When I was a little kid, I loved the book The Alchemist. It’s a story aiming to elucidate the power of mindfulness and positive thinking. It’s not quite so Zen in its idea that there is some sort of final achievement in the spiritual quest. The spiritual quest has no end. But still, I like using this idea of alchemy not as a supernatural act but as a real-life bit of “sorcery” that can help us grow.
Serious occultists treat “magic” and “sorcery” in the way that New Agers treat positive thinking or the Law of Attraction (ehem — theory of attraction). Magic is simply the art of changing your world. The easiest way to change your world is not to force your will upon it, but to instead change yourself. This is why prayer can be so wonderful. Even if there’s no one listening, a prayer can be a way of rearranging one’s thoughts. Asking for forgiveness or mercy allows one a certain humility and graciousness if done properly. People perform rituals every day that help the thoughts rearrange themselves in a gentler and more spiritual way.
Meditation allows us to become alchemists. We learn not to give power to thoughts that bind us and make us suffer. We learn to drop attachments and question why we had them in the first place. Meditation is magic, in this sense. It allows the mind to rearrange itself in a more organic way.
We become so inculcated with cultural nonsense about achievement and success that when we actually do stuff, anything short of comically hyperbolic action feels empty and boring. And so people are always looking for the next high.
Instead of forcing the negative out of your life, become an alchemist. Let your obstacles become checkpoints. Let your problems become opportunities for adaptation. To resist change is stubborn and against nature. People must learn not to force change upon the world but instead to roll with natural change. Man isn’t a sculptor of the world; it’s the other way around. We think we have everything figured out but we can be wiped out in an instant. We are in and of nature, not the other way around.
Become an alchemist. When things don’t go your way, change your outlook. Realize that they have no real reason to go your way. What even is “your way”? Thinking in such stubborn subjectivity only causes you more suffering. Adversity simply allows us to expand our worldview and catalyze new understandings. This is why experience is the best teacher.