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Dialogue 2 - New Delhi - 14th December 1970 - 'Alchemy and mutation'
Questioner P: I was considering whether it would be worthwhile to discuss the ancient Indian attitude to alchemy and mutation and to see whether the findings of alchemy have any relevance to what you are saying. It is significant that Nagarjuna, one of the great propounders of Buddhist thought, was himself an alchemist Master. The search of the alchemist in India was not directed so much to turning base metal into gold, as to an investigation into certain psychophysical and chemical processes in which, through mutation the body and mind could be made free of the ravages of time and the processes of decay. The field of investigation included mastery of breath, the partaking of an elixir brewed in the laboratory, a substance wherein mercury played a vital part, and a triggering of an explosion in consciousness. The action of the three leads to a mutation of body and mind. The symbolism used by the alchemist was sexual; mercury was the male seed of Shiva, mica the seed of the goddess; the union of the two, not only physically and in the crucibles of the laboratory but in consciousness itself, brought into being a mutation; a state that was free of time and the processes of ageing, a state that was unrelated to the two constituents that in total union had triggered the mutation. Has this any relevance to what you are saying?
Krishnamurti: You are asking about the state of consciousness which is out of time.
P: In every individual one can see the male and female element in operation.
The alchemist saw the need of union, of balance. Is there any validity in this?
Krishnamurti: I think one can observe this in oneself. I have often observed that in each one of us there are the male and female elements. Either they are in perfect balance or in a state of imbalance. When there is this complete balance between the male and the female, then the physical organism never really falls ill; there may be superficial illness but deep within there is no disease which destroys the organism. This is probably what the ancients must have sought - identifying it with mercury and mica, the male and the female and through meditation, study, and perhaps through some form of medicine tried to bring about this perfect harmony. One can see very clearly in oneself the operation of the male and female going on. When one or the other gets exaggerated, the imbalance creates disease; not superficial ailments but disease at the depths.
I have noticed personally within myself under different situations and climates, with different people who are aggressive, violent, the female takes over and becomes more prominent. This prominence, the other uses to assert himself. But when there is too much femininity around one, the male does not become aggressive but withdraws without any resistance.
S: What are the male and female elements?
Krishnamurti: The male is generally aggressive, violent, dominating and the female is the quiet, which is taken for submissiveness and then exploited by man. But submissiveness which is taken to be the quality of the female, is really gentleness which gradually conquers the other.
When the female and the male are in complete harmony, the quality of both changes. It is no longer male or female. It is something totally different, in relation to what is considered as male and female. The male and the female as the positive and negative because of their very nature are dualistic, whereas the complete balance, a harmony of the two has a different quality. May I say something? It is like the quality of the earth in which everything lives but is not of it. I have noticed this operating very often. When the whole mind withdraws from the physical and the environment, it is as though it is very far away; far away not in space and time, but a state which nothing can touch. This state is not an abstraction nor a withdrawal but an inward, absolute, non-being. When this perfect harmony takes place, because there is no conflict, it has its own vitality. It does not destroy the other. So conflict is not only in the outer but also in the inner and when this conflict completely comes to an end, there is a mutation which is not touched by time.
P: The alchemist called this the birth of Kumara, of the magical child - he who never grows old, he who is completely innocent.
Krishnamurti: It is very interesting - but alchemy has become synonymous with so much phoney magic.
P: But the alchemists, the Masters who were known as rasa siddhas - the holders of the essence - maintained that what they described they had seen with their own eyes, that what they recorded was not from hearsay nor from the dictation of a teacher. There is another factor of interest. A great deal of attention was paid in alchemy to the instrument, the vessel. The science of metallurgy developed out of this - one of the vessels or yantras was known as the garbha yantra, the womb vessel. It is a key word in alchemy.
Is there such a thing as preparing the womb of the mind? in which time is involved.
P: The alchemists were also conscious that at the point of mutation, of the fixation of mercury, of the birth of the timeless, time was not involved.
Krishnamurti: Do not use the word preparation. Let us put it this way. Is there a necessary state, a necessary background, a necessary vessel which can contain this?
I should say no, because when they found the boy Krishnamurti, the people who were supposedly clairvoyant for the time being, saw that he had no quality of selfishness and therefore he was worthy of being the vessel and I think that has remained right through.
S: That may be so, but what about ordinary people like us? Is this a privilege given only to a very very few, one in a thousand years or more, or can this happen to people who are concerned with all this, who are committed to all this, who are really serious in this enquiry?
Krishnamurti: To answer this question certain physical factors and psychological states are necessary. Physically there must be sensitivity. Physical sensitivity cannot possibly take place when there is smoking, drinking, eating meat. The sensitivity of the body must be maintained. That is absolutely essential. Traditionally such a body generally remains in one place supported by disciples, by the family. The body is not shocked or exposed.
Can a man who is very serious in all this, can he with a body which has gone through the normal brutalizing effects, can he make that body highly sensitive? And also the psyche that has been wounded through experience, can it throw off all the wounds and marks and renew itself so that there is a state in which there is no hurt? These two are essential - sensitivity and the psyche not having a mark. I think this can be achieved by any person who is really serious.
You see the womb is always ready to conceive. It renews itself.
P: Like the earth, the womb has that inbuilt quality of renewal.
Krishnamurti: I think the mind has exactly the same quality.
P: The earth is dormant, the womb is quiet and in both there is this inbuilt capacity for renewal.
Krishnamurti: The earth, the womb and the mind are of the same quality. When the earth lies fallow and the womb is empty and the mind without any movement, then renewal takes place. When the mind is completely empty, it is like the womb; it is pure to renew, receive.
P: This then is the vessel, the receptacle.
Krishnamurti: Yes, this is the vessel, but when you use the word vessel and receptacle, you must be exceedingly careful.
This inbuilt quality of the mind to renew itself can be called eternal youth.
P: It is known as kumara vidya.
Krishnamurti: So what makes the mind old? Obviously the movement of the self makes the mind old.
P: Does the self wear away the cells?
Krishnamurti: The womb is always ready to receive. It has a quality of purifying itself all the time, but the mind which is burdened with the self - friction is self - has no space to renew itself. When the self is so occupied with itself and its activities, the mind has no space in which to renew itself. So space is necessary, both for the physical and the psyche. How does this go with alchemy?
P: The language they use is different. They talk of mutation through union.
Krishnamurti: All that implies effort, friction.
P: How does one know?
Krishnamurti: If it implies any form of process, any form of achievement, it implies effort.