“We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”
Meister Eckhart


“Meditation is like a chocolate soldier slowly submerged in a river of hot chocolate; or a mercury cop in Terminator crossing a river of molten mercury.”

Via Transformativa

The goal of the alchemist is to turn base metal, typically lead, into pure metal – gold. An early form of quantitative easing … if it ever came off. Many have tried – including Sir Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle – without success as far as we know – unless you count the Bank of England’s £375bn money printing festival.

The Philosopher’s Stone – the legendary alchemical substance capable of transforming base metal into gold was also seen as the ‘elixir of life’ with healing and rejuvenation properties – like Nigella’s chocolate. It is the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest, purity, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss.

Central to the Hermetic tradition – the body of alchemical knowledge – is the idea also prevalent in Indian mystical cosmology – that the ‘microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm’. Newton states it like this in his translation of the Emeral Tablet:

“That which is Below is like that which is Above and that which is Above is like that which is Below to do the miracles of the Only Thing. And as all things have been and arose from One by the mediation of One, so all things have their birth from this One Thing by adaptation. The Sun is its father; the Moon its mother; the Wind hath carried it in its belly; the Earth is its nurse.”

This may sound very strange coming from England’s leading scientist and committed Biblical Christian. He saw his experiments with light as an experiment in difracting the very Word of God.

We can see our own journey as one of alchemical transformation – from the base idea that we are nothing more than an accidental concatenation of atoms – a body – to the refined idea that we are nothing less than the recepticle of the One essence.

Re-scripting our lives in this sense we are all on the journey of The Alchemist.

“If there hadn’t been a sixth day, man would not exist; copper would always be copper; and lead just lead. It’s true that everything has its Personal Legend, but one day that Personal Legend will be realized. So each thing has to transform itself into something better, and to acquire a new Personal Legend, until, someday, the Soul of the World becomes one thing only.”  Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist



“God is not found in the soul by adding anything but by a process of subtraction.”
Meister Eckhart


“Meditation is like Windows Task Manager allowing CPU usage to fall to 0%.”

Via Negativa

On a riverside walk recently (today actually) I was musing on where negativity comes from. Is it our ground zero … our natural state? The total absence of positive energy?

And like all closed systems, as the Second Law of Thermodynamics states, the quality of matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time … as we inexorably move towards increased entropy. Sounds pretty bleak to me.

But then I thought – maybe this only applies if we see ourselves as separate entities … separate from others, from Nature, from the Universe and we muster maximum positive energy to maintain our separateness.. Whereas, in reality, we are One with all that is … so we can’t ‘leak’ and maximum entropy is where the silence of God is loudest.

Muse have had similar musings recently in their latest album catchily titled ‘2nd Law’ …

“All natural and technological processes proceed in such a way
that the availability of the remaining energy decreases.
In all energy exchanges,
if no energy enters or leaves an isolated system
the entropy of that system increases.

Energy continuously flows from being concentrated,
to becoming dispersed, spread out, wasted and useless.
New energy cannot be created and high grade energy is being destroyed
An economy based on endless growth is…

You’re unsustainable

The fundamental laws of thermodynamics will place fixed limits
on technological innovation and human advancement.
In an isolated system the entropy can only increase.
A species set on endless growth is…


Muse – The 2nd Law: Unsustainable


neti neti

“Once you label me you negate me.”
Søren Kierkegaard


“The more you abandon all images, all words, all imaginings and the more you allow the silence to overwhelm you … the more powerful you become.”

Via Negativa

My favourite guru in the annual spiritual supermarket sweeps in Tiruvanamalai in Tamil Nadu every December and January was a dreadlocked Jamaican kindly bear of a man from Brixton called Mooji.

I chose to spend most of my seven weeks in Tiru attending his ‘satsangs’ – open meetings in a rice mill including a five day silent retreat.

One of the little exercises he set us was to walk about town observing everything but resisting the temptation to label anything … ‘tuck-tuck’, ‘cow’, ‘chapati’ … but rather seeing things for what they are. As soon as you name anything you negate its true essence – a bit like the collapse of the wave function in quantum physics when an object is observed. It was playing hide and seek with you until the very moment you observed it when it crystallises into the familiar object you give a name. Names are useful but merely socially conducted concepts or taxonomies to help us impress a matrix of meaning on an otherwise chaotic sense-world.

In every mystic tradition there is a form of meditation called apophatic – from the Greek ἀπόφασις from ἀπόφημι – apophēmi, “to deny” – which takes as its starting point the fact that God is not what you can say about him. “We do not know what God is. God Himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being.” John Scot Erigena (9th century)

In India this is called ‘neti neti’ which is a Sanskrit expression which means “not this, not this”, or “neither this, nor that”. You arrive at a closer affinity with God by a process of taking away. In the Christian mystic tradition this is called the Via Negativa. Try observing without naming; reducing everything to its ‘isness’ which is God.

“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21


hidden in plain sight

“The shell must be cracked open if what is inside is to come out.”
Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra is like giving a prisoner in a cell a syllable spoon and little by little digging themself free.”

Via Integrativa

We come home to ourselves when we realise … there is nothing missing. We can call off the search. The place we were looking for is the place we are looking from.

In India, meditating on the roof near Ramana Maharshi’s ashram in Tiruvanamalai, an image came to me that made me laugh out loud. Imagine a boy straddling the neck of an elephant. The boy is looking for the elephant. “Any sign yet?” asks the elephant. “No, not yet”, says the boy.

The boy is the ego-self; the elephant is the universal-Self. He can’t see for looking … hidden in plain sight.

Until we come home to ourselves …

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
TS Eliot