Transforming Negativity into Positivity

There is an old Balinese saying, Wishya Matemahang Merta – meaning “Even poison can be turned into the elixir of immortality.” The philosophy behind this is: Anything is possible; even negativity can be turned into positivity.

How do we normally deal with negativity? Do we return negativity with negativity? If so, and our negative response is once again responded negatively, then we shall be successful at creating a chain of negative actions and reactions. Indeed, in our unawareness, we have been creating such chains all along.

From time immemorial, the Buddhas, Messiahs, Avatars and Prophets have reminded us:
• Negativity begets negativity. Violence begets more violence. You can never ever solve any of your problems that way.
• Resist not evil, for when you resist evil, you become devilish too.
• You cannot use dirty water to clean a dirty floor. Use clean water.

We have not been listening to them. Result: The world around us today.

By returning negativity with negativity, we have created a huge pile of negative feelings and thoughts within us. We are living with the garbage of negativities. Indeed, so accustomed are we to living in such negative condition that positivity passes us by unnoticed.

We are used to living in the dark. Someone comes and says, “Hey, what are you doing in the dark? Come out. There is a whole world of light outside.”

We laugh at the person, “What light? What is light? What are you talking about? This is our world. We know of no other world.”

We refuse light without knowing what light is. We are quite comfortable with living in the dark, so we cannot conceive of any other mode of living.

The Buddhas, and the Messiahs, the Avatars and the Prophets – all of them failed to move us out of our dungeons. Yes, all of them failed to do so. Yet they do not give up on us. Out of their compassion, they keep working on us.

Instead of persuading us to leave our dark dungeon, they bring in light from outside – perhaps a candle, or a torch. They brighten the dark dungeons of our life with their presence. Thus, they avail us with the opportunity to weigh and decide for ourselves – which kind is it that we want to live…

Do we still want to continue living in the dark? Or do we want to live in light? Now that we know the difference, the choice is left upon us to make.

Living in the dark is returning negativity with negativity. Living in the light is accepting negativity as negativity, but transforming it into positivity before returning it to the giver.

Living in the dungeon is living with dirt. Life in the dungeon is no life. We merely survive. Living outside the dungeon is true living. “But do not stop at that,” advise the wise, “Turn the dungeon you have been living in into a liveable place.”

First: Accept negativity as negativity. Shun positive thinking. Positive thinking gets you nowhere. Positive thinking is running away from the hard facts of life. Positive thinking is flying from negativity, whereas negativity is as real an experience as the positivity.

Accept poison as poison, wishya as wishya, or visha in Sanskrit.  For it is only then that you can turn it into merta, or amrita as they say in Sanskrit – the elixir of immortality.

By negating negativity, one can only create a superficial positivity. Positive thinking is nothing but mere thinking, a thought – momentary by nature. One cannot turn negativity into positivity just by thinking it to be positive.

A thought can never, ever hold itself. A thought is always fleeting. You may think of a fireball as a snowball. By the time you hold it, your thought has already moved to something else, and the fireball burns you all the same.

Accept negativity as negativity – this is not positive thinking, but a positive attitude. Accept the bad as bad. You do not become bad by accepting it. Indeed, now you have the opportunity to transform the bad into good.

That takes us to the next step.

Second: Turn negativity into positivity.  But how do we do this? This was the question asked by Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana (980-1054 CE) of Bengal, India. He got many answers from several different sources, but none of them satisfied him.

It is said that he was then “directed” to seek the answers from Master Dharmakirti of Svarna Dvipa (present-day Sumatra). Atisha was then 31, already a renowned scholar, but sincere in his search. He was not arrogant. He could still sit under the feet of a master to learn.

He travelled for 13 months, and remained in Sumatra for 12 years to master the art from Dharmakirti. This was the Art of Turning Negativity into Positivity.

Having learned the art, Atisha returned to India, and afterwards travelled to the land of snows (Tibet) to propagate his master’s teaching there.

What was the teaching? What method was given him to achieve the feat of turning negative energy into positive one?

The method was Tong-Len (Tibetan). “Terima kasih,” in Indonesian. This is the phrase we use to show our appreciation or gratitude.

When someone thanks us and says “Terima kasih,” meaning “Thank you,” we do not say “Welcome,” or “Never mind.”

We receive it (terima), and then return (kasih) it. In between, we transform whatever negativity we receive into positivity. Turning negativity into positivity has been a part of our culture.

It is the positive mental attitude that we are taught to learn, and not to flee from the negativity. And this is how we can solve not only our immediate problems but also the problems faced by the world.

Our heart – the psychic heart, and not the physical heart – has a very big capacity to transform, and reform anything. Bring all the negativities into your heart; feel them right there. Deal with one negativity at a time. Do not overwhelm your hards with too much of a problem.

Feel your heart; feel the pain there. Feel all kinds of negative emotions emanating from the negative energy you brought.

Move the palm of your right hand very lightly and softly upon your right chest. Feel the pain; do not run away from it. Do not allow any distraction to make you feel otherwise. Pain is, after all, a pain.

It takes time to master the art, some time. But before long you can actually master it, and feel the negativity transforming into positivity. Then you can send the positive feelings to anyone – not only to your loved ones, but also to those who are hostile towards you.

Turning poison into elixir – yes, this is possible.

The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 130 books, several in English (, His organization runs Holistic Health/Meditation Centers, a National Plus/Interfaith School, a Charitable Clinic and a Public Reading Room in Bali. For more information, call Aryana or Debbie at 0361 7801595, 8477490.

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Anand Krishna

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