Alchemy and Yoga are the most austere of spiritual disciplines. They are the 'end of the line' in their respective journeys. This is where the aspirant tapers off merely 'reading about it all,' casually pondering and speculating, and begins concerted efforts with learning the language and methods of the Literal Qabalah and performing regularly scheduled meditations. If we are seriously drawn to western alchemy or eastern yoga in this life experience, the attraction stems from a long spiritual pursuit accrued through incarnations. Attractions toward grand visions of power or gold are not the motivating drives of a soul truly hungry and thirsty for return. If our seeking is mere superficial curiosity, our endeavors should cease immediately. Pain, loss and sorrow are the only rewards for a consciousness so inclined. There is a preparation for Spiritual Alchemy. Hermes is the first in a long line of alchemists who caution us regarding our attitude and motives toward this Art. In Seven Golden Chapters, Hermes warns us:
"It behooves him therefore, who would be introduced into this our hidden wisdom, to quit himself from the usurpation of vice, to be just and good, of a profound reason, and ready at hand to help mankind; of a serene and pleasing countenance, courteous in his conversation to others; and to himself a faithful keeper of the arcanums [sic], being once revealed to him."1
We do not jump into alchemy. We are called. Fascinated, some are lured by profound truths suggested within the writings. Discouragement soon sets in, however, when the path is discovered to be narrower than an outward sensate life of immature desires would enjoy. Alchemy appeals to the soul nearing an end of the involuting experience. The soul within becomes weary placating out of control senses that can never be satisfied. Such a soul realizes a certain something else is actually in control of this vast organism we call the universe. The personal consciousness desires to know and align itself with that great ALL from a deep, inner place. We now wish to use our conscious, waking mind to aid and abet the subconscious urges for some mysterious reunion with something long forgotten – if only we could know how.
It becomes a priority issue in our life experience. Slowly, surely, we adjust the life style to make room in our hamster-wheel schedules for more attention to this primal urge. After having long exhausted what exoteric religions can offer, the subtle Spiritual investigations help to change our lives even further. Outer stimulation begins to lose its grip on the senses. We wish more quiet. We wish to listen and talk less with superficial society and relationships. Parties become boring, and huge gatherings of humanity in stadiums and such become overwhelming. “The pursuit of happiness is just a bore,” to quote Mick Jagger in Mother's Little Helper. The soul grows weary of the carousel of activity finally recognized as sterile madness.
Important activities that once dominated our attention now wane insignificant and eventually are devoured by their own separative error. We continue our inner seek, pulled and guided by some invisible magnet, changing and adapting our disciplines that become more focused and intense. Eventually a contact is given from within and we now know what we felt before is true. At this point we realize how much we do not know with regard our own inner path. We settle into a more disciplined regimen, or perhaps join an outer brotherhood that offers teachings with which we may progress even further. After years of ardent study, prayers and meditations we are guided even deeper toward the roots of either the eastern or western traditions. When the health improves, the One-Life within makes Its presence known by a lightning-flash quick as a finger-snap. The flashes may reoccur and grow in significance while warm, electrical tingles from within ensure the eventual union with Love. Somewhere along the path we come to the realization that this pursuit, which we initially felt to ours personally, is in fact sheer response from a call that ultimately came from within. It is then that we embrace spiritual alchemy or eastern yoga with a zeal until the blessed event of our reunion. Cross reference with STEPS TOWARD THE STONE.
1 Trismegistus, Hermes, Seven Golden Chapters. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1988, pg. 7.