Spiritual alchemy: transforming pain into growth

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Louise Hay


Spiritual alchemy: transforming pain into growth

The ancient alchemists sought a substance called the Philosopher's Stone to turn lead into gold. Spiritual alchemy instead aims to transform difficulties and weaknesses into positive resources.

Last update: July 20, 2020

Suppose we have ended up prisoners of a dangerous reverie, one of those in which you have to work to build a life without problems, contradictions or painful events. A risky reverie, which can lead us to to fight for something that does not exist rather than for what is possible, which is spiritual alchemy.

The name of spiritual alchemy is only metaphorical. Recall that centuries ago, alchemists were scholars who had long sought the method of transforming lead into gold. But all of this can also be seen from a symbolic perspective. In other words, turning something of little value into a precious object.

"If it is not in your power to change a situation that causes you pain, you can always choose the attitude with which to face this suffering."

-Viktor Frankl-

The ancient alchemists believed they could achieve this magical transformation by means of a substance called the philosopher's stone. Obviously, it was another fantasy.

However, it offers us an explanatory image of what we call spiritual alchemy. It is a symbolic path, possible to realize as it happens in our minds.

Spiritual alchemy and lead

We started by saying that sometimes, even if unaware, we think that something in our life is not going the right way, as it is not perfect as we would like. We experience problems or face inner contradictions thinking that it is "wrong", that it shouldn't be.

From this we deduce that in the depths of us, we imagine the existence of a life in which all these difficulties are absent.

However, it is self-deception: life itself is a problem to be solved, but also an opportunity to grow. At birth, but even before, we carry with us the burden of unresolved problems from our parents and from the generations that preceded them. In addition to the problems of the society in which we come into the world.

Thus, as we grow, we face our flaws, needs and paradoxes. It could not be otherwise. Although our life is dotted with harmonious situations, sooner or later we will have to face loss, physical and emotional pain, illness, death. This is the "lead".

Spiritual alchemy

When we finally understand that perfect life does not exist and that for the same reason it is not reasonable to make an effort to seek it, then we take an important step. Giving up on this idea is an extremely important starting point, not only to correct our expectations, but to begin the long journey of learning spiritual alchemy. Turning lead into gold. Or rather, transforming problems, difficulties and pain into a positive resource.

To make some experiences or situations in which we are immersed unbearable, it is not those realities themselves. It is what is found in our mind, or rather in the perspective we adopt in the face of everything, in the reading we give of those realities.

Even the most beautiful experience can turn into a negative episode if we decide to see it that way. This happens, for example, when we "love" with selfishness, fear and a desire for control. Or when we work in a lazy and listless way. Or even when we emphasize the defects of others and of the whole world.

The philosopher's Stone

We need the philosopher's stone to turn lead into gold. Pain, deprivation or contradictions. The philosopher's stone exists in the world of the mind, it corresponds to our way of organizing ideas and perceptions to interpret reality. One stone can be used to hit another, to build a house, to create a sculpture or it can be kicked. It all depends on the mind of whoever finds it.

We will always be exposed to pain, rejection, failure to obtain what we desire, disenchantment ... No human being can escape these experiences, in one way or another. The difference lies in the ability to constructively elaborate each story. Those who don't do this tend to repeat painful situations.

Spiritual alchemy is a path of inner transformation that each of us can carry out within ourselves. It is not easy, nor does it give us the guarantee of a happy life. It avoids us, however, from adopting the prospect of an unhappy life, invaded by pain and despair, where we end up being passive objects of adversity.

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