This article was inspired by the following question and answer from “I Am That,” a well-known spiritual book which chronicles talks between Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and seekers who were eager to recognize true Self:
Q: “Is there no way of making out who is realized and who is not?”
M: “Your only proof is in yourself. If you find that you turn to gold, it will be a sign that you have touched the philosopher’s stone.”
The philosopher’s stone was believed to be a substance that was capable of transforming ordinary metals such as iron, tin, and nickel into gold; this is the metaphysical alchemy of which many of us may have read or heard. The related Truth, however, goes much deeper than a claim to transform base metals into gold. At its most profound level, it’s about transcending our false self through the recognition of our divine essential nature.
To touch the philosopher’s stone, we must (as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj expressed) be earnestly eager to recognize the Gold which we actually–already–are. Such means that we are no longer willing to blindly believe our long held assumptions related to human identity. We desire to dive deep into the very nature of our Being, and we will not relent until we directly KNOW the answer! “Who Am I?”–really–will be the burning question in the foreground of our daily life.
The process involved in realization cannot be forced through efforts related to our egoic “self;” to do so, in fact, almost certainly dooms our efforts to failure. To touch the philosopher’s stone, we need not collect endless amounts of information about true Self; nor must we make unnecessary pilgrimages to ashrams or holy temples. Right where we are, we may become a knower; but to do so, we must leave behind what we have accepted as fact. For seekers who are ripe for realization, the following quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi contains a potent hint:
“What we are looking for, is what’s looking.”
In our spiritual quest, we must cast aside all of our apparent history, beliefs, and assumptions and dare to step–barer than naked–beyond our ignorance. We must discern clearly between what is real and unreal. In the stillness of now, free of interpretation, we will recognize the Source of our Being. No “person” ever becomes enlightened; to touch the stone, in fact, means that we awaken from the delusional belief that we ever were the person. This occurs in a similar way that we shrug off the fictional character we were playing in a nighttime dream.
When false beliefs and assumptions related to our egoic “i” fall away, we knowingly merge with the Gold to which Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj referred. There, beyond name and form, That which is the eternal and immutable Source of all that was, is, and will be, is found. We cannot, however, ever point to It (“lo, here It is,” or “lo, there It is“); for such would mean that we were still mired in the perspective of duality–a subject pointing to an object. The Oneness of Infinite Being is beyond all conceptions and perceptions. Eternally, It is both everywhere and nowhere–a no “thing” that can never be objectified, but out of which all apparent things–including our body-mind, arise.
The Truth of the philosopher’s stone is that you–as true Self–“are” It. We figuratively touch the stone through direct recognition and are, thereby, transmuted into the golden child of God that has always been our true “I Am-ness.” Only through our ignorance have we believed it possible to be separate and otherwise. Free of the chatter of the mind, we, thus, know the deepest meaning of Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” To understand this deeply is to realize there is a difference between the definition you hold of yourself, and That which you truly are.
When we awaken to our essential nature, our paradigm of “reality” must also change; it is through this knowledge that we engage the true magic related to the philosopher’s stone. Plutarch summed up the principle involved through the following quote: “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” Centuries later, this was echoed by Paramahansa Yogananda, who stated that “the mind is the creator of everything.” To Know Thyself is to touch the philosopher’s stone.
Dare to dream (and care for one another).
With heartfelt regards,
Copyright © – 2022 – R. Arthur Russell
If you enjoyed this article (originally published at my personal blog), you can find more of my writing at https://think2wice.me/. My YouTube videos may be found through this link. May the content of either or both help you along your spiritual journey.
11 thoughts on “The Divine Mystery, You”
This: “Right where we are, we may become a knower; but to do so, we must leave behind what we have accepted as fact.” Thank you, Art. What a wonderful way to start my day. ❤
Ahh, thank you so much, Victoria! I’m glad that my post contributed to a positive start to your day! Now, mine has been made even better by reading your kind comment! Thanks again! 🙏
You are very welcome…your thoughtful nudge is sticking with me…reminding me to be open and whole-hearted during a prickly conversation this morning. 😉
What a beautifully-written and enlightening post (no pun intended). I loved this, “When we awaken to our essential nature, our paradigm of “reality” must also change.”
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and studies on this, Art, so we too may benefit from it. Great things to ponder as we go through our day!
Hello An Audience of One,
Thank you so much for your kind comment! It’s my pleasure, passion, and purpose to share these pointings. Wishing you a wonderful day! 🙏
Interesting reading, as usual.
I used to worry that I’d never be “enlightened” or be able to achieve what other claim to have achieved. Then I learned along the journey that for me the meaning of “true enlightenment” occurs when we allow ourselves to become who we are inside of our heads, to become a better version of our daily selves and to give ourselves permission to heal from past pains and traumas instead of reliving the pain as some kind of vindication of our sufferings.
“True enlightenment” occurs when we learn to love and accept ourselves, for then the need to judge ourselves and others harshly seems to fall away, for we see everyone and everything as a work in progress, some ahead of us and some behind. Ego seems caught up in striving to like ourselves and to need validation. When we teach ourselves to love ourselves, the Ego doesn’t seem to keep jumping up and down for attention and neediness, for it has been satiated with kindness.
Others may not see me as “enlightened”, whatever their interpretation, and that’s okay with me now, for I know I’m a constant work in progress, trying to keep my movement forward going, but I lovingly accept myself when I slide sideways or even backwards, for now I know the pathway I need to walk to keep moving forward!
I no longer try to focus on the end point, for there is so much inner work and writing I still need to do as I walk this journey to get to the pinnacle!
Thank you for sharing your views. All of us actually “are” enlightened. It is only the thought of a conceptual self–the little “i,” that apparently gets in the way. 🙏
So true! It always seemed like an insurmountable mountain to climb, yet it’s really about making small shifts in out thinking! Starting primarily with how we see ourselves!
The good news is that it’s not insurmountable–it’s actually our essential nature. Once we allow what is false to fall away, true Self remains, shining brilliantly.
That’s very true! Arriving at that point t is difficult, at least I found it to be so, for there was a struggle to let go of the old painful ways and thoughts, because I had no idea that I could exist without pain. I feared that the new might be more painful than the old. This is a common human struggle, and why we hold so strongly onto our old pains… apart from having found part of our identity in it, in a Martyrish way.