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Golden Elixir

Golden Elixir

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Published by Lee Irwin
On the alchemy of soul.
On the alchemy of soul.

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Published by: Lee Irwin on Aug 22, 2010
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12/08/2012

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The Golden Elixir:Evolutionary Change and the Post-Modern World
Lee Irwin,
©
2010In a recent conference call with the Guiding Voices, we addressed a question askedby Pir Zia: “Is the spiritual quest always essentially the same or does it evolve over thecourse of human history . . . [and] what distinguished the emerging spirituality of the 21stcentury?” We heard eloquent overviews by Robin Becker and David Spangler and manysincere voices added to the depth of the conversation [link to discussion].I would like to address one issue of our conversation: what is the relationshipbetween evolutionary transformation and rootedness in tradition, lineage, and the spiritualrealizations of past teachers? There is a creative tension, one we all face, in reconciling theteachings and traditions of the past with the tremendous global changes of the present. Ourcurrent era is one of dynamic change, fraught with all the eddies and currents of conflictinginterests and aspirations, stirred by the plasmic energies of technology, and heated byincreasing sensitivities of personhood - in gender, age, ethnicity, community, language,ideology, and local, layered identities no longer confined to simple bodily perceptions. Ourawareness is increasingly enhanced by interconnectivity, electronic media, and a multitudeof cross-disciplinary perspectives. Our thinking is no longer able to dwell in the immediacyof a particular perspective without tremendous resistance to alternatives that pull us, often,in contradictory directions.Everywhere there is froth - popular ideas, fads, events, and views - that arise fromthe sea of turbulence like airy phantoms whose allure is an effervescent image, promise, orpractice in the Now that all too often quickly collapses into the same turbulent sea fromwhich it came, promises unfulfilled. We live in an age of promises and compromisesresulting in both disaster and possibility, on an unprecedented scale, where suffering andviolence is still a wide spread human, animal, and planetary problem. Transformation hashardly begun to heal the fractured psyche of our collective life; savage brutalities continueto be enacted, confusions mislead, fears paralyze, and death is still a barrier to peace. Icannot describe the world as balanced or harmonious, even though I fully believe that it isthe inherent power of cohesion, manifest in and through the natural world, that pulls thetide of our confusion back toward a calmer, more mature perspective in the Now. We areveiled beings, even in the moments of our most ecstatic insights, there are still more veilsto be lifted, still more seeing to be beheld, more depths to give perspective, and more livingnecessary to nurture the gift of life into its full flowering.I believe that the unfolding of our potential, our capacity to grow into the sacredhuman, is a long process and that in this on-going process, the turbulence of the present,its eddies and whirlpools stirred by remarkable technologies, sciences, and discoveries, isstill, only a phase, only a stage we will pass through into even greater challenges. Yet, evenas a stage, I know that it surpasses my own life and existence; I will not live to realize thechanges I see coming. But when I lift a veil, I see technology brought into new balance withthe deeper needs of humanity; what stands forth for me is the need for healing, for human
 
respect for all life, for a reverence that holds life as a sacred relation based in love as aprofound depth of care. Does love evolve? Do we really believe that we are able to be moreloving than the love generated by the great souls and hearts of those gone before us whohave love intensely, bravely, deeply, even to the sorrow and sacrifice of their own life? Is itnot possible that those gone before, without the gloss of technological abstraction, withoutthe glamour of globalization, saw the pain and sorrow of suffering more directly, withoutbuffering, and acted? Can we say our love is more perfect than the Buddha or the Christ,even though our problems are more complex and demanding?Is it not also true that our problems, our insufficiencies, genuinely stem from thevery lack of love necessary to bring balance into the world? We are perhaps more deficientin love than ever before because we are also so distracted, so idealistic, so removed fromsuffering which is utterly real, painful, and embodied. The animals suffer, without doubt weare their destroyers. The land suffers, we plunder and exhume and build, barely thinking of the resources and qualities we burn. The water suffers, polluted and stained almost beyondrecovery. Human beings suffer, deprived of heart-centered leadership, lacking educationand a just context for growth. The solution is not technology or evolution, but a recovery of an inner vitality of relatedness, a loving kindness, that can provide the context for healing inthe face of change. As creative agents of this radical change amidst competing practices andideas, it is our challenge to each become a stable center whose grounding is not moved bythe wind, who can bend and not break, move and not fall, or if fallen, to get up and forgive.The image that comes most strongly is that of a Soul Tree, one deeply rooted in therobust, rich soil of embodied life, where the fruits of this Tree is every individual soul,nourished by a Golden Elixir. This elixir is the sap of the Tree, a clear, moist, generativeflow of living vitality that rises from the nourishment of the roots, synthesized with the lightof every leaf, to produce growth and fruitfulness. The good fruit is the embodied life, thedropped soul who springs to life and craves the recovery of that elixir; who sinks roots intothe local soil, draws moisture and light, and despite storms and winds and terrors, is notstunted, but suffers through the changes, ring by ring, however thin or wide, to sink deeperinto the archetypal wells where love can flow freely and thus inform our knowing of theworld. Even if the leaf is small, even if the flower but a tiny mandala, still the fruit can besweet or pungent, or healing, whatever is necessary in that context. The fruit cast of byevery tree is nourished by its soil, it embodies the local and the deep elixir; growing incontext, it’s vitality thrives through higher light and deep well soil to produce the endlessvariety of the possible in actual forms.When I read the writing of a great teacher, or hear inspired words, observe a work of art or dance or hear the music of the soul - sometime sorrowful and sad, sometimes joyfulbeyond words - I celebrate deep connections to the past. Those souls inspire me and I willnever cease to reverence their lives and art and teachings. But that is also true in thepresent, the souls that still inspire and make me more aware, soulfully, of the depths of partnership that challenge me to open and share the joys and sorrows of others. Is thatevolution? Or is it an affirmation of an ancient truth - to love and be loved, to heal and behealed, to know and be known? And doesn’t that love come out of the earth, the very placeof manifestation, through body, the very temple of divine indwelling? Like DNA, the two
 
