Yogananda:
The more deeply a person
attunes himself to God’s love
and to the subtle workings of His law,
the more he finds himself able to transform
his life and the lives of others
as if with a magic wand,
awakening the world about him
to divine harmony, happiness, and peace
A very Merry Christmas season to you. No, actually…may it be the happiest Christmas ever. May this entire holiday season and the New Year turn out to be better than ever before because you’ve used and applied the magic powers you possess through the divine wisdom of the Alchemy of Life.