The inner alchemy

Learn to turn the negative into positive, sadness to joy

Woman introspecting

Concentration and meditation are polar opposites. Concentration narrows down your mind; it is focusing on one point. It includes only something and excludes everything else. Meditation is all-inclusive, it excludes nothing. It is not a narrowing down of the mind, it is an expansion of consciousness. Concentration is of the mind, meditation is of consciousness. Concentration is mind, meditation is no-mind. Concentration is a tension: you will be tired of it sooner or later. You cannot concentrate for a long time, it is effort. But one can be meditative 24 hours, because it is relaxation.

So remember, The Tibetan mystic Atisha says: Always meditate—he means always relax—on specific objects.

What does he mean by “specific objects”? Sadness, anger, greed, lust—the negatives; love, beauty, joy, freedom—the positives.

Begin with the negative, because you are living in the negative. When sad, meditate on it. Don’t be in a hurry to get rid of it, don’t be in a hurry to get occupied somewhere else so that you can forget it. That will be missing an opportunity, because sadness has its own depth, sadness has its own beauty, sadness has its own taste. Live it, relax into it, be it—without any effort to escape, without any effort to get occupied somewhere else. Let it be there…enjoy! It is a flowering of your being. Sadness too is a flowering of your being.

And you will be surprised: if you can meditate on sadness, sadness will reveal its secrets to you—and they are of tremendous value. And sadness, once it has revealed its secrets to you, will disappear. Its work is done, its message delivered. And when sadness disappears, joy arises.

Joy arises only when sadness disappears out of meditation; there is no other way. Joy wells up when you have broken the ice of sadness that surrounds it. In fact, sadness is like the shell that surrounds the seed; it is protective, it is not the enemy. Once the seed has dropped its protection, is surrendered into the soil, the shell has died, only then the sprout is born.


It happens inside exactly like that. Meditate on anything negative, and slowly, slowly you will be simply taken by surprise—that sadness turns into joy, that anger turns into compassion, that greed turns into sharing…. This is the science of inner alchemy: how to change the negative into the positive, how to change the base metal into gold.

But remember, never start with the positive because you don’t know anything of the positive. And that’s what is being taught by many people in the world—the “positive thinkers” they are called. They don’t know anything about the inner alchemy. You don’t begin with gold. If you already have gold, then what is the point of beginning at all? You don’t need alchemy. You have to begin with base metal; the base metal has to be changed into gold. And the base metal is what you have, is what you ARE. Hell is what you are; it has to be transformed into heaven. Poison is available; it has to be transformed into nectar. Start with the negative.


All the buddhas have insisted: Go via negative, because the negative brings the positive, and the negative brings the positive so easily. You don’t drag it, you don’t impose it upon yourself. If you start with the positive, as the so-called positive thinkers are teaching, you will become phony. What will you do? How will you start with joy? You may start smiling, but that smile will be painted: it will be just on the lips, not even skin-deep.

Start with the negative and you don’t need to think about the positive at all. If you meditate on the negative, if you go deeply into it, to the deepest root of it, suddenly an explosion happens: the negative disappears and the positive has arrived. In fact, it has always been there, hidden behind the negative. The negative was a shelter. The negative was needed because you were not yet worthy enough; the negative was needed so that you could become worthy enough to receive the positive.

The world is the negative pole of godliness. You need not renounce it, you have simply to be meditative in it. And one day you will see the world has disappeared and there is godliness.

Start with the negative and you will find the positive. Dig a well. First you find only earth, rocks, garbage. Slowly, slowly you come to the water. First, it is dirty, then it becomes purer and purer and purer. Exactly the same way one has to dig a well within one’s own being. The beginning has to be negative, and the end in itself positive. Your work has to be with the negative; the positive is the reward.

Excerpted from The Book of Wisdom Courtesy: Osho International Foundation/

This was first published in the May 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Osho was never born never died. He only visited this planet earth between 11 December 1931 and 19 January 1990. He was a charismatic and gifted speaker who became the leader of a worldwide new spiritual movement.


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