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Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Mercury

Even Mercury is Dull and Slow Compared to the Flow of Brilliancy

The presence of an essential aspect manifests as a substance, as subtle matter, only through the direct and immediate experience of that aspect. This direct experience of each aspect has characteristics of color, texture, taste, and so on. In terms of color, Brilliancy is brilliant, which is not one of the known colors. One can say it is brilliant white, or brilliant silver white, but that is not completely accurate. The color is pure brilliance, like the shimmering reflection of the sun on the surface of an ocean or lake. What you see are pools of liquid brilliance. This is the closest thing in nature to the way Brilliancy is seen in inner vision. In our consciousness, the texture of this light is total smoothness—absolutely delicate, exquisitely fine and refined. Its flow is so smooth and easy that it moves with amazing speed. Even mercury is dull and slow compared to the flow of Brilliancy. 

Brilliancy, pg. 18

Feeling Brilliancy as a Flowing Luminous Presence with a Density Similar to Mercury but Infinitely Smoother and Finer

By exploring the Brilliancy diamond, we will know objectively and precisely what intelligence is and how it functions in understanding. As we have discussed, Brilliancy as an aspect is a very clear, very explicit sense of presence. Its substance is so pure, so compacted with true nature, that its presence is palpable. It is exquisitely smooth. We can feel it as a flowing, luminous presence, with a density similar to that of mercury but infinitely smoother and finer. If we see the reflection of sunlight in a mirror, and then imagine liquefying it, we get the effect of brilliance. Brilliancy is so intense that it looks almost like a continuous explosion of light. When we see this beautiful brilliance, we understand why and how Being is intelligent. It is intelligent not only when it manifests in thought but also as intrinsic and organic brilliance, which is the underlying intelligence in any sphere of action. It provides our faculties of inquiry and understanding with an innate intelligence, so that discriminations are subtle, connections are insightful, analysis is luminously delineated, and articulation is lucid and perfect. Brilliancy is so perfectly immediate, so complete, smooth, fluid, and free, that its functioning brings ease, perfection, lucidity, and clarity to any action, whether the action is communication or thinking, interaction or analysis. 

Imagining You are a Fluid, Like Mercury

In addition to the property of being a field, the other fundamental property of consciousness is that it can be conscious of itself. In other words, we do not need to be conscious of something to be conscious. We can be conscious of consciousness itself; that is, not the property of being conscious but of the field or medium that is consciousness. The experience of pure consciousness is the experience of consciousness without an object. It is simply consciousness directly sensing itself. It is consciousness aware of itself as a field, a field characterized basically by the fact that it is conscious of itself. Imagine you are a fluid, like mercury. Imagine that each atom of this mercury is acutely sensing itself, conscious of itself. Each atom is a ball of excitation, and this excitation is identical with the awareness of this excitation. This excitation, which is awareness of the excitation, is pervasive in the whole fluid. Now imagine that each of these atoms is composed of smaller particles, each of which is an excitation that is identical with the awareness of this excitation. Imagine that there is no empty space between these particles; so it is a medium that completely occupies space. Imagine now that each of these smaller particles is composed again of smaller and more elementary particles, again completely occupying the space. Keep imagining these particles to be smaller and smaller, but imagine that the excitation does not change in intensity, but continues to be a soft and soothing sensation. The size of the particles keeps getting smaller until we arrive at the limit of size, zero, but now it is still an excitation that is identical with the awareness of the excitation. As we arrive at the absolute level we arrive at the true notion of field, a medium that is composed of no parts, no particles. Yet it is a field of excitation, a field of sensitivity, aware of itself as a field of excitation. It is a field of a smooth and soft medium, smooth and soft because the particles are of zero size, but a field conscious of itself throughout its region. It is not conscious of itself in the sense of one region being aware of another region. No, it is conscious of itself at each point of its region, at all points of this region, homogeneously and continuously. 

Inner Forms of Presence

For a long time my inner experience has included a dimension that can best be described as alchemical. “Alchemical” describes the sense of my own presence as different substantial qualities which transform. It began when I first discovered that I could experience presence instead of only feelings and thoughts. I saw also that I could experience this presence as the substantial existence of various inner forms. The presence sometimes takes the form of naturally occurring substances, like lead, iron, gold, mercury, wood, water, air, clouds, bone, diamonds, pearls, and so on. The experience is not exactly the same as seeing or touching these naturally occurring manifestations, but of qualities of consciousness that take forms that feel or look like these phenomena. I experience inner sensations of texture and temperature, taste, sight and sound, which correspond exactly to the naturally manifesting substances, although it is clear that they are manifestations of consciousness. This kind of experience is unusual in our everyday awareness, but this realm of experience becomes available at a certain depth of spiritual development, and in time becomes a normal part of ongoing experience.  

