If we try to escape the pain, frustration, and dissatisfaction of our existential situation by continually acting out our unconscious without reflecting upon what we are doing, we are postponing a deeper and more genuine relationship with ourselves. In avoiding relationship with ourselves, we are like a hamster frantically running around inside of a wheel, and our suffering is totally neurotic and unproductive. But if we are able to hold the powerful psychic energies that get constellated when we go inwards, and try to consciously explore, express, and embrace the experience, our suffering becomes redemptive, and genuine transformation occurs.
Creatively holding the tension of the opposites without splitting, dissociating, or projecting out one of the opposites is a conscious experience of darkness that nourishes and cultivates the light of the Self. Instead of oscillating and being thrown back and forth between the opposites, a state in which we identify with one of the opposites while having no conscious connection with the other, we develop a container within ourselves where we are able to experience both opposites simultaneously.
The inspiration for this process, the philosophers’ stone crystallizes in, as and through the individual psyche as a result. Consciousness is a psychic substance that is produced by the opposites suffered, not blindly, but in living awareness. With a good container, the endless circling and cycling, instead of being a holding pattern that parasitically drains our energy, becomes a circulating spiral that leads both ever higher into consciousness and deeper into the unconscious, where it circumambulates, illuminates, and activates the latent creative source at its center.
The highest value, whether it is called the Self, Christ, or the philosophers’ stone is already present in a state of latent potentiality until it is consciously realized in the human soul. The alchemical vessel is symbolic of the importance of the psychic comprehension of the Self. Recognizing the wholeness of the Self is the very act that actualizes the Self in time. We, through our consciousness or lack thereof, play the key role in the creation of the mystical vessel, and hence, ourselves. The multi-dimensional vessel, envisioned as a material substance, symbolizes the realization of divinity reaching down into and transforming matter.
– Paul Levy, The Light of the Darkness