Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Alchemical Retort

I’ve given up depression, my favorite addiction. The revolutionary insight that brought this about was an unexpected and astonishing recognition that there is a choice. I recently discovered that happiness is an immense creative power both personally and as a cell in the body of earth---and that we can choose it.  For most of my life, I’ve allowed outer circumstances and their personal influence to set my moods. How is it possible to be happy in a world full of suffering, violence and injustice? Isn’t it even a justification of evil to be happy under such conditions?

The kind of happiness I’m referring to is the vibrant aspect of peace. In our current world culture, peace seems to be an empty and powerless state and frequently its only dynamic quality is the tension produced by holding disintegrative forces at bay. 

Closely related to happiness is beauty. Our world, and for that matter the universe is a glory of fractal splendor from the sub atomic level to the solar system outward to infinite universes. This is the truth of creation. Our world of struggle, corruption, death and taxes in the tradition of PQ’s tribe and in many esoteric teachings is the middle world.  In this middle world, we have the stimulation of dark versus light, destruction versus creation. It’s so easy to forget (or never know) that dark is the absence of light not it’s energetic equal, yet the tension of contrast is the dynamic of evolution.

I have all the material I would ever need to defend depression as an existential perspective. On sleepless nights, I can inventory all the inherited disadvantages, bad experiences, difficult circumstances, bad schools, oppressive religious background, family dysfunction, relationship heartbreaks and lost hopes.  After many false starts,   I have arrived at old age with nothing tangible to show for a lifetime of struggles and ineffective attempts to extricate myself from the situations and reactions that placed me in a bad starting position on this racetrack called life. I tried many times to turn lead into gold but the alchemical formula was a secret I never discovered—but perhaps it was never a secret but merely unrecognizable in the gloom.  Then I learned that sadness and depression were the very dynamic that kept the alchemical magic from working. Negative produces negative, not gold. 

I no longer feel depressed about the state of the world or the state of the country. I know I can’t change these things that play out over large swaths of time and involve the karma of nations over millennia. I can’t change the massive social storms brought on by this karma known as history, or the weather storms that physically act out our planets troubles. However, I can quit contributing to each hapless drama by succumbing to its mood. It is all too easy to be sucked into a black hole.  

As one must realistically expect with all addictions, I fall off the wagon now and then but there is amazing freedom in the discovery that there is a choice and I’m not just a victim of circumstances with the unfortunate position of being born into this world that is currently unfolding in an extremely dysfunctional manner.

Not only is happiness a life enhancing power, it has a healing effect on the personal environment that then radiates outward in all directions. There are many tragic, horrendous, cruel and stupid things going on around us, and they seem to be increasing exponentially. People without any mooring doing crazy things, corrupt governments, wars, confused and narcissistic leaders, human predators, “fake news”, all contribute to and seem to justify downward mood swings.

Some people respond to both irritants and defeats with anger rather than depression. However, it’s all depression in essence. Men often prefer anger while women more frequently prefer depression but they are both negative moods that lead to more negativity. There is already too much negativity. The reaction to negative experiences with negative responses doubles the negative power base until it is dense, dark sticky goo that entraps everyone who places a foot in it. It brings forth a mental image of the La Brea Tar Pits.  

Along with this discovery, is the revelation that real power uplifts. It isn’t power over someone or something, which weakens and degrades a victim. True power permeates the life force with creativity and healing. This world we live in is the middle world engaged in an eternal battle between dark and light and we are grist for creations mill.   We get a detailed view of our situation when the inner lights are turned on.  There is always the choice of offering ourselves to the illusions of false power or pointing our attention toward an enlightened world.  Whether we know it or not we are involved in creating this world.  Now and then, I remember that our world and the universe are still in the process of creation, and we as cells in the body of earth can be healthy or diseased and thus influence the outcome. 