Mercurial Consciousness

In this state, your consciousness is impeccable in its functioning, such that nothing attaches to it, nothing holds it back. It has no stickiness that will let it get caught here and there. It is so easy and smooth, so refined, that nothing can cling to it. You see how mercurial it is? Even if you were to catch some drops, you wouldn’t be able to hold on to them—the mercury would slip right out of your fingers. Now imagine intelligence going through your brain just like that—nothing holding on to it. It just slips through things, penetrating and piercing them. Intelligence, this presence of consciousness, is not only delicate, smooth, and impeccable; it is also bright. It is a brilliance that illuminates the way. As it is flowing through, it is illuminating its way; and by illuminating it, it is flowing through it. The illumination and the flow are the same thing. This illumination can get brighter and brighter so that the minutest possible cracks can be seen. And it is so refined that it can penetrate those minute cracks. Regardless of how small, delicate, or subtle the situation is, your intelligence is so piercing that it can penetrate and go through it. There is no limitation on this capacity of penetrating illumination.

Brilliancy, pg. 100

Our Consciousness Seen as Like Mercury – Very Slippery, Very Fluid, Easily Changing and Flowing

Change is difficult for the ego. Ego wants stability, sameness. We believe that our sense of self cannot find or keep its mooring if things keep shifting. But the fact is that reality is always a shifting ground. And our consciousness, our awareness, is more like mercury—very slippery, very fluid, easily changing and flowing. So when we talk about remaining where we are, it does not mean that we remain static; it implies being at ease with the continual transformation of where we are. Our tendency is to want to stay the same and have our experience remain the same, especially when we like it. And that becomes a rigidity in our consciousness, an inflexibility that is not natural. How can we approach this situation and understand what is at work here? 

The Soul is Malleable and Pliant Like Mercury

The fact that the soul inhabits a world means that her inner forms are constantly shaped by external impacts. This shaping is necessary for learning and action. However, the soul’s malleability also allows the impact of the world to mold her more than is necessary for learning and action. By malleability we mean not only pliability; we also mean that she can be shaped into a relatively permanent form, fixed beyond her normal needs for perception, learning, and action. She can be straitjacketed in a form. The soul is malleable and pliant like mercury; we can form mercury into any shape we like by putting it in a shaped container, but the moment we remove the container it is liberated of this particular form. However, the soul is also malleable the way Silly Putty is; we can mold it into a particular form that is relatively permanent. Both are true of the soul. However, these two examples are the extremes, representing polar opposites of development. She is more like water, which takes on a temporary form when we place it in a container, but which assumes a more permanent form when frozen. 

Two Elements Representing Two Sides of Reality

We first discover the inherent dynamism of true nature when we see the unity of individual consciousness and true nature. Our individual consciousness is overflowing and dynamic and creative, and it can experience and realize all the qualities of true nature—brilliancy, purity, strength, compassion, peace, light, presence, joy, and so on. When we recognize that individual consciousness and true nature are inseparable, we behold the beginning manifestation of the truth of the philosophers’ stone—the dynamism of true nature. This dynamism is usually referred to in alchemical literature as “red sulfur.” Sulfur is yellow, so what is red sulfur? It doesn’t exist in nature, and the term was used by alchemists to designate the combination of two elements that represent two sides of reality. The union of these two elements, their merging, is what creates red sulfur. In chemical terms, these two elements are sulfur and mercury, and their combination causes a chemical reaction that creates red sulfur. According to the literature, sulfur is fiery, combustive, active, and masculine; and mercury is flowing, receptive, changeable, and feminine. Red sulfur is the marriage of masculine and feminine, active and receptive, which creates an unusual dynamism. 

When the Operation of Intelligence Becomes Like the Flow of Mercury

Another sign of the presence of intelligence has to do with a sense of brilliance. If your mind is operating in an intelligent way, after a while you notice that there is pleasure in your brain, as though the cells themselves were having orgasms. They are illuminating from within, bursting with living intelligence and brightness. And using the intelligence of your mind will feel smooth and pleasurable. Things start to happen easily, and your thoughts, ideas, and perceptions begin to have the smoothness and the freedom of movement through a fluid medium. The operation of intelligence becomes like the flow of mercury. Such smoothness is the basis of the penetrating power of intelligence. This penetrating power has to do with the fluidity and delicacy of the movement and physiognomic properties of intelligence. The capacity to pierce to the heart of the matter is seldom as evident in other aspects as it is in Brilliancy. The presence of intelligence has a delicacy and smoothness that is so refined, so exquisite, and of such gentleness that there is nothing it cannot pierce and penetrate. 

Brilliancy, pg. 99

When the Soul Feels Just Like Mercury

We say that the soul sometimes feels like a flowing plasma. Plasma is physical; it has substance and texture. When the soul is transformed by an essential state, this texture of the presence may get smoother to the point of complete fluidity, so that it feels just like mercury. At another time, it cleanses all of you and feels like a delicate, pure oil, which is the essential anointing of the soul. The inner touch can become very precise in its discrimination of these textures in the soul. For instance, you can feel the Water Essence—the quality of human vulnerability—as a crystal-clear stream of water washing you from the inside. But you can also feel it on the subtle lataif level as water vapor, on a deeper level in the fuller form of regular water, or on the diamond level, in the solidified form of an ice crystal. You can discriminate all of these experiences just through sensing the different textures with the sense of inner touch. 

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