Through poetry we can transform suffering into consciousness.

Minerva among the Muses Poetry by Fort Attack
Minerva among the Muses Poetry by Fort Attack

Alchemy of Suffering

One’s ardour, Nature, makes you bright,
One finds within you mourning, grief!
What speaks to one of tombs and death
Says to the other, Splendour! Life!

Mystical Hermes, help to me,
Intimidating though you are,
You make me Midas’ counterpart,
No sadder alchemist than he;

My gold is iron by your spell,
And paradise turns into hell;
I see in winding-sheets of clouds

A dear cadaver in its shroud,
And there upon celestial strands
I raise huge tombs above the sands.

Charles Baudelaire

Alchemy is an ancient philosophical tradition practiced by sages who claimed powers such as the ability to turn base metals into gold or silver – it is mentioned by Tolle in chapter two of “The Power of Now.”  In the following quote, he explains how this early scientific method relates to his work in the present day:

“Sustained consciousness severs the link between (suffering) and your thought processes and brings about the process of transmutation… This is the esoteric meaning of the ancient art of alchemy: the transmutation of base metal into gold, of suffering into consciousness.”

Tolle tells us that we have the power, we are the alchemists, (we are the poets, I would add):

“Let me summarize the process.  Focus attention on the feeling inside you.  Know that it is (suffering).  Accept that it is there.  Don’t think about it – don’t let the feeling turn into thinking. Don’t judge or analyze.  Don’t make an identity out of yourself of it.  Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is going on inside you.”

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