strands are entwined - the one strand of recovery and the other of discovery - I recover thedepths of soul that I know was known before,transmitted through generational wisdom,embodied by others, lived in joy and sorrow; and, I discover the emerging context, the newand the just coming-into-being. The linkage between them is life-itself; it is like Jacob’sLadder, linking the two aspects, we climb it at the risk of becoming fully human andtherefore, fully responsible for the healing of the world we co-create.What this gives me is a sense of place, of belonging to humanity, to rootedness is ashared Elixir of transformation. I believe that the Golden Elixir is a kind of essence thatexpresses or symbolizes Divine Indwelling, in me, in you, in all nature, the Infinite WithinAll. And this Elixir, which is life vitality, a fluid medium, a taste of honey, can open mind andheart to greater awareness and is, indeed, the Gift of Life. It is intrinsic, we do not create itbut we can, somewhat to our own detriment, distill it, refined it, and turn it into a vanishing,diminishing vapor through abstraction and removed ideas or words. It’s not the words thatmatter, but what they communicate; not the type of tree, but the value of the fruit; not the juice, but every part - the root, the body, the heart, the soul, the sap, the mind, the leaf,the whole being harmonized. It’s not exactly evolution and its not exactly something fromthe past; perhaps there is no “exactly” but only the loving approximations we makethrough gestures of caring communications with others.I think what really matters is how deeply and genuinely we can love, care for others,do our world work without thoughts of self-aggrandizement or concerns about our possibleerrors. What do we embody? How do we incorporate and share the life force? We must atleast try to do our best, not as what might be or become, but in terms of what is now,embodied by me and by you as real, limited, partial beings capable of drawing on thatindwelling elixir for the benefits it brings to all our relations. Perhaps we can embody a newvision or possibility, or perhaps we can be a living presence of what is or has been, but whathas been is the unbroken lineage of embodied beings capable of love and healing,overcoming remarkable challenges, and offering in the midst of suffering, a true gift of grace. If we can cut through the glamour and stimulation of the immediate present, thesubterfuge of the possible, and approach every instrument with humility, use what is helpfulfor the healing of the world and its beings, then, perhaps we can call it “evolution.” Otherwise, we becomes captives of a dream that has no body, a tree without roots, acrystallized salt that has no mercury to bind it in the slow fire of love. It will takegenerations to accomplish this transformation, but each or us can add to the beauty if wecan become the beauty gifted to us through Spirit. We must become it, embody it, live it,share it, that is the challenge, step by step, day by day - growing, that we might truly befruitful and multiply.Thus I would say that the spiritual quest has always been changing, has never reallybeen the same. All spiritual traditions bare witness to the dynamics of internal debate,discovery, refinement, that has always challenged the static tendency toward reiterationand repetition. What evolves, is our understanding of the elixir, its work, withtransmutations in the human heart, the context within which it is expressed. The outer shellof history is the visible movement, the inner nut is the embodiment of spiritual practices bygreat souled beings, and the oil of that nut is the sweetness of the elixir that permeates the

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