Depression often hides under other emotions. It can shelter judgement, unfulfilled expectations, loneliness, resentment and unexpressed desires, among others.  Depression is static at best and otherwise a downward spiral. Many people in our manic culture deny that they are depressed and take pills and illegal drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Others stay frantically busy, or perhaps overeat and oversex. I think in retrospect that I’m thankful that I didn’t deny being sad and sometimes in despair, it drove me to keep searching for the cure rather than a cover up. Behind sadness, pain, despair and rage is an unacknowledged drive to find peace and wholeness.


  1. The truth will set us all free...well said..Marti

  2. I'm happy for you. Sounds like you've really broken through something and arrived at a new place. But let me add a few things to this subject as I understand it - as a man and a retired shrink – if only to add dimension to what you've seen through.
    Anger and depression are two sides of a coin – called fear. Depression is repressed anger, while anger is vented fear. When anger is depressed (or suppressed, then repressed) it can't go anywhere, so it turns into a weight (usually in the chest for most of us) and it gets so heavy that eventually it drags us down. It's a ball & chain. We have no energy left. Hence those who can't even get out of bed. And as you say, depression usually goes to women, anger to men – because women are forced to stuff their anger, men act it out.
    More and more men are depressed too however, which says lots about the taboo around “aggression” - a natural emotion which needs expressing but to which we've attached all things negative (like anger). We constantly hear “you must curb your aggression.” But aggression by itself has “nothing” to do with anger, violence, or negativity. Only when it's suppressed (and “shamed”) does it turn to anxiety, anxiety to anger, anger to rage, and rage to violence. That's how it grows into a monster. But society doesn't understand any of that. And so we drown it all in booze, drugs, sex, work, whatever, and call it being “normal.”
    Testosterone in men is the “hormone of aggression.” They/We don't just need a channel for it (besides sports and weight rooms); we need to “consciously” acknowledge it for what it is, when it surfaces (as part of who we are), celebrate it, embrace it. We don't because we can't, and the consequence is lots of men living like walking time bombs. It's a sad (and dangerous) reality. I see it everyday. There's nothing worse, and more dangerous, than misplaced/misdirected aggression.
    All that said, it's wonderful to at least hear about someone who has managed to break through that very difficult conundrum. I'm still working on it.
    I understand that we're approaching this from different angles too – me from a repression standpoint - you from seeing the world as it is and making a conscious decision about it (spiritual alchemy) - no longer getting caught in the drama, as it were. From your standpoint I almost see it like meditation – a consciousness, also something which is both the “easiest and hardest” thing to do at the same time. A choosing “to simply be happy” is still amazing to me (from where I still stand, alas). Unbelievably deep and simple, a child's revelation AND a profound awakening. Eventually I guess both ends swing around and connect, becoming one thing.

  3. I still have plenty of repression, but I've largely forgiven myself for it because I'm a work in progress. Thus, I don't have to be godlike. The sheer act of being is an amazing course and even if I get a D- I won't have to take the blame. I know there is a genuine righteous anger, and maybe that's what we need more of. It isn't attached to ego dysfunction but loses patience with evil. Maybe the difference is in not taking evil and stupid ignorance personally. The world goes on.

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  5. My sentiments exactly Marti. There are many things in this world that we have no control over but we definitely have control over our thoughts. From the work of Byron Katie, there are three types of business: My business, your business and the business of the Creator. It is so important for mental as well as physical well being to concentrate on positive thinking. Everything in the universe happens for a reason so we should have faith that all is well and everything is taken care of...no need to worry. Worrying about things only makes matters worse. We are only human so at times things are going to cause negative emotional reactions. For me when that happens, I just take a deep breath, make myself a cup of coffee or grab a little piece of chocolate :D and go outside and just look at the birds, the trees, the flowers and give thanks for all of it. Everyday I try to make someone smile or do a favor. I make sure to pick up a piece of garbage I find in the street or a parking lot and throw it away. Life is good if we just believe that it is and something is a problem if only we see it that way. YAY! WE HAVE A CHOICE!

    1. That choice is so important! Without it we have no power in this life. We are each a cell in the body of our Universe and we have a choice when we recognize this and redeem our creative power. It is the opposite of resentment and judgement toward the actions of others. Every healthy cell increases the power of all.