Lesson 4: Milk Into Cheese

I learned carpentry work when I was young and for a number of years, I worked beside one contractor who taught me everything I know about building stuff.

But there is a block in my brain about the geometry of certain things. When I was 40 and going through a huge transition in life, the contractor hired me as a supervisor on one of his sites. We were good friends and as we were having lunch one day, he said, “Haydn, there are simple things that you just don’t get.” I started laughing and affirmed his observation.

There is an alchemy in processes that allows one thing to become another: milk-cheese, grapes-wine, mortar-cement, life-death, wood-home. The alchemy of change that allows an individual or a community or a nation or a planet to evolve is much the same: you know that it changes but don’t exactly understand how it happens. Because you don’t know how it happens, it takes a lot longer. If you don’t know how to use a skill saw, it takes a lot longer to build it. Could it take a lot less time to become happy if you knew how to do it? The answer is yes.

“For all we have acquired soon loses worth,
An old disvalued credit in Time’s bank,
Imperfection’s cheque drawn on the Inconscient.
An inconsequence dogs every effort made,
And chaos waits on every cosmos formed:
In each success a seed of failure lurks.
He saw the doubtfulness of all things here,
The incertitude of man’s proud confident thought,
The transience of the achievements of his force.
A thinking being in an unthinking world,
An island in the sea of the Unknown,
He is a smallness trying to be great,
An animal with some instincts of a god,
His life a story too common to be told,
His deed a number summing up to nought,
His consciousness a torch lit to be quenched,
His hope a star above a cradle and grave.
And yet a greater destiny may be his,
For the eternal spirit is his truth.
He can re-create himself and all around,
And fashion new the world in which he lives:
He, ignorant, is the Knower beyond Time,
He is the Self above Nature, above Fate.”

Herein lies the alchemy of your life. First, accept that the knowledge you need to live magnificently lies secret and dormant inside of you. Second, it is the process of becoming that forces the alchemy to take place, it is the becoming that forces you to know about that knowledge. It is the darkness and difficulty of life that forces change to occur. How much you are capable of enduring is mathematically proportional to the quality of your life. Thirdly, consciousness is directly linked to what you are capable of enduring. Adversity forges character. Darkness is the alchemy of light. The process of becoming is the gap between where you are right now (this) and its movement to what it is capable of being (that). Do you understand? Becoming  is what turns milk into cheese! So, the implication is that you must learn to see your becoming differently.

In order to see your becoming differently, you must see it as an unfolding, giving up your mind’s attachments to the outcomes. Let your becoming be the primary tool that drives you further inward to the only place where you will find the knowledge you need to respond to the unfolding of those events in your life. And to be consistent…and you knew I was going to say this…you are the milk, the becoming and the cheese.


1. Notice that grief, pain, suffering and fear come as a result of from your own choices. And if you don’t buy that, then notice that grief, pain, suffering and fear come as a result of how you choose to perceive those choices.
2. Notice that your happiness and joy and bliss is a result of how you choose to perceive the unfolding of your becoming.
3. Your becoming and all of the events associated with it are perfect for you.
4. Those events may not be fun but they are perfect, designed to serve as the alchemy of your becoming, of moving you from “this” to “that.”
5. Reaction is not action.
6. Your circumstances are an unfolding of who you are.
7. To change your circumstances, change who you are.
8. The fastest way to change milk into cheese is to learn to see.
9. Refuse and I mean refuse to see life tragically.