The word salvation is related to the word commonly used for sodium chloride – salt. In alchemy it refers to the ‘fixed-salt’, which is central to the intimacies of the tri-unity principle and mediator between the other two substances of great symbolic significance, sulphur and mercury.
There is an immense amount of quite cryptic rhetoric to be found on all of them. But, most importantly, together they form the sacred and mystical Trinity on which the great alchemical work can be founded. In this context, the Sal part of the word salvation refers to the cohesive and harmonising action of the fixed- salt on the otherwise polar-opposed properties of mercury and sulphur. Without the salt the two would remain in perpetual conflict and complete fulfilment would be impossible. Mercury is the spirit, sulphur is the soul and salt is the body; and just as the body of Christ is said to be the saviour in the Christian Trinity, so the salt is what solves(salv) the chaotic disharmony between mercury and sulphur… hence sal-vation.
So, salt is the most fascinating of the three, for me. The mysterious qualities of fixed-salt are numerous, of a profoundly abstract nature and present in the core mechanics of the universe. Salt is said to be one of the active principles in the evolutionary process. Some of the more obscure texts on salt refer to it as being the only aspect of the physical form that survives the death and decomposition process, which all organic matter undergoes, from which it is re-integrated into the earth and informs the ongoing transformation of the great unified organism, sometimes known as Gaia.
From a religious perspective, as an avid practitioner, I take these holy philosophies to heart and consider them to be an indispensable component of the vehicle by which my faith manifests. In Buddhism we have a similar concept. One that in some ways corresponds to the highly intriguing alchemy enigma.
In Pureland Buddhism we learn about the Trikaya nature. The threefold body of Buddha. The cosmic Buddha body is composed of three fundamental aspects, Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya. These three spiritual fields interpenetrate one another, producing an effect that at once manifests as physical form, whilst also providing the source of life and creativity throughout the universe. Dharmakaya is ultimate reality, the unconditioned, Sambhogakaya is the dream and vision realm and Nirmanakaya is the manifest form that results in the merging of the three.
It’s easy to see how all of these traditions (interestingly 3), Alchemy, Christianity and Buddhism, express this same principle in quite similar ways. And the objectives in all three methods are pretty much the same – seeking spiritual purity based on material experience. The alchemist’s gold gets imbued with the adept’s experience and the effect is reciprocated, there is a divine union between the man and his holy work. In Christianity the form is perfected in the crucible of suffering and the Buddhist transcends the hell realms through countless cycles of painful existence in the mire of Samsara.
There is a common theme here, showing us the paradoxes inherent in the nature of life, the universe and our journeys from the coarse(ignorance and pain) to the fine(awakening and transcendence).
One of the first things that we learn on the spiritual path is that the journey begins with us. If we want to change the world or have a positive impact on it, we first have to alchemize ourselves. The world holds up the mirror that reflects our imperfections, which provide the raw materials through which the great work can be approached.
Namo Amida Bu( ,
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