Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sublimatio: Infusing with Spirit

(Seventh in the series on alchemy as metaphor for great coaching)

For many years I've been amused by Charles Tart's coined word, endarkenment. Tart, an icon of spiritual consciousness, wrote "... a way to get endarkened really well is to be narrow, to only see things one way."

I've experienced occasional shifts to higher stages of consciousness as stepping out of the dark and into the light. But Tart's somewhat tongue-in-cheek admission, "My specialty is endarkenment," reflects how occasional those glimpses of light can be.
Sublimatio--In the chemical process of sublimation, a heated solid enters a gaseous state and ascends to the cooler top of the vessel where it re-solidifies. Thus in alchemical lore sublimatio symbolizes transmuting to a higher form. Metaphorically, we become more spiritual, we move "above" our small ego-types and have a larger worldview.
One of my clients described this larger worldview as a mosaic. "It's not like the old disappears, but the pieces can be put together in infinite combination."

Below is a brief recap of her particular endarkenment - to put a positive spin on things and ignore reality - as well as one glimpse of light in her mosaic:
I grew up in a family like the one in Ordinary People, where everything looked good on the outside. My parents were upper-middle-class, church-going, and provided for all our needs, but emotionally there was chaos and conflict. My mother was an active alcoholic and my dad worked all the time. I often felt I couldn't understand what was going on. My friends would say, "I wish I had your parents," and I'd think, "How could that be?" That was exaggerated: in college "Gosh, how is it that everyone else seems to know what's going on and says it's OK, but it doesn't feel OK to me?" 

I spent my last semester of college in Mexico as part of a Global Justice and Peace program. Fourteen students lived in community and were immersed in Spanish. After that I spent two weeks studying Latin American history and politics in Nicaragua, and then stayed two weeks with a family where there were only two beds in the house and only two of the rooms had paved floors.
I became aware not only how my family pretended everything was OK, but that I lived in a country where everyone else looked that way, too. Now I was with people who didn't live that way at all and - in the midst of that - they had lives. Not only did this experience heighten my sense of a greater global community and my place in it, but also it gave me some different eyes: seeing more of the things we have in common, being open to new experiences.

That's continued to be a reminder to me. When I'm feeling out of my element, instead of running away from reality or trying to put a spin on it, to embrace it and ask, "Well, if I were in Mexico, what would I do?"
(See also Calcinatio, Solutio, Solificatio, Nigredo, Separatio, Mortificatio, Coagulatio)

No comments: